How To Care
For Leather

Introduction

Let’s talk about leather! Leather is one of the most common surfaces found in many vehicles, for its durability, looks, and comfort; however, it can be more effort to care for and maintain if you don’t have the right products. Caring for leather is a lot like caring for your skin - if you don’t clean and moisturize it often, the leather can become tough, dry out, and eventually crack. High-contact areas like seat bolsters, arm rests, and the steering wheel will typically begin to discolor and crack faster than other areas like seat backs and door panels that don’t see as much contact. Leather dashboards are another key area that can experience premature fading, wear, and cracking due to high heat and UV exposure.

It’s vital to regularly clean and treat your leather to help prevent or prolong the situations mentioned above. To that end, we offer several different options for cleaning, protecting, and maintaining your vehicle’s leather surfaces. This can sometimes be a bit confusing or overwhelming, especially if you’re new to detailing. In this write-up, we’ll explain the differences for each of our leather care products, to help you understand their intended purpose, and to help you decide which will be best for your specific vehicle(s). We’ll conclude the write-up with a summary table outlining each product.


Cleaning Options

Regular cleaning and conditioning of the leather surfaces in your vehicle is necessary in achieving the best wear and life out of them. If left untreated, UV exposure, dirt, sweat, and abrasion from getting in and out of the seats can all contribute to a shorter life span, poor appearance, and cracking. In order to protect leather from these harmful conditions, you will first want to make sure it is as clean as possible, so that the protection product of your choice goes on evenly and looks its best. We currently offer four different chemicals that will work best for cleaning leather: Leather & Interior Cleaner, All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel, Total Interior Cleaner, and Interior Cleaning Wipes. They work at cleaning other interior surfaces as well, but for the purpose of this blog, we’ll explain how they work on leather specifically.

The first step in cleaning leather, especially seats and armrests, is to blow out or vacuum up any crumbs, dirt particles, sand, etc that may have made their way into cracks and crevices. The Adam’s Interior Cleaning Gun, Sidekick Blaster, and Air Cannon/Air Cannon Jr are all very effective ways to blow out an interior, or the Adam’s Barrel Vacuum can be used if you prefer to vacuum out the leather areas instead. If you don’t remove these harmful particles first, you could end up scratching the leather when you go to scrub and wipe it with a Cockpit Brush, Edgeless Utility Towel, Interior Microfiber Towel, or Interior Scrubbing Mitt. Below are explanations of each cleaning option, as well as recommended companion products for best results when using them.

All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel
Product Type:Strong Cleaner
Appearance: Matte, No Gloss, Factory Look
Companion Products: Cockpit Brush, Mini Cockpit Brush, Edgeless Utility Towel, Interior Detailing Swabs, Interior Scrubbing Mitt, Interior Microfiber Towel, Deep Clean Eraser
Description: Adam's All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel is a powerful cleaning formula with a thick, gel-like viscosity for better cleaning efficiency. It works excellent on multiple interior surfaces, but where it excels are vertical surfaces, where it clings to the surface better and won’t drip down as fast like many other heavy duty cleaners. It comes in a sprayable 16oz version or a foaming 6oz pump bottle. This unique formula allows you to wipe it into leather surfaces with an Interior Microfiber Towel, Cockpit Brush, or the Adam's Deep Clean Eraser to remove dirt and discoloration, but it does not require any rinsing afterward like some other strong cleaners. Simply apply a spray/pump or two onto the surface or applicator, gently work the product into the surface with even pressure, and then wipe the area clean of excess residue with an Interior Microfiber Towel. All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel leaves behind a bare, matte surface with no protection, and has a pleasant clean cotton scent.

