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GMTruckGuy74

Cleaning & conditioning leather seats, plus other cleaning questions...

14 posts in this topic

Okay, I've had the '96 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham for a little over a month now and other than giving it a quick washing it once, I haven't done much to it - though it needs some TLC and soon. The black sierra grain leather is in pretty good shape for it's age, though it is dry and hard. I know it needs a good cleaning and then conditioning, and hopefully that will make it more appealing to the eye and maybe more supple. Anyone have some product suggestions and/or methods I should use to clean and condition the leather? I'm use to dealing with leather in new cars - so the methods & products I have I don't think will give me the results I want. Also, the car was owned by two non-smoking owners, but has a distinct smell (the wife and step-son call it "old man" odor :P). I remember a post awhile ago where someone (maybe ocnblu?) said to leave a bowl of coffee inside for a day or two and it will help rid the smell. Is that the best method for giving the car a more pleasant odor? What kind of coffee do I buy (I'm not a coffee drinker, FYI)? I know once I've cleaned the leather, work on cleaning the carpeting, and clean and condition the dash will help give it a better smell, but I'd like to go one extra step if it will mean a more pleasing overall aroma in the car. As always, your insight/advice/opinion will be greatly appreciated!!

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Yesterday I did some online research and it seems that the best thing to use for dry leather is warm water to wipe down the seats, then a good automotive leather cleaner and follow up with a leather conditioner. I see both Meguiars and Mothers offer leather cleaning & conditioning products - anyone personally use either brand? I'd like input on which works better. Since I'm going to the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey Saturday, if I see either vendor there I'd like to buy the products directly from them. Thanks!

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I like Meguiars' products, but I've never used the leather cleaner or conditioner. One thing you might try for the smell is putting baking soda in there and leaving it there. That's what I use in my car and home to get rid of the dog smell.

Also, before you clean the carpets, you could sprinkle some baking soda and let it sit on the carpets for an hour or so, and then make sure to vacuum it really well.

Edited by PONTIAC06
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Thanks for the reply & info PONTIAC06.

When leaving the baking soda in the car, do I buy one of those fridge boxes that opens on the sides and just place it in the car? And you're saying to leave it in the car at all times, just like with the fridge boxes?

I too like Meguiar's products, and I use the leather cleaner/conditioner foam on my wife's '08 Pontiac G6 seats, but the Caddy's seats need something more involved with the process. I think the Mothers product uses Aloe as an ingredient, and I'm thinking that would be a good thing to make the leather softer and more like-new in appearance.

Edited by GMTruckGuy74
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Whatever you do, don't use an oil-based cleaner like Armor All. That will permanently change the composition of the leather, and over time it will dry and crack. The owner's manual for my car says to use a detergent soap and warm water to clean. I've also used Mother's Reflections Cleaner/Conditioner with good results. Now I have a bottle of Meguiar's Gold Class that I can't wait do be done with. It's OK, but it kind of lays on top of the leather as opposed to going into it, unless you *really* work it in. Next time I think I'm going back to the Mother's stuff.

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Thanks for the product suggestion AAS, that seems to be exactly what I'm looking for in leather cleaning and conditioning products (Lexol). I have an Advance Auto parts store near my house to check out (so their website says), and if not a Pep Boys store isn't too far away either.

z28luvr01 - I definitely stay away from Amor-All on the leather seats. I've been using Meguiar's dash protectant in my vehicles since I bought the Saturn SKY in 2006. I like the natural look it gives compared to the "used car look" of high gloss Amor-All. I appreciate you sharing your dislike of Meguiar's leather products and recommending Mothers instead. I think I will go for the Lexol products since this poor Caddy is in need of something a little more healing.

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When leaving the baking soda in the car, do I buy one of those fridge boxes that opens on the sides and just place it in the car? And you're saying to leave it in the car at all times, just like with the fridge boxes?

I do, I just stick it under the seat or in the cargo bay. I always have my dogs in the Jeep though. Once the odor you dislike is gone, I'm sure you could take it out.

Edited by PONTIAC06
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I've used the Lexol stuff to good effect, but can't claim to have really compared it to competing products.

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Lexol is ok, although It didn't do much for my seats. I've heard excellent things on LHF about Leatherique.

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As a detailing guru on top of being a Fleetwood guru (although, with a lack of time anymore...), lots of suggestions.

For the leather, mainly, you want first a good scrub/cleaning with the right stuff (depending on how dirty, it varies) of either just good leather cleaner to a mixture of something else. Then to really get it back in shape, smelling good and feeling soft, a quality conditioner applied LIBERALLY and just let to sit. When I used to detail cars for a side hobby, I got a '99 LeSabre with the biggest complaint being the hard, stiff leather. Not that it was top grade stuff, but after making sure to clean it well, I used some random Meguiar's leather conditioner in a bottle from the auto parts store, applied heavily and right on my hands (recommended for such cases...rags suck up too much) and rubbed in and on all over the leather. It was wet & gooey afterwards with so much excess conditioner on the leather, but I let it sit like that untouched all day in the heat and by the end of the day, wiping off the excess, it turned from naugahyde to super plush & soft. Finished up with some spray on Lexol conditioner & a rag, and the owner of the car raved about how different the seats were afterwards.

A procedure like that is great for leather that really needs refreshed, and after years of Lexol only--quality stuff, but alone doesn't absorb as much as it shines and then lightly conditions--I now use Zaino leather cleaner & conditioner. My G8's stock leather felt stiff and somewhat dry plus had a weird smell throughout the interior, but after a Zaino cleaning & application of the conditioner got nicely supple, got a light satin shine, the bad smell disappeared & it was never greasy or had any "rub off" (the biggest problem I've had with most leather conditioners, Lexol included, after application). Does a good job.

Long story short...clean with a good leather cleaner (having been in your car, it didn't seem that bad and it is black, so a good leather cleaner and some elbow grease should do it) followed by some kind of leather conditioner in a squeeze bottle so there's some thickness & it can sit and absorb, and then a follow up after an application or two like that, with a nice spray conditioner & buff or just buff alone with a rag.

Then for everything else...more tips...hmm...the good news being, although it needs detailed, yours is still one of the few Fleetwoods from such vintage--and black especially--that is seriously lacking in big age or wear damage and won't need too much. Clay bar, light but thorough polish and then a sealant, wax, or combo to top, and similar things for the glass & vinyl top. We'll chat...

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Should have guessed that Zaino made good stuff for leather - I swear by it for paint.

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Should have guessed that Zaino made good stuff for leather - I swear by it for paint.

YES...and like the paint, it's about as highly revered as any leather anything. The title "Leather in a Bottle" says it all, for smell and everything else. My G8, because of the stock leather, originally smelled almost like cigarettes inside (never could figure that out, but it was the year old Oz leather) and the Zaino flipped a switch and changed that. For a car like Roger's, I'd say use it after a heavier cleaning and conditioner saturation...good stuff for great regular upkeep. I've switched over to Zaino everything after avoiding it for years, and it's all great together.

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