Car Care Tips for Leather Interior

2018 Lincoln Navigator Reserve

It used to be that leather was found only in high-end vehicles, but now even mid-range trucks and SUVs can have a leather interior. These car care tips will help you keep it looking its best.

Car Car Tips

Some leather seats are coated with a thin layer of vinyl to protect the leather from UV radiation, oils from passengers’ skin, grease from fast food meals eaten on the go, and ground-in dirt. Others are not protected and require additional care. Keeping your car’s leather interior in tip-top shape is made easier by the accessibility of leather cleaners, conditioners, and protectants, which are sold in auto, drug and hardware stores nationwide.

Type of Leather

Leather may be used many places inside your car, including the seats, door panels, dashboard, steering wheel, and gearshift. Some or all of the leather may be vinyl coated. To determine what type of leather is used where, apply a few drops of cool clean water to the leather surface. If the water is absorbed, the leather is not coated; if the water is repelled, the leather is coated. If after the water test you’re still skeptical, look in the owner’s manual or contact the dealer.

Leather Care Products

Without caring for your leather interior properly, the leather will lose its luster and may crack as it becomes less flexible. To prevent this you must first clean the leather, and then condition it. Remove oils, grease and dirt using a soft, clean cloth. Test a leather cleaner on an inconspicuous area before applying it all over—you don’t want to remove the leather dye when cleaning. If gunk is stuck in seat crevices, use an upholstery brush to remove it safely. Then moisturize your leather interior with a leather conditioner. Engineered to be absorbed into the cell fibers, conditioners will help prevent your leather interior from cracking as it ages. You may finish by spraying a leather protectant product on your interior as well.

Care Frequency

Routine cleaning and conditioning are recommended for all leather products. Consider cleaning and conditioning your leather interior twice a year. Use leather cleaner more regularly on the driver’s seat, gearshift and steering wheel. This will help ensure your interior lasts the life of your car, truck or SUV.

Preventative Measures

Protect your leather interior from the sun and heat by covering your car windows or parking it in the shade. Leather ages more quickly when heated up. Also, remove sharp objects from your pockets before sitting in a leather seat to avoid scratching the material or, even worse, ripping it.

Ford King Ranch Leather

I am often asked how to care for the special leather found in Ford King Ranch Edition trucks and Expeditions. I recommend King Ranch Leather Conditioner which you can purchase online here:

  1. steveeoneders 3 years ago

    You reference, “…first clean the leather, and then condition it.” This I gather refers to genuine leather seats. Other suggestions also refer to genuine leather.

    If my leather seats are vinyl coated, how to I maintain that material without damaging or deteriorating the coating? The owners manual instructs, “wipe the surface with a mild soap and water solution. Dry the area with a soft cloth.” However, I would like to know what treatment I can use to maintain the coating further. Thanks.

    • Michele Sanders 3 years ago

      Steve, leather conditioners work fine on vinyl too. I use products personally, they are awesome. Hope this helps you and thanks for listening!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  2. Wheelie 1 year ago

    I just got a leather upgrade for my car seat. This is perfect for me. Thanks!

  3. Scarlett Autance 10 months ago

    That’s exactly what I am looking for. Thanks for this post. I love your blog and all the ideas you shared about outdoor experiences. Keep it up!

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