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Be sure to remove all soap and moisture – especially on seams and folds. (Ping Han/Photos.com)
Be sure to remove all soap and moisture – especially on seams and folds. (Ping Han/Photos.com)

Driving concern

How to care for your car's leather interior Add to ...

I recently purchased an Acura TL and want to know how to care for the leather seats. – Kan

There’s no need to hide from leather interiors – while some experts recommend leather cleaners and conditioners, Honda says your seats just need dusting, vacuuming and the occasional wipe down.

“The simplest way to prolong the life of your leather interior is to vacuum it regularly,” Honda Canada spokesperson Chris Wood says. “Chances are, if it can’t be solved with a vacuum, a soft cloth that’s been slightly dampened with water will do the trick. Just be sure to remove any remaining moisture by buffing the area with a dry cloth.”

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It sounds simple, especially since there are lots of leather care products on the market. Wood says they don’t recommend any products in particular.

“Some are cleaners while others are conditioners. Choose the wrong one and you may regret it,” Wood says. “Our recommendation is to consult the owner’s manual and follow the instructions.”

Those instructions say to clean the leather with a soft cloth dampened with a 90 per cent water and a 10 per cent “neutral wool detergent solution,” then buff with a clean dry cloth.

Again, Honda won’t specify a specific brand of pH neutral or near-neutral detergent, but products for wool and delicates fit the bill.

“It’s important to avoid detergents that use any kind of dye or bleach and anything that can be harsh, abrasive, or cause the leather to dry out and shrink,” the auto maker says.

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute agrees that leather seats don’t need much maintenance, but preventing tears and stains is crucial.

“There’s really not much to do to take care of a leather interior,” says the Institute’s Carolyn Forte. “Obviously, you want to keep sharp or rough objects away from it to prevent rips, tears, and scrapes, but that’s [the case] with fabric, too.”

Aside from keeping keys, cell phones and zippers off leather surfaces, Forte says drivers should use a leather cleaner and conditioner for cleaning.

“Stains can be tougher to remove on leather than on fabric, so be sure to keep pens away and blot spills as soon as they happen,” she says.

Good Housekeeping doesn’t recommend any particular leather product, though, and neither does Consumer Reports.

In a March 2012 article on detailing car interiors, Consumer Reports says drivers should gently clean vehicle leather with “leather cleaner, saddle soap, or another mild leather soap on a damp cloth.” Be sure to remove all soap and moisture – especially on seams and folds.

Wood says Honda recommends checking with your dealer before getting your leather surfaces professionally cleaned.

“Without knowing how a professional cleaner gets the job done, it’s hard to predict how it will affect the surface or whether it will void the warranty,” Wood says.

Do you disagree? Or do you have any tips of your own? The comments section awaits. If you have any driving queries for Jason, send him a message at globedrive@globeandmail.com or contact him through Twitter: @JasonTchir

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