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Old 11-2-05, 9:56   #1 (permalink)
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HOW TO: Professionally maintain and protect your leather seats so they NEVER crack

HOW TO: Professionally maintain and protect your leather seats so they NEVER crack

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HI Everybody... this is Graham's professional advice for: how to clean and maintain your cars leather upholstery.

All right... well the story is: is that I used to be a professional detailer a few years ago... and there I learned of how to properly maintain leather seats... dashes... armrests... headrests and everything else leather.. including leather jackets.. wallets.. or anything else you can think of.

The Goal is to keep the leather in tip-top shape so that it NEVER cracks (which is ONLY due to dryness) and generally keep the seats looking new.

Just so you know... Leather is just cow skin.... that’s all it is.... its nothing special at all... like human skin... it also has pores.. and can also dry out too.
Both of the above are real problems... if the pores fill up with grease and dirt in time (like human skin would if it is never cleaned) then the pores are filled solid and the leather cannot breath.... it also cannot take in moisture of any kind... so they dry out and crack (human skin does the same if not properly taken care of as you probably know) Since there is no flesh behind the cow skin anymore to keep it moisturized... the responsibility is now on you. So the steps and things about to be mentioned are how to clean the pores... and keep the seats properly moisturized so they never dry out and therefore crack.

The first pic is of the drivers seat of the car that I just bought... obviously the seats were never properly cleaned... otherwise they wouldn't be shiny from all the grease like they are... the seat pictured is mine.. I'm sure your aren't far off...




That shiny-ness isn't normal at all.. thats actually from the grease and other stuff in the leather pores. Leather should not be shiny... it should be dull like the pic second to the below one. (the pic of the seat: thats not being cleaned) The leather will feel very hard and resistant to any flexing... since there is so much dirt in the pores... the leather barely flexes at all.

so this is what you do.... you take a normal scrub brush (just like the one you would use for your fingers) as well a very mild cleaner. DO NOT USE A STRONG CLEANER!!!!!!! Engine degreaser is not a good idea!... if you wouldn't use that to clean your skin... dont use that on the leather.... (You think I'm joking about writing that dis-claimer? People have done that in the past so I wrote that to let you know!!!!) Use a very mild cleaner such as watered down pine-sol in a spray bottle. Water it down 2 parts pine-sol 1 part water. Just a simple house-hold one.. but one with out oil of any sort.

Then scrub it down like so:





Imeditately wipe down the seat... as soon as you can so the dirt doesn't sink back into the pores again. This will be how the rag will look probably... if its yellow or brown... dont talk to me ever again. (jokes)






Once you've done that complete to ALL the leather parts of the car... such as the head-rests... back of the seat (dont forget the rear seats too!)

as well as the shift-boot... arm rests in the doors and and the rear seat arm rests.. they should look like this:

This pic is of a freshly cleaned seat... notice the lack of shiny-ness.. its actually really quite dull... the same way the car was when it was brand new.




Thats exactly how the seats SHOULD look after they've been cleaned. NIce and clean.. they will feel twice as soft too... since the leather can bend freely now that the dirt is removed from the pores.


Next stop is moisturizing the seat:.. remember at the top of the post when I said that since the Leather is removed from the cow... the owness is on you towards moisturizing it? well that brings us to our next step..

To moisturize the seat... you need some really good stuff... this cheap crap is just that.. therefore avoid Wal-mart.. most automotive stores sell good seat moisturizer... mothers is not very good stuff... but unfortunately its the best stuff you can get at most automotive stores such as Canadian Tire or such... like pep-boys or whatever. Basically dont cheap out on the stuff... the better the stuff is.. the better it'll work. Also try a detailing studio where people pay outrageous sums of money to have a person do all this stuff for them... most detailing facilities can definately give you suggestions on the best stuff to use... Being a former professional detailer myself... I REALLY REALLY like "Car-brite" products, "Maalco".... or "Production detail supply" stuff

The stuff I have pictured is by "Production detail supply" this stuff is amazing.. its called prime... and does exactly what I am talking about... moisturizing the seats... its has a very important ingredient called "Lanolin oil" which is key.. that stuff is the liquid that makes the difference right there...

and if finding any sort of actual "Leather moisturizer" is a problem... as a last resort use human skin moisturizer... it works well too. but you need LOTS of it since there is LOTS of leather to be done... and its all very very dry and therefore needs LOTS. So expect to use about a cup full for all your cars interior. Try to make sure the skin lotion also has lanolin oil.

This is the stuff that I used for the pictorial... as well as for all the limos that I used to detail. however its SINCE BEEN DISCONTIUNED!!! So there is a new product out which is better in quality. Its made by "Malco" which I provided a link for at the bottom of this post. Also.. .Lexol is great too.. so either the Malco Leather Conditioner or the Lexol stuff will work great... apparently you can get the Lexol stuff even at pet stores (so I've been told).



