How to properly care for leather in a car

Leather brings luxury to the car interior and is considered hard-wearing. But it also needs to be looked after. In this article, we will explain what you should pay attention to.

Leather in the car enhances the interior. It’s not just about leather seats. The steering wheel and gear stick are also often covered with leather. In order for the material to stay beautiful for as long as possible, it needs regular maintenance. In addition to skin and tannins, leather consists of fat, liquid and dyes. Over time, the leather becomes brittle and dry, which is why, in addition to cleaning, leather care always includes refatting.

How often should leather seats be cleaned?

Cleaning young leather once a year: There is hardly any work involved in leather care in a new car. The leather comes fresh from the tanner and is still perfectly prepared. In the first three years after purchase, it is therefore sufficient to clean the leather seats (especially heavily used areas such as the seat cushion and backrest) and treat them with a light care sealant. Frequent maintenance is not necessary.

Clean older leather more often: Older leather requires more intensive care, but here too, leather care is sufficient once, a maximum of twice a year. Unless the leather covers are light-colored, they should be cleaned and sealed every three months. Because environmental influences or paint residues from clothing (e.g. jeans) are very quickly visible on light-colored leather.

Refatting is particularly important: With new leather, refatting is added to the leather care after three years. Once or twice a year you should treat yourself to the procedure on your leather seats. If this does not happen, the leather will become dry, cracked and brittle. Care milk with UV filter also protects against fading from sunlight. This is a recommendation, especially for convertibles.

It should be mentioned again: less is more! If you are too generous when using the care milk, ugly white edges and residues can appear on the leather. Make sure to buy the right product for your leather upholstery when it comes to moisturizing. They are available for matt and glossy leather.

How to properly clean leather in your car: important tips

Remove coarse dirt first: To remove coarse dirt, the leather seats should be carefully vacuumed or brushed off before thorough cleaning.

Less is more: When it comes to the amount of care products used, it is important to apply them sparingly and over the entire area.

Working from seam to seam: When applying the cleaner, make sure to always work in one direction from seam to seam. The seams thank you. Because if you wipe them carelessly, they quickly lose their shine. It becomes particularly dangerous for white seams on black leather seats.

Use water sparingly: Young, smooth leather is relatively insensitive to cleaning agents and water. It is different with older smooth leather that is already cracked, suede or perforated leather. Liquid can quickly penetrate the leather here – risk of staining! Double caution is also required with ventilated seats. A cloth slightly moistened with detergent and water is usually sufficient.

Intensive care for the driver’s seat: The left side bolster of the driver’s seat in particular suffers very quickly. The material is stressed every time you get in and out, which is why it requires special attention when it comes to caring for it.

Maintain and clean all leather parts: In addition to the seats, it is also worth cleaning the leather steering wheel and gear stick, for hygienic reasons alone. Since these parts are subject to particular stress, moisturizing care is also important.

Let the interior dry well: After the economical use of water when cleaning, the leather should dry with good ventilation so that it does not start to rot.

Which leather cleaner is best?

It is best to choose a mild leather cleaner that is applied with a soft sponge. Only with older and heavily soiled leather may it sometimes be the stronger cleaner. Cleaning foam is advantageous for ventilated car seats, as the holes in the leather do not become clogged with the cleaner. There are special artificial leather cleaners for artificial leather. The common suppliers of leather care products also have products for artificial leather in their range.

In the case of particularly stubborn soiling, all that remains is to reach for the benzene. There are special products that are tailored to leather care. The gasoline is applied sparingly to a microfiber cloth. It takes about a minute for the gasoline to soak into the rag. Then the gentle petrol treatment can start. If the leather seats are already clearly covered with cracks, liquid leather can help. In the right color, it can hide superficial damage. With deep cracks, however, even liquid leather reaches its limits.

For greasing, there are special care products or lotions that restore moisture to the leather. They are best applied sparingly with a microfiber cloth. Then wipe again with a clean cloth to remove excess residue.

A complete leather care set with cleaner, sealer, cloths, benzine and care milk for refatting costs around 40 to 50 euros. Those who use the high-end products can of course spend a lot more. Supermarkets or drugstores usually have a cleaner and a care product on offer. If a broader range is required, it is worth going to a specialist. The care products are sufficient for several uses, i.e. for a few years. Depending on the extent of the maintenance, it can be done in one to a maximum of two hours.

Home remedies for removing stains: which are good, which are not?

Shoe polish is not suitable for caring for leather and paintwork. No matter how laboriously it is worked in and then brushed, stains on the clothing are programmed.

Dog or child vomited on the noble leather seats? Then glass cleaner can help. Spray on, leave to act, then dab off and repeat the process. Just don’t rub it, otherwise there will be stains. Cat litter and shampoo can also help: the cat litter absorbs moisture and can easily be vacuumed away after a short time. The shampoo should be worked into the seats, left to dry and also soaked in.

Cooling packs help against sticking chewing gum: Simply wrap the battery in a cloth, place on it and wait until the chewing gum hardens. Then it can be carefully crumbled off.

Most common annoyance: paint stains of all kinds. There are countless budget resources here that promise immediate improvement. Please refrain from applying skin creams or body lotions. Risk: Ugly edges form on the seats that are difficult to remove. The same applies to lyes, which can even dry out and harden the leather.

As a general rule, steer clear of foreign cleaners such as wheel rim cleaners. Under no circumstances should perishable fats or oils be used. They oxidize in and on the leather, rotten and grumpy. Nobody really wants that!


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