Leather upholstery is popular with car buyers, and there’s many reasons for that. For some shoppers, leather is a status symbol that conveys luxury. The perceptions that people have about leather can have a positive impact on a car’s worth, so equipping your vehicle with this kind of upholstery may boost its resale value. And if you have allergies, leather is worth a look. Allergens such as dander and dust can get lodged in cloth upholstery, but this isn’t an issue with leather.
However, leather needs special care to look its best. As it comes in contact with sweat and dust, for example, it may show signs of wear. And leather that hasn’t been properly conditioned can harden and crack in time.
Below are some tips for cleaning and caring for your car’s leather seats.
1. Vacuum away dirt and dust. Use a vacuum with a suction hose to clean your seats. It’s easy for dirt to get stuck in the crevices. An air compressor also can be helpful in loosening trapped dirt.
However, make sure the hose attachment doesn’t make contact with the leather to prevent scratches and other damage.
2. Banish grime by gently scrubbing the leather. Grunge can build up over the years and tarnish the look of your car’s leather. A microfiber cloth is a good choice to clear your seats of grime. A toothbrush also can be useful in getting rid of buildup.
For the best results, moisten your cloth or toothbrush with a liquid cleaner formulated for leather. For the health of everyone who travels in your car, choose a cleaner with toxin-free ingredients. You also can create your own by mixing equal parts vinegar and water.
Dampen the microfiber cloth or toothbrush with the liquid cleaner, and gently scrub the seats. Avoid spraying the seats directly with liquid cleaner.
Take special care when scrubbing perforated leather. Perforated leather has tiny holes that can attract moisture. When cleaning this type of leather, make sure you apply only a light amount of liquid cleaner to your cloth or toothbrush when scrubbing. If a heavy amount of cleaner is used, moisture can get absorbed into the seats and cause problems such as mold.
3. Clean your seats regularly. Buildup can pose a threat to the look of your car’s leather, and the longer you allow it to accumulate, the more difficult it is to remove.
With regular cleaning, you’ll be able to prevent severe buildup from gathering and compromising the appearance of your upholstery. It’s a good idea to clean your leather seats at least once a month.
4. Prevent cracks and dryness by conditioning your car’s leather. As time goes by, leather can lose some of its natural oils, and this can cause it to become dry and cracked. Regular conditioning can prevent this from occurring.
Most of us know that conditioning can help add moisture and suppleness to our hair. Leather also needs to be conditioned to help ward off dryness, and this process can work wonders when it comes to preserving and restoring the oils that leather needs to keep looking its best.
Choose a leather conditioner that uses natural ingredients. Avoid choices that contain ingredients such as silicones, waxes and petroleum distillates, because these can build up over time and dull the finish of your leather.
To apply the conditioner, pour a small amount directly onto a clean microfiber cloth. Use the cloth to gently work the conditioner into the leather. Give the conditioner about an hour to soak in before putting anything in contact with the leather. During this time, keep your car in a shady place, because sunlight may inhibit the conditioner’s ability to properly absorb into the leather. Once you’ve given the conditioner a chance to soak in, use a clean cloth to gently buff the seats.
Your car’s leather should be conditioned two or three times a year.
Handle with Care
Leather upholstery can improve the look and value of your car, but it needs special attention to look its best.
Regular cleaning and conditioning will help your car’s leather remain supple and soft throughout its lifetime.