Leather Seat Maintenance

c1054c1054 Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in General
I will be taking delivery on a 1999 Windstar SEL
in a few weeks. I have never had leather seats
before. How should I maintain them? I hope to have
this car for many years.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Here's a few ideas:

    1. Keep combs and big wallets out of your back pocket.

    2. Treat the leather every 4-6 months with a product called HIDE FOOD, made by the Connolly leather company...this is a cream that you work into the leather and is better than the liquids.

    3. Don't ever let a dog on the seats or they'll be history in a week. (cover the seats)

    that's really about all you can do with modern leathers, they really don't endure as well as the old days, but if you take good care, the seats should remain attractive for 5-7 years, maybe longer if you're really diligent.
  • pblevinepblevine Member Posts: 858
    You can also use the Zaino leather products to clean and condition your seats.
  • c1054c1054 Member Posts: 5
    MR_SHIFTRIGHT - One of the reasons I bought leather was because I was told by many friends that with proper maintenance, they should last longer than cloth. What do you know about the quality of leather used in Fords and other mass-produced vehicles? Also, I intend to put a towel between my child's carseat and the leather surface. Is this sufficient protection, or should I invest in a full seat cover? Thanks for your advice.
  • cobra98cobra98 Member Posts: 76
    I'm assuming that you're putting the child seat in the back seat. If so, you might want to double check the material of the seat. The back seats in a leather equipped Cobra are VINYL, not leather at all. Just another one of my little gripes, along with:
    no power seat for passenger
    no light under the hood
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    No, c1054, I don't think one could say that leather seats are more durable than cloth...I'd guess in most cases quite the opposite...the synthetic cloth materials they use these days are pretty durable...leather is for the most part an aesthetic choice, and that's fine, too...I have leather in my car, and I generally like it, and I must say that after 10 years it doesn't look bad at all...but it's had very good care.

    American leathers dress very nicely but they don't seem to be the best...Scandanavian also looks good (no barbed wire!)but again, not so durable...just look at any 10 year old Volvo or Saab. I'd say the English still have the nicest grades and best finishing techniques...that's why I recommended HIDE FOOD, since Connolly Leather knows what it's doing.

    Actually, modern leathers in general are heavily treated with fire-retardent and sometimes sprayed coatings and stains and really don't have the feel and texture of the fine leathers of old...of course, modern drivers might not like the way natural leather wears (soft wrinkles) and stains (one cup of coffee and your old 1930s leather is brown forever). Personally, I love natural leather---it doesn't always "look" so tidy, but has wonderful durability. I've seen leather seats over 50 years old that still look wonderful, in that old wrinkled darkening kind of way...soft as soft can be, and no rips...Moroccan is like that.
  • bondesonbondeson Member Posts: 11
    Hmm, Interesting. I've got my first leather seated new car on its way - a Toyota. What about Japanese leather?
  • dmattgamdmattgam Member Posts: 15
    I have the same question like 'bondeson'. In your opinion, does Lexus use good quality leather say in the LS400.

    I also noticed some other cars either in the parking lots or the so-called pre-owned certified cars at the dealers that the leather has a very shiny look to it. Does it mean that the owners of these cars didn't take good care of their leather and they all turned shiny eventually ?

    Right now the leather of my car doesn't have that shiny look and I'd like to keep it that way if all possible. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well, leather hides are graded by the processor and then sold...so some companies choose the highest grade and some the secondary grades and some the cheapest. My friend's Lexus just had the leather redone (not cheap!)and he got well over 100K miles of use on the original. Generally, no modern leather has the overall durability of the old days, so you'd have to guess that the durability of the leather used today is pegged more or less the price of the car when new. You are not going to get BMW 740il grade leather on a Camry.

    I don't see any reason why a Lexus interior couldn't go ten years with good care...but you have to be realistic...the leather in a car used sparingly by one person is going to last a lot longer than one used as an airport limo.

    Quality of stitching is important, too...

    I thing the important thing is to keep the leather from drying out...once it's dry, it's toast, and it'll start to break down rapidly.

    Seems to me, and I'm speculating a bit here, is that these days with all the artificial coatings on leather, that a certain compromise has been reached...in exchange for natural suppleness and breathability, these 'treated' leathers give you a certain time span no matter what you do...I don't think they respond as well to conditioners like in the old days. But every little bit of care helps, as does protection from direct sun and water.
  • sebargesebarge Member Posts: 50
    I have checked sev. search engines and none have come up with a site that sells the Connolly leather cleaner you have mentioned. There are no Rolls Royce dealerships near us, so can't walk in and get it either.
    Do you know where I can find HIDEFOOD and the cost of it?
  • lancehlanceh Member Posts: 9
    I wish I could remember the precise sources, but I do seem to recall reading a couple of places where the leather in Lexus LS400s (at least the earlier models) didn't weather very well. I can vouch for it personally from my 90 model-year (which I no longer have).

