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Caring for leather seats...my personal experiences!

Discussion in '360/430' started by rob4092xx, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    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 sponge—make 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.
     
  2. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    I am only sharing my experiences and study on why the leather seats in previous vehicles I owned always showed wear so quickly. Please keep in mind that I do not sell leather conditioners, nor do I have a warehouse stocked with leather conditioners I need to sell.

    First, I am not overweight and I do not let my butt cross against the bolster when I get in and out of my cars.

    Since 2005, I have owned 3 C6 Corvettes, 3 Acura NSX's, 1 C4 Corvette, 3 Ford Expeditions, 2 Hummers and 1 Ferrari 360 (yes, I am a car nut!). I take care of my cars like they are family. I clean and wax them religiously as I find it relaxing to do.

    I always conditioned my seats with leather conditioners. I have used Lexol, Zaino, Mothers, Leatherique, and a variety of others. I continued this until I did some background on how leather seats are made today.

    I found that all leather seats have a clear urethane coating over them. Due to the EPA, all manufacturer paints must now be water based. Whether we like it or not, water based paints do not hold up like solvent based.

    The product in conditioners breaks down the urethane properties and allows the seat to begin deteriorating. I have noticed three things since I stopped using leather conditioners; 1) My leather is much more durable; 2) My leather seats stay much cleaner; 3) My windows don't get "foggy" inside.

    Below are links to a Professional Dealers Forum much like this one. Read away!

    http://www.autopia.org/forum/autopia...-products.html

    http://www.autopia.org/forum/car-det...ditioning.html

    http://www.autopia.org/forum/autopia...ning-care.html
     
  3. deichenb

    deichenb Formula Junior

    Apr 3, 2007
    545
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Full Name:
    David
    The links in the above post are not working. Can you post them again?

    Thanks & Forza,
    David
     
  4. Trent

    Trent Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2003
    2,010
    Indialantic, FL
    Full Name:
    Trent
    ...putting a drop of water on anything and believing you can determine how it was made, what it was coated with, or who invented it, is ridiculous.

    I did a Leatherique coating on my F430 last weekend because I would not be driving it for 2 days and I could leave the car in the driveway all day, top up, windows up, to soak in the rejuvenator. I then let the rejuvenator sit there for another day in the garage because of a constricted schedule. On the third day I wiped it off with prestine clean. A total of about 1 hr.

    I asked my lovely if she thought the leather was any softer, and she said "...noticeably softer...". I also agree the seats are much softer, not just a little. It tuned the leather from a firm couch type feel, to a soft handbag feel (best I can do on analogies).

    I have used this on 20 year old leather that felt like cardboard with very, very impressive results.

    Maybe your 360 seats were treated with a silicone sealer before you bought it. It is possible. Some popular silicone products will seal leather and cause it to be unable to breathe by clogging the leather pores. This can lead to premature leather failure but also might explain your experience.

    I can say with 100% confidence that my F430 seats soak up Rejouvinator oil like it was thirsty if done once a year. More often might reduce the obvious absorption. I will also agree that the absorbtion rates for the dash and seats are different. Not sure why and dont care.

    Note: Dont forget to do your steering wheel, mine looks brand new, and that leather gets the worst abuse from the sun and wear from use.
     
  5. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    If Leatherique actually soaked into your seat, why would you have to clean the seats afterwards with Pristine Clean? Maybe to remove all of the Leatherique that simply sat on top of the leather?
     
  6. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    Sorry the links don't work. I will copy the messages in them and post them in several messages. Here is the first!

    Many of the following statements are controversial and are polar opposite of popular leather care practices recommended by product manufacturers. I've found that some leather care myths are deliberately perpetuated by the industry, especially those on the use of oil-based leather conditioners and others are just common errors of judgment.

    Modern automotive finished leather upholstery used by 95% of OEM is a multi strata covering over the leather hide; pigmentation (colour) and an abrasion resistant urethane. Finished leather s only requirement is to be kept clean and protected, urethane doesn’t require conditioning

    Definition of Leather conditioning

    a) Proteins, collagens and oils cannot permeate the leather and therefore remain on the surface; the same thing will apply to seating surfaces; the problem will be exasperated as the oil will attract dirt/grime to the surface. So the claims of strengthening and nourishing the leathers fibres are groundless as the oils cannot permeate the leather and therefore remain on the surface; the same thing will apply to seating surfaces; the problem will be exasperated as the oil will attract dirt/grime to the surface.
    The finished leather used in automobiles is removed from a dead animal and then is subjected to a tanning process. Why would a deceased animal skin (hide) require proteins and collagens, these types of proteins are used to ensure a healthy and elastic dermis and to ensure the tendons remain supple in living tissue.

    b) When leather tanners talk about conditioning leather they are referring to re-hydration; not the replenishment or replacement of the fat liquoring oils and waxes. The only 'conditioning' required for finished leather upholstery is hydration; oil-based products cannot permeate the finish leather (urethane pigmentation and / or covering) that is used in 95% plus of modern automobiles.

    Modern leather needs to be kept hydrated with moisture to ensure the leather remains flexible and maintains its soft tactile feel. The oils cannot permeate the leather and therefore remain on the surface; the same thing will apply to seating surfaces; the problem will be exasperated as the oil will attract dirt/grime to the surface. This is done by regularly wiping the surface with a damp 100% cotton micro fibre towel and by using aqueous (water- based) leather care products. There is no reason to use oil-based leather care products to condition or feed leather hides

    Aqueous (water- based) products are able to permeate deep into the hide, unlike oil, due to its larger particles, whereas water particles are smaller than both oil and the molecules of urethane, which enables aqueous (water- based) products to permeate and provide hydration, which is essential for suppleness recovery.

