When cleaning leather car seats, you need to know exactly which type of leather cleaning solution to use. Leather is a highly sensitive material that can become cracked, worn and damaged if mistreated or if it comes into contact with any of the wrong materials and solutions. There are a number of different products to clean these seats, some of which are better than others.
Dedicated Leather Cleaners
There are a number of different cleaning solutions designed specifically for leather surfaces. These can be used to treat any product made of leather, from car seats to jackets, belts, shoes and more. These products contain certain chemical compounds that act to provide moisture to the surface of the leather without causing it to subsequently dry up and crack. Look online for a listing of different dedicated leather cleaning solutions, or visit a auto supply store near you. You may also be able to find products of this type in a shoe repair store.
Some people find that certain dedicated leather cleaning solutions work well in the short term but may cause long term damage to their car seats. If you're concerned about this, treat your leather seats with a natural healing balm as well. These balms are designed to work with the polyurethane coating that covers all leather seats in cars. This coating is designed to protect the leather from damage, but if the coating becomes stripped away then the leather is open to exposure and subsequent cracking or splitting. Certain natural balms will clean the leather while simultaneously protecting the polyurethane coating.
Saddle soap is a cleaning solution that is most commonly used in horseback riding to clean saddles and other leather materials. Car owners with leather seats have tried various saddle soap products to a great level of success in their vehicles. The soap works to simultaneously clean the leather and to soften it up so that it maintains its shape and appearance. Ask a professional for advice about which saddle soap product to purchase for use in your car.
3 Ways to Avoid Damage to Leather Car Seats
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.