How Delicate Are Your Leather Car Seats?

When most people think about their leather car seats, they immediately think that they have to be extremely cautious with the leather as it is very delicate and soft and can be damage or ruined rather quickly. 

Of course, you don’t want to push the limits and spill a lot of food or liquid on it, but the reality is most modern day cars have durable leather that makes cleaning and maintaining the seats super easy. 

In this article, you’ll find out the type of leather that a car can have and what it means to you when you want to clean and maintain your seats. 

The 3 Different Types Of Leather 

99% of cars will have three types of leather; pigmented leather, semi-anilin leather, and aniline leather.  But more realistically, most modern day cars will have pigmented leather and semi0-aniline leather. 

Pigmented (Protected/Coated) Leather: This is by far the most commonly used type of leather in cars. Imagine there’s a coating above the actual leather to protect it from scratches, stains, etc (sort of like your car’s paint and clear coat).. If the coating itself is cheap or perhaps really thick, then the leather is going to feel more like vinyl and stiff. But when it comes to cleaning, this will be the easiest to clean since you can get aggressive with your methods (if need be) without compromising the leather.
Semi-Aniline Leather: This type of leather is found in higher-end or luxury cars. It still has a protective coating, although it’s usually thinner and better quality, making the leather seat feel natural. When it comes to cleaning, gentle agitation is much more effective (though I don’t mean to go too soft or too slow). 
Aniline Leather: This is the mot natural and soft leather you will find in a car. Although it’s rarely used now, you can find this type of leather in some older specialty cars. Of course, the draw back is it has no protective coating, meaning it’s super easy to get it scratched, stained, and  worn out. 

What To Think About When You’re Going To Clean Your Leather Seats

As mentioned above, if you have a modern day car, it’s more likely than not that your leather is going to have a protective coating (like the clear coat for your paint) on top of the leather. So the dirt and gunk never actually touches your leather, it all sits on top of the clear coating that’s on the leather.
There’s a lot of products on the market that will promote themselves as leather-safe or leather-specific cleaners, but there’s not going to be a problem if you simply something like an all-purpose-cleaner  (APC) diluted 10:1.
If you’re using a semi-stiff brush with moderate force when you’re agitating the seats, you should have no problem whatsoever cleaning your seats. As long as your seats are in good condition and aren’t ripping apart or fading already.

A Few Thing To Keep In Mind 

As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. One of the setbacks that can happen when cleaning your seats is you agitate so hard with the brush that you essentially “break” through the protective coating and start removing the color of the leather. 

I say “remove” instead of “clean” because once you deteriorate the protective coating on the leather, you are no longer cleaning effectively. 

To make sure that your leather has a protective coating of some sort, you can check by dropping a few drops of water onto the leather. 

If the drops of water soak straight into the leather, it probably means it has no protective coating and you’re dealing with high-quality leather. If the drop of water sits on top of the leather and doesn’t soak in, then it has a protective coating on it.

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