    In summary, an aqueous micro emulsion is readily absorbed into the fibres and provides lasting and effective lubrication without migration, while re-hydration leaves leather feeling silky soft and pliable.
     
  7. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    Automotive Leather Finishes

    For many, finding the best leather care product is as simple as using what is the most popular. While popularity can sometimes be a reliable barometer, it isn’t always the correct choice. Some even make their decision based on new car’s leather fragrance alone. My best advise; research other options and products, test them and then make an objective decision based upon factual information, not hype or brand loyalty.

    After all, how can you fully understand and properly use any product unless you have all the facts? I would also strongly suggest that you verify any information that I or anyone else shares with you.

    There are three main types of leather finish

    1. Unfinished dyed leather; aniline dyes are translucent; the transparency of the dye enables you to see the natural marks on the leather. Because it’s the top-grain, this leather has plenty of physical durability.
    This type of leather finish is typical of approximately 10% of vehicles

    2. Finished leather has a topical water-based pigmentation coating; and then a clear coating are applied to the surface. These coating represent the colour and sheen on the leather.

    3. Protected leather with a pigmented urethane coating, without the tensile strength of top-grain, consequently will have a short useful life expectancy. Split-hides are typically heavily pigmented with an abrasion resistant urathane clear coating.


    The common denominator is that whatever the leather finish any product that is applied to its surface must allow evaporation and hydration i.e. the flow of moisture back and forth

    The interior environment of an automobile can be extremely demanding on any material used. Temperatures range from hot dry summer days, to freezing nights. Both high and low humidity, even air conditioning that cools, but also dries. Leather's greatest enemies are; sun, heat, body oils, perspiration (that contains urea as well as organic salts and acids) and ultra violet radiation (UVR), which dries the hide, fades the colour by bleaching, and can cause the leather to fail by drying out the fibres causing the urethane and / or the hide to crack.

    The most fundamental question to be answered before you clean or care for leather is to establish the type of leather finish used in the vehicle as the methodologies are very specific for each type



    Always remember you are dealing with the finished coating on the leather and not with the leather hide itself






    Automotive finished leather upholstery is a multi-strata urethane coating; consisting of the actual hide, colour pigmentation and the surface finish.

    An acrylic and polyurethane resin binder system is used to improve flexibility, fastness and adhesion to the leather, then two or three water-based pigmented base coat applications a clear water-based top coat is then applied, which usually includes additives to give it a soft feel and a limited amount of ‘slide’ as the final stage of the finishing process.

    The urethane (Ethyl carbamate) used for protecting automobile upholstery is classified as a semi-solid permeable membrane, being a thermosetting polymer (elastomers) it remains flexible while retaining its tensile strength, to enable it to expand and contract, following the temperature fluctuations (elasticity) of the substrate. The urethane although very resilient to abrasion wear from entering and exiting the vehicle, by using additives it still maintains its physical properties like flexibility, tactile hand and its patina

    A urethanes fibre structure will stretch in all directions with no particular grain or stress pattern. The urethane surface coating will not withstand multi directional stress, however, and when it’s flexed or stretched continuously in the same place the surface coating develops minute cracks. It also has micro-pores that allow evaporation and hydration (the passage of water vapour through a membrane or pore) they are not sealed per se as some chemicals penetrate it easily; others stay on top dependent upon their molecule size.

    Leather Upholstery Type Surface Identification

    Automotive leather is a rather difficult category to define as OEM descriptions of leather finishes vary, often incorrectly from that of leather manufacturer’s description. Automobile manufacturers have blurred the distinguishing lines on what exactly leather is.

    The most fundamental question to be answered before you clean or care for leather is to establish the type of leather used in the vehicle and / or finish applied as the methodologies are very specific for each type. One products suits all leather type finishes is a marketing myth

    Leather finishes - there are two strata’s to automotive leather upholstery; the actual hide and the surface finish. The hides used are generally bovine, which must be kept hydrated to maintain tensile strength, luxurious suppleness and prevent the hide from cracking and becoming dry. Natural leather has a water-based pigmentation applied to the hide to provide an even colour. There is no such thing as a cow with blue, red or burgundy skin.

    Automotive leather is typically finished with a coating, which protects the surface from (UV) radiation, as well making it resistant to soiling and wear. These coatings vary in thickness; Aniline leather is has a clear coating of approximately 0.2µ as opposed to covered leather, which has a pigmented layer of approximately 25 µ, applied to provide protection from wear when getting in and out of the vehicle

    Leather Detailing and Care

    Formulate a detailing plan, then utilize proper detailing techniques, combined with quality products is what makes a details outcome, successful. You will find that getting unbiased information on this subject is somewhere between very difficult and impossible. It is important to be able to recognise the different materials used for vehicle upholstery as some OEM use different materials for the various surfaces (i.e. perforated leather for the seating areas, PVC bolsters and seat backs)

    Once you’ve correctly identified the leather and / or the applied finish applicable to your vehicle's upholstery, it’s easier to select suitable products / methods (one size fits all is just a vendor's marketing myth) First you need to identify the material and finishes used; Nubuck / Alcantara®, Aniline and Protected or Coated

    Different types of leather require specific cleaning and care and therefore require a slightly different process. Check your 'leather type' before attempting to clean or apply any products to its surface.

    Leather is very dynamic with respect to its moisture content; the leather hides needs to be kept supple. The purpose of rehydration is to restore moisture lost through evaporation, so whatever the surface finish, it has to allow the movement of moisture back and forth (evaporation and hydration).

