There are products on the market that may seem like they would properly assist you in cleaning and protecting your leather seats, but many cleaning solutions contain ingredients that may actually harm your leather and lead to more long-term damage than necessary. Avoid cracking, fading and drying out of your car seats by periodically following a few simple steps over the life of your vehicle.
Maintain Proper Cleaning
Avoid grabbing anything you can find to quickly wipe down your seats, as the chemicals in most cleaning products will do more harm than good. Like paint damage, leather damage is very difficult and expensive to repair. To avoid damaging the leather, both in the short and long term, be very selective about the products you use for cleaning. A spill may tempt you to quickly grab a baby wipe or other household cleaning wipe. These contain some of the most harmful ingredients that can come into contact with leather. Also, watch for cleaners and conditioners that contain wax, oil or silicone. These ingredients can leave residue on the surface of the leather that will eventually collect more dirt and residue, contributing to degradation of the leather’s finish. Using a water-based foam leather cleaner is your best bet for the cleaning process. For more difficult stains, it may benefit you to scrub with the proper brush. Always test a small and inconspicuous area of the leather with product and brush, to make sure you’re using the proper tools for the type of leather car seats you’ll be cleaning.
Rehydrate Leather Car Seats
In addition to regularly cleaning your leather car seats, it’s important to help them rehydrate, especially seats which are constantly exposed to heat or sunlight. As with cheap leather cleaners, you also want to avoid products that contain silicones, gloss agents or petroleum distillates. Carefully select a high quality product made for adding moisture back into the material. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth (just plain water) can also help to add hydration to the leather. Make sure not to soak the cloth and also refrain from scrubbing the seats. Simply wipe down lightly and the leather will pick up the moisture it needs.
Leather conditioning is a step you’ll want to perform after cleaning leather car seats. Conditioners are designed to not only rehydrate leather, but also to nourish the fibers and help them to maintain the supple and flexible properties that make leather look and feel like a high quality material. Again, the quality of product you choose will make a big difference. Choose a product that is pH balanced, with ingredients designed to protect from harmful elements, repel dirt, grime and oils and waterproof the finish.