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Best Cleaner for Leather?


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What is the best cleaner for tough stains in leather? I have the light colored leather and recently found a black stain on the passenger side seating surface. A little soapy water does nothing to remove it, so I need to know what to do to remove really tough stains. I even tried a little "Tough Stuff" cleaner in a small area and that does nothing as well. What's the magic potion to use?

 

z-

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I have a leather care article on OCDetails.com that might help out a little. If you aren't interested in ordering leather care products online (which is a mistake since some of the best products I've used are not available in stores) then there are some choices you have locally. Lexol and Zymol both have respectable leather cleaners. The key to cleaning leather is to use more than just a rag and cleaner. Sometimes you need to sacrifice a toothbrush and really get in there.

 

Something else that I have found to be extremely effective on leather, if not a little harsh for most situations, is Meguiar's #39. This is their 'heavy duty vinyl cleaner' but it also is my product of choice for cleaning once beige but now black steering wheels and other leather areas. With that product and a brush you can clean up just about anything on leather. Be sure to use a good conditioner right after just as you would with any leather cleaning routine. I don't bust that out very often, but sometimes it is necessary.

 

The leather cleaners in the leather care kits on www.premiumautocare.com (they are a vendor here and there is a link for 10% off in the vendor forum) are all excellent products that will do the job for you as well. They will clean the leather without drying it out or damaging it. You might still want to keep that toothbrush handy, but generally if I use a blue shop towel then I can get the bite I need on the grime to clean it off. I'm a huge fan of the Four Star Ultimate Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. I just recently bought a bottle of the Wolfgang conditioner to see how that works. The best part about those products is that they actually leave the car smelling like new leather when you are done. That is always a plus in my book.

_________________________________________

“Cleanliness becomes more important as godliness becomes more unlikely.”

O C D E T A I L S . C O M

OCDETAILS BLOG

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Thanks for the quick reply OCDetails. I knew I would be hearing from you regarding this matter. I did read your leather care article (and your other articles as well, kudos), but I needed to know what to use as "the big gun" to work on this stubborn stain. It seems so hard to remove it scares me. I'll try the lexol or zymol or maybe Meguiar's #39 and the toothbrush.

 

z-

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#39 is usually a little harder to find, but you can sometimes locate it at auto paint supply stores. If you call around the phone book you can just ask them if they are a Meguiar's distributor. Most of them are either Meguiar's or 3M distributors. You can try the tooth brush with just your soap and water combo too. If the stain is something like mascarra then you aren't going to get anywhere with that, but if its anything else then it might work. Ink is sometimes a little hard to remove too so it might be that. Here is a good leather ink remover. 303 has a good cleaner/spot remover that works on just about everything too. For specialty problems like this you usually have to look pretty hard for the right product. Auto part stores carry a good selection, but its usually just normal wear and tear cleaning and waxing products that they carry. Auto paint supply stores are the secret treasure chest of the professional strength detailing supplies that most people don't know about. ;)

_________________________________________

“Cleanliness becomes more important as godliness becomes more unlikely.”

O C D E T A I L S . C O M

OCDETAILS BLOG

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What is the best way to clean the leather steering wheel (momo one that comes on the XT Limited)? There are a ton of stitches holding the leather in place. I have the Four Star cleaner/conditioner (based on OCDetails recommendations). I want to make sure nothing "eats away" the stiching on the steering wheel. Will the conditioner make the steering wheel too slippery?

 

-S

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If you wipe down the wheel afterwards then you won't have a problem with it being sticky. Anytime you condition leather you should wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth to clean up any excess as well as buff some of the shine off.

 

I wouldn't go nuts rubbing the conditioner on the threads, but you don't really have to avoid them. The threads are usually covered with wax anyway to keep them from coming lose and that should protect them from any possible damage the conditioner could cause. I'm not saying that it will cause any, but they are going to be ok no matter what.

 

What do you think about the smell of the leather conditioner? Pretty nice, eh? It smells even better when you put it on your leather in the car. I've had people request that I come back and not detail their car, but just use more of whatever I put on their leather. lol Four Star makes an air freshener too that smells just like leather. It doesn't last long, but its a good smell.

_________________________________________

“Cleanliness becomes more important as godliness becomes more unlikely.”

O C D E T A I L S . C O M

OCDETAILS BLOG

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If you wipe down the wheel afterwards then you won't have a problem with it being sticky. Anytime you condition leather you should wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth to clean up any excess as well as buff some of the shine off.

 

I wouldn't go nuts rubbing the conditioner on the threads, but you don't really have to avoid them. The threads are usually covered with wax anyway to keep them from coming lose and that should protect them from any possible damage the conditioner could cause. I'm not saying that it will cause any, but they are going to be ok no matter what.

 

What do you think about the smell of the leather conditioner? Pretty nice, eh? It smells even better when you put it on your leather in the car. I've had people request that I come back and not detail their car, but just use more of whatever I put on their leather. lol Four Star makes an air freshener too that smells just like leather. It doesn't last long, but its a good smell.

 

How about leather cleaner? Should I just not use it and stick with the conditioner? As for the smell...nice stuff!

 

-S

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The steering wheel will definitely benefit from some cleaner. That is probably the dirtiest leather on a car. Its why most steering wheels are black and not beige. The ones that are unlucky enough to have light leather on the steering wheel learn quickly that it gets black fast. Ford is really good at pointing that out to people. lol Definitely use a cleaner before conditioning generally.

_________________________________________

“Cleanliness becomes more important as godliness becomes more unlikely.”

O C D E T A I L S . C O M

OCDETAILS BLOG

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http://www.leatherique.com has the best leather cleaning/restoration products i've ever tried (and i've tried a LOT). got the tip from some Mercedes guys when i had a Porsche 928, which had a whole bunch of leather in it. the products made the old hard leather buttery soft.

 

you put their Rejuvenator on and cover the seat with a garbage bag for a day or two (probably not so necessary with a new car). this brings all the crap in the pores to the surface. you then wipe it down with the Prestine Clean product.

 

awesome stuff. they also have dyes and crack filler if your leather is in bad shape.

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