Leather Car Seat Care
Tired of getting bad results?
In today's world of cars, leather can be found in virtually every make and model. 15 years ago, Leather car seat care was exclusive to only high-end luxury automobiles. Now even kiddy-haulin' vans come complete with interiors covered in leather. Due to much misrepresentation through advertising and marketing, as consumers we are left bewildered and confused as to what exactly is proper car leather care.
The industry has you chasing your tail!
to the point of inaction, many people have simply given up in
frustration not knowing where to turn or what to do. Cleaning your
leather car seats is actually very simple and straight forward if dealt
with from the beginning when your car leather is new. Unfortunately many
of us delay proper car leather care from the beginning and are now
faced with excessive build-up of dirt. So you run out and buy some hyped-up special car leather cleaner and the disappointment sets in!
You have questions...
- Does car leather really require special cleaners?
- I heard that car leather should never be cleaned but only treated with leather conditioners?
- I tried a name brand car leather cleaner before and it was worthless!
- Can you tell us what the real deal is when it comes to leather car seat care?
Trust me when I say you are not alone. One of the more common questions and complaints I receive from people writing in has to do with proper care for car leather in its many forms. The industry has so many people running around from one product to the next trying to find something that actually works.
What works and what doesn't...
In the name of simplicity, I am going to break down your leather car seat care into (2) categories based on the condition in which your car leather is in; meaning, how dirty is it and the level of cleaning involved with getting to a level of clean you are happy with.
Leather Car Upholstery Cleaning Made Simple
The following are my recommendations based on keeping things simple:
- For people with brand new cars.
- Car leather kit that contains everything needed.
- Also for cars that are not new, but not excessively dirty.
Leather Master Strong Leather Care Kit
- Kit contains everything needed for light to medium duty car leather cleaning.
- From car leather cleaner to protection cream.
- Includes the very necessary scrub brush.
Heavy Duty Car Leather Cleaning
Car leather interiors that have become excessively dirty will require more "extreme" measures...cleaning leather car seats in a way that most people would never consider due to the following reasons:
- Car leather is not the fragile material we have been lead to believe from the industry.
- Car leathers of today are made to withstand heavy use.
- Most leather cleaners are formulated to be overly mild and will not work on heavy layers of dirt.
Before (with partial cleaning)
After (complete cleaning)
The dramatic before and after pictures from above illustrate what is possible if the right techniques are combined with the right products. The amount of dirt on the above seat is very common and normal. Most people wait until their car leather seating has reached this point of dirt build-up before they take action, and the disappointment goes as follows:
- Gee, my car leather is looking very dirty.
- I really should have kept it cleaner from the beginning but I didn't.
- I think I will get some car leather cleaner and clean it myself.
- I got some name-brand leather cleaner online, but it really sucks as it barely touched the dirt.
Don't feel too badly as this is generally how it plays out for most people. For this reason I offer some tips from the world of professional level car leather cleaning tricks.
What you need for heavy duty leather car seat care...
1) Heavy Duty Car Leather Cleaner:
Meguiars D103 All Purpose Cleaner Plus
- Not only an effective heavy duty cleaner for your car leather, but an all-purpose cleaner for so many other car cleaning tasks.
- Since it is professional grade cleaner, it is only available in what many would consider bulk size.
- The good news is that this is such a versatile all-purpose cleaner, having a gallon size around is not the end of the world.
2) Leather Cleaning Scrub Brush:
Vinyl & Leather Scrub Brush
- Having the right tool is the other half of getting professional results.
- Use to scrub your leather car seating when using the all-purpose cleaner from above.
How to Clean Car Leather Tips
Between the industry marketing hype and misinformed people repeating bad information, there is little mystery as to people's ignorance when it comes to car leather in its many forms. Most people would look at this picture taken from the car leather seating of a Chevy Corvette and simply throw their hands up in frustration when they attempted to clean with any number of the traditional and special car leather cleaners available on the market today.
With that said, I am going to bullet point the specifics of your leather car seat care so as to bring clarity to the moment:
- For brand new leather or for mild to medium duty cleaning, the leather care kit at the very top of this page will suffice.
- For anything past that, you will need to take more aggressive action and use the Meguiar's All-purpose cleaner and scrub brush I recommend.
- As a rule, repeated applications and scrubbing will be required for complete cleaning of your car leather. In the case of the pictures I use here, I had to repeat the application and scrubbing process anywhere from 3-5 times depending on the level of dirt and will vary from not only seat to seat, but from section to section of the car leather seating.
- I use micro-fiber cloths to mop up the dirty mess as I am working but any cloth will work.
- Always test each seating area first for effectiveness and results. There are so many types of car leather on the market, no hard fast rule applies and ultimately is a case by case judgement call. Most modern day car leathers are what is called semi-aniline or full-aniline leather which means they have been finished with a water-based clear coating for protection. This is the good news as it allows your car leather to withstand day to day use and makes cleaning easier.
- Some car leathers will change color once you get them wet but will dry to its original color within a few minutes. This is not only normal, but one of the reasons to test first as you will need to determine of color is coming up onto the rag or if it is dirt you are seeing on the rag; or in fact it is just the leather changing color temporarily due to it being wet.
- If your car leather is excessively dirty, you may find that you clean the original finish right off due to the fact that the dirt has been allowed to remain for so long as to permanently destroy the finish. This is not the fault of the cleaner, but dirt will always do permanent damage if it is excessive enough or allowed to remain too long before cleanings. Sometime you will have to make a judgement call as to leaving a certain amount of dirt remaining that will cover these damaged areas, or cleaning completely and exposing these permanently damaged areas. (if you look at the last pic above of the Corvette seat, you can see where the top layer of leather seating has been worn off due to permanent damage.
Car Leather Dye Transfer Removal
Removing color and dye transfer from car leather is also a common problem when it comes to light colored car leathers. Whether it may be from blue jeans, belts, news print, ink pens, etc.
The picture to the right highlights an example of some dye transfer that has taken place inside the leather seating of this Lexus. The reddish dye transfer on the seat back of this car seat could use the treatment as a separate step to complete car leather cleaning.
Car Leather Dye Transfer Remover:
Leather Master Dye Transfer Cleaner
- Use as a separate step in your car leather cleaning tasks.
- Formulated for use on light colored car leather where dye transfer can be seen.
- Follow manufacturers labeling.
Leather Car Seat Care Summary
I hope you have become a much more informed consumer and car owner. If you know anyone else you think might benefit from this info, please forward the link or use the socialize it buttons below to share at your favorite site.
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Leather Car Seat Care