All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel will safely clean leather surfaces to remove discoloration, sweat stains, dirt, makeup residue, oils, etc. Pair the foaming version with the Cockpit Brush or Interior Scrubbing Mitt to deep clean areas such as perforated areas in seats, or greasy discolored spots on armrests or door panels, bringing them back to their original color. Use the sprayable version with an Edgeless Utility Towel or Interior Scrubbing Mitt to clean leather seats or leather door panels. On perforated leather seats, spray directly into the towel rather than onto the seat, and then wipe the area, to avoid excess liquid dripping down into the perforations. For leather-wrapped steering wheels that can very easily build up sweat and makeup stains, carefully use the foaming pump 6oz bottle with a Deep Clean Eraser or Interior Detailing Swab for the very tight areas to gently scrub them clean, then follow up with an Interior Microfiber Towel to remove excess residue.

Leather & Interior Cleaner
Product Type: Strong Cleaner
Appearance: Matte, No Gloss, Factory Look

Companion Products: Cockpit Brush, Mini Cockpit Brush, Edgeless Utility Towel, Interior Detailing Swabs, Interior Scrubbing Mitt, Interior Microfiber Towel, Deep Clean Eraser
Description: Adam’s Leather & Interior Cleaner has been a top performer for many, many years. This dye-free micellular formula is our most aggressive interior cleaner, but it is still safe on leather surfaces. Like our All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel, Leather & Interior Cleaner is available in both a 6oz foaming pump bottle and a 16oz spray option. Both use the same formula, but the special pump top on the 6oz bottle is what turns it into a foaming cleaner. Leather & Interior Cleaner targets the heaviest dirt, stains, jean transfer, pen ink, crayon transfer, and any other nasty buildup on leather surfaces and removes it by agitating with an Edgeless Utility Towel, Interior Microfiber Towel, or Interior Scrubbing Mitt if you need heavy duty cleaning strength.

While Leather & Interior Cleaner is a very strong cleaner, it does not have a very strong chemical smell, but rather a pleasant and fresh almond scent. It leaves leather surfaces clean and dry to the touch, with a factory sheen and without any sticky feel. Use the Cockpit Brush or Mini Cockpit Brush along with Leather & Interior Cleaner to get down into the perforations of the leather, without having an excess amount of chemical soak down into the inner foam structure of a seat. Then use an Edgeless Utility Towel to wipe away the excess cleaner. Leather & Interior Cleaner will remove any type of protection products on the surface short of a ceramic coating like our UV Leather & Vinyl Coating, so you must follow it up by applying a protection product to prevent the leather from drying out. Since this is a professional strength cleaner, you must also do a spot-test in a small inconspicuous area for dyed leather - see the CAUTION section below on how to perform this spot-test.

Interior Cleaning Wipes
Product Type: Strong Cleaner
Appearance: Matte, No Gloss, Factory Look

Companion Products: N/A
Description: Adam’s Interior Cleaning Wipes are a quick and easy way to do moderate to heavy cleaning of leather surfaces, without needing extra accessories like brushes or scrubbing mitts. They’re perfect for fresh accidents - to wipe up a coffee spill or mess from a newborn, or sweat from a hot summer day. They also work great to perform a full cleaning before reapplying a fresh layer of protection on the leather areas of the vehicle. The Interior Cleaning Wipes are strong enough to do moderate scrubbing without instantly falling apart. They’re soaked in the same micellular formula as our Leather & Interior Cleaner, so they do have significant cleaning power.

Adam’s Interior Cleaning Wipes can easily get into the nooks and crannies of leather seats, intricate leather-wrapped dashboard designs, and around leather steering wheels and shifter boots. As with our other two leather cleaning options, make sure to wipe up excess residue from the wipes with a clean Interior Microfiber Towel or Edgeless Utility Towel. The small container is easy to store in the vehicle so that you can take care of any emergency spills or accidents while on travel. Remember to reapply a protection product as soon as you can afterward if you’re on the road, since the Interior Cleaning Wipes will remove any protection from Total Interior Cleaner, Leather Conditioner, Interior Detailer with Microban, Leather & Interior Dressing, or Interior Protection Paste, which are all covered below.