    1. Micro Pigment (Semi-aniline leather) - is a term used by the leather industry to better describe leather with a fine layer of pigment coating as opposed to the mislabelled ‘Semi Aniline’. Aniline leather will absorb moisture unless it has been treated in some way. (this also identifies perforated leather)

    More often used for automotive upholstery as it is more durable than aniline whilst still retaining a natural appearance? Aniline leather which has received a surface coating containing a small amount of pigment in the base coat, this surface coating helps impart greater stain resistance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains both pigment (colour) and an anti-abrasion additive, this ensures consistent colour, imparts some stain resistance and helps with the abrasion of entering and exiting the vehicle

    Aniline dyed leather can be renovated with a pigmentation coating (unprotected Aniline is rarely used for automobile upholstery). Transparent, not even milky or translucent; added to an opaque medium, the opacity remains, although some colour is added, and the net gray-equivalent brightness is always reduced, because a dye can only absorb light.

    • Identifying characteristics - It is highly absorbent and has a random shade colours and grain pattern.
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will darken the surface, but it returns to its original colour after drying.
    • Absorbency rate -High

    2. Protected leather (P-Protected / Coated) - by slightly scratching it with your nail, if it changes to a darker / lighter shade, it is unprotected (i.e. how suede changes colour depending on the fibres' orientation). If this has little effect it’s protected.

    The majority (95% + ) of automotive upholstery is by-cast urethane (Ethyl carbamate) covered leather, these leathers have aspects of a natural finish, but more uniform in appearance, by-cast will also stretch more than top grain leather and is therefore subject to show creasing.

    Cleaners and conditioners remain on the surface, it’s (urethane) protected leather as liquids other than water (due to the size of its smaller molecules) will not penetrate.

    • Identifying characteristics - this type of surface; it will also have an even shine.
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will ‘bead’ on the surface
    • Absorbency rate -Low

    3. Alcantara® Ultra suede™, Ecsaine, Micro suede, etc) are not leather and would more accurately be described as a fabric, it is in fact a synthetic materials composed of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane, it has the appearance and tactile feel similar to that of suede, and it may be incorrectly identified as such. Toray Industries' Ultra suede or Alcantara is finding application in seating as well as dash trimming, steering wheel covering and headliners in many high-end original equipment manufacturer (OEM) automotive applications. Suede and Nubuck -suede has a napped surface and is made from the buffed inner surface of calfskin or kidskin. Nubuck is produced by buffing the exterior of the hide.

    • Identifying characteristics – these materials are very soft to the touch and will scratch or scuff very easily.
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will darken the surface and will remain dark or leave a water mark after drying.
    • Absorbency rate -High

    Nappa and Perforated Leather (A-Aniline // Non-Coated) – for leather used in autos, Nappa is a term that is used to denote a high quality leather, it’s a very soft, absorbent full grain (uncoated) and usually tanned with alum and chromium salts and dyed throughout

    • Identifying characteristics – see Aniline Leather
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will darken its colour (temporarily).

    4. Vinyl - is a non-organic (synthetic) material that has an even, almost repeating pattern. Vinyl can imitate leather as they imprint a grain pattern into it; the depth of the lines within the grain on vinyl is also consistent, while the same lines on leather will vary.

    • Identifying characteristics - it is also usually smooth and soft to the touch.
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will ‘bead’ on the surface
    • Absorbency rate -Low

    Alternatively go to your local vehicle dealership along with the vehicle identification number (VIN), they can advise you of the options fitted.

    The common denominator for all the above surface finishes is that they all require specific products in accordance with the finish; not forgetting protection from ultra violet (UV) radiation

    Artificial leather

    Is a non-organic (synthetic) leather-like finish material that has an even, almost repeating pattern, it also has a protective coating applied. It also has micro-pores that allow evaporation and hydration (the passage of water vapour through a membrane or pore) they are not sealed per se as some chemicals penetrate it easily; others stay on top dependent upon their molecule size.

    MB-Tex and Artico [: a plastic fabric made to look like leather] are probably the best known of this type of material that can imitate leather as they imprint a grain pattern into it; the depth of the lines within the grain that also consistent, while the same lines on leather will vary widely. Artificial leather usually has single stitching; whereas leather uses double stitching, as leather is thicker.

    • Identifying characteristics - it is also usually smooth and soft to the touch.
    • The water-drop absorbency test- water drops will ‘bead’ on the surface
    • Absorbency rate -Low

    Leatherette sometimes referred to as Poromerics (a term coined by DuPont) an imitation leather are a group of synthetic ‘breathable’ leather substitutes made from plastic coating (usually polyurethane) on a fibrous base layer (typically polyester) Including Naugahyde, the fabric can be made of a natural or a synthetic fibre which is then covered with a soft PVC layer, which is a lighter, more flexible and less restrictive material than leather. This kind of material is easy to clean, requiring the owner to simply wipe it off occasionally with a cloth dipped in a solution of mild detergent and warm water.

    Periodically clean using a 1:10 solution of P21S Total Auto Wash and distilled water to remove dirt build-up thoroughly and effortlessly, these chemicals restore the original texture and resiliency; use to clean all polyurethane covered automotive upholstery; this product is biodegradable and environmentally friendly

    Protection - even though this material is not real leather, it can definitely crack and distort, with Einszett 1z Cockpit Premium safely cleans all clear and coloured automotive plastic interior fittings such as dash, trim, door panels, navigation/audio screens, steering wheel, and pedals. It leaves a long-lasting matt finish with fresh citrus scent. The perfect everyday cleaner for interior plastic surfaces, it’s a mild cleaner to prevent the drying of these porous surfaces, yet it is effective at removing body oils and grime on a regular basis.