    As for products, I have recently read many accolades for a range of products from a company called, "Leatherique" which is sold only mail-order (I think). Anyhows, after seeing so many positive remarks, I ordered the stuff and it just arrived today. Unfortunately, it'll probably be at least a week or so before I get a chance to try it. I'll try to remember to post my results.
  • larrys1larrys1 Member Posts: 15
    What is best to clean leather seats to remove dirt? I am afraid to use standard household cleaners for fear of damaging the finish.
  • ruskiruski Member Posts: 1,566
    sebarge - yesterday I searched for "HIDE FOOD" on Altavista and found a lot of sites that sell it.
  • dmattgamdmattgam Member Posts: 15

    When did you notice any problem with your 1990 LS400 ? Where kind of problem did you see: the leather cracked, faded, turned color etc... Btw, did you apply moisturizer on a regular basis ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    HIDE FOOD is found easily in my area (California)...it's about $10 a jar, but lasts a long time...any good auto parts store should have it.

    Yes, you want to be careful how you clean leather...check in with your shoe store and ask them what they use on $300 Italian shoes...since modern leathers are often color-dyed, you need to be careful about what you use and how hard you scrub...I've used different products that are called leather cleaners and they seem alright...I just don't like the results of those runny liquid conditioners...prefer the creams.....
  • sebargesebarge Member Posts: 50
    ruski... thanks, will try Altavista. And will search as you printed above, HIDE FOOD.

    Mr. Shiftright... you just live in a good area. :-) It's not sold around here in my part of TX, and no auto place has it. Oh well, on to try search engine Altavista.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Well, if you search and can't find it (oh, they MUST sell it in trendy San Antonio...c'mon!), e-mail me and I'll send you some (for which you will pay me, I might add). You'll like it.

    mr. Shiftright
    <<A HREF="http://[email protected].">[email protected]>
  • ruskiruski Member Posts: 1,566
    the best way to search for it on Altavista will actually be to use double quote marks, "HIDE FOOD". Then it will find only this combination of words for sure. HPH.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    or you'll get a whole lot of information about raccoons...which reminds me of the interesting story of the time a raccoon got into Automobile Magazine editor Mr David E. DAvis's Ferrari and completely destroyed the car's leather interior, for which he shot the beast, I think, and incurred some wrath from readers...or maybe he just threatened to shoot it in print...anyway, he scoffed at his critics and thought the animal deserved to die for its crimes. I have no comment.
  • lancehlanceh Member Posts: 9
    Overall, I meticulously maintained my LS400, but to be fair, I only treated the leather about twice a year. I guess given my warm climate (TX), I should have done it at least four times a year.

    The wear was in the form of worn lines along creases which formed in the driver seat. The other seats looked very good. The deterioration became most apparent, I seem to recall, somewhere around 70-80k miles.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Same exact thing happened to my friend's Lexus, but more extensively throughout the car...he's a real estate agent and drives people around all day.
  • paul29paul29 Member Posts: 178
    I have a 91 LS400 which had a problem with the front seat leather , the area which was reported in the magazines at the time was the upper side bolsters on which the leather cracked . Lexus replaced both on warranty .
  • esuomm1esuomm1 Member Posts: 5
    What about the Lexol products? I used them on a Maxima I had but did not own the car long enough to see if the seats held up better.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Member Posts: 1,021
    I got the upgraded naugahide in my new truck. Salesman said it was better than cow hide. What kinda animal is a nauga and what treatment should I use on it?
  • vivonavivona Member Posts: 410
    Ditto on the question about Lexol. I just bought the cleaner and the conditioner and would like to know how well the products work for others.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I personally did not notice any benefits with Lexol, it seems more like a quick conditioner that one would use on shoes. It didn't seem to affect the leather at all, but perhaps it was doing some good I just couldn't see. I tried some side by side treatments and that's why I switched to Hide Food, but this is, of course, not scientifically based info.
  • slingoizedslingoized Member Posts: 4
    Two weeks ago, I bought A new Maxima GLE with leather seats. I wanted to know how soon I should apply a leather conditioner to the seats. I bought Turtle Wax Emerald Series Leather cream & wonder if it's a good product to use. Thanks.
  • HenryHenry Member Posts: 1,106
    I had trouble finding Hide Food also. But you can find it at any Jaugar dealership.
    Aurora with Leather owner.
  • DropTop90DropTop90 Member Posts: 22
    I wipe my leather seats with Murphy's Oil Soap & water, dry them, then treat them with a Meltonian leather cleaner & protector. I picked it up in a local shoe shop. My concern is drying & cracking. This is my first (tan) leather interior and I'd like to keep it looking great.
  • lanettalanetta Member Posts: 5
    I haven't bought my car yet, but the one I am looking at has leather seats included at no charge. Sable LS Premium pkg. I've never had leather. Can I expect it to last 8-10 years? If the car is a good one, I intend to hand it over to my son in about 5 years. Just how much care/maintenance is required? As a single Mom, car cleaning/maintenance is not a high priority (don't get me wrong- I make sure they are mechanically maintained), Looking for some advice here folks. . . .
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Leather needs LOTS of good maintenance or it will never last 10 years and still look good...mostly the problem is a) many cars don't use a top grade leather and b) owners let the leather dry out, and then it cracks and is unsaveable.

