A beautiful leather interior finish is the ultimate mark of a luxury car. But a grubby steering wheel or seats aren’t just an eyesore, then reduce the value of your vehicle and can even harbour nasty bacteria. But never fear… Because we’re about to reveal the insider secrets as to the correct process for a clean car leather interior and steering wheel to restore them to their former glory.
The Ultimate Guide to a Clean Car Leather Interior
- Step 1: It’s never too early to begin a clean car leather interior regime
- Step 2: The how-to process
- Step 3: A clean car leather interior includes the steering wheel
Step 1: It’s never too early to begin a clean car leather interior regime
The most important thing to understand is that the best car leather care should begin as soon as possible. And yes – this ideally means from the moment the car rolls off the production line. Contamination from different sources and UV rays are the enemy of leather. Not only do they wear it down, but they can also cause discolouration.
The following are some of the contaminants that cause leather wear and tear:
- Oils from human skin
- Food and drink
- Beauty products, including perfumes & aftershaves, moisturiser, hair spray etc.
- Sun damage caused by UV rays
While leather is a strong and robust product, it still requires constant care and attention to ensure it keeps its good looks. White and cream leather interiors, in particular, should be carefully looked after as they’re one of the most susceptible to stains and darkening in the areas of highest wear and tear.
Step 2: The how-to process
Cleaning a car leather interior is a 3-stage process. This is:
The cleaning process: This is done using a specialist leather cleaner, such as Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner – one that’s colourless and odourless so it can safely be used on any type of leather. Such a cleaner will gently ease away any contamination without affecting the colour or causing any damage to the integrity of the leather. This means it can safely be used on all-natural, synthetic, and colour-coded leather.
When cleaning a leather interior it’s recommended to use a micro-fibre cloth, as opposed to leather-cleaning brushes. This is so you don’t cause any damage to the leather itself. Spray the cleaner onto the cloth and rub over the surface. Be thorough, as a clean surface is needed before you carry onto the next step.
Be generous with the amount of cleaner you use. Once done, use a clean microfibre cloth to buff the seats. Don’t forget the arm rests and centre console.
The conditioning process: This is vital to ensure the leather remains supple and pliant. This, in turn, prevents cracking and breakage that can occur over time. In older vehicles that haven’t had the correct care, the edges of the seats – especially on the driver’s side that’s subjected to harder wear – are particularly prone to this.
Be sure to choose a high-grade conditioner, such as Chemical Guys Vintage Series Leather Conditioner. This should be applied to the leather using a microfibre applicator, as opposed to a cloth or sponge, as this will spread the cream evenly. Don’t apply too much product to the applicator and be sure to squash the cream into it so you don’t end up putting large blobs onto the leather itself.
Work the product well into every part of the seats, getting into all the creases and crevices. Continue until the product has been well-worked in and you can’t see any areas that are shinier than others. Don’t forget the headrest. Once this is done, buff with a clean microfibre cloth.
The leather should now look crisp, clean and in matt condition. Cheap cleaning products will make the leather appear shiny – this is not the look you should be aiming for. Good leather detailing presents a matt finish that feels soft and supple.
Protect the leather: This is done using a protective serum, such as Chemical Guys Leather Protectant Serum. This final step is especially important if your vehicle’s interior is subjected to excessive UV rays, such as convertibles. This effectively protects the leather against sun damage, as well as body oils, dirt, dust and any other contaminants.
This is the step that restores a beautiful matt sheen – the perfect look for any luxury interior finish. Use another applicator pad, apply the serum to the pad and squash it well in. Then apply to the leather itself. As well as protection, this prevents future leather cracking. It also restores that wonderful new leather smell – so is ideal for older cars as well as newer ones.
Work well into the leather and then use a separate micro-fibre cloth to buff. Voila! You’ve restored your car’s interior to its showroom glory.
If you can’t get enough of that that extra Leathery new car smell, grab some Chemical Guys Leather Scent also.
Step 3: A clean car leather interior includes the steering wheel
Don’t forget the steering wheel! This is one point of contact that’s especially important because our hands naturally transfer skin oil that can, over time, cause discolouration and damage to the leather. This leaves a greasy, shiny coating, so be sure to include this area in the leather cleaning process.
Other parts of the interior, such as the gear stick knob and hand brake, might also be covered in leather. So they need to be included in the cleaning regime.
The process is the same for both new and older cars with a leather interior. Ideally it should be carried out a couple of times a year, or more often if the car’s subjected to high usage. To do it properly will take a good couple of hours – and longer if the leather is particularly dirty or worn.
For a more in-depth guide check out this video:
Alternatively, entrust your precious wheels to a quality car detailing service where they can do the hard work for you. You can also check out our general interior cleaning guide here.
So there you have it. The easy 3-step guide to a clean car leather interior. Remember, the inside is as important as the outside, so don’t neglect it. Your car is a high-value item, so deserves to be treated as such. Well-looked after cars not only maintain their value, but they’re also a joy to drive. And cleanliness, so they say, is next to godliness. Happy motoring…