    Application - Spray onto a clean micro fibre towel, agitate it well and then allow it to remain in place for 10-15 minutes. Finally using a clean micro fibre towel buff it to ensure it permeates

    Three Step Care

    All finishes have to allow '(evaporation and hydration) ' - the flow of moisture back and forth, the important considerations for proper leather care; is as much about (a) the state / condition of the leather you are dealing with (b) methodology used (c) product. Cleaning is a combination of all these

    (a) Clean - as dirt / grit and subsequent friction cause the finish to wear.

    (b) Hydrated - use water-based products that do not contain oils and/or waxes, check the label if they do then don't use them. Clean surfaces with a damp towel.

    (c) Protected - is essential as it will protect the surface finish and makes dirt easier to clean off and an ultra violet protective product (UVR) will preserve the finish.

    Leather is very dynamic with respect to its moisture content; the leather hides needs to be kept supple. The purpose of rehydration is to restore moisture lost through evaporation, so whatever the surface finish, it has to allow the movement of moisture back and forth (evaporation and hydration). So the use of water- based cleaners and protectors will maintain hydration, which is essential to keeping it in pristine condition.


    Related Articles

    1. “Reference sources and bibliography used for leather articles” - Reference sources and bibliography used for leather articles

    2. “A Brief History of Leather” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1463189

    3. “Leather Tanning Process” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1455796

    4. “Leather Fat Liquoring and Conditioning” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1462908

    5. “Leather Restoration / Renovation” - Leather Restoration / Renovation

    6. “Types of Leather Used in Automobiles” - Types of Leather used in Automobiles

    7. “Leather Surface Identification” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1451654

    8. "Various Leather Surface Conditions and Correction" - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...orrection.html

    9. "Leather care products" - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1465895

    10. "Removing Stains from Leather" - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1468879

    11. “Proper Finished Leather Cleaning and Care” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ning-care.html

    12. "Leather Conditioning" - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1454835

    13. "Using Oil-based Leather Care Products" - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1450942

    14. “Aniline Leather; Cleaning and Care” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1455011

    15. “Perforated (Nappa) Leather; Cleaning and Care” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ml#post1455017
     
  8. Mo T

    Mo T Formula Junior

    Nov 26, 2011
    478
    Saudi Arabia
    Full Name:
    Mohammed
    Good to know Leatherique worked for you Ternt.

    How did you manage to coat the dash? the area is very tight I had a hard time squeezing my hand to the edges right under the front glass, in the end I used a spray bottle :( removing the oil from the glass after the application was a nightmare.

    Yes, you clean up the additional oil that was not soaked into the leather.
     
  9. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    When it comes to vehicle leather upholstery care information, there are plenty of myths and very few real facts. I hope this extract will provide you with enough commercially unbiased, factual and relevant information to eradicate those myths to enable you to give your car's leather interior the proper care it needs to stay supple and looking great for many years.

    Many of the following statements are controversial and are polar opposite of popular leather care practices. I've found that some leather care myths are deliberately perpetuated by the industry, especially those on the use of oil-based leather conditioners and others are just common errors of judgment.

    The interior environment of an automobile can be extremely demanding on any material used. Temperatures range from hot dry summer days, to freezing nights. Both high and low humidity, even air conditioning that cools, but also dries. Leather's greatest enemies are; sun, heat, body oils, perspiration (that contains urea as well as organic salts and acids) and ultra violet radiation (UVR), which dries the hide, fades the colour by bleaching, and can cause the leather to fail by drying out the fibres causing the urethane and / or the hide to crack.

    When leather tanners talk about conditioning leather they are referring to re-hydration; not the replenishment or replacement of the fat liquoring oils and waxes. Modern finished leather needs to be kept hydrated with moisture to ensure the leather remains flexible and maintains its soft tactile feel. This is done by regularly wiping the surface with a damp 100% cotton micro fibre towel and by using aqueous (water- based) leather care products. There is no reason to use oil-based leather care products to condition or feed leather hides

    Automotive leather upholstery is a multi-strata urethane coating that allows hydration (transpiration and evaporation of moisture); consisting of the actual hide, colour pigmentation and the surface finish. An acrylic and polyurethane resin binder system is used to improve flexibility, fastness and adhesion to the leather, then two or three aqueous (water- based) pigmented base coat applications a clear aqueous (water- based) top coat is then applied as the final stage of the finishing process. Urethane and pigmented finished leather has micro-pores that allow evaporation and hydration (the passage of water vapour) they are not sealed per se as liquid vapours penetrate it easily; others liquids stay on top dependent upon their molecule size.

    The urethane (Ethyl carbamate) used for protecting automobile upholstery is classified as a semi-solid permeable membrane, being a thermosetting polymer (elastomers) it remains flexible while retaining its tensile strength, to enable it to expand and contract, following the temperature fluctuations (elasticity) of the substrate.

    The urethane although very resilient to abrasion wear from entering and exiting the vehicle, still maintains its physical properties like flexibility, tactile hand and its patina. A urethanes fibre structure will stretch in all directions with no particular grain or stress pattern. The urethane surface coating will not withstand multi directional stress, however, and when it’s flexed or stretched continuously in the same place the surface coating develops minute cracks. It also has micro-pores that allow evaporation and hydration (the passage of water vapour through a membrane or pore) they are not sealed per se as some liquids penetrate it easily; others stay on top dependent upon their molecule size.

