Precautionary Leather Education
Leather seats do not need to be intimidating; proper leather care is easy! In this section, we will familiarize you with types of leather you will encounter, and what to expect from them. The types of leather you can purchase are usually divided into two important categories.
One process is called “Spray-On” dying, and is used by most American and Japanese manufacturers. Although this process creates a livid, vibrant color, it is not an everlasting achievement. The oils secreted from your skin may cause spray-on leathers to lose their color prematurely, dampening the effect of your lush leather interior. Removing these oils is paramount to leather care, but limiting the amount of bare skin you expose to your seats and interior is a great way to prevent discoloration. Once damage to the extent of cracking has been done to spray on leathers, there is no way to restore them to original factory condition without dying them.
The second process for treating leather is called “Vat-Dying,” and is predominantly seen in European and higher end automobiles. Unlike the spray-on technique, this process penetrates the leather and actually dyes the entire piece, inside and out. While vat-dyed leathers are harder to damage with oils, they are not completely safe from the natural secretions of your body, and should be cared for whenever you notice a build up. Absolutely no smoking should be tolerated in your car. This dangerous habit can do more than burn unsightly holes in your precious leather; the smoke can also cause unnatural yellowing of your ceiling fibers. Another obvious thing to avoid is setting metal items on the seats, such as wallet chains, car keys and zippers. These items all have rigid edges that can cause irrevocable rips and scratches. Use your head and be aware of what comes in contact with your leather to ensure it’s lasting beauty.
Proper Leather Cleaning Techniques
1. Clear your workspace. Before applying any products to your seats, always vacuum your interior to dislodge any surface lint that might inhibit your products from getting to the leather. Surface dirt can hide in between the grooves of your leather seats, and by wiping without vacuuming; you may create friction by rubbing the dirt across the leather as you clean it. This unnecessary friction could develop a rash of tiny blemishes. Play it safe and vacuum first, then go at it with a damp towel to remove anything left behind.
2. Turn up the Heat. Although leather is essentially dead, it still responds to heat the way human skin does. By running your heater for a few minutes before you clean you are actually causing the pores to open for deeper penetration. Likewise, some products work under this same principle. Check the label to see if your product of choice recommends using it at an enhanced temperature. If you live in Florida, like us at Superior Car Care, you can let the tropical climate enhance the temperature of your products and leather all on its own.
3. Select a Section. Alkaline cleaners and acidic cleaners are as dangerous to leather as they are to your skin. Always select one that is generally pH neutral, and/or water based. Plain saddle soap is out of the question- its high alkalinity content is terrible for leather upholstery. An example of a quality product would be Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner. You can’t go wrong with Lexol Leather Cleaner either, as both are non-alkaline and non-drying. Regardless, you should apply both of these products in the shade to prevent premature evaporation, and in a well ventilated area unless otherwise noted.
4. Tools, hands-down. When you apply your leather cleaner you should always rely on the dependability of tools designed for the specific task at hand. Cobra Microfiber Applicators will help your product permeate deeper into your leather for better cleaning. Without scrubbing, your cleaner may not completely remove dirt. Having two applicators can come in handy, so that you can apply cleaner and conditioner without accidentally cross contaminating.
Conditioning your leather
Conditioning products require a different set of procedures to ensure their proper use. While most products are applied to, and wiped off of your vehicle almost immediately, conditioners needs about 20 minutes to do their work. It should be noted that 90% of all leathers are coated with chemical preservatives. A conditioner is necessary to penetrate the breathable parts of your interior and restore it to maximum showroom presence. Follow these final instructions to get the best out of your leather conditioning experience.
1. Dry before you Apply. Ensure that your leather has been wiped dry before applying any leather conditioners. Although water won’t damage your leather, (Leathers are dyed in water and naturally repel it) conditioners work best on dry leather. Massaging the product into the leather is easy, because top of the line restoratives like Pinnacle Leather Conditioner contain a medley of natural oils. These oils expedite the process by smoothing the transition of conditioner to leather by allowing deeper saturation.
2. Wipe and Wait. There is no way to over-saturate leather, because there is a natural limit to how much product it can absorb. If you have applied too much, the excess leather conditioner will sit on the surface of the leather long after the rest has been absorbed. With a damp towel, be sure to wipe away this additional conditioner, or re-apply it to another un-touched area. When all is well, let your conditioner sit for 15 to 20 minutes without disturbing it.
3. Testing, 1-2-3. One must be careful in choosing the proper products. If you are unsure about a product, test it first in an inconspicuous place. If the product is adverse to the leather strip in any way, can it and ban it. Although most of these products work with surprising effectiveness, one can never be too sure until you try it.
4. Avoid Sunburns. Like human skin, leather can be easily damaged by the powerful UV rays of the sun. Those most commonly affected vehicles are convertibles with leather interiors or those who drive under intense temperatures. Defend your leather from these hot circumstances with 303 Aerospace Protectant. When alternated with your conditioner it will provide excellent protection from the sun and keep your leather enviously decadent.
5. Save Time. Leather care pros worldwide agree that leather requires both cleaning and conditioning to maintain it’s healthy appearance, and many 1-step products achieve both of these goals while saving you time and money. While some may be skeptical of these ‘all-in-one’ products that have been gaining popularity lately, technological breakthroughs have made it possible to deliver quality results in half the time. Pinnacle Leather Cleaner & Conditioner is ideal for the enthusiast who wants a quality job in less time.