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Leather cleaning and conditioning

Discussion in '458 Italia/488/F8' started by Jay Hova, Nov 7, 2020.

  1. Jay Hova

    Jay Hova Rookie

    Jun 20, 2020
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    Jay Hova
    Any recommendations on how to care for the leather? This is my first Ferrari and do not want to f*** it up.
     
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  3. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota F1 Rookie

    May 29, 2019
    4,491
    Hopefully some place nice.
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    A.B
    I use Sonax Leather Foam. Hands down the best single stage product I have ever used.
    https://www.sonaxusa.com/car-leather-cleaner-and-conditioner.html

    I use this to clean/condition.
    https://www.sonaxusa.com/best-leather-brush-for-auto.html

    Then I wipe down with microfibre cloth.

    If it's a used car and it needs a bit more, give it a good scrub with this.
    https://www.sonaxusa.com/leather-cleaner-foam.html

    I like the Sonax stuff for several reasons, but especially because it does not contain silicone. No slippin and slidin.
     
  4. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    May 21, 2006
    6,434
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    Ray Johns
    I've tried a few different products over the years - everything from Connolly Hide Care to some of the leather high end conditioners sold by specialty leather care companies. For a while I was big into leather jackets and there are many different high end leather creams and conditioners out there. My advice is to always test things out in a small area first. One of the biggest issues / risks is you can accidentally change the color of the leather very easily (usually making it darker) and/or you can affect the sheen and how the surface looks also. In your Ferrari, if it's leather and not Alcantara, you are dealing with an actual animal product here, which can be very delicate in some ways.

    Another thing to keep in mind here is this:

    The leather used in newer Ferraris (for example the 458 and later) is slightly different than the leather used in some of the older cars (such as the 355 or 360). Back in the older days, you were dealing with more of a raw leather which was dyed. With some of the newer cars, the leather is almost more painted on top; as such, a leather product someone loves in their Dino or 355, may not be an ideal choice for use in say the 488 GTB.

    Let me relate a little story, before I post the product I used to use in my 355 and 360...

    On my 458 Italia, one day I was driving over to pickup my girlfriend from Yoga. It was a nice warm sunny day out, so I had both windows open. As I drove by my friend's shop - to see if he was working - I came around a corner and surprised a seagull which was feeding in the road. As I drove towards him, he jumped up into the air and started to fly away at a strange angle relative to my car; he also unleashed a spray of bird poo all over the place as he was gaining altitude and most of it hit the passenger side mirror and A pillar of my Ferrari.

    So I ducked into the local gas station and used a wet towel to clean everything off. I think some of the water from the towel (mixed with bird poop) splashed into the window and a tiny bit got onto the passenger side dash pad. I didn't notice, however. So I drove across town and parked, waiting for my girlfriend to get out of Yoga. While I was sitting parked, the sun caught my dashboard just right and I noticed what looked like a faint white powder up on the leather of the dash. When I went to wipe it away, it took off the top coat of color with it and left sort of just a raw / discolored spot in the leather. This was "black" leather, but whatever happened with the chemical / seagull mixture that got on there, it ate away some aspect of the top color coat I think. It looked terrible, let me tell you.

    Anyway, when I got home, I looked at it very closely under a powerful magnifying glass and I could see that there were a bunch of very tiny color dots which seemed to be on top of the solid black leather underneath. I assume this was Ferrari using some sort of zip-a-tone approach to generate a slightly off black color or something. Who know. Whatever the case, the top color stuff was gone and there was really no way to fix the mark. I ended up having to sell the car like that; the only other option was replace the dash myself (there is actually a big thread on Ferrari chat where I was gearing up to sew my own Alcantara dash pad - although I never finished that job). Interestingly, I bought a donor 458 dash while learning about how Ferrari puts their interiors together and the leather from the other 458 was more raw black in nature - much like the older 355 and 360 leather dash interiors. My point is this: be careful if you have a color top coat on your leather. I would look at it very closely with a powerful loupe and see if you see a lot of dots on the surface; if so, be very, very careful.

    Anyway, the best leather product I have found is this one: Zymol leather conditioner. It has a nice unobtrusive scent and does a great job conditioning the Ferrari leather. I used to use it about twice a year on the 355 and the 360 with excellent results. But again, the leather in my 355 and 360 was just black plain leather, not any sort of fancy color or anything. As always, make sure you test any product in a small area to see what you think first, before using it all over the entire interior.

    Ray

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  5. michaelo

    michaelo Formula Junior

    Mar 25, 2006
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    Michael O.
    Is it correct that all of the leather used in today's cars are basically dyed and sealed with different colors?
    If that is the case, does the leather actually soak up the conditioners that we use?
    I found that using Griot's Garage Leather products usually every 2 or 3 months
    seems to keep the surfaces looking really good. As far as getting deep into the actual leather, I am not sure
    whether this is happening or not.
    I really don't know the science behind all of this, but I imagine that there would be quite a few
    products that would work well.
     
