When most people think premium, luxurious car interiors, their minds often jump to leather. It has a nice smell, a nice look, and a nice feel. However, if you ask anyone who actually OWNS a leather interior, they will tell you there is nothing " luxurious" about having to care for it! Leather is very durable in some ways, but its weaknesses can be very hard to overcome. It is very sensitive to UV rays, which will cause leather to fade much faster than other interior types if it is not properly protected. It also needs to be properly conditioned, so the material doesn't dry and crack. On top of that, if you wear certain types of jeans while you are sitting on your leather seats, it could cause "denim transfer" which will leave your leather with a faint, bluish tinge.
That is not to say that leather is not worth the added effort! Driving in a well-maintained leather interior is one of life's most treasured experiences. You just have to make sure that you are covering all of your bases and caring for your leather properly.
If you are not sure how to tackle such a task, we are here to help you out and allow you to enjoy that leather interior for decades to come!How to clean leather:If you are new to caring for a leather interior and thus haven't cleaned your leather interior at all, you will need to make sure you bring your leather back up to a healthy, base-line level of clean.
The first step is to get rid of any larger, loose debris before moving into cleaning out the leather pores themselves. Doing so will prevent dirt and debris from being dragged across the surface while you are cleaning and causing micro-scratches to occur. Thoroughly vacuuming the seats is all that you really need to do to ensure there is no loose debris or dirt.
Because leather is more sensitive than vinyl or fabric seating, you will need to make sure you are not using a cleaner that has chemicals which are too harsh. Because leather is the hide of a cow, it behaves similarly to how our skin reacts to harsh cleaners. If you use harsh cleaners, your leather will dry out and crack. So, stay away from APCs (unless they are properly diluted for leather care) and don't you dare use any thing intended for exterior cleaning like degreasers! Make sure that the cleaner you are using does NOT contain any wax, petroleum, bleach, or ammonia! And ALWAYS make sure to do a test spot on a part of the leather that is out of sight to make sure the cleaner doesn't have an adverse reaction to your leather!
If you are having a hard time finding a cleaner that will be effective at cleaning your leather without being too harsh, try our BLACKFIRE Interior Cleaner
! It is made with non-ionic surfactants, so it will not harm your leather or you while you are cleaning!
Now that you know which cleaner to use, you must make sure you are using proper cleaning technique. The first thing you want to make sure of is that you are using proper cleaning tools. Like we said before, you should treat your leather as if it were your own skin. To that end, you don't want to be using a brush that has bristles which are too stiff. You want to make sure that brush or applicator you are using is soft, gentle, and able to provide proper agitation.
We recommend using any one of these for your leather cleaning: Leather & Vinyl Interior Scrub Brush, Natural Horse Hair Interior Upholstery Brush, Microfiber Applicator, Microfiber Gloves, or Mango Breeze Microfiber Towels.
No matter which cleaning tool you choose, there is one thing that very important to note when using it to clean leather. The cleaner you are using gets applied TO THE TOOL, NOT TO THE LEATHER!
The reason for this is because leather has a ton of tiny pores all over it's surface. If the leather's surface gets saturated, too much of the cleaner gets trapped in these pores. Even if you are using a gentle cleaner, if it too much gets trapped in the pores repeatedly, it will begin to dry out the leather. Also, if the cleaner soaks into the cushion of the seat, it can cause mold or mildew. So, avoid over-saturation by spraying the cleaner on the applicator/brush instead of directly on the leather. Also, make sure you are not spraying too much cleaner onto the applicator/brush. You should only need 2-3 sprays at first, and then one additional spray to re-wet the brush as needed.
When you are using your chosen tool to clean, remember, the goal is agitation, not scrubbing. When you are cleaning, you are trying to gently work the cleaner into the pores of the leather. This doesn't take much downward pressure at all. If you scrub too hard, you could instill micro-scratches in the surface of your leather. If this is done repeatedly over the course of a couple cleanings, you will start to notice a more ragged look to your leather. Eventually, your leather will look cracked, faded, and will start to peel. You should only need to press down on your leather about as hard as you press your toothbrush to your teeth.
You will also want to agitate the surface by moving in a tight, circular motion. Like your skin, the pores of leather are not a straight hole into the leather. They go down at slight angles in every direction. Working in a tight, circular motion allow the product to be worked into the pores from every direction, allowing the cleaner to be massaged into every pore effectively.
You want to clean your leather in small sections at a time and dry each section after you are done with a clean and dry microfiber towel. You should fold a microfiber towel into quarters and flip to a new side after drying each section.
This is again to avoid over-saturation of the leather. If you cover too much area at once, you are allowing the cleaner more time to become absorbed into the pores, which we do not want to allow too much of.
As you are working your way around the seats, make sure to look at your microfiber towel after drying each section. If you are scrubbing too hard, you will start to notice some of the leather stain coming off onto the towel as you dry. If the towel is only coming up black or gray, then you are likely only pulling up dirt. If it is coming up brown or tan, then you are likely also pulling up the leather stain, so you should ease up on the agitation.
It can help to use a white towel like the Arctic White Edgeless Microfiber Cloth
so you can notice the color more clearly as you work.Conditioning the leather:
Now that your leather is sufficiently clean, you want to make sure that it protected and well nourished. Much like your skin, you need to make sure that your leather is properly moisturized to keep it supple and soft. However, when selecting a leather conditioner, you have to be particular about it. You do NOT
want a conditioner that contains any waxes or petroleum! These substances will harden and clog the pores of your leather as well as leave a greasy feeling to your leather. You instead want to make sure you are using a conditioner with a water-base to proper evaporation and non-greasy finish.
Because leather is especially susceptible to UV rays, you want to make sure your conditioner has UV ray inhibitors to ensure that your leather will not fade, dry out, and crack over time.
We recommend using our BLACKFIRE Leather Conditioner
to protect and rejuvenate your leather. The water-based formula means you won't have to worry about clogged leather pores or greasy feel, it is packed with plenty of UV inhibitors, and even contains co-polymers that cross-link with each other and form a moisture barrier to prevent damage from spills and abrasion!
Applying your leather conditioner is a much simpler process than cleaning the leather. All you will need is a simple foam applicator like our Foam Wax Applicator
. You will apply a small, dime-sized amount of your chosen leather conditioner onto the applicator (NOT DIRECTLY ONTO THE LEATHER!)
Then just thoroughly massage the conditioner into the leather using the same pressure and circular motion you used when cleaning. You can work in larger sections at a time while conditioning your leather since you actually want the condition time to be adequately absorbed by the pores.
Use a clean and dry microfiber towel to lightly buff any excess conditioner off the surface.Maintaining the leather:
Now that your leather is up to snuff and looking great, you want to make sure that it stays that way. In order to make sure that dirt, grime, and other harmful substances don't build up on your leather, you will want to clean it once a month.
If you are staying on top of your leather cleaning, you don't have to use as intense of a cleaner as you did when you first cleaned it. You can use a milder cleaner to further prevent any risk of damage to the leather.
Our Blackfire Leather Complete
is more than capable of handling the light cleaning that you will need to do if you are routinely cleaning your leather. As an added benefit, Leather Complete will also add some more protection onto your leather after it cleans. This will make sure that your leather is kept supple and protected in between conditions.You will also want to re-apply BLACKFIRE Leather Conditioner once every 6 months to make sure that your leather is properly moisturized and protected. Enjoying the leather:That all you really need to know about taking care of your leather seats! If you follow these steps carefully and routinely clean and condition your leather, you will be able to enjoy vibrant, supple, and beautiful leather for years to come!