Total Interior Cleaner
Product Type: Strong Multiple Surface Cleaner and Protection
Appearance: Matte, Factory Look
Companion Products: Cockpit Brush, Mini Cockpit Brush, Edgeless Utility Towel, Interior Detailing Swabs, Interior Scrubbing Mitt, Interior Microfiber Towel, Deep Clean Eraser
Description: Total Interior Cleaner is a new take on our very popular Interior Detailer with Microban. Total Interior Cleaner is a multi-purpose product that is truly an all-in-one for all common interior surfaces - leather, vinyl, plastic, glass, navigation screens, and upholstery like carpets and cloth seats. Whereas Interior Detailer with Microban is a light maintenance cleaner, Total Interior Cleaner is a strong cleaner suitable for removing heavier dirt and unwanted messes. It leaves surfaces with a completely matte finish with no gloss, preserving a new factory appearance. Total Interior Cleaner is a water-based formula that does not contain any silicone, meaning it will not leave surfaces sticky, greasy, or glossy in appearance. Adam’s Total Interior Cleaner also adds a protection layer as it cleans, so it will be discussed as an all-in-one option, in the Maintenance section below.

CAUTION:
There are some cautions when cleaning leather. All cleaning options listed above are powerful chemicals that may potentially pull some dye coloring out of some colored leathers like red, blue, purple, etc. Always test it in a small spot first, such as near the bottom of a seat. Spray a few mists of cleaner directly into an Interior Microfiber Towel, and gently wipe the area back and forth several times. If any color shows up on your towel, dilute the cleaner 50% with water, then test it again. Once diluted, it should no longer pull color, but if it still does, continue diluting it more until dye coloring no longer shows up transferring onto the towel. If using the Interior Cleaning Wipes and they pull some dye coloring onto the wipe along with the dirt, use diluted Leather & Interior Cleaner or diluted All Purpose Interior Cleaning Gel instead.

Another caution is in regards to our Deep Clean Erasers - these can be harmful to leather surfaces. Due to their abrasive nature, the Deep Clean Erasers can remove the protective coating layer found in nearly all modern automotive leather interiors. If using them on leather, be extremely careful, use no pressure, and frequently wipe and check the area that you are not causing a dull appearance or discoloration to the leather. The Interior Cleaning Mitt is also a more aggressive cleaning tool, but is still safe on leather surfaces using little or no pressure.



Protection Options

With interior cleaning complete, you now need to protect all of the bare leather surfaces. As with cleaning, there are a few product options to achieve a specific look and scent to your vehicle’s leather.

Leather Conditioner
Product Type: Protection
Appearance: Satin, Enriches Colors But Not Glossy

Companion Products: Premium Interior Applicator (Red UFO)
Description: Adam’s Leather Conditioner is another flagship product that has been around for many years. It offers a deep, satin look to leather surfaces with just a hint of shine, providing a more rich appearance without having a greasy or sticky feeling. Leather Conditioner has a fresh fine leather scent to compliment the deep rich appearance to make a vehicle’s faded interior look and smell new again. Most importantly, it uses special UV blocking agents to keep the leather surfaces soft and moisturized to keep them looking and feeling their best for many years to come.

Leather Conditioner is best applied with our red Premium Interior Dressing Applicator. Just a few drops spread evenly across the face of the applicator with your fingers will typically treat a bottom seat cover, so a little bit of product goes a long way. If the leather has not been treated in quite some time, the first application may not appear perfectly even in all areas - let it dry for a few minutes, then go back over areas a second time to even things out. Leather Conditioner will bring out a more rich color, with a bit of shine. If the shine level is too much for your liking, flip your applicator over, or use an Interior Microfiber Towel to wipe away a bit of excess product, knocking down the satin shine some in the process.

WARNING: Do NOT use Leather Conditioner on suede or Alcantara surfaces.