Do not use these so called "Leather cleaner *AND* moisturizer's; they are a joke.... you need to entirely separate chemicals to do this... you cant take a sponge and throw some of that crap on the seats and expect it to work... how can a person just use handcreme and never once EVER wash they're hands? would the creme work? not really because there is gobs of dirt in the pores.... so how does the lotion get into the skin? barely eh? Leather is WAY worse... so forget about that dual-purpose garbage


When coating the seats.. use a normal (CLEAN!!!!) sponge... just like a household one...




Drop a gob of the leather moisturizer on to the seat... and rub it in with the sponge... leave lots of it remaining on the seat... don’t worry the leather will absorb the remaining lotion... basically you want to apply it a little more then what was done in the picture. but just do that as pictured.

Give the seat about an hour to absorb all the conditioner in it. Then re-apply the conditioner using the same sponge as needed to all the dry spots (usually the large flat surfaces) After an hour after that... you can wipe off all the excess conditioner if you choose too... otherwise leave it overnight... it will all get absorbed in time.

Well.. that’s it right there... don’t forget to re-moisturize all the seats and everything else that you cleaned... You'll be amazed at how soft the leather will be now... its really something..
If you want to keep your seats looking great forever... you need to do this on a monthly basis for the seats that get used the most... every second month for the passenger seat or the rear seats that don’t get used as much. However at least twice a year is the minimum, even then it'll still eventually crack over time. The pores collect so much dirt in so little time you'd be surprised. Also, on leather seats with existing cracks, you CAN'T reverse the cracks, only keep doing this to prevent them from spreading; and new ones forming.

There you go.... try this out and see what you think... please leave a post on this thread with the result you've experienced..

Last edited by Goatcrapp; 11-16-09 at 22:37..

Da Whips
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-1938 Chevy half ton hot rod project (in the works)
(and a bunch of other [shizzle] like DD's etc etc)
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Old 11-2-05, 10:01   #2 (permalink)
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Q: got any after pics though?
A: yes I have pics of it after... the seats just look greasy. its not really worthy of a pic but I'll post if for those who want to see it finished as its drying regardless. Just looks like its been smeared with lotion.. nothing special.


Q:So in your opinion should I be using mothers leather moisturizer or kerri hand lotion?
I really thought that mothers was the [shizzle] untill you pulled out that industrial strenght stuff. I've always used mothers....


A:Im not dissing "mothers car apperance prodcuts"... but compared to the ultra-high end grade that professional detailers use... its total crap. Like the waxes are good... but you need about 4 different applications all using different bottles to do as good of a job as a single coat of this wax by this company called "Malco". Its called "Flash". It comes in squirt bottle.
Item Detail
^is a VERY quick and PHENOMINAL wax... and its REALLY cheap costing too.. ITs just out of this world.. here this was my RS using it.. right after a 15 minute wax and wipe off job.



Thats why you buy and use good stuff.. If I was using mothers.. it would have taken me well over an hour and multiple applications... to do the same quality shine. Thats why I advocate using good stuff.

use the Mothers stuff.. but tell me what you plan on using first... You'll need about a cup of it too: keep in mind.



BTW: if you want some practice... try this whole method on your wallet or your leather jacket. Like this works amazing on jackets too.... I TOTALLY revitalized my leather jacket using this "prime" goop. the stuff is out of this world... now the leather is so soft it honestly (no joke) feels as soft as flannel




- Here is the best stuff on the market... its not that actual "Prime" goop that I used in the tutorial: but it'll still work as good.
Item Detail
^ This stuff is by Malco as well. Its called "Leather conditioner". It comes in a 1 liter squeeze bottle. Probably good for a year or two.

please remember that this cleaning and application process should be done (ideally) at least every season.. where as 4 months (or ever more) per year are the best... once or twice a year is not going to prevent any cracks.. since thats AMPLE time for your seats to dry out in-between applications, particulairly if you live in a very dry & HOT climate like Arizona or whatever.

Basically.. if you really want your cars seats to stay mint.. do this once a month.. even then you'd still be amazed at how dirty your drivers seat will absorb.. its quite nasty really.


when applying the wax.. leave the car a little bit wet every here and there.. whereas dont dry off the car completely.. if the app. pad is wet... the wax will go on way smoother...

and then WAIT for the wax to COMPLETELY dry before you wipe it off.. then it'll of settled into the pores of the paint.. besides to wipe off wet wax is a distastor... wait until it dries which will typically take 20 minutes or so..

hope this helps..

BTW.. lots more posts to come about car care.



