So you’ve made a choice one way or the other, leather or vinyl. Either way, prolonging the life of your upholstery leather and vinyl materials will help you safe money in the long run. These tips will help you in prolonging the life of your vinyl or upholstery leather. Keep in mind that vinyl will not need periodic conditioners or special cleaning but leather will require a commitment in order to preserve the investment you have made… but it is worth it!
Upholstery leather cleaning and maintenance tips:
• Unlike vinyl material, upholstery leather should be conditioned every six months or so depending on your climate. This may be more often in a very dry climate and if the upholstery leather is exposed to the elements regularly. Remember that upholstery leather conditioner is made with chemicals so you will essentially be using a chemical treatment on your leather. If it is done too often you could do more harm than good. The goal here is to prolong the life of your leather not decrease it.
• Use a clean cotton cloth, damp not wet, to clean the leather and apply conditioners when the leather is warm, it does not have to be hot just as long as it is warm and not stiff. This will help the conditioner penetrate the leather better and more thoroughly for increased protection.
• Go over entire panel sections with the conditioner, do not spot condition your leather it will be noticeable.
• Be careful not to use too much conditioner, a simple coat will go a long way.
• Buff out all excess conditioner leaving a fine protective coating on the upholstery leather. Be sure to follow the directions on the conditioner label closely.
• The leather should be cleaned before conditioner is applied and in the months between conditioning. If you have a spot that is dirty, use water to wipe it off. If you have an area that needs soap, there are special cleaners out there for this or you can use a high quality very mild facial cleanser with no abrasives or exfoliate. Saddle soap also works well, this can be found in specialty stores like Tandy Leather. Amazon.com also has a wide selection of leather conditioners to choose from.
Vinyl cleaning and maintenance tips:
• Prompt cleaning is always recommended
• Most common stains can be cleaned by wiping with a clean towel and water
• Every now and again or if the stain is a little tougher, use warm soapy water and rinse with fresh water
• For more difficult stains wipe the area with a soft cloth or soft bristle brush using a non-abrasive cleaner such as formula 409 or other degreaser. Rinse the area with fresh water and wipe dry
• If the stain is too difficult for degreaser you can dampen a white soft cloth with a solution of bleach and water, 10% bleach and 90% water. Rub gently and rinse clean with a dampened cloth to remove bleach concentration
• Do not use alcohol based cleaning agents and remember to always test an inconspicuous area of the material for colorfastness or other issues before cleaning the entire surface.
If you must use a conditioner or protector, especially on marine vinyl there are some products made specifically for this purpose. Marine vinyl and motorcycle seat vinyl are two items that really do need extra care just because of the exposure to the sun, rain, wind etc.
Products like this 3M Marine vinyl conditioner and protector can be found on Amazon.com or at your local upholstery supply shop.