Leather Maintenance, Repair

vince217vince217 Member Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in Honda
Hello. Im thinking of purchasing a used car with leather seats, and noticed some cracking and possible peeling on one of the sections. My question is if its possible to get the single section reupholstered? Or does the whole seat have to be replaced?

Also, what is the best leather cleaner in the market today?


  • achenatorachenator Member Posts: 128
    Lexol cleaners and conditioners seem to work well for me. Also I tried Hide Food once and it comes highly recommended but it is hard to find.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It may be possible to patch in a section but it probably won't match. Leather is an organic material (moo, moo) and as such you never know how it will take the dyes.

    Another problem is that if your leather is dried and cracked any stitching may no longer hold, and so the new leather stitching will pull out of the old pieces.

    What kind of car is this? Some makes don't use a very good grade of leather and it may not be worth it to replace if the rest of the car is going to go to hell soon. How old is the car, also?
  • tony2putttony2putt Member Posts: 31
    I own two leather equipped cars. 99 Solara and 02 MDX. I'm very interested in keeping both looking like new. I have heard of both products mentioned earlier (Lexol and Hide Food). I also know the MDX is only leather in the seating area. What are your recommendations. I have never seen Hide Food in any stores. Thanks for your help. Tony
  • scottc8scottc8 Member Posts: 617
    is carried by quite a few mail order suppliers. Got mine at Classic Motoring Accessories. It may come in a RR, Bentley, or Jaguar jar but it's all the same. A bit messy to use, but great stuff. It leaves the surface clean & dry but with just the right amount of "grip" for those of us who enjoy "spirited" driving.:)
  • achenatorachenator Member Posts: 128
    I have a 01 Accord with leather seating surfaces and vinyl on the rest. I used Hide Food to rehab the seats in my 87 Benz, it worked great but I found it messy, especially if the seats are perforated. On a newer car I would recommend Lexol on the leather and Vinylex on the vinyl. Pep Boys carries both.
  • hoyahenryhoyahenry Member Posts: 399
    My 02 Sedona came with leather seats (the only one with ABS also had leather seats), so this will be the first car I've owned that had them.

    Being in the DC area, annual temperatures run the gamut from 0-115F, and includes periods of high humidity. Considering all of that, any recommendations on frequency of application?
  • danny25danny25 Member Posts: 119
    My new CL is the first car I've had with leather so I don't have any experience in caring for it. I bought some McGuire's (sp?) leather cleaner and conditioner and attempted to apply it to my seats. But how are you suppost to use that stuff on perforated seats??? I tried to smear it evenly on my rag but I kept getting all the perforations full of the cream. Someone help, please.
  • rd_volvord_volvo Member Posts: 34
    Anyone know if Volvo uses top coated
    leather. I hear conditioning method
    is different than regular leather.

    Regular conditioners do not pass the
    plastic top coat easily.


  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    My 1995 Ford Contour has leather seating surfaces with moderate damage/wear. Previous owner apparently did very little to care for the seats. Back seat has lots of wear, with the top/colored stuff worn off in many places but no significant cracking. Driver's seat has some moderate cracking, especially on the left-side bolster which obviously receives the most wear due to driver ingress/egress.

    I've seen warnings on a couple product packages, stating that 'this product should not be used on leather seats that have cracks.' I've read all 490 posts of the archived leather topic but saw little discussion on this subject. What is the consensus-- will Hide Food conditioner, Lexol's cleaner, or Lexol's conditioner do any further damage to cracked leather seats?

    The Contour has vinyl side and back panels that are well-matched but still easy to distinguish from the actual leather. The leather on the Contour and Mercury Mystique appears to be a very poor-wearing hide. A few years back, I bought a 96 Mystique new and took good care of the leather, garaged the car most of the time, etc. but within 18 months there were small surface cracks and wear from rubbing on the driver's seat cushion. The wear on my Contour is primarily on the leather, since the vinyl is exposed to very little wear and tear.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    As an avid soccer player who takes good care of his "boots," I have been treating my leather soccer apparel with mink oil (and sometimes bear grease) for 15 years. I've always been impressed with mink oil's ability to soften my leather soccer shoes (whether calfskin, "full-grain" leather, or kangaroo leather) and to improve the shoes' ability to repel water.

