Conditioning Leather Seats
One of the most asked questions I get is what to put on the leather seats to keep them soft and looking new and how to do it.
Products to use, this is the magic question. There are so many out there. Lexol is one that I do recommend to all my customers, due to the fact that no petroleum solvents or silicone is used. But really theres one thing to keep in mind, as long as it is a conditioner for leather and not tire shine, or vinyl dressing, your good. Leather is skin, like your hands you wouldn't put tire shine on your hands to make them soft now would you. Leather has microscopic fibers, under a microscope it looks like a mess of rope, that need oils to keep them flexible not brittle. These oils evaporate over time and need to be replaced. Conditioning keeps these fibers soft, allowing them to bend and flex not crack and break. The product you choose should be one that doesn't contain neats foot oil, lanolin, mink oil, or any other lard based ingredient, although these are good conditioners, they will have undesirable effects. The animal based products leave your seats feeling greasy and can get on your clothing. So leave the mink oil for the boots. Some people have asked me about saddle soap, well if your trying to soften the leather for tanning, then maybe, but the leather is already tanned, all we are trying to do is replace the oils lost from evaporation not tan the leather. Always remember what you put on the leather stays in the leather.
Conditioning a leather interior of a car is really not rocket science but there is a trick so not to waste your money and effort.
Apply conditioner every 60-90 days depending on the weather in your area, hotter dryer climates need more conditioning. Using a damp microfiber cloth or terry cloth, making it damp keeps to much of the conditioner from soaking into the cloth, or just use your bare hand, it's conditioner. Start by spraying the cloth or your hand with the conditioner, rub the seat in small circular motions. Start at the top and work your way down. Now depending on the vehicle, the face of seat is the only part you will need to condition. Most leather seats are a combination of leather and vinyl, the face is leather and the sides and back are vinyl, usually you can feel the difference, (but if not, BMW, Lexus, Porsche, most of your luxury vehicles, use leather over the entire seat) so heres where the saving money part comes in, you don't have to put it all over the seat, just the face. Now after you have applied the conditioner to the face of the seat, wait..... usually about 20 minutes, about as long as it takes to wash the outside, this gives the oils time to be absorbed by the leather, then buff with a clean dry cloth to remove any excess. Keep the cloth you used to condition with, seal it in a plastic baggy, and use it over and over, conserve the oils still in the rag. Keep it in the glove box for touch ups.
Your done, easy huh?
By replacing the oils lost by the elements your keeping the leather soft and more flexible which can keep your seats from showing wear and can even save you from accidental punctures, the leather will flex and give more easily if its conditioned. So don't forget every 60-90 days conditioning leather seats to keep them looking new for years to come.