Leather & Interior Dressing

Product Type: Protection
Appearance: Matte, No Gloss, Factory Look
Companion Products:Premium Interior Applicator (Red UFO)

Description: Adam’s Leather & Interior Dressing is very similar in form and function to Leather Conditioner, in that it also protects leather surfaces from harmful UV rays and nourishes the leather to keep it soft and hydrated so that it does not dry out; however, Leather & Interior Dressing differs in two key points. It leaves behind a completely matte finish to preserve a factory-new look, and it is unscented, since some customers requested a dressing product with no smell due to sensitivities, or personal preference.

Because of its chemical nature and the fact it doesn’t contain silicones like Leather Conditioner, Leather & Interior Dressing is suitable for vehicles that have uncoated aniline leather like King Ranch leather options or vegan leather commonly found in Teslas. Application is very easy. After thoroughly cleaning and drying the leather surface, pour a few drops of Leather & Interior Dressing onto a Premium Interior Applicator. Fold the applicator inward on itself, or use your fingers to evenly spread the Leather & Interior Dressing over the face of the applicator, so that there are no blobs of product in one area. Then apply the dressing over the leather surface with light, even pressure in a cross-hatch pattern. Work the dressing into the surface until you see full and even coverage. On your daily driven vehicle, use Leather & Interior Dressing every 1-2 months for continual protection year-round. 

WARNING: Do NOT use Leather & Interior Dressing on suede or Alcantara surfaces.


Interior Protection Paste
Product Type: Protection
Appearance: Matte, No Gloss, Factory Look

Companion Products:UFO Applicator (Included)

Description: Adam’s Interior Protection Paste is an all-organic premium conditioning cream for leather surfaces. It goes a step further than our Leather Conditioner or Leather & Interior Dressing, to enhance color, restore soft feeling to dry leather, and protect with natural beeswax and lanolin oil. Interior Protection Paste moisturizes leather, without leaving a greasy or sticky feel or shiny look. While it does provide a rich appearance to leather, it dries to a matte finish. It can be applied with the included gray foam applicator, or even by hand since its organic nature is safe for your skin. Apply Interior Protection Paste to the leather surfaces of your vehicle quarterly, or every 5,000 miles, whichever comes first, to keep everything feeling smooth and well-protected.

WARNING:Do NOT use Interior Protection Paste on suede or Alcantara surfaces.

PRO TIP - Conditioning Perforated Leather:

For conditioning perforated leather surfaces with Leather Conditioner, Leather & Interior Dressing, or Interior Protection Paste, you must evenly spread the product on the applicator before applying to the surface. If there are globs of product on the applicator, these will clog the perforations on the leather; however, by spreading the product evenly over the applicator with your fingers (or by folding the applicator inward on itself), you have a light layer that will evenly cover the surface without clogging up the perforations. If the side bolsters of the seats are smooth and not perforated, you can also spread the conditioner on the bolsters first (rather than spreading it around on the applicator with your fingers), then move onto the perforated areas once the conditioner has been spread evenly onto the applicator.



Maintenance - Clean and Protect Options

Once you have cleaned and conditioned the leather in your vehicle, you aren’t done yet. The leather surfaces should be given regular maintenance wipe-downs in between full detailing to keep dust levels at a minimum, prevent any bacteria growth, and maintain a constant layer of protection. We have two specific product offerings for maintaining leather surfaces.

Interior Detailer with Microban
Product Type: Light Cleaner, Protection
Appearance: Nearly Matte But Not Quite Satin, Slightly Enriches Colors
Companion Products: Interior Microfiber Towel and Edgeless Utility Towel
Description: Adam’s Interior Detailer with Microban is a multi-surface light cleaner and protectant, designed to remove bacteria and microbes in one easy-to-use product. Interior Detailer with Microban is a spray-on and wipe-off formula that will clean light amounts of dirt from your leather, but it is not intended to be a heavy duty cleaner like the cleaners mentioned earlier in this blog. With Interior Detailer, we partnered with Microban, the industry leader in antimicrobial technology. This powerful Microban technology actively inhibits the growth of bacteria on surfaces and continues to work 24 hours after application to make surfaces inhospitable to germs and bacteria that can cause stains, odors, and surface deterioration.