    I have been considering putting mink oil on the well-worn leather seats in a 95 Ford Contour and on the brand-new leather seats of our 2002 Kia Sedona minivan. However, I'm not exactly sure what is in mink oil. The Kiwi brand package I have says "KIWI mink oil contains a rich blend of mink oil, silicone, and lanolin which conditions and waterproofs smooth leather." A different package of KIWI Cami Dry mink oil says that it waterproofs and conditions all outdoor leathers. The package mentions outdoor work and sport boots but says nothing about automotive leather.

    My questions (finally!):

    1. Do you think mink oil is a good product to use on automotive leather and/or vinyl?

    2. How different is automotive leather from good shoe leather?

    3. Is silicone really the "kiss of death" and to be avoided on automotive leather at all costs? I've heard that Lexol denies its product contains silicone and the consensus at the Edmunds Town Hall seems to be that silicone in a leather conditioner is a bad thing

    4. Can someone try to describe Hide Food in terms of its consistency and appearance? I'm trying to figure out whether mink oil is similar at all to Hide Food. From what I've read, I am thinking that perhaps they are fairly similar or maybe even very similar. Mink oil tends to be whitish or sometimes slightly yellow in color. It's a fairly thick paste and though I have used Crisco only once or twice in my life (for cooking), I believe mink oil is quite a bit thicker. Bear grease seems to be less thick than mink oil, with an appearance more oily and less pasty than mink oil.

    5. In what size jar is the Hide Food sold? I don't remember exactly what folks have paid for this product-- $10 to $15 a jar sounds familiar. I always thought mink oil was fairly pricey-- usually about $3 for a 4 ounce tub. However, my local Wal-Mart has KIWI Cami Dry mink oil in a 6 oz. tub for $2.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    That should be "Camp Dry," not "Cami Dry." The price sticker was obscuring the "p."

    KIWI Brands seems to be a division of Sara Lee Foods. Unfortunately, the Kiwi web site is under construction and my Yahoo search yielded no other sources of helpful product information. Aside from possible problems due to silicone, I can't think of any reason why mink oil would not be a good product on car leather seats.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    I may try Lexol since my local auto parts store (Murray's) carries it. If I do use Lexol and decide to try Hide Food later, is there any concern that it would prevent the Hide Food from penetrating and working its conditioning magic?

    From my standpoint, the Hide Food approach (thick paste, takes more time to work it into the leather, etc.) seems like a better long-term method of leather care than the Lexol approach (spray it on, rub it in quickly). It just seems more logical to me.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Hide food comes in a 284 ml container, is about the same consistency as face cream, smells like a shoe repair shop, and works great. Used it to rescue a pair of deck shoes which were rock hard from repeated soakings. They're soft again.
  • scottc8scottc8 Member Posts: 617
    A couple of guys on my car club website have bought this product at Jaguar dealerships. One said the parts man called it "Hide Food", but the jar said "Hide Care". It's made by Connolly. One of the guys remarked that it's very easy to use. I like using Hide Food, but I would never say that about it.

    Anyone know anything about this? TIA.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Same product.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    I was expecting more feedback on my many questions. Based on the archived leather seat maintenance topic, I thought there would be more interest in my questions. I know my posts were long, but I thought my questions were easy to spot.

    Should I be asking my questions somewhere else?
  • 2timer2timer Member Posts: 27
    I have used Lexol in a 00 Sierra and 00 olds alero and it definitely will help leather keep that soft supple texture that it had when new plus it leaves just a very slight tackiness that holds you in the seat. My problem was that I had tried about other products that were cheaper and well just not as good as lexol. forget the meguires one step leather care and tanners that you can get at walmart they just didn't seem to help at all.
    Blue magic leather conditioner is ok(only ok) but I stopped using it when I found the Lexol (its about 8-10 bucks a bottle each for the cleaner and for the conditioner and worth every penny IMO). plus the blue magic works great on my tonnau cover on my truck.

    A buddy of mine has an eclipse spyder and has been using lexol since he got it and the seats are just incredible.
    One thing though is you really need to get the leather cleaner to clean the leather before applying the conditioner so that the conditioner can be absorbed(or whatever you want to call it) into the leather.