    Oils and soft plastics i.e. polymers, acrylics and urethanes are not compatible; repeated application on to finished leather can cause the break-down of cross-linking and binding agents. Oil accelerates the deterioration of urethane over time. After extended use the condition of the finished leathers pigmentation (colour) will be removed by the oil causing the urethane protection to become delaminated

    Leather's greatest enemies are; sun, heat, body oils, perspiration (that contains urea as well as organic salts and acids) and ultra violet radiation (UVR), which dries the hide, fades the colour by bleaching, and can cause the leather to fail by drying out the fibres causing the urethane and / or the hide to crack. Since body dirt and oil are a big stain factor in leather, be cognizant of bare skin when you are in your vehicle. If you use suntan oil or spray tan lotion, be sure to use a towel when you get back in your vehicle so that the oil does not get onto your leather. You can also use a towel when leaving the gym as body oils/ perspiration contain organic acids that will stain.

    Neat’s-foot, Lanolin (Latin: lāna "wool", and oleum, "oil"), Sperm whale oil, Mink Oil is a euphemistic name for liquefied pig fat and silicone oil, Tea Tree Oil, even the so-called Banana Oil, btw it is impossible to get any oil derived from a banana, its real name; Isoamyl acetate is a chemical solvent, often used as a ‘cover-up’ aroma. Silicone and oil- based conditioners are all damaging to urethane coated leather, as they block the movement of moisture back and forth (evaporation and hydration) regardless of what they say on the products label.

    Beeswax (or any other organic or inorganic wax) and silicone are hydrophobic, which means they will not allow the replacement of moisture lost through evaporation, nor allow the movement of moisture back and forth.

    Silicone again, not ideal for leather in the same way wax or oils aren’t, as they seal the surface and make it slippery, something I personally don’t enjoy in any car. I have seen silicone penetration up close and the only way to remove it from within the hide is to chemically break it down as its function is to impregnate itself into the finish and then form a ‘hard’ shell to protect it.

    Silicone oils and waxes also helps attract dust, making it artificially shiny (losing that OEM matte look) and can help bring on cracks in polyurethane coated surfaces as it builds up with each coat applied. The net effect of which is dehydration leads to drying and cracking of the surface

    Silicon oil formulations are build-up type products which accelerate heat damage, oil formulations are greasy and oily, and have a high electrostatic attraction to dust, grime, which will soil more quickly. We absolutely do not recommend these products for any type of leather application. I have seen silicone penetration up close and the only way to remove it from within the hide is to chemically break it down as its function is to impregnate itself into the finish to harden and "protect" it.

    When applied to leather they don’t facilitate the leather or covered lather to receive any hydration, causing it to dry out; it may also have a detrimental effect on the urethane by causing fissure (cracks). Once it permeates the foam and / or hide to remove requires the use of chemicals to break it down as its function is to solidify and form a protective covering, however this will remove the fibre’s flexibility, resulting in a ‘hard’ seating surface

    Neat’s-foot oil rots leather is just a myth, any oil will trap moisture in the stitching, which will cause them to fray and rot. If oil is allowed to permeate any micro fissures in the leather or via the stitching it will compromise the resin binder system and delaminate from the hide releasing its adhesive bond, and it will be able to move in a different direction from the hide, which will result in surface fissures and cracking, further compounding the problem eventually leading to the subsequent replacement of the protective covering

    If oil is allowed to permeate any micro fissures in the leather or via the stitching it will travel laterally compromising the resin binder system which will delaminate from the hide releasing its adhesive bond. It will then be able to move in a different direction from the hide, which will result in surface fissures and cracking, further compounding the problem eventually leading to the subsequent replacement of the protective covering

    Leather is very dynamic with respect to its moisture content; the leather hides needs to be kept supple. The purpose of rehydration is to restore moisture lost through evaporation, so whatever the surface finish, it has to allow the movement of moisture back and forth (evaporation and hydration). The liquoring (fats and oils) that are put into the leather during the tanning process do not dry out of the leather in normal circumstances so therefore do not need replacing.

    Modern automotive leather upholstery use a completely different tanning processes and finishing system, utilizing advanced polymers and chemicals and as a consequence they do not need to be treated with aftercare products containing oils.

    Leather Conditioning

    Leather pigments require oils to feed / nourish them

    This is based upon oil-based paints and pigments, nitrocellulose lacquer or enamel and older technology pigment on classic vehicles that required oils to keep them from becoming too brittle and cracking, water-based high solid/low solvent and urethane pigmentation only require hydration amd protection

    Modern automotive finished leather upholstery used by 95% of OEM is a multi strata covering over the leather hide; pigmentation (colour) and an abrasion resistant urethane. Finished leather s only requirement is to be kept clean and protected, urethane doesn’t require conditioning

    The following are factual details that leather care manufacturers would rather you didn’t know.

    [There are numerous leather conditioning products in the marketplace, and they generally have the same overall function: to preserve the performance and aesthetics of leather. This can be achieved by: replenishing the lubricating oils ("fat liquors") that have been oxidized and otherwise lost during its lifetime, and/or replacing moisture lost through evaporation.]

    However, leather is a very chemically complex material, and if the conditioning product is incompatible with it in any way, it can exert a damaging effect:

    [Finish peeling, finish cracking, color transfer ("crocking"), yellowing, and general leather degradation are some of the problems that can be caused by the application of an improperly formulated, incompatible leather treatment product.] Leather Research Laboratory

    When leather tanners talk about conditioning leather they are referring to re-hydration; not the replenishment or replacement of the fat liquoring oils and waxes. The only 'conditioning' required for finished leather upholstery is hydration; oil-based products cannot permeate the finish leather (urethane pigmentation and / or covering) that is used in 95% plus of modern automobiles.