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  6. Dicecal

    Dicecal Formula 3
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    Nov 15, 2015
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Rob
    You’ll get a lot of options on this, one thing for sure is to use a product that finishes matte and not glossy. I’ve tried a lot of products as well, and have always gone back to Zaino cleaner and conditioner. I just use the cleaner to remove minor blemishes and spots/stains. Maybe once a year or so I’ll clean as required and condition, just don’t go overboard and watch the contrasting stitching with the products as well.
     
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  8. Jay Hova

    Jay Hova Rookie

    Jun 20, 2020
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    Jay Hova
    Thanks!
     
  9. MikeS

    MikeS Karting

    Nov 21, 2003
    131
    Connecticut
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    Mike S
    A big Zaino fan over multiple Ferrari’s and Porsche’s.


    Sent from my iPad using FerrariChat
     
  10. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota F1 Rookie

    May 29, 2019
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    Yes the leather still absorb the products. One of the reasons it gets shiny when dirty, is because it absorbs fatty moisture from touching etc. Just because the leather is coated and dyed, does it not mean it is totally sealed. There is of course a difference between an opre pores Aniline Grand compared to a normal treated and protected leather or Semi Aniline leather. Just remember to leave it on for a bit prior to wiping it off.

    When I use the Sonax one step cleaner/conditioner, I do the following.
    Spray foam on the brush and a bit on the surface if needed. Then scrub properly until clean. Then I wipe the excess off. Then I spray some foam on a microfibre applicator pad and quickly wipe it over the surface. After about 5 minutes I wipe off the excess with a dry microfibre cloth. I prefer to let the car sit over night to dry out completely before getting in the seat.

    Speaking of all this leather cleaning and interiors. Am I the only one who think new Ferrari leather interiors have a bit of an odd and not entirely pleasant smell?
     
  11. rob5819

    rob5819 Formula Junior

    Dec 12, 2017
    252
    San Diego
    Full Name:
    Rob Barry
    I have used Zymol leather conditioner and cleaner in my 458 spider for the last three years. The seats are nero leather and I pretty much always leave the top down. I do all the leather once a month and love the result. My wife asked me to do all the other cars with the same cleaner/conditioner.
     
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  13. obbob

    obbob Formula Junior

    Aug 14, 2017
    769
    I use Ammo NYC leather products but to be honest any will do. I would say what's more important than the product is the applicator. Don't use anything stronger than a micro fiber towel or bristle interior brush or you risk scuffing / scratching the leather.

    For conditioner, the main risk is using too much product and leaving it on too long. Remember, condition is you put it on, wipe off excess, leave it for a short amount of time, then wipe it clean off. Any excess globs that stay too long will stain your leather.
     
  14. superfluous

    superfluous Karting

    Oct 4, 2020
    87
    Dallas, TX
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    Gabe
    I personally don't believe you have to condition the leather on these modern Ferraris. Just clean it with something basic when needed.
     
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  15. drcollie

    drcollie Karting

    Dec 15, 2013
    99
    I always enjoy these leather threads.....:)

    I own a retail store that specializes in high-end leather furniture and I have over 30 years of selling it. There's a great mystery about leather and lots of theories/speculation but at the end of the day I will tell you three truths about hides, be they on an office chair or an exotic car.

    1) You have to clean the leather on a regular schedule (2x a year minimum, 3x a year of you drive the car often)
    2) You have to condition the leather
    3) Failure to do # 1 and # 2 will result in a deterioration of the hides

    One step products are a poor choice, avoid them. Before you can do anything on treatments, you have to get the oils and dirt off the hides. You can, believe it or not, use something as simple as Ivory bar soap and a white washcloth to do the cleaning. Damp cloth, a swipe of soap onto the washcloth (not too much water and not too much soap) and go over the surfaces, particularly the steering wheel. Make sure you get the soap off.

    After that, follow with a conditioner of your choice. On my vehicles (and furniture), I do a third step with a protectant.

    There are three types of leather. Finished, Semi-Aniline, and Pure Aniline. Your Ferrari is going to have a semi-aniline, which is a hybrid between a Finished and Aniline hide. Pure Aniline hides, while fabulous, don't do well in vehicles as they cannot tolerate sunlight and will fade from UV exposure, and they also sweat-stain on hot, summer days.

    This is the product I use both in my business and on my car interiors. It's not the only one out there, but it is one of the best.

    https://www.damagedleathersolutions.com/cleaning/leather-cleaning/protected-leather-cleaner-softener-protecter
     
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  16. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota F1 Rookie

    May 29, 2019
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    There are several ways to skin a cat. A few things worth noting. I have seen leather care products for furniture cause issues in cars. Some because they made the leather slippery, some clog up perforations of ventilated seats, some simply don't last in those conditions etc. I'm always on the fence when someone says "this is the best, the one and only", as most experts know there are more than one way and nore than one product that works. If we talk about "the best" I think it is safe to say that these guys are considered some of the most influential and most experienced in the automotive leather care business.
    http://www.leatherique.com/

    Also, while a two step process is at most times to prefer, it is not always practical. It is much better to use well designed one step product on occassion than a multistep product rarely, if ever. There are like with multistep products of course several products to avoid, but there are also products that do a really good job. I have used both Leatherique two step and Sonax one step for over two decades, and for me the proof lies in the result. No shrunk dashes, no cracked seats, good wear characteristics etc. If someone wants to go out and advise against a products, I would like to see more info on why and also info detailed towards specific products, rather than a generalisation.

