How to Remove Stains in Leather Seats

You left the car window down or the sunroof open and there’s a water stain in your car’s leather seat….or your girlfriend spilled here red wine in your leather car seat on a night out on the town….or your kids decided they were a soon to be artist and tried their techniques out on your leather car seat with a pen, arrggg. Got kids myself, so feel your pain. Stain removal in leather seats can be tough, here’s a few tricks to help get you going.

As a professional leather repair specialist I’m here to tell you that there are not to many products that can be used on a leather car seat that won’t remove the finish before removing the stain. Most leather in today’s cars is a finished leather with a water borne urethane leather dye applied to it and is pretty susceptible to chemicals and can be removed pretty easily with a solvent cleaner. So when in doubt call a professional.

Water stains in Leather Seat….this is a pretty hard one to get rid of. I recently had reader send me an email on how he could get the water stains out of his car after leaving his sunroof open. This part is kinda for him considering I think I lost his email with pictures, I did get to see them though, so not all was lost. The pictures showed a crease that ran along the middle of the leather seat where the water had puckered the leather. In this type of situation there are two things we could do, one is sand the crease out and with some fillers and dye make the seat new again, this is where a leather professional comes in to play, or replacement of the section that is creased, that’s where an upholstery shop comes in. In these type of situations there aren’t any leather conditioners or cleaners in the world that will remove a creased or puckered leather, what happens is the actual structure of the fibers in the leather have been altered and what you see is what you have.

If the water hasn’t puckered the leather and has just left a stain, a little trick I learned from my good friend Dwain Berlin with Leather Craft Secrets, and you go to your bread box in the kitchen for this one. Take a piece of bread and roll it up into a ball and rub and blot the area with the bread ball, works pretty good. Dwain has a lot of great advice for leather care, and if your interested in some great fun with leather go check out his book, it’s quite impressive and I myself learned a few things.

Most of the time water will just evaporate and with no problems and the stains will disappear. If your car leather gets wet dry it as best you can with a towel and then condition it with your Lexol Conditioner. One way to dry the cars leather is by leaving the windows down and setting it in the sun to dry, or crack the windows and turn your car on with the heat on full blast and let it run for about 30 minutes. I’m not real hip on that one cause it’s a waste of gas but it does work to dry things out better. But always condition, some rain waters are pretty dirty and harsh and the leather needs those extra nutrients to keep it soft.

If the stains are just too bad then new leather dye is the only way to bring it back then call your local leather professional like me to come and make it new again.

Mold Stains in Leather Seat….Or mildew which ever. This one kinda goes along with the water stains. Take and mix a cup of water and a cup of rubbing alcohol and mix them together, take a towel and rub a small amount of the solution onto the stained areas, until the spot is gone, again watch for dye lift, this trick works pretty well and usually removes the mildew pretty quick without dye removal.

Food Stains in Leather Seat….This one can be an easy one if you just don’t eat in your car, but I’m just as guilty as most and eat on the run. A mild dish soap and warm water with a rag or scotch brite pad will do the trick in most cases. Most automotive leather is finished and food stuffs usually will wipe right off. If you run into a stubborn one though try a little all-purpose degreaser on a rag, don’t rub too much or dye may lift. If the stain on your leather car seat from food doesn’t come up with this then the dye from the food has penetrated the fibers of the leather and has dyed it, so it’s time for a professional leather dye job.

Aniline leather or NuBuck leather is a different story though, thats the soft stuff you see as an inserted piece usually in the middle of the seats. You can use the soapy solution but water spots sometimes show up, so a special cleaner works best for this kind of leather. One I suggest is from the guys over at Leather Magic, they have a NuBuck Leather Care Kit that is the answer to all your NuBack needs. This kit includes cleaners and conditioners for the soft stuff, this type of leather is delicate and should be treated as such. Don’t use your usual leather cleaners and conditioners on this type of leather due to fact of the oils in them will damage the look of the leather, then no more soft feeling NuBuck, so definitely check out Leather Magics NuBuck Kit.

Ink, Marker, and Crayon on Leather Seat….Urgent!!! Get to it as soon as you can! If the ink is fresh you have a better chance of removing it from the leather then not. Rubbing alcohol, with a little bit of acetone added will sometimes get it. I’ve heard of hairspray, tried it with not much luck. Usually when an ink pen and leather come together they marry and don’t split to easily. Ink is a dye and is made to penetrate whatever it comes into contact with. Most ink spots I’ve ran into I’ve usually had to dye the leather to cover the spot.