    Modern leather needs to be kept hydrated with moisture to ensure the leather remains flexible and maintains its soft tactile feel.
    This is done by regularly wiping the surface with a damp 100% cotton micro fibre towel and by using aqueous (water- based) leather care products. There is no reason to use oil-based leather care products to condition or feed leather hides

    Aqueous (water- based) products are able to permeate deep into the hide, unlike oil, due to its larger particles, whereas water particles are smaller than both oil and the molecules of urethane, which enables aqueous (water- based) products to permeate and provide hydration, which is essential for suppleness recovery.

    Particulate size - you can tell how small the emulsion droplets are and in some cases how concentrated an emulsion is by its colour. Opaque white emulsions typically have a large particle size, while faintly opaque or pearlescent emulsions typically have a small particle size approaching 1µ or less.

    Water - unlike other organic or hydrocarbon-based solvents, is non-flammable, odourless, non-toxic and non-sensitizing to the skin and it doesn’t impart a greasy or tacky feel to the surface of the leather

    I have discussed this issue with many people in both the leather tanning and leather care products industry and some specialised industrial chemists who have worked in the leather manufacture and care industry for 35 plus years. As specialists in leather care they had a much better understanding of what the ideal product is for maintaining finished leather surface used in automotive leather upholstery and i asked the following questions.

    We discussed the product s that are currently being used and the consensus was that many of the products simply were not suitable for the current finishes used for automotive leather

    I looked at a detailing care product vendor site and found nine pages of leather care products, mostly expensive oil-based leather ‘conditioners’ this could be the reason they ignore an appropriate care product for the upholstery material actually used for automotive (finished leather) upholstery.

    1. How much oil-based conditioner or ‘fat liquoring’ will permeate the urethane top coat on a sealed pigmented leather hide? Chrome tanned leather hide is sealed at the tannery and then pigmented; what could a conditioner do for the hide?

    2. If oil is allowed to permeate any micro fissures in the leather or via the stitching it will travel laterally compromising the resin binder system which will delaminate from the hide releasing its adhesive bond. It will then be able to move in a different direction from the hide, which will result in surface fissures and cracking, further compounding the problem eventually leading to the subsequent replacement of the protective covering

    3. The complex tanning process of chromed tanned hides results in the fat liquoring and oils necessary to keep the hide soft and pliable being locked in, this is further sealed by a durable polyethylene covering to protect the hide from abrasion from clothing as well as the dust / dirt introduced by the vehicle’s AC system.

    4. The complaint that most leather conditioners are "greasy" is typically attributable to the use of Lanolin. On most leather conditioners the containers label warns against its use on steering wheels as it will make them slippery and unsafe. The oils cannot permeate the leather and therefore remain on the surface; the same thing will apply to seating surfaces; the problem will be exasperated as the oil will attract dirt/grime to the surface

    Many so called leather conditioners utilize chemical solvents in order to facilitate penetration of the oils into the urethane covering or the pigmented leather. Most covered leather finishes are water -based and so any solvent or alcohol can begin to cut through them, even if you go over it and you see no colour come off, you have probably compromised the clear protective top coat and possibly the leather’s pigmentation (colour).

    Solvents will soften the protective covering, which can get tacky very quickly, attracting abrasive dust/dirt and will eventually wear through as it does not have the durability found in the topcoat. What happens when the solvents vaporise - polish and many surface protection products are formulated with oils to enhance the surface or to nourish leather surfaces, neither of which is necessary?
    Not all conditioners are alike; some are aqueous (water- based) as opposed to oil-based. Some contains about 90% water, when applied to the leather surface, it appears to “soak in” (hydration) leaving only a very thin film of oil to benefit the surface lubrication (driver or passenger entry / exit).

    A urethanes fibre structure will stretch in all directions with no particular grain or stress pattern. The urethane surface coating will not withstand multi directional stress, however, and when it’s flexed or stretched continuously in the same place the surface coating develops minute cracks. If oil is allowed to permeate any micro fissures in the leather or via the stitching it will compromise the resin binder system and delaminate from the hide releasing its adhesive bond, and it will be able to move in a different direction from the hide, which will result in surface fissures and cracking, further compounding the problem eventually leading to the subsequent replacement of the protective covering

    In summary, an aqueous micro emulsion is readily absorbed into the fibres and provides lasting and effective lubrication without migration, while re-hydration leaves leather feeling silky

    See also - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-d...ning-care.html

    Fat liquoring

    All cowhides are naturally oily, unfortunately, these natural oils are stripped away in the tanning process (tanning is a process using a water vat and chromium salts to preserve hides and prepare them to absorb dyes) and some equivalent oils must be re-introduced after tanning. This step, the replacement of oils, is called fat liquoring.

    Over the centuries, a number of oils have been found that have a natural affinity for leather fibres. Every leather tanner has his own, unique, blend of tanning oils. These formulas are closely held secrets, passed down through the generations.