Q:The dishwashing detergent / water mix is good for prep cleaning right?
A: I'd avoid the dishwashing liquid soap all together.. its really not designed for this at all.. you can if you want.. but Mr. Clean or Pine sol is way better.. but sure it would work if you dont have the latter.

Make sure its mild cleaner.. (about as strong as you'd normally use on your hands) you want the actual scrubbing to get the dirt out of the pores.. not the chemicals... too strong chemicals will actually wipe the dye right out of the seats.

Q: Consider it done.
Are there different strengths of either of those? My car's gonna be so pine fresh after.
A: Dishwashing soap is only designed for dishes.. and food.. nothing else.. you can use for otherthings (such as this and cleaning floors or whatever else) but it wasn't designed for it.. however Pine Sol and Mr. Clean were designed for general cleaning for a really wide variety of stuff: such as this and everything else. It'll just do a better job.. and it won't foam up when you scrub it.. which helps!

Also any cleaner from wally's world will work too.. like "Spray nine" or whatever.. if you have any questions.. just PM me..

AVOID BATHROOM CLEANERS!!!!!!!!

Last edited by Goatcrapp; 11-16-09 at 22:38..

Da Whips
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-1938 Chevy half ton hot rod project (in the works)
(and a bunch of other [shizzle] like DD's etc etc)
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Old 3-22-06, 17:50   #3 (permalink)
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VOILA!!! I found a GREAT link, and its sold in smaller bottles too

DetailSupplyDepot.com - Leather Conditioners

^ use the stuff made by Malco.. its lower down in the page


http://web.archive.org/web/200806162...sid=0813221754

^ that is some amazing wax for your paint... some of the best stuff out there.



I hope that helps!

Guys, PM me if you have any questions, I'm here to help.


EDIT: Another update... lots of people PM me with further questions: and thats fine.. but to save some time I copy & pasted a section of a few PM's that I replied to.. here are some of the exerpts.

Regarding using professional waxes: A company like Mothers would want you to blow obscene amounts of money on a 3+ step waxing process (just more products for you to buy) but their not needed. You can argue that all you want: but really..... a good wax is all you need.. every 3 months and you wont have to worry about anything else since the wax will actually absorb into the deteriated paint and solidify... which is exactly what good wax does. IT works just like putting lotion on your skin.. it absorbs into the pores: paint also has pores (which comes from wear and tear) and the oil in that wax I recommended is designed to be a filling agent for those pores
Their only needed when you doing fancy "wax jobs" called a "cut & polish" (which means using a power buffer and removing a thin layer of clear coat using a mildly abrasive "wax").
A claybar is just that: a claybar. much the same as a bar of soap. Honestly: their primairly used in removing contiminants from NEW vehicles... very rarely are they needed for used vehicles. They remove something called "fall out" which is a contaminant left on new cars when their shipped to the dealership. Thats pretty much it. You can use them for bugs.. but its really risky.. because they "Streak" very easily.. and you need some pretty radical chemicals to remove the clay marks. Its best to use a mild cleaner like concentrated car wash soap in a spray bottle: spray it on the bugs: let it sit so the chemicals can do their job: (about a minute to be safe) then spray it off. They just lift off with total ease if you do that. WIth Claybars: you have to be incredibly carefull.. the car surface has to be completely wet: and you have to glide the claybar over it very gently... usually numerous times. The best claybar to get is by CarBrite. Its bloodly expensive ($90 I Think!!!) but it works like a dream. Honestly: dont bother.. its not needed.

How wash a car: use that spray bottle soap techinque (or "pre-soak" at a car wash) to soak the whole car. It will cut and lift off most of the coarse dirt. THen rinse it off thoroughly... again trying to get most of the course dirt off. This is REALLY important since if you DONT get most of the dirt and grime off the car: when you go over it with a foam brush: you'll be grinding it into the paint. WHich is why TONS of cars out there have paint thats trashed: for that exact reason. Also, when at a self-serve car wash: take the pressure washer and hose down the foam brush itself: you wouldn't believe how many people use that same brush to scrub down the rims on the 4x4's and everything else... usually there is lots of grit in the brush. After that give'r with the brush and just hose it off. THis is the BEST Time to wax the car. Leave some water every here and there on the paint. When you waxing the car the wax/applicator pad will flow much more smoothly since the water acts like "grease" (you also go through less wax this way) Then just finish off by wiping it off using a terry cloth or a normal hand towel.

Last edited by Goatcrapp; 11-16-09 at 22:39..

Da Whips
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-1938 Chevy half ton hot rod project (in the works)
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Old 12-26-08, 12:45   #4 (permalink)
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updated with new links and info

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-1938 Chevy half ton hot rod project (in the works)
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