Leather, as gross as it sounds, is skin. We age as people so your seats will also start to look haggard if not properly cared for. Despite most newer cars using car seat leathers that have been treated with synthetics (meaning they're more like a plastic) means that they preserve longer than bare leather, however, that doesn't mean that's an excuse not to look after it. Have you seen leather that has been ignored and mistreated?! It's not a good look, leather ages prematurely, losing its elasticity (something that is accelerated in warmer weather). No one wants that, so that's where we come in. We've come up with some of the best tips to keep your leather car seats in tip-top condition.
When shopping for leather-care products, it's important to go for oil-based, as these remove built-up dirt while keeping the leather supple. Vinyl-based products, as well as petroleum-based silicones should be avoided as they'll give a shine-effect to the leather - think your average £5 car wash and you'll know what we're talking about. The better products on the market leave leather with a finish that's similar to how it should look from factory. Perforated leather is not as popular as it once was in the 90s, but if you do, be careful of using lotions as it'll seep into the holes and be impossible to buff off leaving a weird white residue.
Leather will last if you put in the effort to clean and protect it. Everyday dirt, as well as oil just from your body, can be massively damage to leather if left to fester. Basically, it's going to be much cheaper for you to regularly clean and look after your leather than perform a repair later on, due to neglect.
Shabby-chic is a huge no when it comes to leather. We've seen the "rat' trend with rusted paint etc, but thankfully have yet to see cracked dry leather as a fashion statement. Shabby leather detracts from your car, whether you're in the show 'n' shine or simply trying to sell it. To get the best from your leather it's important to clean thoroughly before conditioning. If you don't clean the leather properly before "sealing' with conditioner, you'll seal in any dirt, grime and bacterial fungi that's already sitting on the leather. It's not exactly difficult to keep your seats clean, you just need to keep on top of it. Never wash leather with water as water marks are also not attractive, not to mention the fact that it'll damage the leather's surface - no matter how gentle you are. So what should you use? A good leather-specific cleaner should be applied to seats, as well as door cards and any other leather-covered surfaces you can find. Take the Auto Finesse Hide cleanser, for example, removing deep ingrained dirt and is mildly balanced to remove stains safely. Make sure you pay particular attention to any creases in the fabric, as this is where build-ups are often seen. If the leather in the creases looks darker than the rest, then this is clear indication of a build-up of dirt. Using the leather cleaner, apply light pressure to the leather using a brush. Do not scrub too hard on one particular area, just let the cleaner do its job. Scrubbing will do more harm than good. Using a good leather cleaner is one thing, but it's important to think about what you're using to apply/remove these products. Make sure to use a fine microfibre cloth to buff off the cleaner. Once the leather is clean, free of any build-up, and of course dry, it's important to then apply a deep leather conditioner to help protect and seal all of your hard work. Leather loses oils and its natural UV protectants over time, so these need to be replaced by using good a good conditioner. The Auto Finesse Hide conditioner helps to restore the natural colour of the leather, while reintroducing oils to soften and protect the fabric, without drying it out and creating that horrendous cracked effect we hate so much. The overall finish results in a satin-matte, natural finish. Leather conditioner should be worked into the leather well, using a foam applicator and circular motions to ensure all creases are covered.
Don't just condition your seats once and think your car's leather is forever protected. Conditioners wear off and do not have a lifetime guarantee. It's important every time you detail your car to properly clean your interior leather and follow with conditioner. Don't forget doorcards, dashes, steering wheels and gear knobs, either. It's not just seats that accumulate wear and a build-up of dirt!
The aforementioned products are sold separately, but are also available to purchase as part of a kit. The Auto Finesse complete leather detailing kit comes with cleanser, conditioner, brushes, foam applicator and microfibre cloths. Oh, and one of our lush-smelling air fresheners, because why not?!
Recommended products: Auto Finesse Hide leather cleanser (500ml) £8.95. Auto Finesse Hide conditioner (250ml) £7.95. Auto Finesse leather detailing kit £30.95.