Know-How Notes: Cleaning & Protecting Your Leather Upholstery
With few exceptions, everybody loves a leather interior. Natural upholstery materials look good, last a long time and are quite comfortable. Unfortunately, when leather is neglected, really bad things start to happen, as the leather dries out, it begins to crack and eventually splits, leaving your car in need of a costly repair. Some of the most well-known leather care products can even accelerate the process if you stop using them. The trick is to use the best possible treatment when cleaning your leather upholstery.
Mothers VLR, which stands for Vinyl, Leather, & Rubber, is not only perfect for cleaning your leather upholstery, but also contains protectants and conditioners that go deep into the leather to ensure that is lasts as long as it possibly can. Part of what makes VLR special is that it contains neatsfoot oil. Neatsfoot is derived from the shin bones and feet of cattle. Unlike the rest of the animal, the body fat of the shin and foot bones of cows remains liquid at room temperature, this is because cattle have adapted so that the legs can tolerate cooler temperatures than the core of the body. This unique characteristic allows the oil to soak into leather upholstery, and is a natural way of maintaining its supple characteristics. Lanolin, which is derived from wool-bearing animals, is also used in VLR to help lock in the natural moisture of the leather while blocking out external moisture, such as spills and sweat.
Application of VLR is simple, there is a caveat, however. You need to work one area at a time and ensure that the solution does not dry on the surface. Additionally, VLR is not for use on plastic, paint, or tinted windows, be sure to cover or otherwise protect those areas when spraying VLR on leather, vinyl, or rubber. The best way to apply VLR is to spray it onto a clean microfiber cloth or applicator and then wipe the upholstery.
VLR should be worked into the leather. Don’t just spray and wipe. Instead, use the towel to massage the solution into the upholstery, much like you would lotion on your hands. This will push the oils down into crevices of the leather, giving you the best protection will also lifting out dirt at the same time.
Once you have cleaned the area, use a second clean microfiber cloth to buff the surface dry, including any overspray.
Don’t wait until your leather is showing signs of neglect, treat it right, a little elbow grease goes a long way to ensuring that your leather lasts as long as the rest of your car.
Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on cleaning & protecting your leather upholstery, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Jefferson Bryant View All
A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.
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