    If you live in Texas or anywhere in the south I would recommend cleaning/conditioning at a minimum once a month. This get rid of the dirt and salts and other chemicals that can come from your body sweat in the summer. really once you start cleaning and conditioning your leather you can generally feel and/or see when you need to clean and condition again.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    is just what it sounds like, pressed light fat from the underside of the skins of (formerly) live mink, little fish, bug, and less-offensive carrion eating rodents built like weasels, with a snippy at best attitude, and having such a wondrous, silky, warm fur indeed. they are farmed for the purpose, and mink oil is a useful byproduct. leather just loves it, and the love is returned by the mink oil. rather unprocessed mink oil has a musky odor, not strong enough to force you to leave the windows down for months, but close. processed mink oil (filtered?) is pretty neutral. waterproofs boots like nothing else, and doesn't promote cracking or hardening like silicone oil does.
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    So do you think mink oil is a good product for conditioning leather seats in automobiles?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    frankly, I haven't used it in the car. I need to get some for a pair of boots, and depending on that experience, I will try a little bitty dab at the edge of the back seat and see.

    unfortunately, the weather is not really the best for cleaning and doing my car seats outside now, so it will be a little bit before I can get to it.

    anybody else have recent experience?
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    on automotive leather? I can't think of one, but the marketing hype has me a little nervous. I.e., because a container of mink oil does not state specifically that it's intended for use on automotive leather, I wonder if it is somehow inferior to the products that are marketed and sold specifically as automotive leather conditioners. My gut feeling is that mink oil is probably better than most of the automotive-specific products.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    if you hose up a $30 pair of mud jumpers, you just head off to Fleet Farm for a new pair of boots. if you hose up four leather seats at maybe $200-300 each for reupholstery, there is a difference. I can understand folks hanging back for that :0

    also, there is foam rubber and seat heater plastic and PVC on the non-contact surfaces that any leather conditioner will be in contact with.

    the likelihood of mink oil, unicorn sweat, zymol, etc hosing up these other materials is pretty small, whatever you are using. but my sweat rots up nylon and stainless steel in glasses, so I have had to go to titanium rims to avoid nasty ugly sores that the greening metal has caused, so I am sensitive to the issue.

    I propose in about two to four weeks when we get a couple of nice warm days to go outside and detail my interior, to check a little area and see how it reacts. I will let you know.

    of course, spring/summer in wonderful Minnesota can last 2 hours, so I have to time it right.
  • joffficerjoffficer Member Posts: 169
    From what I read so far, I guess I should have bought the Lexol (should have known....I used it for years with horse saddles,etc)
    OK, but is the McGuire's going to hurt anything? I have a newer Hyundai with leather, and want to keep it nice (of course). Can I use up the McGuires then switch to Lexol without problems?
  • bluedevilsbluedevils Member Posts: 2,554
    You said "McGuire's." Do you mean "Meguiar's"?
  • joffficerjoffficer Member Posts: 169
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    there is not a problem of Biblical proportions here. next time you need to freshen up the interior, use saddle soap on a damp cloth to scrub the leather down nicely, take up the excess with another barely damp cloth in the same direction to set any streaks that might be left from incomplete cleaning parallel to the grain, and apply the Lexol as directed.

    nobody will be killed as a result of using one product or another, as long as you wear seat belts and obey all relevant traffic laws. and if nobody dies, shoot, it ain't that bad a deal in my book.
  • joffficerjoffficer Member Posts: 169
    "nobody will be killed as a result of using one product or another"?

    People have killed for less. Hell it wasn't long ago people murdered for less than a couple dollars! (got'a love the subways) I can't imagine if someone messed up a nice leather interior!

  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    as opposed to, for instance, the Rocco Do-It-Yourself Home Angioplasty Kit, now with Electric Stents... or the mail-order guide to juggling roaring chain saws.

    there is an article tonight in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in which some poor misguided youth was popping folks on the street with a paintball outfit, and one whipped out a pistol and shot back with hot lead.

    these examples of assumed-unwise behavior somewhat contrast with a person using a B- rated top dressing instead of an A- rated one.
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