In this day and age, car leather seats are often considered the bare minimum in expressing a carmaker’s desire to have said vehicle considered luxurious. Once reserved for the upper echelons of premium vehicles, leather seats and upholstery have trickled down into even entry-level models.
Car leather seats are plush and cosset you in a way that fabric just can’t. Nonetheless, unlike fabric seats, they do require a little extra tender loving care to retain the soft and supple feel as well as prevent discoloration and cracking.
Just like our skin, leather can turn dry and brittle with prolonged exposure to the heat and UV rays in our tropical weather. However, just like our skin, leather can be reconditioned to retain its soft finish and keep it looking fresh.
Experts in interior car care recommend conditioning your car leather seats and upholstery every three months. Fortunately, it is a rather easy process and you can even whip up your own conditioning mixture with household items if you want to save a little money.
Before we delve into that though, we’ll cover a little on some easy preventive measures to extend the lifespan of your leather interior. After all, prevention is better than cure, and not to mention fixing damaged leather seats will leave quite a hole in your pocket.
Park in the Shade
The sun’s UV rays are extremely harmful to your leather interior. Not only will the rays dry the surface and cause cracking, it will also lead to discoloration. If possible, always park in a shaded area to prevent prolonged exposure to UV rays and your car leather seats will be grateful.
Use a Sunshade
The bigger the glass surface area, the more UV rays will enter your cabin and hit the leather seats. Use a sunshade when parked under the sun to reduce the amount of exposure to rays in the cabin.
Lower the Window Slightly
At the same time, extreme temperatures in the cabin will dry out the leather seats. The heat from the sun reflects on the glass surface from inside and causes the cabin’s temperature to spike above the ambient temperature by up to 15 degrees Celsius. Lower your windows slightly to help equalize the temperature inside.
Tint the Windows
A quality tint for the windows can reduce the amount of UV rays that enters the cabin. This will result in a cooler cabin and less damage to the leather interior. Of course, a good tint can cost quite a bit of money but will be a solid investment in the long run.
The 5 Steps to Condition Your Car Leather Interior
Step 1 – Vacuum Loose Dirt or Debris
The first step here is also the easiest. Grab your vacuum cleaner and make sure to only use the handheld upholstery attachment with the soft bristles to avoid scratching the leather. This is done to clean up as much dirt as possible, seeing that applying the conditioner onto the surface with debris present will be akin to rubbing abrasive contaminants into your leather finish.
If there are stubborn stains present, you can try applying some talcum powder. The powder functions as an absorbent to draw the moisture away from greasy or damp stains. Additionally, cornstarch works best on stains that are still new or moist. Just leave the substances on the stain for a few minutes before wiping with a damp microfiber cloth.
Step 2 – Apply the Conditioner
After vacuuming, it is time to apply the leather conditioner. If the product comes in a spray bottle, apply quick bursts of it onto the surface from a distance of about 20cm away. If it is in liquid form, do not pour it onto the seat or surface but instead pour it onto a microfibre cloth and rub the cloth onto the surface.
Alternatively, you can even whip up your own homemade leather conditioner from household items.
The key ingredient is white vinegar. With a pH value of 2.4, it is an efficient, yet gentle acid that can clean leather. To create the solution, mix three parts of vinegar with one part of distilled water. The water will further dilute the acidity of the vinegar. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply it to the leather surfaces but be cautious not to leave it on for too long. Just a couple of minutes is more than enough.
Step 3 – Gently Rub the Conditioner into the Surface
You may use the same microfibre cloth that you applied the conditioner with or better yet, a new one. Delicately rub the conditioner into the leather surface in soft, circular motions. At the same time, the microfibre cloth will also be absorbing dirt and grime.
If you notice any stubborn stains, spray or pour a little more of the conditioner onto the microfibre cloth and gently rub the area until the spots are removed.
Once done, let the conditioner rest for two or three minutes.
Step 4 – Wipe Away Excess Conditioner
After allowing the conditioner to rest on the surface, use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe away the excess conditioner. This will also absorb any abrasive particles that were loosened during the earlier process.
Step 5 – Buff the Leather Surface for a Shiny Finish
For the final step, you should grab a clean microfibre cloth or flip the previous one onto its dry side and buff the surface for a glossy sheen that’s a sign of soft, supple leather. Buffing is akin to polishing the surface of the leather.
Although very time-consuming, this step allows the softening and hydrating agents in the conditioner to penetrate every nook and cranny of the surface. This will go a long way in preventing cracking or discoloration from UV rays.
Buy CARSOME Certified for Peace of Mind
Here at CARSOME, we believe in creating an end-to-end buying journey to eliminate the concerns common in a traditional used car buying experience. CARSOME Certified is the new standard of buying pre-owned cars backed up by our 175-point inspection together with our CARSOME Certified Refurbishment Process. By creating a trusted used car ecosystem, CARSOME Certified guarantees trust, transparency, and choice.
Check out our CARSOME Certified Cars here.
“Better late than never.” Some despise it, others begrudgingly agree with it but he swears by it… much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That unfortunately stems from all of his project cars not running most of the time, which in turn is testament to his questionable decision-making skills in life. A culmination of many wrongs fortunately making a right; much like his project cars on the rare occasions they run, he’s still trying to figure out if another project car is the way to go.