Crayon on a leather seat can be a booger if it’s melted in the seat, you can try this but be careful not to burn or pucker your leather. Take an iron and a paper towel and lay the paper towel over the crayon and with a low heat rub the iron over the paper towel over the crayon. The crayon will melt into the paper towel, move the towel around to clean spots until the crayon is gone, a little of rubbing alcohol should remove the remaining. This trick works on carpet and cloth too. If they’re just marks on the leather seat a little soap and water should do the trick or even a little rubbing alcohol on a towel works good to. If all fails there is a product from Protective Products Corp. that is all natural with no solvents that will remove crayon and lipstick it’s called Solv-It, but just like anything try a spot in an unsuspecting spot to see if it removes dye.

One last trick that I’ve read about around the net and am in the process of testing it, but it the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, they do work around the house, so why not the car too. I’ve removed crayon and marks on my walls before with them, I do notice it take a little paint with it though, but they do work. If you use one, be careful and don’t go ape sh$#, rub it then look, rub it then look, they will remove dye, so when using it take your time and check it as you go.

Sweat Stains in Leather Seat ….Salt stains from sweat can be pretty gross looking, but there is a little trick. Take and make a solution of 3 parts vinegar and one part water and wet a towel and rub the area clean, the vinegar breaks down the and helps to remove the stain.

Paint on Leather Seat….Paint removal on a leather car seat, well that ones a hard one. If it has dried it’s probably there to stay. If it’s a water color, just use soap and water to remove it. Latex house paint, you can try a little Goof Off but keep in mind this is a solvent and can damage the leather seat and remove dye. I have in the past been able to take my pocket knife and scrape it off. Wet the area first with a little water and lightly try to lift the paint off with your knife or even a razor blade, but don’t cut the leather. Mostly though this really doesn’t work without removing the dye underneath, but I have had luck sometimes. If its car paint, try a little paint reducer on a rag, but just wipe lightly and don’t soak the area with the reducer. Solvents and leather seats just don’t mix.

My best advice to all when it come to stains in your leather car seats, and that is to be conscious of what you do, try to keep our little Picasso’s pen free, keep our food out of our cars, roll the windows up and sunroofs closed, and always remember to treat the leather with your Lexol Conditioner on a regular basis, this helps to keep the leather car seats protected and soft and makes it easier to get the spills and accidents from turning into disasters.

But always remember that we leather repair professionals are here to save those leather car seats and bring them back to there original state. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me for all your leather repair needs.

Auto Detailing Basics – Cleaning the Carpet

The carpet in any car or truck is the first thing to show obvious signs of wear. Dirty shoes, debris from the road, spills, crumbs, and other causes result in carpets that capture and retain dirt. This is why your carpets, even after a quick vacuuming, always appear dirty and soiled.

Luckily, cleaning your vehicle’s carpets is easier than you think. Unlike other surfaces of your car, such as your dashboard or center console, the carpet is very similar to the carpet that you’d find in your home. This means that there are multitudes of cleaning products that exist that are both auto detailing oriented and inexpensive.

Auto Detailing Inside Tip: Laundry Soap Does the Trick!

Using laundry soap, mixed in concentrate with water, is usually all you need. For severe stains, a conventional stain remover (so long as it is non-bleaching) is typically all you’ll need.

Mix the laundry soap (the new “concentrated” detergent works best) into a nominal amount of water (about enough soap for 1 load of laundry in approximately 1-1.5 gallons of water) and use a scrub brush on the carpet. Be sure to really get everywhere with the brush, and ensure that your brush is always carrying a fresh supply of soapy water.

Once you have successfully managed to clean the soiled areas, take a separate brush and rise with clean water. Do not pour the water directly on to the carpet, but apply it liberally enough so as to rinse the carpet out. Then use a sponge to sop up any excess. Then, use a wet/dry shop-vac to suck up as much water as you can from the carpet. The vehicle may need to sit overnight to dry out with the windows open.

The Secret to Successful Auto Detailing is Consistency!

Anyone can clean their car. The benefit of using a professional auto detailing company is that they will take the time to ensure that a high-quality job is done. However, you can achieve that same result by being meticulous in your process as you clean. Your carpets, for example, may need several treatments to completely remove the dirt and stains.

Don’t forget to remove the floormats and seats to ensure that you are able to clean as much of the carpet as possible. Ideally, you should only have to do a thorough auto detail of your car two or three times per year. In fact, it can make a great Saturday afternoon project!

Stain Removal in Carpet – Stain Removal Help

Hey guys … It's been a while since I've posted a helpful tip to add to your arsenal of automotive interior repairs I've giving here on my blog.

So I thought of giving you a little bit on Stain Removal in Carpet. This is one thing I get a lot of questions for and that is how to get those nasty brown, or black, or even red stains out of the interior carpet of the vehicles i work on on a daily basis.

