Here are a few tips to cleaning those old grungy looking automotive leather seats. Now there are limitations to this, in some cases the seats are just dirty and with a little elbow grease and little know how you have new seats again. But there are the cases where a professional needs to reapply dye to the seat to bring back the original luster. “Rattle cans” as I call them which are aerosol cans of dye that you can buy at your local paint store which if you find the right shade can be used to freshen up a seat where cleaning just wasn’t enough. But I really do discourage this due to most of the dyes sold on the shelf are a lacquer base which can dry the leather out and cause it to crack.
So if dye is needed find a good interior guy to do any dying, and make sure to ask if they use a waterborne dye system. By cleaning your seat regularly and applying a liberal coat of conditioner to the seats you can greatly improve the life of your leather seat. Cleaning the seats aren’t as difficult as you may think, start by getting you supplies together. You will need an empty spray bottle, a soft stiff brush, a green Scotch-Brite pad, a few terry cloth towels, warm water and dish soap.
- mix a small amount of soap and warm water in the spray bottle or small bucket
- spray the top of the seat first, that way you don’t get grime on the bottom you just cleaned.
- scrub the seat “Gently” first with the scotch brite pad, if it seems like your not getting it clean enough you will need the brush, some leather has a deeper grain then other and require the brush to penetrate down into the cracks and crevices to get the dirt out. Don’t be scared to scrub, the leather is tougher then you think, but don’t go crazy.
- wipe as you go this will help to eliminate streaks in the dye.
- repeat for bottom portion of the seat
- after seat is clean and looking new again, “Condition” I can’t stress this enough to people, leather is skin and what happens to your skin when it gets dry, it cracks right. Apply a liberal amount of conditioner with a clean towel working from top to bottom and buffing it in as you go. I recommend Lexol to all my customers, but there are other alternatives like emu oil. But be careful some animal products leave the seat feeling greasy.
If your seat doesn’t look a hundred percent or some areas look worn or cracked after cleaning first let it dry you would be amazed what will disappear after it drys. But if the areas still show then you will probably need to have the leather dyed. Leather repair is a craft and there are lot of variables to dyeing leather and making it look new again so if you can I do recommend you get a professional to any dye work.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me on how to clean leather seats.