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 keeps you in the dark. Chasing your tail after the next best car leather cleaner or conditioner, despite these products being marketed based on outdated information."
Confused and overwhelmed to the point of inaction, many people have simply given up in frustration not knowing where to turn or what to do. Leather car seat care is actually very simple and straight forward due to the clear protective coating used when producing car leather in today's modern cars.
Yup! The industry has in fact kept all us car owners and consumers in the dark. By keeping us in the dark, the industry itself can continue to sell us outdated products based on outdated information.
"Virtually every car made with car leather upholstery is made using leather that has a clear protective coating on it. This is very similar in concept as to the clear coating of your car paint"
What this means to you as a car owner is that all those special car leather cleaners and conditioners are not actually touching a natural material known as leather, but is touching a synthetic coating.
This leather is what is called coated car leather, and every car manufacturer from entry level to the most expensive exotics use coated car leather in the production on their cars.
Regardless of what the manufacturer calls their "special leather", is is still coated with a clear protective coating. Yes there many types of leather, many quality grades of leather, many ways in which leather can be dyed, but they are all still finished with a clear protective coating.
The fact that your car leather is coated car leather is both the good news and the bad news. It all depends on how you look at this.
Good News: Personally I consider this good news as it means that leather car seat care is easier than ever. This clear protective coating allows your car leather to look "normal", smell like real leather (after all; it still is real leather), but means that your car leather upholstery is far more resistant to dirt, oils and other insults of daily use.
This also means that cleaning and conditioning your car leather (or more specifically; the clear protective coating on your car leather) is easier and simpler than ever. So long as you are willing to embrace this new information.
Bad News: The only bad news I can think of is for people stuck in old-school thinking deeply rooted in nostalgia of days gone by. If you are old enough to remember the days when you got a new baseball glove and accepted that you needed to "break it in" by rubbing and massaging special oils or conditioners. The goal back then was to transform your stiff, rigid baseball glove into a supple piece of equipment. There were endless protocols and "special" treatments people used to perform this initial task of breaking in their new baseball gloves.
This same mentality and thought process bleeds into car leather upholstery for many people of a certain age group. To which I can fully appreciate since I am old enough to be part of that era of time. And while the thought of finding the best car leather conditioner and massaging it into your new car leather might seem very appealing at first, I am willing to bet that this will get old very quickly for most of you reading this.
Now that you know that your car leather is in fact coated with a clear protective coating, this changes everything. All of which will make your life easier and simpler if you are willing to follow along.
I am going to break this down into 3 very distinct areas of leather car seat care:
Each of these areas of requirements are worthy of explaining and showing you how each area is also going to be different moving forward from what you have likely been taught or told, by some so-called expert or the industry itself.
Instead of searching for the best car leather cleaner, I am going to introduce you to a very simple (pun not intended) all-purpose cleaner that is not only safe and effective at cleaning your car leather, but very economical and useful for literally countless tasks of cleaning in general.
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:
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.
Since most retail dedicated leather car seat cleaners are "watered-down" to be extra safe rather than be extra effective, most people find that a more aggressive all-purpose cleaner will be the ticket when it comes to leather car seat care and cleaning.
While I am a huge fan of the Simple Green all-purpose cleaner for many reasons, there will be some of you that will feel "safer" using an all-purpose cleaner that is formulated and packaged specifically for car leather cleaning and care.
Fr this reason I add the following cleaner as well as another scrub brush I use when required to clean excessively dirty car leather.
What good is it if you find the right car leather cleaners and scrub brushes, when you default to outdated tools of moping up your mess as you are cleaning your car leather upholstery.
Darren's Note: In the event you have never used a micro-fiber cloth for cleaning your car upholstery or car leather and are used to the "feel" and experience of using a terry cloth towel, then it takes a little geting used to. The micro-fiber cloths will "grab" any material you are cleaning (except car paint) more than a terry cloth towel will. It took me awhile to adjust, but once I adjusted I was able to realize just how superior micro-fiber is in doing any of the detail tasks you will be faced with.
Trust me on this!!
Often I am asked by people who accept my decades of experience and trust my recommendations, what I would do. People who don't want to read the countless descriptions and are tired of the endless opinions.
For this reason I will lay out exactly what I do both professionally and in my own world on my personal cars.
Darren's Note: I keep my cars in pristine condition always. For this reason, you may be faced with much heavier levels of dirt on your car leather than I ever would personally. If you are in that situation, simply pick and choose from my recommendations from above, then come back here to see how I "condition" and maintain the leather car upholstery in my own cars.
I use the same Simple Green all-purpose cleaner from above and simply dilute it down to the "mild" dilution ratio as per label instructions. It is an ideal formulation for basic cleaning of dust and light body oils. I use it as often as I want or as needed without any fear of damages.
If you have made it to this point in this page, one of the most important points you will have learned is the fact that you are no longer dealing with a natural material called leather in your car. It is leather that has been clear coated with a synthetic coating that makes leather car seat care mush easier and simpler.
But the industry wants you to keep buying the latest and greatest car leather cleaning and conditioning products with the understanding that you are most likely still operating under outdated information.
With that said, I offer what I do in the name of maintaining my car leather and my versin of conditioning my car leather.
Since leather car seat car is a top priority for any car owner with leather car seating, 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 to share at your favorite site.
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