Interior Detailer with Microban is available in a variety of scents - Cedarwood, Cucumber Aloe, Eucalyptus Mint, Pineapple Orchid, Sweet Almond, and Sweet Pea - for you to choose which one you like best. If the leather dashboard, door panels, and other areas have some dust build-up or a light amount of dirt, using an Interior Microfiber Towel along with Interior Detailer with Microban is an easy way to clean and protect these areas in minutes. Interior Detailer with Microban is an excellent choice for weekly maintenance wipe downs of the leather seats, steering wheel, gear shifter, armrests - all high-traffic areas that you want to keep free of germs and bacteria. It leaves leather surfaces with a slightly richer appearance that is not completely matte, with just a tiny bit of satin sheen, for a factory fresh finish. We do not currently offer a high-gloss interior product, since they typically leave a greasy feel that attracts more dust - neither of which will you find with Interior Detailer with Microban.


Total Interior Cleaner
Product Type: Strong Multiple Surface Cleaner and Protection
Appearance:Matte, Factory Look
Companion Products: Interior Microfiber Towel and Edgeless Utility Towel
Description: Adam’s Total Interior Cleaner is a multi-purpose, all-in-one cleaner and protectant for all common interior surfaces - leather, vinyl, plastic, glass, navigation screens, and upholstery like carpets and cloth seats. If you’re familiar with our CS3 exterior all-in-one, you can think of Total Interior Cleaner as a CS3 for your interior - just without the “shine” aspect. In fact, it leaves surfaces with a completely matte finish with no gloss, preserving a new factory appearance. Total Interior Cleaner is a water-based formula that does not contain any silicone, meaning it will not leave surfaces sticky, greasy, or glossy in appearance.

Total Interior Cleaner has strong cleaning power - it’s safe for leather surfaces and has a foaming action in thicker materials like carpet and upholstery. It removes sticky residues on armrests or the steering wheel, light dust on the dashboard, fingerprints and smudges on your navigation screen and entertainment controls, dirt and stains in carpet, and other unwanted contaminants. It keeps these issues from returning as easily by using the same cross-linking polymer found in our exterior Slick & Slide, which actively cures into a protective coating on the surface. Total Interior Cleaner also contains an odor encapsulant to fight unpleasant smells, a UV absorber to protect leather, vinyl, and plastic surfaces, and an anti-static dust repellency additive to keep pesky dust to a minimum.

Once you have the interior cleaned and conditioned, you need to maintain it properly during the weeks or months in between full interior details. This can be done very easily using Total Interior Cleaner and a few Edgeless Utility Towels to literally clean and protect every interior surface of your vehicle in as little as 10-15 minutes each week. Use one towel to wipe the product into the surface and follow up with a second towel for perfect, streak-free results. This product could save mobile detailers time during their detailing process as well, since they are able to utilize one chemical to detail an entire interior.


BONUS TOPIC - ADDITIONAL USES:
Adam’s leather care products aren’t just for your vehicle! Our full line of leather cleaners and protection products can be used on other items too. Clean and condition your leather couch and bar stools, or even a leather jacket, purse, and shoes. Use Adam’s Leather Conditioner to bring out rich color with a satin sheen or Interior Protection Paste to keep things matte and even. The list goes on! Tell us what you use them for, we’d love to hear it.


Summary

In this blog, we explained the products available to clean and protect the leather surfaces in your vehicle. Your vehicle is a significant investment and you spend a large portion of ownership inside of the vehicle, so you want to make sure it looks and smells great for as long as possible. We covered the various finished appearances you can achieve depending on the products used, how often you should use them, and how to maintain leather in between deep cleaning and conditioning sessions. If you are uncertain about any product or process, or have any questions in general, feel free to contact us at tips@adamspolishes.com, or reach us on our online communities on Adamsforums.com, Instagram and facebook, as well!

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