leather interior

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How to Treat and Maintain a Leather Interior

You purchased the upgraded leather interior in your new car for the comfortable feel and refined style you crave. Slipping into the soft, sophisticated, and beautiful seat, you can enjoy your Baltimore commute just a little more now. Yet, leather takes special care to remain supple and durable. You can take your vehicle to a car detailer to maintain the interior if you don’t mind spending the money. Or, perhaps you’re the type that likes to do things yourself.

In either case, we want you to know you can treat and maintain your leather interior yourself. It isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t cost as much as you think. Follow these tips, and you’ll enjoy your new leather interior for years to come.

Determine Your Type of Leather

Before you dive in, you must determine what type of leather you have on your seats. Several types exist, and they require different treatment methods. In addition, perforated leather and heated seats need a different technique.

You won’t often find Aniline leather in vehicles as it comes with a natural finish, was dyed before stitching, and has no protective coating. Instead, many high-end car manufacturers use semi-aniline leather. Semi-aniline leather has a natural finish and dye but comes with a thin, protective coating.

Napa leather gets used in luxury cars because it has full-grain with a natural pigmented finish, not dyed. Also, Napa leather gets treated with a thick protective coating. When used in budget-friendly vehicles, you typically find a corrected-grain pigmented leather that was sanded or buffed. They also come with a thick protective coating.

What type of coating you have determines the approach you take to cleaning. The protective coating was designed to protect the leather beneath. While this coating protects the leather, it’s susceptible to abrasion. So, you should take care not to scrub too hard, or you’ll damage the coating and possibly the leather beneath.

How Often Should You Clean Your Leather?

Recommended intervals differ by manufacturer, but most suggest between three and five weeks. Therefore, if you settle in on a once-a-month schedule, you should be okay. Keeping your leather free of dirt and debris will help prolong the life and luster of your leather. Dirt and debris are abrasive, and if left on your seats, they will damage them. You should vacuum your seats with a soft attachment to prevent scratching your seats with either dirt or the attachment.

After vacuuming, dampen a white cloth with clean water. Next, gently wipe down your leather seats, taking care not to soak the leather. Then, take a clean, dry white cloth and dry the seats. You should use a soft, microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the leather or protective coating. Also, if you use white material, you won’t have to worry about transferring color to your leather.

Do not use too much water, especially if you have perforated leather or heated seats. Water can seep through the tiny holes and soak into the foam cushion under the leather. Once there, the water can sit, causing mold to grow or even break down the foam.

Also, heated seats have electrical components that you don’t want to get wet. A helpful tip will be to blot or pat the seats dry if you have perforated leather or heated seats. Wiping the water can force water into the holes, much like a squeegee on glass pushes water.

Long-Term Leather Treatments

Your monthly vacuum and wipe-down should be enough to keep your leather looking and feeling great. However, those areas you touch often can absorb oils from your skin, and the abrasive effect of clothing and dirt can lead to discoloration and dulling of your leather. If these signs begin to appear, you can use a commercial leather cleaning and conditioning product. Experts differ on how often you should use these products, varying from once every three months to once a year.

Be sure to find a cleaner designed for your type of leather. Also, before applying the cleaner, you should test it on a small and inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t discolor your leather. You can use a two-in-one cleaner-conditioner to save time and money, but you don’t have to.

Before using a cleaning agent, do your monthly cleaning first. You don’t want to rub dirt and debris in while you treat the leather. Then, apply a small amount of cleaning agent at a time and work in small sections. You want to avoid soaking the leather and never let the cleaning agent dry on the surface.

Applying the cleaner to a microfiber towel or soft sponge before rubbing it into the seat will prevent you from adding too much at once and soaking the leather. Also, working in small sections gives you the time to finish cleaning before the product can dry.

Work the cleaner into the surface using gentle circular motions. You can damage your protective coating and leather with aggressive scrubbing. Some coatings have a tinted color to them, which you can remove with rough cleaning. You want to bring the cleaner to a foamy consistency gently. If you see lines, cracks, and scuffs before you begin, don’t try and scrub these areas harder. Lines, cracks, and scuffs are signs of physical damage, and scrubbing hard will only make them worse.

Next, you use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe away the cleaner. Again, don’t let the cleaning agent soak into the leather, especially not into the perforations. Blotting the area dry will help minimize the amount that seeps through those holes. Finally, you have to allow the leather to dry completely. Yes, you’ve blotted it dry and removed any excess cleanser, but the leather remains wet. Wet leather tends to stain easier, so let the seats dry before getting in and driving.

At Exclusive Motorcars, we know how leather interiors make you feel. The comfort and beauty of leather can turn an ordinary commute into a luxurious driving experience. So, take care of your vehicle’s leather, and you’ll enjoy your interior for many years to come.

If you haven’t yet experienced the luxury of leather, we offer an expansive inventory of high-end used cars, trucks, and SUVs with various leather interiors. Exclusive Motorcars specializes in selling luxury and exclusive vehicles, both domestic and imported. We invite you to browse our inventory online or stop in for a more personalized experience. One of our friendly, knowledgeable staff will show you the variety of vehicles and let you take your favorite for a test drive.