How to Condition Your Leather Car Seats Properly

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How to Condition Your Leather Car Seats Properly

There really is nothing like the look and smell of the inside of a newly cleaned and valeted car. The carpets are clean, the windows are spotless, the dashboard is gleaming, but the leather upholstery is dirty. More than that, it is looking aged, tired, and there are cracks starting to appear in the seats.

This is a common problem, especially for drivers of up-market cars, where leather, rather than vinyl, is the order of the day. It can also be a problem, too, if you try to sell your car, but are let down by the state of the leather seats, steering wheel, and gear lever. Shabby-looking leather can certainly detract from your car if you try to sell it, yet leather that looks as good as new, and more importantly has that 'leather smell and feel' can certainly make a prospective buyer more keen to buy your car.

By learning about leather car seat conditioner, you can once again experience that 'new car' feel, and more importantly, your car will look and feel loved and cared for. By studying the different products on the market, you can see which are the right ones for your car's leather seats and upholstery.

Clean Before Conditioning

Before you think about conditioning your leather car seats, it is vitally important that you thoroughly clean them first. If you do not, you run the risk of  'sealing in' the dirt with your conditioner. At this stage, hot or even warm, soapy water is not an option, as this may damage the surface of the leather, and almost certainly leads to water staining. Pay careful attention to any folds or creases in the seating, as it is here that the dirt is most often located. As a general rule, the leather in these creases should not look any darker than the surrounding material. If it does look dark, then the chances are that this is because dirt and grime have stained it.

Leather Cleaner

Leather cleaner should first be used to remove the surface marks and general grime, but there may be areas of the seating that have had particular abuse since the last cleaning. This abuse can range from scuffs and spilled foodstuffs, to oil stains, and even magic marker stains if the children have been colouring in the backseat during a long drive. The main thing to remember here is to not panic. Panicked scrubbing of a mark or stain is unlikely to properly remove it, and you may well do further damage to the surface.

Leather Colour Restorer

If the leather surface is stained or has faded from sunlight, there are leather colour restorers available, and there is sure to be a colour that very closely matches your seats and other leather items such as the steering wheel or the gear stick. An exact match is not really necessary, as the special dyes in the restorer blend in with your seats' colours naturally. If using a colour restorer, then the important thing is not to rush. A rushed job looks just that, and no amount of frantic rubbing later on with the sealant covers it up. It is also vitally important that you read the instructions supplied with the leather restorer, and follow them exactly. Failure to do this may result in many hours of tedious work to undo a previous attempt.

All-In-One Cleaners and Conditioners

There are quite a few retailers that sell "All-in-One" or "five-minute" cleaners. These products have their place, particularly if you are in a rush and do not have the time required for a full work over on your leather. However, if you do have the time, and you want your whole car to look as if it has just rolled out of a showroom, then there is no quick replacement for old-fashioned elbow grease.

Apply Leather Conditioner

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of leather conditioner. The first type actually soaks into the leather, giving it that 'as new' look, smell, and feel. In soaking into the material, it acts on a micro scale to strengthen and protect the molecular bonds within the fabric itself. Conditioners that do this are often marketed as "intensive" or "restorer".

The other main type of leather conditioner is the type that attempts to restore the leather to its former glory. This type of conditioner usually also has a glossing agent added, meaning that an additional coat of full polish is often unnecessary. This type of conditioner can be used if you do not have a full day to work on your leather seats.

Careful attention should be paid to the creases and folds, making sure the conditioner is well manipulated into every nook and cranny. This helps to protect your leather, but it also helps infuse the car with that 'new car' smell.

Apply Leather Polish

After cleaning and conditioning your leather seats, then comes the polishing. Leather polish generally puts a very thin layer of gloss on top of your leather seats. Leather polish should only be applied once the leather is cleaned and conditioned, as the polish can act almost as a varnish, leaving any stains stubbornly underneath.

It is at this point in the job that your skill in polishing is tested and improved. As you work, you learn the best way to buff the leather, hopefully leaving it looking as good as new. A note of caution must be sounded here in that properly polishing leather, particularly if it has been some time since its last clean and polish, can take quite a while. Often, though, once the job is started and the results can be seen by the work accomplished, this somewhat arduous task can, for many people, end up being a real pleasure.

Use Cloths to Clean and Care for Your Leather

Using the right kind of cloth to clean and care for your leather seats is almost as important as your choice in cleaning and care products. A rough cloth may get the cleaner on pretty quickly, but is virtually useless in buffing it up. It may also damage the surface of the leather. Ideally, you should use two or even three cloths to clean and care for your car's leather seats. They should also be different materials, so you can have a slightly coarser one for the actual cleaning of the leather, then progressively finer and softer ones as you move to the conditioner and finally apply the topcoat of polish. Thankfully, modern technology is at hand when it comes to cleaning and polishing cloths, and there are many fine microfibre cloths suitable for the job.

How to Buy Leather Products to Care for Car Seats on eBay

There are many different cleaners, conditioners, and polishes available on eBay to care for the leather seats in your car. Virtually any leather cleaning, polishing, or reconditioning product that is suitable for things like leather sofas, leather handbags, or even leather shoes, is suitable for the interior of your car.

Once you have decided what items you need to purchase to condition your leather car seats, head to eBay and start shopping. From the home page or any internal page within the site, look for the search box. Once you find it, type in what you are looking for, such as "leather car seat conditioner" or "microfibre cloths". Once you have successfully keyed in your desired items in the search box, a listing shows up with the requested results.

Note that with some seemingly more expensive products, some sellers may offer free postage, while sellers of other, cheaper products may add postage on top of the price. It is worth working out just how much you have to pay in total, as the more expensive conditioners and polishes may end up being cheaper. It is also worth checking out your chosen seller's other products. If you buy more than one item, you can often get a discount on the postage.


For that 'new car' look and fragrance, there is no finer way to show off the interior of your car than by thoroughly cleaning the leather interior. Not only does it feel like getting into a brand new car the next time you drive it, but by properly cleaning the leather, conditioning it, then sealing it, you enhance and protect your leather seating.

By properly cleaning, removing any possible stains, then conditioning and finally sealing the leather, you can be assured that it is in as perfect condition as possible. This helps repair, or at least hides, any cracks or other visible signs of aging. It also helps protect your leather from the harsh effects of UVA sunlight.

If you are looking to sell your car, then aside from the obvious things like cleaning and waxing the bodywork, and thoroughly cleaning the interior carpets, cleaning and polishing your leather interior certainly makes your prospective buyer view your car in a more favourable light. It shows the potential buyer that you care about your car, and this improves your chances of a sale at a great price.

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