W124 – leathercare
All of you having a W124 (or other series) with leather interiors will have to take care of the seats from time to time. As this topic can cause the controversy as the discussion which engine oil suits best this article will just reflect my own experiences. Everybody should make his own ones, so here are mine!
The main problem i had in the past was not the grade of mess which has been impossible to get rid of, it was my impatience. As soon as i got a new interior, may it be for reselling or for my own cars, i always wanted to start right away. And as i dont have an ERP system in place i always missed something which was needed and could only be obtained online. Besides the price of most leather care products, the time postal services took was annoying me the most.
Therefor i tried several cleaners that i could get at local supermarkets, even on a saturday evening at 9pm. Normally thats the time when i realize somethings missing. To clean a leather interior i use 2 things, a multi purpose cleaner (i prefer Armor All) and white gas.
Most people will know Armor All from greasy, glossy protectors that mainly look awful. By coincident i found out that their multi purpose cleaner gave the same results as expensive cleaning foams did. A shoe brush helps to get the dirt out of the leathers surface. Last but not least some micro fibre tissues to pickup the cleaner and dirt from the leather. With these things you will be around 20,00€ only!
Lets get started
Before cleaning the seats we need to remove the loose dirt with a vacuum cleaner. Specially all the gaps between the different leather sections and the pipings often have huge amounts of dirt that needs to be removed.
Difficult stainings can be removed with the white gas but make sure to use as less as possible. The solvents are known for killing the leathers tannins which would result in the leather becoming fragile.
Now we start using the multi purpose cleaner. With this we exavate the disgusting, deep dirt from the surface which mainly consist of adipose and sweat. The surface is the reason why normal tissues wont resolve everything completly.
Since the dirt is difficult to capture on photo we used a filter to make visible what we have to remove. Now you can see how disgusting the seats really look! Such huge amounts of dirt are a result of years without TLC, luckily the seats did not take any harm and are still in flawless condition.
While cleaning make sure to work from section to section and apply the cleaner only on those sections that are in progress. Most dirt will be found on side bolsters as the ongoing entry and exiting of the car is a huge stress to the material. Clothings as well as sweat eg. leave big amounts of dirt that needs removal. For this the cleaner will be applied and works best when brushed in circles. Pickup the dirt with a micro fibre tissue as soon as possible to prevent it from re-drying.
Once started you can get the feeling that the work is endless and successes will be short. But with every section cleaned the leather starts to glow in its original shade again. I prefer starting with the passenger side seat as normally this seat isnt that abused so you have a quick sense of achievement!
Once gone through all sections the leathers real color should be coming back. When cleaing dark leathers its more difficult to see how clean the leather is but in most cases this is done once the surface has matt finish again. Old, greasy leather has a shiny look which is the result of body fats. On lighter colors like orion gray, mushroom or palomino its much more easy!
The last picture has the same filter as the first one to show the difference. The surface is a 100% clean, the stitches are gray again and the leather looks like its glowing. We are talking about seats being 25 years old and with this in mind the result is a huge success!
Last step: care
Since the cleaning of course is a little stress for the leather it should be followed by some care. This also helps the leather to be prevented from getting dirty again too quick and to keep the moisture level the way it is! My current favourite is the A1 leathercare from Dr.Wack. Im not too sure whether they sell this brand outside of Germany, the name must be a clear barrier! Costs are around 15,00€ and the content is sufficient for 2 treats a year on three cars. I prefer applicating it by hand since this is the best way the reach even the difficult spots. Once done on all pieces i store the leather in a heated place over night so the leathers pores are opend and the leathercare can infiltrate the leathers fibres. Depending how old and tenderd the leather it is possible the leather care will be soaked into the seats. The constant heat inside the car is the reason for the leather to loose its moisture level which cannot be returned so taking care of the seats twice a year to prevent it from the same.
A day later the leather care has been soaked up by the seats, the remainings need to be removed with a fresh micro fibre tissue. This was done after the pictures taken so they still look a little glossy:
Dont know about you, i do love it! 🙂