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HOW TO: Maintain your leather seats so they never crack or age.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Graham M, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    Well the story is, is that back shortly after high school I was detailer, so I learned this technique from an industry "guru" I guess you can call him.

    Basically using this technique, you can prevent leather seats from aging/cracking. This way the seats will always shine like new. This can be applied to *anything* leather, even jackets.

    Keep in mind; Leather is just cow skin. Unfortunately since there is no cow there to keep the leather moisturized: the responsibility is entirely on you.

    Now as a disclaimer: to my knowledge there is no way to repair cracking. So if the seats are already cracked there isn't any way to repair them, short of replacing the section thats cracked/worn.

    All this technique will do is prevent the cracks from spreading, and to keep new ones from forming. It will also keep the seats looking new just so long as you do this. For regular use this should be done at least twice a year. Ideally 4 times a year would be good. You dont have to do ALL the seats, but if your like me and are pretty much the only occupant in the car, its best you at least do the drivers seat (& steering wheel if leather wrapped) this many times. I'd do the rest of the seats maybe once or twice a year.

    Anyway, a very dirty seat will look like this.

    (First off I apologize for the shitty Iphone pics)

    [​IMG]
    (I bought the car used with seats looking like this if you're wondering)
    Note its shiny appearance; thats exactly what you dont want. That means the seat is covered in dirt & grease. A seat should never look like this unless you put interior shine or whatever on it.
    The thing is; nothing should be put on it short of the moisturizing cream/lotion. Chemicals just hurt the leather, so always keep things like Armor all (and the like) the hell away from leather.

    Keep in mind that leather has pores, just like human skin. When dirt & filth fills them they cant breath, and thus the leather begins to dry out.
    Also, by just gooping on the leather moisturizer onto a dirty seat; it has really no way of getting into the seats to do its job.

    Which brings us to the first step.
    Grab a scrub brush and some mild (non-acidic) cleaner. Obviously, dont use engine degreaser or anything of that sort (Yes I've seen people do that). I personally used Simple green as its quite good for this. If you're worried the stuff you have is bad for leather, try it on a wallet or something that you dont really care about before trying it on your car seats.

    [​IMG]

    Just do a small section at a time, then quickly wipe it off. Almost all cleaners are harmful to leather so its best you get the cleaner off it as soon as you can. Also, this will prevent the dirt & chemicals from seeping back into the pores. So dont do the WHOLE seat then wipe it off. Do perhaps the bottom of the seat, then the sides, then the back (etc etc). Dont worry about using a fair bit of cloths/clean rags. Its better to use a lot (then wash them if you're using re-usable rags/cloths) then to be wiping the seats down with filthy rags, which basically doesn't do much of anything.

    After your done, it should look like this.
    [​IMG]
    Note its dull appearance, thats what you're looking for as leather shouldn't shine at all.

    After all the seats (& steering wheel or whatever other leather bits you may have in your car) are clean we'll start moisturizing them.

    For that, you can use a typical household sponge.
    For moisturizers to use; the ones that are best have something called Lanolin oil in them. This oil is important as its the best moisturizing agent you can put on your seats. Dont bother with these "cleaner and moisturizer" types. You need to PROPERLY clean the seats, then moisturize the leather. These companies that try to combine them offer pretty bad stuff that doesn't work nearly as well as it should.
    I really like "Production Detail supply" products. I find they're very good and always do a great job. Here is one product thats a cleaner & conditioner in one package.http://www.detailingsupplies.net/Leather_Cleaner_Plus_Conditioner_Combo_Deal_p/spi_109_16.htm

    Or if you want they also have this. It would take a LONG time to go through all this though, so if you have friends that would need this for their cars/trucks, I'd split this up with them.
    http://www.detailingsupplies.net/Auto_Detail_Supplies_Leather_Cleaner_Conditioner_p/spi_101.htm

    And this
    http://www.detailsupplyoutlet.com/item.htm?item_num=132

    another one
    http://www.detailsupplyoutlet.com/item.htm?item_num=4

    So once you have the lotion, apply it fairly thick.
    [​IMG]
    ^ Even thicker then that. Plan it out so that after you coat the seats, you can leave it sit for at least a few hours so the lotion can absorb. Dont wipe it down, as it needs time to be absorbed, which takes time. Basically if you leave the seat like this over night it should all be absorbed, and the leather will be fairly dry/non-greasy in the morning.

    So like I say, do this at least a couple times a year, or whenever your seat gets that shine as the one in the pic had.
    Doing this properly, the seats should never age, or at least minimally.

    EDIT: If anybody is on any other car forums, please copy & paste this link so others can benefit from it. I dont mind answering questions or helping out people from all over the place.


