Fact: Americans spend an average of 17,600 minutes driving every year. If you’re going to spend that much time in your car, why not take care of it? Unfortunately, most people neglect proper maintenance and care for their vehicle. However, keeping your leather seats in like-new condition is not as hard as it seems. Having a leather interior is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you have beautiful and luxurious seats with trim work wrapped in supple leather that is inviting to sit in and smells amazing. On the other hand you now have to routinely care for the leather or else you will end up with cracked, faded, and flaking seats. However, all of that can be avoided with a little effort and routine auto detailing of the leather.
In this article, you will learn how I - a professional auto detailer - clean leather seats and then how I condition them. The steps are pretty straight forward and can be done in an hour or less by almost anybody.
How to Clean the Leather
For regular cleaning, you can use a dedicated leather cleaner and a microfiber towel. Start by vacuuming the crevasses of the seats and removing any other debris. Next, use your leather cleaner as directed by the manufacturer, but in general, you will want to spray the cleaner on the microfiber towel and gently wipe over the leather. This method is useful for routine cleaning, but if your leather is more dirty, you will need to move on to another method.
Again, for this method start by removing any loose debris and vacuuming your seats. We don’t want the dirt on your seat being rubbed into the leather. Start by choosing a leather cleaner or APC (if you choose an APC make sure to dilute it properly) and spray the product over a manageable area. Next, use an detailing brush or a leather cleaning brush to gently agitate the cleaner - this will help lift the dirt and oil from the leather. Once you have worked in the cleaner, use a microfiber towel to wipe off any residue. If there is still dirt, you can repeat this process or move onto another method.
If you have access to a steam cleaner, you can use it to clean your leather. The heat an moisture of steam is effective at lifting dirt and oils from the leather, but it may cause damage if used improperly, so proceed with caution. Take a microfiber towel and wrap it around the nozzle of the steam cleaner. Then turn the machine on and use the steam to lift deep stains from your leather onto the microfiber towel. Repeat this process until the leather is clean. Also, you can use this method in combination with one of the other two for a powerful combo.
How to condition
All modern leather comes with an impermeable coating, much like clear coat for paint, but that does not mean you can disregard protecting your leather. In the same way you wax your paint, you should condition your leather. There are many different leather conditioners on the market today that all claim to be better than the last, but in reality, they all work similarly. Almost any leather conditioner will work, but my favorite is Adam’s leather conditioner. A quality leather conditioner, like Adam’s, will make your leather feel more supple and soft. Another benefit to conditioning your leather is the protection it provides. Not only do leather conditioners contain UV inhibitors, they also help protect from dye transferring from your clothes to the leather.
To use a leather conditioner, make sure to prepare the surface by following one of the above cleaning methods. Next, apply the conditioner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, make sure to buy a finish you will like weather that is matte or glossy or somewhere in-between. For the most part, you should apply a leather conditioner every three months. I add on leather cleaning and conditioning to my bi-monthly auto detailing routine to keep my car’s leather in great condition.
Not only is it important how you clean your car’s leather, it is also important that you clean it regularly. If you follow our guide, you will know how to clean and condition your car’s leather which will extend your leather’s life as well as keep it looking great.
If you prefer to have a professional detail your vehicle, check out our interior car detailing services.