The trick isn't to it isn't really a trick at all, it's timing and knowledge of what to use where and when. Getting to a spill before it gets a chance to soak in is your best defense against a stain in your carpet. If you spill something wipe it up and soak it up as quickly as possible and then flush with water and soak it up with a towel, or what ever you have at the time. But that's not always the case and that's where this little guide will help you, but really if you can wipe spills up a fast as you can and this helps to get the actual stain out later when you have more time.

One of the most common stains I see in vehicles are footprints or skid marks from dirty and greasy shoes. The answer to this is a de-greaser. There are so many different options to use in this situation, but I'm here to make this as simple as possible and effective. Supplies you will need are a couple of white towels, a scrub brush and a mild detergent, like dawn dish soap, a small pail of warm water mixing the soap to 1/4 oz. soap to gallon of water. Dip your brush in the soap and water, scrub the areas lightly with the brush making sure not to soak the carpet then wipe and blot with the towel. Repeat if necessary, wiping and blotting the area with the towel to remove the dirt and grime and the water, you don't want it to sour later if left wet. If your have a shop vac, use it to suck up the water and to fluff the carpet pile back up to dry better. Place a fan in the vehicle if needed to dry further if you've had a bad one.

Now sometimes more then not you will need something a little stronger to get the grease out. I use Castrol Super Clean, the purple stuff. I've used Simple Green at times too, and some of the products at some of detail shops I'm at from time to time, so really any good de-greaser will work. Just spray the area with the cleaner, scrub with the brush, then wipe it up with a towel. Now if at all possible flush the area with water, this will help to remove the chemicals from the carpet and will help to preserve the natural look to the carpet. Some of those chemicals are pretty strong and if left can damage the carpet.

Soda pop and coffee stains, are another I run across a lot. Now this one can be booger to get out. A coffee stain if left can do permanent damage to the carpet and at times I have had to just dye the carpet to cover up the stain. If coffee is your problem, here are a few tips, catch the spill as quickly as possible then flush with mild soap and water like before with the grease, but you may have to soak it a little more to get it out. Now if this is an old stain, one thing you can try is hydrogen peroxide. This can be used as a mild bleaching agent. Just pore a little in a cup and with a tooth brush scrub it into the stain let sit for about 20-30 minutes then flush with your soapy water solution. If this doesn't work, I found a product at my local janitorial supply shop called Perculator, it comes in spray bottle and is primarily a peroxide mix, and works pretty good, but it's still not a miracle worker. Coffee can be a pain, but with a little luck and timing on this one you can get it out. Now soda pop, if it's not an orange or red which I'll talk about in a minute, can usually be taken care of with the warm water and soap.

Food stains can range from greasy french fries smashed in the carpet to dried ketchup, to jelly beans and candy. Most of these can be dealt with with your soap and water. Ammonia can be added to the solution to help cut the greasy foods. Scrape the chunks out with a blunt knife before you get wet this will help to not spread the stain further. Candies might take a little more due to dyes added for color, wash as much as possible to remove the candy, if the stain remains you can try peroxide but like I said there are dyes in some candies that do just that, dye the carpet. Gum is another candy that can be removed with mostly picking it out but the rest might take a little chemical. Goof Off is a good one to keep on hand for a lot of different things, but it works great on gum too. After you pick most of it out just take a little Goof Off on a towel and wipe the rest right out.

Red Wine is sort of a food stain but treated a little different. If it's fresh flush with cold water and soak it up as much as possible. Try even a little club soda and pore directly onto the stain and soak it up with a towel. This should get most of it. One last trick is an enzyme cleaner, enzymes get right to it when it comes to food stains. They are known for removing food stuff stains, but I haven't had much luck with red wine though so I'll talk about it in a minute on getting the red stains out of your carpet.

Now if you have a misfortune and happen to get a blood stain on your carpet then this one needs to be handled with cold water and not warm or you will set the stain. If it's dried then scrap the dried blood with a blunt knife to get the chunks out, vacuum them up, then scrub the area with cold water and a mild soap. Peroxide can be used to help remove the reddish tint if needed. Then flush again with the soap and water, then vacuum with your shop vac. One other remedy is a blood enzyme, which will eat the blood away. Blood Buster is good one, it's an enzymatic cleaner designed for bio stains.

