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Old 01-08-2012, 07:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Leather looks brand new again (with short how-to)

So a few months ago I started considering trying to find new leather seats at a bone yard. Mine just didn't look or feel right. I understand completely that this is GM leather, not BMW or Benz, but still, I've had other Chevy's with cowhide, fords, acuras, bmws, etc and something just didn't quite seem right. I chalked it up to cheap leather and left well enough alone.

Fast forward to this week, I just drove the SS from Denver, CO to Charleston, SC, to Atlanta, GA, back to Charleston, back to ATL, back to Charleston, most of the time having a passenger and a back seat full of crap. Now the leather REALLY looked bad. Looked dark and dingy, had some small spills of god knows what on it, so I decided to give it a cleaning. Bought the lexol, cleaned per instructions, conditioned...NADA! Didn't help a bit. Gave up for a day or so .

As part of my move, I bought new furniture including a leather couch. The salesman suggested I clean it with saddle soap, and said if it got really bad it was safe to use a *soft* bristled brush to work the soap into the leather. Figured if it'd work on a leather cough, my seats are just a split couch lol.

Now for the how-to:
Needed:
1 large tin of saddle soap, I used kiwi but there are other brands
At LEAST 4 clean soft terry towels for drying
1 small cloth for spreading soap / suds.
1 very soft bristled small brush
at least 2 hours of your life that didn't need anyway (to do it thoroughly)
A water source. As I have a detached apartment complex garage I used a 2L bottle for this, but make sure you have plenty of water. You'll need it for lathering up the soap and constantly rinsing your brush.
Beer is always nice!

That list is just for cleaning, if you want to condition them, add your conditioner of choice (in my case Lexol), an applicator pad, more time, and a terry or microfiber towel to buff.

I bought a hand and nail brush from the beauty section at the local wal-mart, softest I could find and a tin of saddle soap. Got tons of terry towels and headed down to the garage.

Tried just the saddle soap, water and a terry towel first...the towel got a little black, but the seat really didn't look clean. I wet the bristles of the brush, swirled them around in the saddle soap and went to town scrubbing in tiny little circles. I did the seats section by section, getting them pretty wet, enough to make a layer of suds per the saddle soap instructions. You can tell you're done scrubbing when the suds turn black. Immediately wipe the leather dry when u finish a section. Rinse the bristles of your brush out between sections as well or you'll just push the grime around.

I did this panel by panel on both front seats, the center console and the steering wheel. I now have 4 terry towels that look like they lost a fight with a cat drenched in soot and two nearly new looking seats.

After I cleaned both seats, I very liberally treated them with lexol leather conditioner. I applied a thick coat with a terry cloth wax applicator pad, allowed it to dry (20 min), applied a second lighter coat, allowed it to dry (20 mind), then buffed both coats with a micro fiber towel. These seats now *actually* feel like leather, and are at least twice as soft to the touch as they were. The saddle soap also has a nice, clean smell. I'll do the backseat when I get back in town next week as it isn't so bad.

This obviously is not going to remove age cracks from the leather as they develop as time passes. What it will do, however, is remove all the gunk that builds up in those cracks making them all but invisible. I took some pics as I was doing it, but they didn't turn out as well as I'd liked. It was dusk and I took them with my phone. I did the left hand side of the seat first. Lathered the soap up, took the first pic, wiped it away, took the second, repeated the process and took the third, fourth was the same with flash. It's hard to see the difference in the pic but it is night and day in person.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Looking good! Does the saddle soap act as a conditioner as well as a great cleaner?

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Old 01-08-2012, 07:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It definitely has some conditioners in it as the leather was MUCH softer, even before I put on the lexol. The lexol has more / better conditioners than the soap alone, and is supposed to extend the life of the leather, so that's why I used it afterwards. Could've probably just stopped at the saddle soap, but I plan on driving this car till at least the day the warranty expires LOL

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Old 01-08-2012, 07:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Good as New!!!

thread is stuck!

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Last edited by Stephen; 01-08-2012 at 08:38 PM..
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Stephen quick.....sticky this as a write up

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Old 01-08-2012, 09:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wow my first sticky! I'd like to thank the Academy...and the Kiwi polish company for selling saddle soap at the local communist mart LOL.

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Old 02-24-2012, 04:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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hey i sell saddle soap at my store. lol but we are an Indian grocery store... good to know i can use saddle soap to clean my leather. Thanks!!

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