    Best thing you can do is treat it at least 4 times a year with a good, rich conditioner...especially in areas near the back window,(sun damage) and where the driver's seat is contacted on the side facing the driver's door.
  • omar2omar2 Member Posts: 12
    Mr Shiftright,
    I've tried Pep Boys, Kragun and Orchard Supply Hardware. Do you know who sells it in Nor Cal?
  • DropTop90DropTop90 Member Posts: 22
    I checked the bottle. It's called Leather Lotion. Works fine for me.
  • omar2omar2 Member Posts: 12
    At a Jag dealer following a poster's suggestion. Jag parts guy said I'd find it at most dealers.
  • mugwump2mugwump2 Member Posts: 33
    Anyone know how to remove ball point ink from a light tan leather? Don't ask how it happened.
  • gizen_iugizen_iu Member Posts: 1
    You may apply the "baby oil" to the leather seats in your car. It's better.

  • mugwump2mugwump2 Member Posts: 33
    gizen_iu Do you mean this will help remove the ink? Thanks.
  • geo1geo1 Member Posts: 1

    I have been using 'Lexol' for years on all my leather goods (Car seats, shoes, belts, jackets etc.) and I have found it to be simply wonderful.
    Apply it with your bare hands and work it in well.
    It really does nourish the leather. Try it for yourself.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    I think (it's been my experience anyway) that Lexol is okay for brand new leather but in my own case I have never found it very effective for renewing older skins...whereas Hide Food brings them back very nicely. Lexol is very watery and you waste a lot, I think, in application (a sinister plot?), whereas the cream can be worked in for a while. It's like massaging those five cows that died for your complete leather interior (I looked that one up, it's true).
  • mugwump2mugwump2 Member Posts: 33
    Or to look at it another way to provide the main ingredient for your Big Mac. Use of the hides is just efficient use of all of the cow.
  • fishhead1fishhead1 Member Posts: 1
    I saw this asked (sort of) before but didn't see any suggs. What would be the best way to protect leather seats from a child safety seat? Would like to prevent "dents" in padding as well if poss. Any ideas?
  • larrys1larrys1 Member Posts: 15
    Those seats generally stay tightly in place, unmoved for long periods of time. Without protection they will cause irreparable damage to your seats. I know from experience on my 10-year old Sable. I recently took delivery of a '99 Windstar with leather seats. I simply went to the local craft store and purchased 1" thick padding to place under the seats (I have 3 child seats). In addition, I placed a small blanket over the padding, mostly for appearance since the padding was bright green and the interior is tan. But the blanket also adds another layer of protection. This has worked well so far.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Would seat on occasion allow the leather to "bounce" back into place? Would that prolong the life of the seat, or would the same damage still occur over the long run.
  • larrys1larrys1 Member Posts: 15
    Not sure what you're referring to about the leather bouncing back into place prolonging seat life. But I can say it was a rude awakening when I saw the leather under the car seats, which after several months of constant pressure appears to be stretched. Fortunately this happened on an older used car whose leather seats were already suffering from ten years of obvious abuse from the previous owner. So far the foam padding has worked well in my new van.
  • wagner4wagner4 Member Posts: 3
    Can the above mentioned leather products be used on leather furniture. I have a couch, love seat, and chair that are black. Got them at the local Kaufmans department store. The furniture cushions stick to each other and the arms of the chair. Makes a funny noise when sitting on them. Also, dont wear anything white and sit down - or you will have some black marks on your clothes.

    Help, Help - I have had to buy all new furniture for the living room. NOW all the leather is in the basement. I would like to fix this.

    Any suggestions ---- Thanks
  • Dexter8thDexter8th Member Posts: 7
    I'm looking at purchasing a used car with leather seats (91 Bonneville SSE). Car seems good enough, but the seats are in pretty bad shape. Any idea on what it would cost to re-cover them? What about in (ugh) vinyl? Any suggestions?
  • brucekobruceko Member Posts: 1
    Any suggestoins to remove a ballpoint pen ink mark from leather seats?
  • mugwump2mugwump2 Member Posts: 33
    Just went through this on a light tan seat back. Alcohol will remove SOME but not all.
    Try methanol, wood or denatured not isopropyl/rubbing. If you find something better, let me know pls. I'm having the car detailed next week and will see that they can do.
  • vivonavivona Member Posts: 410
    I read in another topic that a product called Multi7 will remove ballpoint ink from leather. Don't know where you can get it, though.
  • madams2madams2 Member Posts: 8
    Has Anybody used Zaino's leather products. I hear their waxes are great, but I haven't heard anything about their leather treatments
  • wijuwiju Member Posts: 1
    Hello everyone,

    I have a '97 Integra with stock leather seats. My question is: Does anybody own a similar car/similar leather seats and how do you take care of the seats? Any special maintenance stuff that you put in?

This discussion has been closed.