Tan, cream, white and silver leathers are elegant and functional. They make your vehicle’s interior seem spacious, light, and airy. They’re ideal for hot environments and are durable against a variety of dirt. While light colored leather is great at hiding dirt and dust, it can be compromised by things like stains, food, and scratches. No matter the color, it only takes a few simple steps to maintain them and preserve their beauty.
Follow these simple steps to clean your tan, cream, white, or silver leather seats: Take note of any pre-existing damage, remove any debris, perform a spot-test, apply leather cleaner, and condition the leather.
Over time, leather can pick up dirt, grime, and even bacteria, so it is important to get into a cleaning routine that minimizes wear and tear and maximizes leather's appearance. To maintain leather seats, you’ll need the following items: a vacuum, a dependable leather cleaner, a cleaning cloth (preferably microfiber), and a soft-bristled brush.
Take note of any pre-existing damage
Take note of any pre-existing holes or weak spots in your leather. Scrubbing these areas with force, along with any hard objects, can make any pre-existing damage worse. This is a basic but important step to take before you continue the cleaning process.
In addition, excess water or cleaner could find its way into cushions through holes or perforations in the material. Perforations are intentional holes placed in the material by the car manufacturer. These function as small ventilation systems for the seats, either for cooling or heating features.
Remove any debris
Focus on removing abrasive debris or pebbles. This can be achieved manually, with a microfiber cloth, or with a vacuum. Scrubbing your leather with sand, dirt, or pebbles may cause scratches or tears. In addition to preventing damage, this step will make your cleaning process more efficient and less time consuming overall.
A vacuum cleaner is the quickest and most effective method for most cases. Any type of vacuum - be it household or one that you find at a car detailing site or car wash - will work for this step. Hose attachments from household vacuums are useful tools to have on hand, as they reach into cracks and crevices.
Perform a spot-test
Always test new cleaning products before diving right in to cleaning. To complete a spot-test, apply a small amount of product on a tiny, unnoticeable surface area. Apply the cleaning solution to the side, rear, or underside of a seat or dash so you can see how it affects the leather.
This test is only necessary if you are trying a new product. Once you have found an effective product that you trust, you may skip the spot-test portion of the cleaning process.
Apply leather cleaner
It’s time to make that leather glow! Apply cleaning solution to your cloth or pad, rather than directly onto your leather. This will ensure that the leather does not begin to soak in liquids, and that excess chemicals do not linger on your leather surface. This also gives you direct control of where the cleaning solution goes.
We recommend using either a clean microfiber towel or applicator pad for cleaning. Microfiber towels are extremely absorbent and gentle on delicate surfaces. Applicator pads are great for the initial wipe down, as they won’t soak up much of the cleaning solution you’re applying to the leather – an area where microfiber towels can be cumbersome.
It is best to wipe in a circular pattern, working in small areas until you get the desired result. Take care to avoid any damaged areas that you noted earlier.
Use a soft-bristle brush to get any stubborn debris.
Microfiber towels or application pads may not be enough to clean stubborn stains. A soft-bristle brush can remove dirt from more soiled areas. Avoid using firm brushes, as hard bristles may scratch or damage your leather. Soft bristles allow you to scrub the leather firmly, without the risk of damage. We recommend using a circular wiping technique on small areas until you get the desired result. Work in small areas, moving onto the next and repeating the process until done.
Conditioning your leather.
Over time, cleaning solutions may take away protectants that manufacturers initially applied. Leather conditions are a great solution to this problem. They provide protection for leather, and they are especially important to use in older car models. Leather protectants can help to replenish natural oils and rehydrate your leather, making it soft, pliable, and durable.
There are wonderful post-cleaning leather conditioners on the market. There are also two- or three-in-one solutions that clean, condition, and protect leather in one step. For example, this leather cleaner has ingredients to clean the leather effectively without degrading the strength and flexibility of the material. This product also replenishes natural oils and adds a protective layer to combat UV inhibitors that can fade, dry, and crack the leather over time.
We recommend three-in-one solutions to clean your leather, as they simplify the process and make sure your material is both clean and protected. The cost of a three-in-one solution is typically more economical compared to the cost multiple individual cleaners. That said, individual cleaners can be useful to have around to use when you are trying to accomplish a particular cleaning objective.
Leveling up: dry vapor steamers
The consensus around the automotive world is that dry-vapor steamers are some of the best tools to clean and maintain leather upholstery. Dry-vapor steamers work by creating low moisture vapors that carry dirt to the surface. This is a natural method of cleaning leather that does not require scrubbing or the application of chemicals.
The only downside to using a dry-vapor steamer is the cost. Most quality dry-vapor steamer units will run north of $1,000. There are cheaper alternatives to this. You may be able to buy a steamer second-hand or find one available to rent. Almost every professional automotive detailer has a dry-vapor steamer in his arsenal, so you may choose to visit a professional to enjoy this service.
Leather provides beauty and comfort, but it does require upkeep. With proper care and routine, the material should bring you years of enjoyment. Follow these simple steps: Take note of any pre-existing damage, remove any debris, perform a spot-test, apply leather cleaner, and condition your leather. A regular, thorough cleaning process will ensure that you enjoy your tan, cream, white or silver leather seats for the life of your vehicle.