    In almost all situations fat liquors are designed to be applied to leather in the form of an aqueous emulsion that is ‘oil in water emulsion’. A fat liquor emulsion can be of various particle sizes. If the emulsion is coarse it will have a particle size of around 0.1 µ (micron) and will have a milky appearance. In this situation, the penetration of these fat liquors is restricted to the surface of the leather. If the particle size is around 0.03µ then the emulsion is translucent, and because of the smaller size these can generally penetrate more deeply into the fibre structure. Emulsions of 0.005µ are classified as micro-emulsions; they are relatively clear and give good penetration

    Note: 0.3 µ is the largest particle size that can fit through a HEPA filter

    In the fat liquoring process, both the penetration and the fixation of fatty matter take place. In order to optimise penetration into the leather structure, fat liquor must be emulsified in water and added to the processing vessel. The mechanical effects caused by the drum rotation, the surface tension and the capillary action of the hides, all promote penetration of the fat liquor into the structure. Fixation of this fat liquor is achieved by adding acid products at the end of the process.

    Fat liquoring is usually carried out in a drum at the highest temperature practical for the type of leather, or about 113.oF (45° C) for vegetable tanned leather and 140-150.OF (60 to 65° C) for full chrome tanned leather. Fr the best results ideal rotational speed of the fat liquoring drum should be around 12-16 RPM for 30 to 40 minutes. After drumming, the leathers are usually struck out on the flesh side, carefully set out to smooth the grain, nailed or toggled out flat to dry, or paste dried. Strict control over the initial pH of the fat liquoring bath and the final pH of the exhaust bath should be maintained so as to achieve uniform fat content and fat distribution in leather and to avoid many fat splitting problems. Source leatherbiz.com Technical Articles Library

    Modern fat liquors are technically advanced using high quality specially processed natural and synthetic oils that meet very high specifications. These are typically fully reacted to the fibre structure, and as a consequence only minimal amounts can migrate out of the leather. Because of this low migration continually adding creams and lotions to replace lost oils is therefore no longer necessary.

    [Fat liquor is not volatile nor migratory, so leather is not going to lose it. However, along with the fat liquor, the other critical factor is moisture. Any leather is going to lose its moisture in a hot car. Although leather seems dry, it is not. Of course too much moisture quickly leads to mould and mildew problems, so soaking it down is not reasonable. Ideally, exposure to humid atmosphere will help balance the effect of over drying on hot days. Leather is very dynamic with respect to moisture content, meaning moisture comes and goes easily under normal circumstances....] ] American Leather Chemists Association
     
  10. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    After reading all of this, I got in touch with the author for advice and direction. He told me the leather in our Ferrari's is "Aniline." This is a very expensive leather that must be treated correctly or we can create more damage than good.

    He explained our Aniline leather must be kept hydrated with water. He told me to, under no circumstance whatsoever, never use an oil or non-water based conditioner on it. Apparently, the oil will seal the pores and not let water soak in to keep the leather hydrated.

    Furthermore, the oil will break down the glue underneath the leather allowing it to release from whatever it is glued to (dash problems?).

    I live in Phoenix. He told me to use Leather Master Care Interior Vital. He said this product is water based and will soak into the leather.

    To clean the leather, he suggested Leather Master Interior Clean and Care Mousse.

    He also recommend that I wipe the dash down regularly with a very moist cloth. Apparently, the water will get into the leather and keep it hydrated.

    I purchased both of these from Auto Geek (autogeek.com) the other day. They are both very inexpensive; around $14 per product.

    I asked him of he worked for any company that makes leather products. He said absolutely not!

    Please keep in mind I did considerably more research than speak with the author of these articles. Every single expert agreed with the author's findings. Interestingly, the author and others said most "expert details" just don't understand modern day interiors and have received their education through "hand-me-downs" from previous details.

    Lastly, the "water-drop test" is recommend by many experts, not just this author, as a way to determine if there is a urethane coating on the leather.

    Everyone can do whatever they want. I am just sharing the info I discovered.

    I would love to hear from others about their use of oil based conditioners. Do any of you have dash shrinkage or bolster wear? How about "sticky-buttons?"

    For those of you have done nothing to condition your leather, do any of you have dash shrinkage or bolster wear? How about "sticky-buttons?"
     
  11. ar4me

    ar4me F1 Rookie
    Owner

    Apr 4, 2010
    3,115
    Southern California
    Full Name:
    Jes
    I didn't read all the information, so apologies in advance if answers to my question are buried somewhere. What is the name of the author, and what are his qualifications and credentials?
    Jes
     
  12. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    My understanding is he is a guy who is extremely obsessed with detailing his cars. He is a regular on Autotopia which is a Chat Website for detailers. He has been on the website for years and written over 4,500 posts.

    I never asked his last name but his first name is John.

    Please keep in mind he is not the only source I researched. Most agreed with everything he wrote. He just did a really good job putting things in perspective for me.

    I have used about every product out there including Leatherique on all of my cars over the years. These include one Corvette C5, three Corvette C6's, three Acura NSX's, two Hummers, and three Expeditions in just the past ten years.

    Being as anal as I am, I regularly applied leather products and kept my seats perfectly clean. Even so, my seats always seemed to age while several friends of mine who never did anything to their seats looked much better.

    The leather in my 02 360 is perfect and it has no sticky buttons. It has been in AZ since birth. When I asked the previous owner what he did to keep the leather in such great shape, and prevent sticky buttons, he replied, "nothing." This made me start thinking so the research began!

    Please, I am not trying to convince anyone to do anything. I am only sharing what I have found doing this research. Do whatever you feel is correct.


     
  13. wtlaw

    wtlaw Karting

    Jul 28, 2011
    171
    SoFLA
    Full Name:
    WT Law
    Great topic and discussion since we all care for the leather in our cars.
    I would love to hear now from the professionals we pay top Dollars to do the cars.
    Maybe Eddy Fiuza can jump in and relate his vast experience and results.
    Anyone ??
     
