How To Clean Leather Car Seats
IN THIS GUIDE:
- Learn how to clean, nourish and protect any leather car seats.
- Discover the different types of leather used in vehicle interiors and how they're affected by cleaning products and conditioners.
- Master our quick two stage process to see your leather safely through winter and beyond.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
- Effectively protecting your leather will always make it more resilient to staining, scratches, cracking and other damage that's expensive to rectify.
- Using the correct products in preparation makes leather easier to clean later during routine maintenance.
- Getting the desired results, and keeping them for longer, takes a minimum of elbow grease.
Keep your leather in the best condition for longer
The cold weather we get at this time of year (particularly here in the UK) is always a nightmare for your leather car interior. You see, while you may imagine that the summer sun is the biggest killer of the supplest of high-end upholstery, it's actually drop in temperatures that tends to dry them out, making them prone to cracking and more susceptible to damage during day-to-day use. Being winter too, with an abundance of grit and grime out there that's likely to be transferred inside the vehicle on clothing, it's easy to see why - simply to keep it all in tip top shape - your leather may need nourishing, extra protection, or both. And that's why you need a little Hide Leather Conditioner in your life…
Why use a leather conditioner?
There is always some debate among the unenlightened as to whether leather conditioners actually work, but the answer here is all in the question - what specific job are you expecting them to do? And on what type of leather?
The truth will always be that a high-end formula like Hide will work differently on different kinds of leather, and this can only be according to the treatments the material has undergone before being supplied to the car manufacturer and used to make parts like seats or dashboards.
The short of it is that unless you're opting for a ceramic leather coating, like you'll find in our Caramics Interior Protection Kit, you'll always need a Leather Conditioner like Hide.
Types of Leather
The first thing to remember is that not all leather is the same, and it's important to understand what type is in your vehicle, as it gives an indication of what a conditioner is physically able to do, and how it will "work'.
Pigmented and Painted Leather
The most commonly used and the cheapest to produce, many car leathers are painted or treated with an insoluble pigmented sealant, to get their final colour and finish. These are often called "finished' leather and have the advantage that they're comparatively tough when it comes to abrasion resistance, unlikely to dry out, and the paint/coating will mask the flaws in the original leather hide, allowing the manufacturer, and ultimately the consumer a multitude of cost-effective options. Note we said comparatively tough here, these type of leather treatments may offer some degree of protection, but it's not enough to prevent harsh dirt, particularly the sort of grime common in winter, from becoming ingrained and causing damage to the pigment, paint or the leather itself. Once they've taken hold, these kind of contaminants can be tough to clean away.
These are often called Nappa or uncoated leather and offer the hide in its natural form. Usually found on high-end or classic vehicles, they're extremely soft to the touch, display the full grain and, although many use soluble dyes to get the final colourway, won't have any sort of protective coating. The downside is of course, that aniline leather is not only easily scratched and stained, meaning that adding protection is a must, but it also has to be properly cared for to prevent drying out and cracking.
Semi Aniline Leathers
These are also used on high-end modern cars and basically speaking offer the look and most of the feel of an aniline leather, but the versatility of having a very thin protective coating. Unlike painted and pigmented leathers the coating will not hide flaws, meaning that only the best quality hides will be used, but like all other leathers, they will need added protection to shield from heavy soiling and staining from grime and dye transfer from clothing.
How does the type of leather affect what Hide Conditioner can do?
While our use of the traditional name of a "conditioner' may cause some confusion for those uninitiated with the different kinds of leather used in vehicle interiors, it's worth remembering that Hide Leather Conditioner is actually a dual-purpose product. In other words it's designed to condition aniline leather by re-introducing essential oils to nourish the hide from within while adding protection. And, on semi-aniline and pigmented or painted leather, it simply acts as a barrier cream, offering far more sufficient protection from the elements than the coating can itself.
So will Hide Leather Conditioner nourish or condition your upholstery in the traditional sense? With aniline leather yes. And with the others no, because that's impossible. Leather types that that are painted or coated with an impermeable barrier won't let any product be absorbed - but they're already protected from drying out anyway. And that's not to say that they won't need increased protection from dirt impregnation.
Look at it like this - you wouldn't clean your car without adding suitable protection, would you? And, if our Caramics Interior Kit is the equivalent of a ceramic coating on paintwork, our Lanolin and wax enriched Hide Leather Conditioner is the equivalent of a hard wax. The breathable barrier it creates will keep grime suspended above the leather surface not only preventing it from becoming engrained, but making it easier to wipe away during routine maintenance.
Perhaps the best news is that using Hide Leather Conditioner couldn't be easier, follow this simple two-step guide and you'll be clean, possibly nourished, and certainly protected to take on the low temperatures and winter grime.
1. Clean with Hide Leather Cleanser
Hide Leather Cleaner is a mildly balanced, glycerine-based cleaning solution specifically designed to remove ingrained dirt from all types of leather. Formulated to be gentle and suitable for regular use but tough enough to penetrate pores to remove grime, body oils and even the dreaded blue denim dye transfer without drying out the material. These contaminants will be trapped in the solution allowing them to be wiped away safely.
On lightly soiled leather Hide Leather Cleaner can be spritzed onto a microfibre cloth and wiped over the surface. And, on heavier soiling, sprayed directly onto the leather, agitated with a Detailers Upholstery Brush or Interior Brush, and then wiped clean with a fresh microfibre cloth.
The result you're looking for here is a natural satin finish - remember that shiny leather is dirty leather.
2. Condition with Hide Leather Conditioner
Apply your Hide Leather Conditioner sparingly to a Microfibre Applicator or cloth, and gently work into the surface, making sure every inch is covered.
Leave the crème to cure for a few minutes, before buffing off any residue with a microfibre cloth.