How to Re-dye Leather Car Seats

February 16, 2012

Re-dying leather car seats will give the interior of your car a new lease on life. Not only will it make worn seats look like they have come straight out of the showroom, but re-dying leather car seats will help make the old and stiff leather feel soft and supple. Whilst re-dying car seats is not that complicated, it can be a lengthy process as it needs to be done in two stages so plan accordingly and allow yourself plenty of time to complete the process.

You Will Need:

  • Cheesecloth Polishing Cloth
  • Terrycloth Towl
  • Leather Surface Prep Solution
  • Leather Dye
  • Acrylic Brush (optional)
  • Vinyl Gloves
  • Damp Cloth

Step 1 - Prepare the Leather Surface

Ensure the surface is clean before starting. Cleaning car leather is a vital part of ensuring the remainder of the task can be completed correctly. Pour the fresh lacquer thinner onto a clean terrycloth shop towel and rub into the leather car seats in circular movements. This will remove the old car leather dye. Apply more of the lacquer thinner until the whole of the seat is covered. Always work on one seat at a time. Leave the seats to dry for several hours and then clean down with a damp cloth.

Step 2 - Apply the Dye

Put on the vinyl gloves to avoid dyeing your hands and put a small amount, usually around 10 drops, of the leather dye onto a dry cloth. Be sure to blot the cloth with another cloth to avoid too much dye being applied. Concentrate on a single section at a time and gently rub the dye into the leather car seat, once again using a circular motion to ensure the dye is being worked into the leather.

Pay particular attention to the seams and piping to make sure the dye is covered evenly. The dye can also be applied with an acrylic brush although using a cloth gives greater control over the dye. Use the cloth to rub the dye all over the leather car seat. Work with small amounts at a time to avoid applying the dye too thickly. If part of the surface is blemished, apply a heavier overall coverage. Once you are happy you have an even coat which has covered the whole of the leather car seat, leave for approximately 2 hours.

Step 3 - Apply a Second Coat

If the leather car seats look too light in color, applying a second coat of dye will darken it. A second coat can also help cover any blemishes like streaks or areas with darker grain. Make sure the seats are completely dry before applying further coats. Alternatively, if the opposite problem has occurred and, by applying too much leather dye your seats look too dark, use surface prep liquid to remove some dye from the surface of your leather car seats.   

Step 4 - Let the Dye Set and Buff Up

The final step is to allow the dye to set into the leather car seats and polish them. Avoid touching the seats for 48 hours. Once they are completely dry, take a cheesecloth polishing cloth, which are available from hardware and auto parts stores, and hand buff the leather seats until you are happy with the finish. The more 'elbow grease' you use when buffing, the shinier your leather car seats will become. Apply pressure accordingly until you achieve your desired finish.


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