Below is an excellent write up on how to care for today's leather seats and interiors! How to protect your automotive hide! By: Don Fuller / autoMedia.com Ask a random sampling of automotive consumers what single thing most typifies luxury in a car and the first answer is likely to be "leather upholstery," even though leather can be had in cars with nameplates that are much more associated with low price and thrifty transportation than those we more commonly think of as luxury models. All that leather is nice in the showroom, but many car owners are at a complete loss when it comes to caring for it. Skin Deep Leather has undergone a huge transformation since Babe Ruth grabbed a ball glove or Buffalo Bill threw a leg over a saddle. The tanning processes of the old days were found to be quite environmentally unsound, so new leather preparation techniques had to be developed. As it turns out, what most of us think of as that "leather smell" is not really the leather itself, but was the residue of the old tanning processes; when the processes changed for environmental reasons the smell went away, so the scientists had to find a way to artificially re-introduce that familiar, friendly smell of leather. What might work on a baseball glove or saddle will most definitely not work on the seats in your car. Another point that few people know is that virtually all automotive leather is finished with a kind of opaque "paint" that leaves a more-or-less impermeable surface on top. Thus, it cannot be "restored" by rubbing some kind of "oil" into it, for the simple reason that the stuff you're trying to rub into it cannot get past the painted surface. What might work on a baseball glove or saddle will most definitely not work on the seats in your car. Keep It Clean The absolute best thing you can do for automotive leather upholstery is actually quite simple: Keep it clean. When the leather gets dirty, that dirt is in small particles that collect on the surface. Every time you open your car door and slide into and across the seat, your backside is grinding those tiny dirt particles into the leather finish. Think of your backside as a sanding block, the dirt as the sandpaper. Grind it enough and you'll grind the finish off, then you'll have cracks, then more dirt will have places to hide, and you're on the downhill side of a vicious cycle of destruction. Remember, you're trying to get the dirt off the leather, not rub it in. Use a vacuum to remove dust buildup; a crevice tool will help get into those tight areas around seams and so forth. For cleaning you can use any of several good leather cleaners on the market; just follow the manufacturer's directions. Or, you can use a soft cloth or spongemake sure they're clean before you start, with lukewarm water and a moderate amount of some very mild soap. Be careful not to rub too harshly, or you'll just be grinding the wet dirt particles into the leather finish. Remember, you're trying to get the dirt off the leather, not rub it in. When you're done, make certain you get all the soap residue off the leather by wiping softly with a slightly damp and clean cloth. Conditional Care It's also beneficial to keep the leather protected from the elements, primarily heat. In the summer, parking in the shade as much as possible, or using one of those windshield sunscreens, will keep the sun's heat and UV rays from drying out the leather, which can cause it to become brittle and crack. A visit to your local auto parts store will also acquaint you with a variety of leather protectants and conditioners. As always, follow the manufacturers' recommendations. The biggest point to remember about leather care is this: Taking care of it up front, by keeping it clean and protected, is by far a better, wiser and cheaper alternative than trying to save it after the damage is done.