Customer Q&A: How Do I Clean & Protect My Leather Interior?

Customer Q&A: How Do I Clean & Protect My Leather Interior?

August 06, 2019

Automotive leather interiors come in an incredible diversity of textures and colors. We see more and more bright color leathers - creating a contrast with darker shades, or other textures of materials. Some vehicles are offered with white or near-white shades that look incredibly elegant when clean, but quickly lose their luster under typical use. But it's also true that many leathers are becoming more durable and easier to clean as the leather finishes become more advanced and resistant to scuffing and staining.

Our customers at The Refinery often ask us how to best care for their leather interiors. Of course there are many facets to this conversation, but here are some common and easy to use approaches that will yield you great results.

Leather Cleaning:

The first step is to clean your leather. Use a vacuum with a gentle-bristled brush or crevice hand-attachment to remove the largest dirt, sand, or food particles that have found their way into the crevices of your seat. Focus particular attention on the stitching and the gaps between two adjacent seat panels. Use one hand to pull the padded sections apart to expose the gaps, and vacuum with the other. If using the crevice attachment or another hard plastic attachment, be careful not to scratch the leather while pushing it into the gaps.

Next, use a good quality cleaner that is designed for use on leather. These cleaners contain detergents that are mild enough to use on most natural and coated leathers, but strong enough to remove ground in body oils and fabric dyes. With a medium-bristled brush, gently agitate the leather surfaces with the cleaning agent. Wipe the leather cleaner off of the seats using a moistened microfiber cloth, and then wipe dry with another dry microfiber cloth. Spend more time or repeat the process on the dirtiest panels - such as driver's arm rest or seat bolsters.

Leather Conditioning:

Most leathers benefit from leather conditioning following cleaning. The leather conditioners are designed to restore suppleness and softness to the leather surface after cleaning - without making the surface sticky or shiny looking. Some leather cleaners have conditioning ingredients in them, allowing you to skip a dedicated conditioning step in the finishing process.

Leather Protection:

Once your leather interior has been cleaned and conditioned, you might want to use a dedicated leather protection product to provide a longer-lasting barrier against spills, body oils, and dye transfer from clothing. 

Some leather protection cremes are naturally derived, and provide an easy-to-apply temporary barrier to contamination.

Now, many ceramic coating manufacturers have developed a leather coating application that offers a much longer lasting barrier. The application of these coatings require a bit more skill, but provide the maximum resistance to spills, dye transfer and staining. For light color leather interiors, this is an extremely valuable solution. 

Product Recommendations:

At The Refinery, we have some specialty products that we use for very specific tasks - but in general, these two systems have been our favorite for leather care and protection:

  1. Leather Master System:
    Leather Master products have been our go-to products for years. The products are very gentle, but deliver a wonderfully clean, smooth and supple feel with a natural matte finish.

    This 3 product system is comprised of Leather Master's LEATHER CLEANER, LEATHER VITAL conditioner, and LEATHER PROTECTION CREAM protectant. For typical cleaning and conditioning needs, these products will deliver exceptional results.

  2. Gyeon Leather Care:
    Gyeon offers a comprehensive line of premium detailing products and ceramic coatings. We use a variety of Gyeon products at The Refinery, and their leather care products are excellent.

    Gyeon Leather Cleaner is an excellent cleaning agent to remove oils, debris and dyes from the leather surface. Then once clean, Gyeon Leather Coat provides a durable, hydrophobic coating that resists oils and spills and makes dye transfer from clothing easy to clean off your seats. It also offers strong UV resistance which helps prevent sun-bleaching when your car is left in the sun.

    This is our go-to product line for light colored leather interiors since it offers the strongest possible barrier for these sensitive colors. This is also a great solution for daily driven family cars that see frequent spills of food, drinks, and other debris.

Leather is one of the most luxurious interior finishes in your vehicle, and it also receives the most contact and wear of any area of the car. Maintaining a good cleaning and protecting regimen will keep your leather looking, feeling and smelling its best for many years of enjoyment.

Please contact us with any questions or comments - or to book an appointment at The Refinery to treat your leather interior to a renewal service.

Thanks for reading!

Gerard @ The Refinery