Keeping your vehicle’s interior clean and odor-free is about more than just maintaining its resale (or trade-in) value, it can make a huge difference in the gratuities you receive from your passengers. Leather interiors add another level to interior-car care, so we are including tips this month from Bob Vila’s website to hopefully help you save a few bucks on detailing.

Before You Begin

Leather can be a sensitive material; the last thing you want to do is stain or damage it as you attempt to protect it. Before learning how to clean leather seats, there are a few things to consider: Perhaps most importantly, make sure the cleaning solution you choose doesn’t include ammonia or bleach. These chemicals can be harmful to leather. If you make your own DIY solution, consider Castile soap, which works well on leather and is less abrasive than most other cleaning ingredients.

Additional tips include:

  • Combine any DIY ingredients AFTER vacuuming so they don’t have the opportunity to evaporate and separate.
  • To be extra safe, test any DIY solution on the underside of a rear seat to minimize risk to the leather.
  • Make sure to check the directions included with any manufactured products you use to ensure you have the required materials.

The best way to clean dirty car seats begins with vacuuming up crumbs and other dirt first. Stale crumbs and other small-but-sharp tidbits can scratch and mar leather during the wiping stage, so make sure you don’t press too hard with the vacuum nozzle either. If you find some especially clingy dirt or dust, use an air compressor to loosen pieces before vacuuming them up.

Prepare Your Solution and Materials

As mentioned above, regardless of the type of leather cleaner you use, take time to do a test in a less-visible spot, like the underside or backside of a back seat. Allow the solution to fully work before moving on to the rest of the seats. After your solution has been tested and you’re ready to apply it, make sure you keep a scrub brush and a few dry towels handy before getting started.

Apply the Cleaner

If you use a pre-made cleaning solution, be sure to follow the directions to the letter. Some cleaners require you apply it in circular motions, while others may need to be diluted with water. Also: A little goes a long way with leather cleaners and conditioners. Proceed slowly and cautiously.

Wash and Buff with a Microfiber Cloth

Once the solution has been thoroughly applied and all surfaces covered, wipe off any excess residue. For the best results, slightly dampen your microfiber cloth. Be careful not to get it too wet (try wringing it out; you shouldn’t see more than a droplet or two) as this may stain your newly cleaned leather. After you remove the solution, lightly buff the seats with a soft dry microfiber cloth. Any serious repairs to the leather – such as sewing or patching – should be done now.

Apply Leather Conditioner, if Needed

Leather conditioner may not be necessary, but it does help keep leather supple, smooth, and healthy. Don’t use leather conditioner too frequently or your seats will become slippery and greasy. A quality leather conditioner is recommended up to two to three times per year. Good leather conditioners often have natural UV blocking properties that can help to maintain your leather’s color saturation. Use soft, circular motions to apply so you can spread a small amount over a large surface.

If You Applied a Conditioner, Buff the Seats a Second Time.

The final buff with a microfiber cloth gives your car seats a polished look. In general, the more you buff, the higher the shine of the leather. Use the same type of soft, circular motion: be gentle and patient for the best results.

Alternative Solutions for Tough Stains

If you have some stains, marks, or discolorations that require extra power to remove, consider the following:

  • Scuff or rough patches: Use a dab of non-gel toothpaste and a clean toothbrush to gently smooth out and shine the affected area. Once you’re done with the toothpaste, wipe off any excess, and buff to your desired shine with a leather conditioner.
  • Deep stains: Deep stains can be difficult to get out. Try a tiny dab of rubbing alcohol, followed by a mild solution of dish soap and water. The alcohol will help lift the stain from the leather, and the soapy follow-up solution helps wipe it away. Alcohol can dry leather, so use it sparingly.
  • Grease stains: Thankfully, even set-in grease and oil stains can be removed from leather with a bit of luck and some baking soda. Simply sprinkle some baking soda onto the grease or oil stain, rub it in with a damp cloth, and let it sit for at least a few hours. Once the baking soda has absorbed the oil, wipe off the powder and remove any excess residue with a damp cloth.

Source: Bob Vila

Article by Black Car News

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