    If there's no info to back up claims and postulates, it has little value. Not all multistep products are created equal, and not all one step products are created equal.

    And lastly. Standard Ferrari leather is not a semi-aniline leather, but a more common Nappa leather. They do offer a semi-aniline option, but most go with the standard leather.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  17. MalibuGuy

    MalibuGuy F1 Veteran

    Sep 18, 2007
    5,061
    #14 MalibuGuy, Nov 8, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020
    Poltrona Frau supplies the leather for Ferrari.
    PF is considered to make the best ‘wrapper’ in the automotive world.
    I’ve had great success using lukewarm water, sometimes with a small touch of a mild soap (dawn), and a soft clean cloth. Then wipe away any residue with with a damp cloth and dry by wiping with a soft cry cloth.
     
  18. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota F1 Rookie

    May 29, 2019
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    You need to use a condioner. Water alone will dry out leather over time. If I use soap on leather, I use the old fashioned shavings that are super fatty. Then finish with conditioner.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  19. MalibuGuy

    MalibuGuy F1 Veteran

    Sep 18, 2007
    5,061
    I’ll take a look at my interior today and see if it is aging much.

    One factor which may be of note is that since I sit in my car everyday, my biological
    presence may add some conditioning :)

    The leather sofas and chairs I’ve got at home don’t show much drying either. These are made by Roche-Bobois, B&B Italia and PF .

    But perhaps the gentle climate here in Malibu has something to do with it. Also the outstanding quality of the leathers.
     
  20. MalibuGuy

    MalibuGuy F1 Veteran

    Sep 18, 2007
    5,061
    However a probably more significant issue is how to deal with wear along the drivers seat side bolsters.

    if you spend time getting in and out, eventually you will get some wear.
    What I’ve done is to re-paint with coatings suitable for automotive leather.

    Initially you may see a color difference, but as the newly painted areas age, they match up pretty evenly.

    I’ve seen some vintage cars with a total leather replacement while others have left the aging patina of the original leather be.

    Different philosophies
     
  21. George Vosburgh

    George Vosburgh F1 Rookie

    May 26, 2011
    3,074
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Good story Ray, I think I might give the Zymol a try on my 599. I have been using Leatherique for years and it's fine but I would be interested to compare the two.
     
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  22. ttforcefed

    ttforcefed F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 22, 2002
    15,728
    zaino and zymol smell the best...which is really the most important thing on a garage queen tht isnt going to sit out in the sun
     
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  23. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    May 21, 2006
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    Yeah, it's excellent stuff. That's all I use on Ferrari leather.

    Ray
     
  24. RayJohns

    RayJohns F1 Veteran
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    May 21, 2006
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    I generally only use the conditioner. I rarely use the cleaner.

    Ray
     
  25. eskanday

    eskanday Karting

    Jun 21, 2017
    84
    I use Lexol leather conditioner on my 458 and I like it a lot. Smell like leather, easy to apply and does not leave shiny leather behind
     
  26. drcollie

    drcollie Karting

    Dec 15, 2013
    99
    Using Conditioner without cleaning first is similar to getting in the shower and not washing your hair before apply a conditioner. You are adding oils on top of oils, and that's not good. Clean first, then condition. You wouldn't wax your car without washing it first, think of it that way.

    I work with leather as a profession. I can tell you there is no "magic" in Ferrari leather and more than there is in Ford leather. There are three categories of leather, Finished (pigmented), Semi-Aniline. and Pure Anilines. The first two are top-coated hides, the last is vegetable-dyed and not suitable for vehicle interiors as it sun fades rapidly. Ford did Pure Aniline in its King Ranch trucks for a few years, it was a disaster. (2006 King Ranch shown)

    The oils and dirt on your skin. hands and head will break down the tannins in the hide and cause it to crack and discolor if you fail to maintain it. There's an easy solution however, just clean and condition the hides every four to six months (four months if in a seaside/ocean region). That will keep it in good stead.








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  27. MalibuGuy

    MalibuGuy F1 Veteran

    Sep 18, 2007
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  28. MalibuGuy

    MalibuGuy F1 Veteran

    Sep 18, 2007
    5,061
    After some thought I realized that every time my cat is in for the scheduled maintenance service (in my case every 6 months) my service center performs a 5 star detail inside and out. So my leather is cleaned and conditioned using the recommended PF / Ferrari leather care products.

    When that program ends I’ll need to be more mindful of the leather
     

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