  14. Trent

    Trent Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2003
    2,010
    Indialantic, FL
    Full Name:
    Trent
    I did use a very small 1oz spray bottle, but did not try and hose down the dash from the sprayer. I sprayed and wiped using the tips of my fingers and a sock end. It did get streaks on the glass from the sock end, but that cleaned up easily with Glass plus with one attempt.

    I was not able to get 100% of the dash, but I did my best.
     
  15. bobzdar

    bobzdar F1 Veteran

    Sep 22, 2008
    5,839
    Richmond
    Full Name:
    Pete
    What works for me in my 355 with the leatherique is to let it sit on the leather until it 'dries' completely. Takes about a week. The first time I did this, the leather was noticeably softer and had a white 'film' (black leather) in places which I then cleaned off with the prestine clean. I'm not sure how that compares to the 360 leather, but it made a big difference on my car. If you wipe it off before it absorbs in completely, I don't think it will work as well as I believe that's what drives out the dirt (at least according to the leatherique people).
     
  16. eclipsisNA

    eclipsisNA Southern California
    BANNED

    Feb 9, 2009
    62
    LA & OC, CA
    #43 eclipsisNA, Oct 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    All of this info is accurate. The poster's user name is togwt (http://www.autopia.org/forum/members/togwt.html) and he's always put together great reads.

    Cleaning leather boils down to this: water-based cleaners. Leather Master is one of the better brands out there that primarily produce water-based cleaners and conditioners. Detailers Domain stocks all of their products I believe. If it were me, I'd use these three in this order:

    Leather Master Soft Cleaner
    Leather Master Vital Leather Conditioner
    Leather Master Protection Cream

    Each are water-based and will keep your leather looking great without giving it an oily look or feel. This is a client's car I recently gave a Leather Master treatment to (see below).

    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  17. chipbiii

    chipbiii F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Mar 26, 2008
    5,465
    SC
    Full Name:
    chipB
    I'm glad you mentioned the creme colored seats. Here's my experience: Shortly after I bought my 2004 360 Spider with the crema Daytona seats and trim, I decided to apply Leatherique to the driver's side bolster to clean it up a bit (I had heard very good things about their product). When I applied the Leatherique to the side bolster I was horrified to notice that it turned the cream color to a much yellower shade. I was so worried about the result that I brought over an automotive leather dye expert for her opinion. She examined it and began rubbing the bolster with a water damped towel. It finally restored the whiter shade that matched the rest of the seats and trim. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and never applied the product again. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.
     
  18. futureferraribuyer

    futureferraribuyer Formula Junior

    Jun 23, 2010
    285
    Not sure, but applied Leatherique many times and so far no change in color. It is very even as far as I can tell and definitely softer and more supple than almost any car seat leather.
     
  19. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks a million for your comments Eclipse!

    Don't know anything about the Protection Clean. Please tell us more about it. When do we apply it, how, what does it do, etc.?

    Can you enlighten us on the different leathers found in our Ferrari 360's? Is the seat, dash, lower dash and door panels all the same type of leather and finish? Do we clean and condition them the same?

    Please share with us your routine for conditioning leather on these cars.

    Lastly, how often should we be using these products...especially for those of us in harsh climates like Arizona?

    Anything else we should be doing?

    Again, welcome to the discussion! I look forward to more comments and experiences from you!


     
  20. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    My experience with Leatherique was the same on one of my C6 Corvettes. It just made a mess of the leather. Sure, it made it feel softer, but I interpreted that as making the seats more vulnerable to wear. Then, the seats did seem to show wear faster...especially on the bolsters and where my legs bent at the knees while I was sitting in the seat. The inside of my windows were all greasy as well.

    I will never use Leatherique again. Not wanting to bash a product...espcially one as popular as Leatherique. Just my experiences!

     
  21. eclipsisNA

    eclipsisNA Southern California
    BANNED

    Feb 9, 2009
    62
    LA & OC, CA
    My pleasure Rob :) The order of application is this:

    1. "Soft Cleaner" to pull up and remove contaminates from leather's urethane surface.
    2. If we're applying to aniline leather, skip "Vitalize" step and apply "Protection Cream," which adds additional layer of protection on top of urethane.

    Aniline leather is found in essentially all modern luxury cars. If the seats in your 360 are aniline, then the leather dash or door panels will be the exact same material and require the same care proceedure as stated above. You won't have to condition non-seat parts as much as your seats because they obviously receive much less wear.

    You should condition your seats as often as you feel necessary, i.e. when you see the leather looking a bit dirty or oily. In harsh climates, try and keep your car out of the sun as much as possible.

     
  22. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    570
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks Eclipse!

    I was planning on using Leather Master Vitale to keep the leather hydrated. I read the water molecules in it can get by the urethane molecules?

    Do you know if our Ferrari's actually have Aniline leather? What is this type of leather exactly?

    I wasn't going to apply Leather Master Protection Cream as I was afraid it might seal out future applications of Vitale; i.e.: limit hydration applications.

    Appreciate answering all my questions!
     
  23. Arnie

    Arnie Formula Junior

    Oct 5, 2011
    462
    New Jersey
    Actually Colorplus is what most of the concourse people use for their Porsche. I use it on my 430 and it is great. I have used their dyes to redye my Porsche seats from wear. If the leather was coated than how does the leather absorb the dye? Stopped using Lexol which was my choice for years. IF you do not use a leather conditioner how do you prevent the leather from shrinking and cracking especially on the dashboard?

    Colorplus.com
     

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