    Any questions or whatever, just PM me, or email me at monetteaudio@mail.com
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  2. BigNick1959
    Joined: Oct 23, 2006
    Posts: 639

    BigNick1959
    Member

    Interesting, I use saddle soap to get the dirt out (I've never tried Simple Green on my seats, I do use it on my engine) I will have to try that lanolin oil though. Thanks!
     
  3. wide34
    Joined: Mar 2, 2006
    Posts: 479

    wide34
    Member
    from Texas

    Many thanks for taking the time to post this, I hope I'm smart enought to remember to do this 2-4 times/yr.
     
  4. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,729

    GassersGarage
    Member

    I bought this stuff called "URAD" at the Primer Nationals. The guy was demonstrating to anyone that had leather shoes or women with leather purses. He did my wife's shoes and my shoes. Our shoes came out great, so we bought a jar. My wife had a leather purse that was well worn so I tried it on that. It brought the purse back.

    It's been months since the Primer Nationals and my shoes still shine. The jar says it's made in Italy.
     

  5. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,823

    ROADSTER1927
    Member

    My hot rod seats are all white and I wonder if any of this can discolor them? Actually the whole interior is leather. Any thoughts? Have a great day Gary
     
  6. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    ^ Shouldn't. There are a wide variety of cleaners avail. Im kind of cheap so I used simple green, but for white leather you may want to play it safe and get designated leather cleaner.
    I've used similar chemicals such as Simple Green on very light colored leathers and it all turned out fine.
    Other people have used this: 50% white vinegar/50% water; scrub with dish sponge and dry with clean towell



    I haven't tried that saddle soap as posted earlier. Sounds interesting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  7. redlinetoys
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 4,302

    redlinetoys
    Member
    from Midwest

    How about a good pic of the final seat so we can see what it looks like?

    Also, my experience is that there are not just dyes on the leather, but often more of a paint like coating, at least on some brands of cars/seats/steering wheels (I used to work with a company that made the paint for the OEMs.)

    Are there some brand car company seats that this works better on? Mercedes, Ford, etc? And what about aftermarket leather for custom upholstered interiors... Are there any available colored leathers that DON'T respond to this, or has it always worked on any leather (no matter the dye or finish on the leather)??

    Thanks for taking the time to post your info.
     
  8. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,729

    GassersGarage
    Member

    The guy I bought the "URAD" from tells a story of a restored Porsche speedster at a show. Some guy jumps in to sit in the seats, which was white leather. The dye in the guys pants rubbed off on the leather. The owner ran up to him and asked if "URAD" would get the dye off. He wasn't sure but tried it. He claims it took the dye off with no damage. Here's their web site www.easysolutionstoday.com it may expalin better than me.
     
  9. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    It just looks a bit greasy, not much at all. It would be kind of a waste of a pic, thats why I didn't bother. Most of it will absorb, what doesn't will just sit on the seat, so the next time you hop in; it'll rub off.
    Basically it'll just have a mild shine to it until you sit in it next. For the parts that you wont be in contact with (such as the back of the seat or the door panels etc...) you can just rub it off with a clean cloth, then it'll look completely normal.
    It should have a mild, healthy shine to it after the excess conditioner has been wiped off.

    FOR SPECIFIC BRANDS: this process works on ALL leather, unless its some synthetic hybrid/vinyl of sorts; then this will work on everything, including your leather couch or jacket. I've used this on BMW's Benz's, north American cars, limos, everything. Which includes aftermarket leathers too.
    All leather is the same in all reality; just cow-skin. So like I say unless its some really odd "pleather" or the next closest thing; it'll all respond the same way to this technique.


    no problem with the post, if anybody has any specific questions or comments, just PM me or post them here and I'll do my best to help.
     
  10. SmoKerch
    Joined: May 23, 2011
    Posts: 123

    SmoKerch
    Member

    I've been told that lanolin comes from sheep's wool. idk

    Those that have "experience" with sheep probably knew this already.

    Look for the guys with greasy spots on the front of their pants.
     
  11. cavman
    Joined: Mar 23, 2005
    Posts: 632

    cavman
    Member

    Great tip.

    I have used saddle soap on leather seats and smooth leather jackets for as long as I can remember. If directions are followed, it both cleans and softens leather. I works well on saddles too. There's also a cleaner and conditioner called "Pecard leather conditioner". I have never tried that one.
     
  12. Cargo
    Joined: Jun 18, 2007
    Posts: 232

    Cargo
    Member

    There is a product called Bag Balm that works on softening up old or stiff leather. I first used it for my baseball glove as a kid.
    I recently cleaned up some leather seats and used the stuff to treat them. Once worked into the leather it was like new.
    I tend to disagree with the "shiny" aspect of the initial post. IMHO, when the leather is not coated with something to prevent dirt from getting into the pores, its not protected. Stay away from the Armor All type products, but anything that is a natural oil should leave a bit of a shine/protection.
    I will add the disclaimer that you should try a hidden test area first!
     
