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How to Clean & Condition Leather Car Seats & Interior

Bill Crawley

Posted on April 03 2020

How to Clean & Condition Leather Car Seats & Interior

The main thing here is: once again make certain the surface is clean and free of dirt and oils. Remember, you are basically working with skin, Just like your own skin, if you clean it but do not moisturize it, it will get dry and start to crack. And it would be a bit gross to think about rubbing lotion a dirty arm or leg. It is the same with leather. Do not just clean it without putting on a moisturizer afterward or condition without cleaning.

It is true that most modern leather surfaces have a light plastic (urethane )  coating to help protect the hide; however this is also susceptible to drying and cracking as well- and if it goes South, your interior will look sketchy. Clean and Moisturize every month or so and things will stay looking and feeling great.

If your car is older, it will not have a urethane coating and will be much dryer due to the additional years it has spent battling the elements. Therefore, you should leave the conditioner on the surface for a few minutes, maybe 15 to 20 to allow the ingredients to absorb into the leather’s pores. This will hydrate the hides and get them feeling right again. With newer treated leathers this will not do you much good, as the pores have been sealed with the coating which is moisture and waterproof. None the less, it will help the surface of the coating stay in great shape.

The take away is; if you Don’t have time to both clean and condition, it is probably better to wait until you can do them together. If you do have the time, let's dig in a little deeper.

How to Clean and Condition Leather Car Seats

If you’ve gone the extra mile in getting luxurious, supple leather car seats in your vehicle, you better make sure you’re taking care of them properly. Leather seats should be treated like delicate, newborn baby skin: they need to be protected and treated right if you don’t want them to look like torn up pieces of rawhide covering your car seats. At Lithium, we’re all about making the best detailing products that help you take care of your vehicle so it keeps looking good for miles to come.

What Causes Leather Seats to Crack?

Leather is a natural, porous material that is susceptible to fading and cracking, which is why cleaning and conditioning your leather car seats is crucial. Heat and UV rays from the sun, along with oil and dirt from your skin and open windows can all contribute to the breakdown of your supple leather seats, causing ugly cracks. Simply parking your car outside on a sunny, summer day exposes leather seats to harmful, UV rays. Add up the days, months, and years of driving during the day and parking outside, even in the shade, and your leather seats are susceptible to loss of moisture that leads to cracked leather. If you don’t put sunscreen and moisturizer on your face, it’s going to burn and wrinkle sooner than you’d prefer. Leather seats are the same as your skin because it’s literally treated animal skin. In order to keep your leather seats supple and soft you need to protect it so the moisture isn’t sucked out of it, causing it to crack like an old cowboy boot left out to bake in the sun.

What is the Best Way to Care for Leather Car Seats?

If you don’t want your leather seats to crack, you need to care for them with the best leather cleaner and conditioner you can get your hands on. Don’t wait until your seats are already cracked! Do you really want to drag your rear along nubby, cracked seats every time you get behind the wheel? While a lot of leather seats already come with a protective urethane coating, it eventually wears off, like any coating, and will need enhancement to keep the leather in tip top shape. The best way to care for your leather is by applying a natural, hydrating conditioning treatment like Lithium’s Hide Rehab. We like to keep it natural, just like leather itself, and concocted a winning combination of lipids, shea butter, vitamin E, purified coconut oils, and other natural conditioners that you could practically use on your own skin (but we’d suggest to save it for the skin covering your car seats). So if you want your leather seats to keep looking like your new girlfriend instead of your crabby mother-in-law, Hide Rehab is the stuff you’ll want to condition and protect your leather seats.

How Do You Clean Leather Seats in a Car?

The first thing you need to do before you apply anything to your leather seats is thoroughly clean away any dirt, crumbs, or other debris that may have collected on the seats and in the grooves before applying any leather conditioner. If you don’t, you’ll end up pushing around dirt and abrasives that will only add to damaging the leather with scratches and grime. Next, use a gentle, but effective cleanser like Lithium’s  Hyper Cleanse surface cleaner to wipe down the leather. While it was initially developed to clean leather, pretty much anyone who’s ever used it found that it worked so well they started using it on everything else that needed cleaning. So after you’ve cleaned your leather seats, feel free to get stains out of your vinyl or cloth seats, your carpet, your couch, your tires, or whatever else needs cleaning in your life with Hyper Cleanse. Spray some onto a microfiber cloth so you don’t have to worry about lint and gently rub down your leather seats. This will clean away dirt and grime so your leather seats are prepped for conditioning treatment. Hyper Cleanse doesn’t contain any harsh solvents that will damage or fade the luster of the leather or leave any streaky residue, so it’s perfect for cleaning a delicate material like leather.

How Do You Keep Leather Car Seats from Cracking?

After you’ve cleaned your leather seats, now you’re ready to apply a leather conditioner. This is the stuff that keeps the leather from cracking by adding a protective conditioning coat. We already mentioned the magic that is Hide Rehab, but if you really want your leather seats to feel like butter, you’ll go giddy over Leather Love. This leather conditioner is like body butter for your leather seats, and is especially effective in bringing old, worn leather back to life. Saddle up with this smooth tub filled with natural essential oils, bees’ wax, and vitamin E, Leather Love is literally like spreading liquid love onto your leather seats. If you’re looking to rekindle your love affair with your leather seats, Leather Love will definitely bring back that initial spark!

How Do I Condition My Leather Car Seats Naturally?

All of our leather car seat cleaners and conditioners contain the best natural leather enhancers, vitamins, and essential oils, without any harsh chemicals so your leather stays soft, supple, and glowing the way it naturally should for miles down the road. At Lithium, we’re all about the love of cars and making the best products for anyone who just appreciates their vehicles.

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