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Foreign Affairs Motorsport
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Auto Detailing: The Best Way To Clean Your Car’s Leather Upholstery

auto detailing

A premium leather interior is the apex of a luxury vehicle. Whether you’ve bought used or new there are some ground rules to making sure that your leather retains its showroom condition. Before we jump into our five tips and tricks, head over and check our ultimate detailing guide. (If you haven’t already.)

1.   Vacuum First

Start your detailing by giving your interior a good vacuum. Remember that you are going to be washing the seats so make sure that you get in every corner. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum or even better, an air compressor to loosen stubborn dirt.

2.   Sponge Down

Use a bucket of lukewarm water and a sponge. No detergent. Give the seats a gentle sponging to moisten the leather. Don’t forget the steering wheel and leather-clad side rests.

3.   Use Shampoo

Leather is a natural product and is very similar to hair in chemical makeup. So, a standard 2 in1 shampoo works as two things. Firstly, it gets between the pores in the leather to clean it thoroughly. Then it replaces some of the natural oils keeping the leather supple. Make sure that you choose a non-medicated shampoo and we suggest something with a mint or tea tree scent to keep your interior smelling fresh.

Test your shampoo on an inconspicuous piece of the interior to make sure it has no strange reaction with the leather. Your sponge will come in handy here again. Get two buckets of water. One for the shampoo and one for the rinse. Apply the shampoo using the sponge and massage it into the leather with round circular movements. Remove the excess shampoo using the second bucket and a microfiber towel or mitt. Then follow up with a sponge rinse and let the interior dry thoroughly.

4.   Leather Conditioner

Right, so you’ve done the Brazilian Shampoo treatment, now it’s time to break out the hair dye… Just kidding. Once you’re sure the interior is completely dry, you need to condition the leather. There are a variety of products available for this, but we advise something from Leather Honey, Meguiars, or BMW. If you can’t find either of these, come and have a chat with our friendly ASE-certified team.

Use a soft cloth like a microfiber towel or cotton flannel. Make sure that you first test your conditioner on a hidden spot so that it doesn’t have a bad reaction with the leather. Again, don’t be afraid to use elbow grease – massaging the product deep into the pores of the leather will ensure that it can absorb all the natural oils.

5.   Sun Destroys

Leather is full of natural oil. The Florida sunshine and salty atmosphere extract the moisture and oils from the leather making it vulnerable to developing cuts and cracks. Try as much as possible to find a shaded parking space for your auto and if this isn’t possible, use a vehicle dashboard sun-shield.

We hope that this has helped you have a better idea of how to care for your leather interior. You don’t need to shampoo it often – once every year is usually more than enough. Make sure you condition it once every three months and you’ll find that your leather will age gracefully. Vehicles with aged leather interiors often fetch more at resale.

Got a cloth interior instead? We’ve got the Best Way To Clean Your Car’s Cloth Upholstery Guide for that too.

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