  13. Jagman
    Joined: Mar 25, 2010
    Posts: 346

    Jagman
    Member

    I worked at a Jag dealer for a number of years, we always used Connolly Hide Food, from the people who supply the leather used by Jag, Aston, Rolls, Bentley and so on.

    The best example of the ability of this stuff came from a guy who bought an old tired used Jag, the seats were all cracked and the leather was hard as rock. He used the Connolly cleaner first, then slathered on the Hide Food once a week for 6 weeks, the next time I saw the car the seats looked brand new and felt like kid gloves! Most of the cracks had disappeared (closed up due to the swelling of the hide) and didn't show, and the seats felt wonderful to sit in again, just like new!

    The info Graham posts is correct, and it really doesn't matter what brand of leather treatment you use as long as like he says it's got the lanolin oil in it, but I'd also use the good leather cleaner too. But that Hide Food is some really good stuff!
     
  14. dullchrome
    Joined: Jan 15, 2009
    Posts: 987

    dullchrome
    Member
    from SoCal

     
  15. redlinetoys
    Joined: May 18, 2004
    Posts: 4,302

    redlinetoys
    Member
    from Midwest

    Thanks Graham.

    I am not lucky enough to have leather in the hot rod, but I do in all my OT drivers. One of those is a Shelby that I would like to keep for a LONG time and even though it is low mile, I am already noticing places where there are lines starting to appear.

    I am going to jump on this.
     
  16. The Continental
    Joined: Aug 23, 2011
    Posts: 363

    The Continental
    Member
    from Texas

    Good thread. One of my next projects is to treat some leather seats.
     
  17. I need to do this to my wife's OT Ford Edge car and also my winter driver 97 Expedition. Thanks for the remionder and also the ideas for the lanolin materials.
     
  18. KFC
    Joined: Jul 17, 2008
    Posts: 370

    KFC
    Member
    from UK

  19. baby loves chrome
    Joined: Jul 23, 2009
    Posts: 347

    baby loves chrome
    Member

    Thanks so much for the great info. guys.
    Now I understand about AM and stuff, that I used back in high school.
    I would use on my 68 Camaro & 57 Fairlane. Boy I wish I would've had that info then. I can't wait to try out the new info you gave us.
    Thanks
     
  20. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    No probs, glad to be of a help. This works on all leather seats, so OT vehicles, couches, leather recliners, you name it. This will work on it.

    Interesting you guys mention that "Connolly - Hide Food" or this "saddle soap". I'll have to pick up some, sounds like great stuff.
    Im no longer a part of the detailing industry; and haven't for many years so Im not entirely up-to-date on all the different products. Big thanks for what you guys' have mentioned, its a great eye opener as to whats out there.

    Like I say if this thread helped you at all, just copy & paste the URL to whatever other car forums you guys are a part of; and link it back to this thread so they can find out how to do this as well, or just "quote" the entire message & copy & paste it into whatever thread you create.
     
  21. ago
    Joined: Oct 12, 2005
    Posts: 2,199

    ago
    Member
    from pgh. pa.

    Did you ever try a product called Leatherique?




    Ago
     
  22. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    ^ Not personally. There are *SO* many products out there its almost impossible for me to know of everything.
     
  23. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 10,795

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    Interesting, but I would not use anything but Lexol on my leather.

    http://www.lexol.com/

    I certainly would not use your technique or materials.
     
  24. ago
    Joined: Oct 12, 2005
    Posts: 2,199

    ago
    Member
    from pgh. pa.

    Guys on the Ferrari forum seem to like Leatherique the best. I don't know the difference.


    Ago
     
  25. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 3,214

    slowmotion
    Member

    I've had great luck with the Lexol cleaner, and their conditioner. Natural sheen, and smells like new leather too. These were the smaller individual bottles. Catch 'em at biker swapmeets for the best deal.
     
  26. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    mtkawboy
    Member

    Bag Balm is also the ultimate for baby diaper rash. It is made for use on cows utters
     
  27. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

    Just thought I'd bump this for anybody that hasn't seen it.
     
  28. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,334

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    For very grimy surfaces like old steering wheels I use waterless hand cleaner. The white or green creamy kind not the gritty stuff. Smear it on the wheel, let it soak a while, then wash off with a rag and warm water. It will take off the worst caked on dirt.
     
  29. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,334

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    What can you use to clean soften and preserve old vinyl upholstery?
     
  30. Graham M
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 406

    Graham M
    Member
    from Calgary AB

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