What Those in Auto Detailing Training Should Know About Leather Car Upholstery Care

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Leather seats are often high on a car buyer’s list of must-haves, providing a look and feel that just screams luxury. Yet many of those same car owners don’t usually think too much about maintaining those leather seats, eager as they are to drive off into the sunset in their shiny new purchase!

While new technologies mean car leather is more durable than ever, routine cleanings are still essential for keeping leather in its best shape. After many months of kids, dogs, groceries, and briefcases scratching their way in and out of the vehicle and harsh UV rays cooking the car’s cabin on hot summer days, car owners start to notice how battered and lacklustre their seats are looking. 

At that point, many are willing to pay for professional cleaning services, and auto detailers can help bring those seats back into shape. So what exactly does it take to keep a car’s leather upholstery well maintained? Let’s take a look!

Be Aware of the Coating

If you’re interested in an auto detailing career, it’s important to remember that what you’re treating is most often not leather in its natural state, but rather a material that has been dyed, then coated with colour pigments to increase uniformity of colour, and finally coated with a thin, clear protective vinyl layer. 

Due to all of the treating that goes into modern leathers, the effect of working on it is rather like working with a plastic, rather than a soft natural material. Using the right products is key to working on your surface. Additionally, knowing which type of leather you’re working on is important, with many cars having a combination of “real” and synthetic leather seating. 

Know Which Kind of Leather You’re Cleaning

Knowing how the leather has been dyed and finished is a first consideration to car leather care, which depends on the type you’re cleaning.

Corrected grain leather is the most common and lowest end of leather finishes, with a texture, feel, and colour that has been altered with dyes and protective coating to be more uniform looking and durable. While “corrected” to such an extent that it barely resembles what it was in its most natural state, this leather is used by most car manufacturers—even in the high-end luxury niche—due to its flawless appearance. 

Aniline leathers are much higher quality, but much more rarely used in cars. They get their name from the translucent aniline dyes the hides are soaked in to give them their colour without covering over any of the natural markings of the material. Semi-aniline leather stands out from the full aniline version, as it uses the same resin vinyl protective coating used on corrected leathers to make it more durable.  

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Most car manufacturers use a corrected grain leather to provide a flawless appearance

How Those With Auto Detailing Training Will Approach the Deep Clean

Once you know what leather you’re dealing with, it’s time for a deep clean. To bring faded and cracked leather seats back up to a fine sheen, professionals with auto careers will usually begin the cleaning with a vacuum of the car’s seating, paying special attention to nooks and crannies to suck up every bit of dust, dirt, grime, and cookie crumbs—all culprits in making smudges and scratches on leather material! 

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A cleaner is sprayed on and worked into creases and other problems spots using a soft bristle brush

A good leather cleaner product must be applied next. This is typically sprayed on lightly, then worked into the leather with gentle movements using a soft bristle brush. Wiping away any moisture with a microfibre cloth is next, followed by a period of several hours to let the seats dry naturally. 

Remember Your Conditioner

After the car’s leather seats have dried following the “shampoo” session, a conditioning treatment is required for getting the material back up to its original vibrant colour and fine lustre. Leather is a natural material prone to cracking and fading from harsh conditions and temperatures. A good leather conditioner provides the material with moisture to reduce this type of wear and tear.

The conditioner should be applied generously and evenly using a microfibre cloth, allowing a few hours afterwards for the material to absorb the protective product.  After this period, the seats should be given one last wipe-down with a dry microfibre towel until they’re dry to the touch.

Car owners should be advised to have a deep clean and conditioning every three to six months to keep their leather upholstery in its best shape.

Are you interested in taking professional auto detailing training? 

Contact Automotive Training Centres for more information on their auto detailing program!

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