Leather car seats add a classy, sophisticated look to any car. However, if you don’t take proper care of your leather, you’re going to end up with ugly, cracked.
So, what can you do to ensure your vehicle’s leather continues to look and feel great?
To keep leather looking new and maintaining its soft feel for years, it’s necessary to take a proactive maintenance approach. But with all the leather care products out there, how do you know which one to use? What should you look for?
· Products with natural ingredients are usually the best choice. For instance, mink oil, UV protectant and lanolin are ingredients you should look for in a product.
· Be sure to select non-drying leather cleaner.
· Find a product that lists a balanced pH factor designed for leather. This will not only keep your leather seats looking like new but also will protect the leather against stains and water damage.
· Beware of any leather cleaners that include petroleum or mineral oils. While petroleum by-products won’t damage your leather immediately, they do over a period of time. Also, stay away from products that contain any gloss agents, silicone oils or solvents.
The purpose of leather cleaner is to remove everyday dirt, while leather conditioner maintains the strength, beauty, flexibility and softness of leather. Leather conditioners are only meant for occasional use and should only be applied after the leather cleaner.
Here are the steps to follow when using leather cleaners and conditioners:
Step 1) Wipe down leather surfaces on a weekly basis with a soft, damp rag.
Step 2) At least once a month, apply leather cleaner using a soft brush to gently massage the leather rather than scrubbing. This is a key factor to remember. The leather has pores that need to be opened so that they will be thoroughly cleaned and then be ready to absorb the conditioner that it needs.
NOTE: In between “maintenance” cleanings, remember to clean up any spills immediately. Water, soda and food products can damage the leather surface if not wiped off quickly. It is important to treat wet leather quickly before it has a chance to dry and should be dried away from heat. If you spill food, use a vacuum to remove crumbs and debris from the leather seats, using the smallest attachment on the vacuum to clean up the seams. Seams are a problem area in leather upholstery so pay special attention to them when cleaning and conditioning.
Step 3) Smooth on a leather conditioner once a month, following the manufacturer’s recommendations and wipe off thoroughly. Leather conditioners keep your interior soft and protect against cracking but don’t use them too often or you’ll block the leather from “breathing”.
NOTE: Leather has natural oils and over time the oils will evaporate. If the leather does start to have an odor, it’s caused by the depletion of the oils. Leather conditioner will correct this problem.
Step 4) Apply a leather protecting cream every 3 months after a thorough cleaning and conditioning. Use a cleaning product made specifically for leather surfaces. Other cleaners can dry and crack your upholstery.
Here are a few additional tips you can follow to help protect your leather from sun damage:
· Always try to park your car in a garage or shaded area.
· Use a sun screen in your windshield. Try to find one that’s designed for your windshield’s shape.
· Tint your side and back windows.
· If you have a convertible, put the top up when you park.
These tips should help you keep your car’s leather upholstery looking great for years to come.