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Leather/vinyl care.......

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Old 12 Mar 2006, 10:19 pm
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Location: Chicago, IL.
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Default Leather/vinyl care.......

Here is an article I wrote for a magazine, thought it worth sharing.

Preserving the leather seats in your car is not difficult, and you will discover the time is well spent. I have seen quite a few cars where the leather has not been cared for and the seats are cracking and splitting. Because leather is a natural fabric, it needs to breathe. Leather will dry out over time, and exposure to heat or direct sunlight can hasten the drying out process. Moisture can and should be restored to the leather by rubbing conditioners in on a regular basis. I suggest doing this 3-4 times a year. This conditioning also helps leather repel some substances that might soak into a dried-out seat.
Leather hides can be categorized as one of several types, depending on the process used to preserve the hides. The piece can be smooth, suede (yes suede is leather also) dyed in a variety of ways, coated or tanned naturally. Most automotive leather is color dyed to match the interior. Your leather interior is the most delicate surface of your car. Cleaning and conditioning car leather is important in order to protect it and to keep it looking new. Taking care of leather consists of two important steps: cleaning and conditioning. The oil from your skin and everyday dirt takes a heavy toll on the leather in your car and can make it weather quickly. Never use a caustic cleaner on your leather; it can remove the dye in the seats and damage it. Only use a PH-balanced cleaner safe for leather. A horse hair brush is a great tool to use for cleaning leather and is available at any janitorial supply store. The procedure for cleaning is as follows: first vacuum the seats, then spray the leather cleaner on a section and use the horse hair brush (a soft towel will also work) to rub the cleaner around that area, then remove with a soft rag. Do this a section at a time to all the leather in the car. This procedure should remove most soil from the seats. For hard-to-remove stains, contact your local janitorial supply store for solutions. Always test an inconspicuous area first before applying product to entire seat.
After the cleaning process is finished, you should condition the leather. Most quality conditioners are lanolin based to restore the oils in leather. Using a foam applicator pad, apply some conditioner to the pad and work the product into the leather. You will immediately see the leather coming to life as you work the conditioner into the seat. When you have conditioned all the seats, go back and buff the seats out with a soft cloth. I like flannel for this process. By doing this procedure 3-4 times a year you will keep your car’s leather looking new. Keep your applicator pad in a zip lock bag; this way you won’t use it by mistake on your paint.
If you have an older car, chances are you have vinyl seats and trim. In this case it is not wise to use conditioner. Vinyl will not absorb like leather will. In this case you should use a high quality water based dressing on the seats. Think of dressings as a surface protectant. Dressings are divided into two categories: solvent based and water based. Stay away from solvent based dressings; not only can they damage paint, they are greasy as well -- not something you want in your interior. Water based dressings are extremely versatile. Use it on tires, wheel wells, vinyl, rubber and molded plastic. For tires, spray on a clean wet tire, do not wipe off excess, allow to air dry. Spray in clean wheel wells to preserve a clean look and repel dirt. For seats, spray on a section at a time and remove with soft cloth. For trim and rubber, spray dressing on an applicator pad, and wipe on trim, allow to air dry.
Most quality water based dressings have UV protection, so you should use it on your dash as well. I use a water based dressing on the engine after it is cleaned to seal the rubber and plastic to bring new life to the engine bay.
If you have cloth seats, extra care must be taken when cleaning. Never spray heavy amounts of cleaning solution on your seats to the s
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Old 12 Mar 2006, 10:27 pm
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 6,787

thanks gary!! great info as always !![^]
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Old 14 Mar 2006, 10:10 am
Young Cruiser
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MN.
Posts: 91

What are your recommendations as far as care of leather seats that have full seat covers on them constantly? Do you condition them the same way, but more or less often? Any other tips for this situation?

Thanks! -Dana
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Old 17 Mar 2006, 01:19 am
Senior Cruiser
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Riverside, Ca, USA.
Posts: 1,372

Thanks for the info. Can you tell us which of your products works best on my leather interior? Want to make sure I bought the right stuff from you!! [8)]
06 GT Auto, Cool Vanila Exterior, Presto Change O 3bl, Cargo Mat and Net, Billet Oil Cap, Yoko Avid 4Vs Tires, 03 GT Wheels, 4 Chrome Door Handle Screw Covers, MOPAR Mud Flaps, H&R Rear Sway Bar, Freedom Strut Tower Bar, Rear Door Sill Covers.
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Old 17 Mar 2006, 09:58 am
Dedicated Cruiser
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Chicago, IL.
Posts: 2,667

use my leather cleaner first then follow up with the leather conditioner. Rocket......for you I would suggest doing the same procedure only not as often, maybe twice a year, everyone else with exposed seats should do it 4 times a year. Gary
2003 Turbo GT 5-speed/
Founder/ Chicagoland PT Cruiser Club
Contributing Editor,
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