One that I deal with upon occasion is pet urine. Talk about nasty … but, hey they have to pee too, just not where we always want them to. This one is one you can go to your kitchen for, vinegar, helps to neutralize the acids in the pee. Supplies for this one are paper towels if still wet, white towels, mild soap and warm water, brush and vinegar. First soak up what you can with if it's still wet with the paper towels, next take your soapy solution of warm water and soap, 1 / 4oz. of soap to a gallon of water, dip the brush and scrub the area with the soapy water, blot with the towel and repeat until the stain is gone. After wards pore a little vinegar over the stain and let set for about an hour. Lastly rinse with water and vacuum with a shop vac or dab with towels until mostly dry. If the stain is still there, let it dry, then apply an enzyme. Enzymes work really well for all bio stuffs including urine. The guys over at Petguest have come up with a 100% enzyme concentrate that is made for the elimination of pet stains and odors.

The old melted crayon stain in the carpet …. Man what a mess this can be, but believe it or not it's pretty easy to remove if you have a clothes iron and a brown paper bag. Scrape the majority away with a blunt knife then lay the brown bag over the crayon and with the heated iron, rub it over the bag over the spot. The heat from the iron will melt the crayon into the bag. Just rotate the bag around to keep a clean side down and after a while the crayon will be on the bag not on the carpet. Patience on this one helps, but again if the spot remains try a little chemical like your Goof Off.

Paint is another carpet stain that can give you a bunch of problems. First thing you need to determine what kind of paint it is. If it's automotive paint then a solvent paint reducer or thinner can be used to remove it. I usually use lacquer thinner, works fast and removes most paint spills. Now if it's house paint, then scrape off the excess with a blunt knife and pull out the Goof Off, try not to spread it out to much, work small and from the outside in on the stain. I guess nail polish is a paint, but with this one use nail polish remover or straight acetone with a towel, and again work the stain from the outside in so to not spread it out to far.

Now this is probably got to be the worst carpet stain out there. The red stain in the carpet. This is caused by a # 40 Red dye that is put in a lot of drinks like Kool Aid and, red and orange sodas. If you run across this one there is only one way to remove it and that's with a strong chemical. I have found a product that I use on these type of stains and have had really good luck with it, it's called Red Dye Solution. There are others out there like Red Relief, and Red Out, all work pretty similar. You pore the chemical on the stain, and with a wet white towel and a steam iron you remove the stain. It is a time consuming project and with some luck all of the stain will be removed. Sometimes a little blue hue will be left from the chemical but it sure is a lot better then a bright red stain jumping out at you. But with a little carpet dye over the top and your good as new. You can find these products usually at your local janitorial supply shop or online. I'm working on getting some here on my site, so bare with me.

Stain Removal In Carpetcan be frustrating at times, but there no substitute for a professional. These tips can help and may just save you but if you have any problems or feel that the stain is just a little above your head then don't hesitate to call an automotive interior repair professional like myself to come in a make your life a little easier. For those of you that are the professionals feel free to post your tips in the comments so we can all benefit from your expertise in carpet stain removal.

4 Useful Car Detailing Tips

Car detailing is an essential process to clean and restore the interior and exterior of the car. This type of work is a deep, top-to-bottom clean that leaves the car looking like new. It can even include removing wheels or other parts to reach the otherwise unreachable parts like the brake components, arch liners, and suspension. Here are a few simple car detailing tips to leave the interior and exterior of the vehicle looking like new:

Leather upholstery

Cleaning the leather upholstery as soon as a spill or mark is left behind can significantly increase the likelihood of a complete cleanup. If any marks like dye transfers from clothing, ink, or lipstick are left for 24 hours or more, the stain can easily set in permanently. There are plenty of purpose-made leather-cleaning kits in the market that can be left in the car to help with the timely cleanup.

Air vents

Brush out the air vents at regular intervals. The vents are a great dust magnet and easy to clean using the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. But, if the brush attachment is not small enough to collect all the dust, a simple artist's brush can be used to collect any dust that is left behind.

Deep-clean

Give the carpet and upholstery a deep-clean. A high-quality carpet cleaning machine can quickly lift the deep dirt that has been left to build up over time. Most of the cleaners will spray a cleaning solution to help leave the carpet looking like new while also sucking up the grime and dirt. The hardware to deep-clean the vehicle is widely available to rent for a day or two, or buy outright, which will likely be the most cost-effective option in the long-term.

However, for the carpet that is too ingrained with dirt, the best option is simply to have it replaced with new. It is relatively easy to buy the replacement carpet to match a specific make and model of car.

Squeaky doors

Car doors with an annoying squeak can quickly be rectified with a few squirts of WD-40 or a similar lubricant. Once the doors are moving freely, add a small amount of motor oil or lithium grease to keep away the squeaky noise and avoid issues with corrosion. Also, it is worth inspecting other parts of the vehicle, such as the door latches for the early signs of corrosion. A quick squirt of the silicone spray can help to maintain the condition of these parts.