With time and patience you can retain the natural beauty of your leather interior upholstery, it actually takes less care then people think, and rather ironically, this can be the most common problem.
When upholstery grade leather leaves the tannery it is already very well protected as it comes with surfactants. In fact certain vehicle manufacturers specify very high levels of surfactants. Often, owners of vehicles with leather interiors assume that to keep their leather interiors in tip top condition they must regularly apply leather conditioners, however this can in fact strip the protection which has been applied in the tannery. Overtime, this will cause the leather to dry out and crack prematurely.
The most effective way to care and retain the leathers natural softness and matt finish is to simply regularly wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth. It’s like shoes, shoe retailers like to sell care products but the shoe manufacturers have already applied protection to the leather shoes! Yes of course, you must ensure the seats are free from loose debris otherwise this will work itself in and start to buff and weaken the leather.
However, if your interior has already been neglected and you need to clean it there are several chemical-based leather cleaning products available. These treatments are best carried out when the leather interior is warm so that the natural pores which exist in the fabric are more porous and able to absorb the solution.
Before applying any chemical cleaner it is essential that the leather is vacuumed thoroughly to ensure that the fabric is free from any loose debris. Then panel by panel wipe the seats down with a clean, damp cloth. I wouldn’t recommend using chemicals cleaners on small areas, if you don’t want to clean the whole vehicle make sure that you at least clean the whole leather panel of fabric. But remember to avoid the stitched areas, as the chemicals in the cleaner will not only discolour the stitching, but can destroy it. Also you run the risk of getting the solution stuck in between the leather panels with no way of being able to buff it off.
Using an 100% cotton cloth and with a small circular motion, rub the solution into the leather. The fabric will darken slightly but don’t worry about this, you will know where you have been and it will lighten again at the buffing stage. It will be necessary to work in stages as the chemical cleaner will need to be buffed up before it dries. For the buffing stage I use another 100% cotton cloth and in the same way I applied the solution I remove it. It should come over easily, if it doesn’t you have left it on too long. You’re not looking for a shiny finish and you’re not polishing boots so don’t use a brush, your feeding it not polishing it!
To maintain the revitalised leather wipe down every couple of weeks with a soft, damp cotton cloth. You shouldn’t need to use chemical conditioners more than twice a year or you will destroy the surfactants which will most definitely reduce the life of the leather.