Get seats ready for long summer trips

Before you pack the car for the big trip, it is a good idea to clean and protect the seats.

Dirt, oil and dust which get on leather and vinyl seats act like a fine sandpaper, slowly wearing down the vinyl and the protective coating on the leather, making them more susceptible to damage. Once it is weakened, leather and vinyl is more likely to crack and fade and it will not hold up well to everyday wear and tear.

Buy a good leather cleaning kit, which includes leather cleaning and protection cream, or a vinyl cleaning kit, which typically includes just a cleaner, and make a protective detour before the trip begins. It will save time and money later on. You should also pack an absorbent towel or two in addition to one or two rolls of paper towels.

“Once the summer vacation season kicks off, we receive a lot of calls from car owners wondering what can be done about the damage to their leather and vinyl seats,” said Michael Wilson, chief executive officer of Fibrenew. “Kids and adults unsuccessfully trying to juggle food, drinks and toys on the road can cause damage to car seats, but often times the worst problems are caused by car owners who don’t know the best ways to clean up a mess and repair a problem.”

Once on the road

1) Food or drink stain: The kids eat a pizza slice or burger and while part of it lands in the mouth the rest goes on themselves and the car seat. The drink follows.

¦ Do not use window/mirror cleaner because it contains alcohol which will dissolve and destroy the surface coating on your leather.

¦ Do use a damp towel to wipe up the mess and a dry one to finish the job. Fully-finished leather is pretty much water resistant, so a little spill isn’t going to hurt as long as you clean it up quickly, before it soaks through.

2) Ink: Some of the bright green marker gets to color the skin of the dragon in the coloring book. Some of it misses and now the corner of the car seat looks like the dragon.

¦ Do not use dish soap or hair spray to remove the marks. The degreasing agents in dish soap can permanently de-gloss and damage the top coating on the leather surface. Hair spray, another commonly recommended remedy, has alcohol in it and will ruin the surface

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