How to Care for Leather, Keeping it Healthy and Happy

How to Care for Leather, Keeping it Healthy and Happy

Discover the art of leather care in this humorous guide. Learn the tools, steps, and secrets to maintain your car's leather interior. From spill cleanup to product recommendations, enhance your driving experience and protect your vehicle's value.

 brown leather car seats in a car with an open sun roof showing the stars at night

(Ok Its Dead So Happy May Not Ever Happen- But..)

There are few things that evoke feelings of 'all is right in the world for me' quite like the smell of freshly cut grass in the spring—unless, of course, it's the fragrance of leather on a warm fall day. There's something about the idea of cruising around with the top down, taking in all that the season has to offer our senses. A big part of the romance behind this idea comes from spending the day in the perfect driving machine—a car that is both mechanically and aesthetically perfect, with leather that is healthy, soft, and supple. 

In this little assault on the English language, we are going to cover tips and secrets on how to achieve the healthiest hides possible.

What you will need:

  1. The Best Tools for Leather Care:
  • Soft-bristle brush: To agitate the leather cleaner and get into the minor age lines and crevasses.
  • Leather cleaner: For removing stains, dirt, bacteria, and oils transferred from your skin.
  • Leather conditioner: Essential for hydration.
  • Microfiber or soft cloths: For cleaning and buffing.
  1. Caring for Leather in a New Car:

red leather car seats

This subject is always a source of debate among enthusiasts and 'leather experts' because most new cars feature leather that has been treated with a thin coat of ethane or other polymers to protect it from water and stains. These coatings are waterproof and prevent the absorption of cleaners and conditioners. Thus, people often say, 'the only thing you can really do is wipe them down with a damp cloth,' which makes sense on the surface. However, over the years, we've paid close attention to what happens to 'treated leather' that isn't treated very well by its owner, and we have to say that some additional effort makes a huge difference. Therefore, we've become 'equal opportunity leather enthusiasts,' treating all hides as though their health and appearance depended on it—because it does.

Some tips for treated leathers:

  • Immediately clean spills with a damp cloth. Yes, we know it sounds obvious, but there have been many times when a spill happens on the vacant passenger seat, often delaying the cleanup effort. This delay allows the liquid to seep into the stitching and the needle holes created by the stitching, allowing moisture to subsequently make its way into the untreated, vulnerable backside of the leather.
  • Use specialized automotive leather cleaner and conditioner. Didn't we just say this stuff can't be absorbed? You get an 'A' for reading retention. However, these conditioners still contain ingredients such as UV inhibitors and oils (the base emulsifier for urethanes) that really help the protective top coat 'stay protective.'
  • Regularly clean with a 'non-solvent-based cleaner.' Solvents are like kryptonite to urethane, so stay away from harsh, chemical-based cleaners. We've had great luck with a product called Hyper Cleanse by Lithium. It's super gentle, super effective, and safe. Yes, that's a 'shameless plug,' but it's our blog!

So, we've provided you with the keyword searches—oops, we mean 'extremely helpful and resourceful information' on why it's important to care for your hides. Now let's get down to business.

Step One: As with most things in life, a little foreplay never hurts, and for your leather, this means warming it up. This can be as easy as simply pulling your car out into the sun with the windows up for a few minutes. Warming up the hides before cleaning and conditioning opens the pores and naturally softens them a bit. This makes the cleaners and conditioners work better as well.
Step Two: Now that things are nice and cozy, get a bucket of warm water and grab your microfibers. Dunk one into the bucket and ring it out thoroughly, then do a full wipe-down of the surfaces you plan to treat. This will remove loose surface grime and debris.
Step Three: Take your cleaner and apply it to the first area you're going to work on, whether it's one seat, the dash, or one door panel, just choose one. Liberally spray Hyper Cleanse or another cleaner and let it sit for about 60 seconds. Now start agitating it with your horsehair brush. For most surfaces, we like to use a crosshatch pattern—scrubbing first in a horizontal direction, then in a vertical one. We try to avoid the urge to scrub in a circular motion, as humans tend to scrub harder at the beginning of the project than towards the end. Or we stay in one spot scrubbing longer than others, both of which can create uneven results. Once you've finished scrubbing, take the microfiber you started with, re-rinse it, and wipe down the surface with warm water to remove the remaining cleaner. Then buff dry with another microfiber.
Step Four: Choose Your Own Adventure
Newer Leather: It's now time to condition and hydrate. If your seats are in pretty good shape or are newer, a lotion-style conditioner, such as Hide Rehab, is probably the way to go. This method is quick, easy, and also suitable for urethane-coated hides. Generously apply the product to the leather surface, using a microfiber applicator or towel, being careful to avoid stitching, pipe trim, or perforations in the seat. If your car features perforated leather, be cautious to ensure the applicator is moist with the product but not oversaturated, as it can be challenging to remove excess conditioner from these tiny holes. Contact time with the surface is key to getting good results, so don't rush to remove the product. Allow it to remain for several minutes before wiping it off. If this is the first time your leather has been cared for in a while, repeating the process a couple of times can make a significant difference as well. Now take a clean, dry microfiber and wipe it down.
Older Leather: If your leather is a bit older or has been neglected for a while, you'll probably want to use a 'balm-type product' like Leather Love. This is an all-natural, high-viscosity product that replaces the lipids and natural oils that dry weather, time, and UV light have taken away. When using a balm, we recommend liberally applying it to the leather surface (once again showing restraint around perforations and seams), then allowing it to remain for a couple of hours before wiping it clean. This allows the leather to absorb as much as possible and can make a big difference. Also, repeating this process a week later for really bad leather will yield excellent results as well.
In Conclusion: Let's start with the 'cliché reminder' that leather is skin, and all skin needs care and moisture to stay looking young. Also, keep in mind that a clean interior is the number one thing people look for when purchasing a used car. So, not only will soft and healthy hides make your driving more enjoyable, but they will also keep the value of your ride high. Now it's time to take a deep breath, allowing the smell of clean, healthy leather to permeate your sinuses as you go for a ride.
  1. Understanding Different Leather Types:

shiny black leather boots

  • Full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, bonded leather.
  • Varied maintenance needs – full-grain requires minimal care, others may need more attention.
  1. What to Avoid with Leather:
  • Harsh chemicals and household cleaners.
  • Overexposure to direct sunlight.
  • Excessive water or soaking.
  • Abrasive materials and rough scrubbing.
  • Sharp objects and pet claws.
  1. The Truth About Leather Shine:

an open can of Leather Love conditioner on brown leather seats

  • Shiny leather isn't necessarily clean leather; it may have artificial coatings.
  • Clean leather should have a natural sheen and well-nourished appearance.
  • Proper care involves regular cleaning, conditioning, and protection.

Conclusion: In the world of fashion and automotive elegance, leather stands out as a symbol of timeless style and sophistication. To preserve your leather items and ensure they age gracefully, it's crucial to follow the right tools and techniques for maintenance. Remember, the goal is not just a shiny surface but a well-cared-for piece that exudes natural beauty and charm. With the tips and insights shared here, you can enjoy your leather possessions for years to come, appreciating their enduring appeal. So, go ahead, embrace the art of leather care, and let your leather items tell a story of elegance and class.

1 comment



Wow! This is amazing, thank you.

Wow! This is amazing, thank you.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Free shipping

Free shipping on orders over $75. Continental US only

Subscribe to our newsletter

Promotions, new products and sales. Directly to your inbox.