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Common Mistakes with Auto Leather Care

Common Mistakes with Auto Leather Care

Posted by Daniel Sutton on Apr 3rd 2014

Let’s face it, cars are overworked. They don’t get the appreciation they deserve for all the good they do us. So next time you see dirt and grime cake up on your car interior, be the friend your ride deserves and give it a shine (before its windshield washers start tearing up!). But before you chivalrously jump in headfirst wielding your favorite car cleaners, arm yourself with knowledge of the most common auto leather care mistakes.

Common Car Leather Care Mistakes

Use a commercial leather cleaner before removing dirt and grime

If you apply a cleaner that has any type of protectant in it, you are simply sealing in the dirt and grime. Before you jump in, take out your trusty vacuum or grab a clean cloth and small brush to get into the small crevices and get rid of the dust, dog hair and any other crumbs or debris that have accumulated.

Stay away from Vinyl and leather cleaning products for auto leather care

You can clean vinyl with a good leather cleaner, but avoid using any vinyl cleaner (even leather and vinyl) on leather, especially one without proper pH balance.

Water is not your friend

Water can be very harsh on vinyl; in fact, it could cause it to prematurely crack. Instead, wait until it is time to use a leather cleaner to avoid the risk of causing premature damage to your dash or car seats.

Scrub softly

Even if you think you are using a soft brush or cloth, you could cause damage to the vinyl or leather in your car by scratching or marring it.

Leave the leather cleaner alone

After you clean car vinyl or leather with a leather cleaner, you must wipe it with a soft, clean cloth. This removes any excess residue and gives your leather a chance to appropriately absorb the vinyl or leather conditioner.

Don’t just use any leather cleaner

Any old product will do, right? Wrong! Every material requires a special type of cleaner, especially if you have leather in your car. It is best to know exactly what type of material is in your car before purchasing a cleaner. When you do purchase leather cleaner, make sure that it is mild, like Chamberlain’s Straight Cleaner No. 2, for the best results. Same deal goes with auto leather conditioner. Know the leather you are working with, and try to find one specifically designed for conditioning car leather and vinyl , such as Chamberlain’s Auto Refreshener No. 4, for best effects.

Keeping your car clean is not difficult, but it does require a little planning. If you avoid the above mistakes, you can exercise proper auto leather care, giving the interior of your car a boosted chance at longevity. Outside of the car, where things aren't made of leather, well. We'll leave that to your capable hands (or our brethren bloggers, as the case may be). Stay shiny!

Stephanie Clarke
Chris Repp (

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