Maintain Your Car’s Leather Upholstery

by Don Elliott on December 6, 2011

Do you find yourself wishing your car’s interior looked as new as it did when you first bought it? There are many things you can do to maintain your car’s interior. If your car has leather upholstery, you may wish it looked as soft and beautiful as it previously looked. Your leather upholstery needs gentle care to maintain its quality appearance. Regular cleaning and conditioning will prevent premature aging, cracks, and loss of color. Leather upholstery maintenance is not difficult when using the right products and on a regular schedule.

Leather is the seat covering of choice for many high end vehicles, SUVs, and sports cars. Cowhide is used in almost all of today’s vehicles. The hide itself is dyed (sorry, no red or blue cows on the planet!), and then a surface finish is applied. The surface coating protects the leather upholstery from wear, soiling, and the sun.

Surface finishes are most often urethane products that have to remain flexible and permeable to match the benefits of the underlying leather. All car leather surfaces are not the same. The right maintenance products for your car may be available from your new car dealer. You may also need to test some products out before finding the best one for your leather upholstery.

Clean all the leather surfaces to remove dirt and grit. Several leather cleaners are available at car dealerships, auto parts stores, and through quality detailing shops. The cleaner should be free of silicone oils, waxes, and petroleum solvents. Wipe down all of the surfaces to open up the pores of the leather.

Apply a quality water based leather conditioner that is pH-balanced and specifically made for automotive upholstery. Read the label. Avoid conditioners that include petroleum distillates and glossing agents. These surface applications provide a quick finish that can come off as a greasy smear on your clothes. Household cleaners are not the right product for your car’s leather surfaces.

Using a clean damp towel, wipe down all of the leather surfaces one more time to remove any excess conditioner. While water won’t hurt the leather, it is not necessary to soak the seats.

Keeping the leather upholstery clean and conditioned should be part of your car’s regular maintenance schedule. Leather is pretty tough stuff. However, a little extra care will help it to look better for a longer period of time. Whether you do it yourself, or have it done by a professional, your car’s leather upholstery will look almost as good as new with a little extra care.


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