Make Your Car Leather Breathe Again
Speaking about genuine leather goods (coats, bags, shoes, car seats, etc.), it’s naturally to divide them into two broad categories. With growing spread of environmental issues there grows the number of environmentalists who strongly oppose use of anything manufactured at the expense of nature – including lives of living creatures. This implies not only going vegetarian (and going vegan as a natural step further from that), but also abandoning use of cosmetics, furs, and leather. For those people, artificial furs and artificial leather (sometimes referred to as “pleather”) is an obvious solution.
On the other hand, there are many of those for whom natural materials are a sign of quality for which they are even ready to pay a higher price. More so, it may also be seen as a “marker” of anything classical – think, for instance, of leather boots from Lacoste or natural car seats in Jaguar XJ. Besides, soft touch of real leather covers feels much better – it’s hard to argue with that.
We are here not to judge, of course, or to take any one’s side. The main point is to help you to choose among treatments to make cover of your leather (or artificial leather) goods look like new again and “breathe” as if you’ve just purchased them. It’s sad how fast initial gloss fades away, choked by stench of body sweat in summer. And your beloved dog knows how to stain it with indelible dirt in no time. Things like that really disappoint – unless you know how to fix them. Let’s have a look at ten best conditioners for leather goods which can really help.
The first one is America’s most popular – and popular it is for good reasons. Producers argue that it is their best conditioner since 1968 (the year the producing company was founded). It presents itself as a “family business” run that way for many decades. Half a century of presumably successful history leaves an impression of reliability and due care upon first acquaintance – millions of people mentioned as happy customers possibly share the feeling. Even the website reminds of something warm and comfy. It reminds of home somehow.
The product is non-toxic – that’s especially important if you have kids or pets known for their sudden desire to check what leather covers taste like. The chemical safety of its formula goes together with effectiveness: it is a treatment that can last long, protecting leather covers for 6 months or even more after a single application. This is achieved by deep penetration of the treatment into the surface.
The list of main advantages doesn’t end here. The product is universal and can be used for any type of goods made of leather, starting with gloves and ending with car and motorcycle seats. In that case you’d be happy to know that the conditioner leaves no oil stains and acts as a water repellent, thus preventing formation of mildew.
A truly “family” product made to meet all desires. Sounds too good to take it as granted, which is why it’s better to check for reviews from common customers who tested the product. We easily found one – a fairly recent youtube video of a test that was performed recently. The main question is whether the renowned leather conditioner can remove scuffs on the boots (a very common problem for many). The guy on the video reminded that the treatment was recommended for boots as well – this follows from its universality feature. The “age-old” formula, however, remains a family secret of its producers, so he wasn’t able to tell anything apart from what is said by the company itself.
According to the reviewer, the leather conditioner is indeed like honey upon touch (we still wouldn’t recommend tasting it despite its presumably non-toxic formula). A couple of hours after initial application showed how effective the treatment actually was in doing its main job. First, the color: it wasn’t evenly restored across the whole surface of boots, but yes – the boots really looked like they’d been taken care of (although not for a very long time). They started to look more like recently purchased, but definitely not completely new. The same holds for scratches which faded but didn’t go completely. The air conditioner is not specifically designed for boots. Taking into account the fact that it can also be used with leather coats and furniture, its price (approximately $2 per ounce) makes it an affordable choice for many.
Sadly, despite very pleasant initial impression, far from ideal testing results do not let us name this treatment a leader.
• Excellent quality
• Could be used for leather coats
|• Not all scratches disappeared competely|
What can be better for a cold than a cup of hot milk with honey? The second product in our review is a poetic complement to the first one, although apart from similarly comfy name which also reminds of home somehow, it is more like its direct competitor.
The producing company website’s retro design leaves good impression. Although it is hard to tell how long its history is, Chamberlain insists that it has tested virtually thousands of goods before coming up with a unique receipt to protect leather at highest level of expectations. “Formula 1” (as it is written on the label) is used for differentiation purposes: there are also other formulas #1, #2 etc., each for the product of its own specifics. As the name suggests, it is not only a conditioner, but also a cleaner for leather goods. It is also non-toxic – again, an important factor for those who have children and pets at home.
Nothing is said about exactly what types of goods it can be applied to – simply “items”. We take is as if it suits bags, coats, leather sacs, seats and so on, just like the previous universal solution. Similarly to the first case, it not only deeply conditions, but also revives things. What possibly makes it even better is its ability to restore and clean leather without leaving greasy impression after application (the ones you sometimes get with other products).
We also could not but mention other pleasant bonuses like a special application pad with which you always apply exact quantity you need, letting one bottle last very long. Sadly, the solution is slightly more expensive than the first one: although there is a nice price discount of $5 provided at the moment, it won’t always be there. Plus, the pre-discount price of almost $22, divided by smaller volume of 6 ounces, yields at least $3.5 per ounce. Are you ready to pay more for better quality and additional advantages?
Quality is guaranteed by thousands of tests the producer is referring to, but again, let’s sees what common reviewers can tell. One of them calls himself “Boot Guy”. Despite his nickname, he decided to run the test at a couple of different leather items (a belt and shoes) and with three different products form the same company. Although none of those three products he chose for testing purposes represented the item we are talking about here (“Formula №1”), all three showed brilliant results, making items look like new. For us, that’s already a very good confirmation of product quality.
|• High-quality product|
• Special application pad
|• More expensive than other products|
The first thing coming in mind upon initial glance at the design is saving opportunities: a 1-liter plastic canister (that’s about 33.8 ounces), costing not much more that a 6 oz bottle of the previously reviewed product. It is also possible to purchase it in 3-liter canisters for even better savings. Dividing the price at its total volume gives less than a dollar per one ounce. This could in theory make us call this product a leader in money saving – but it won’t.
What makes us a bit cautious with conclusions like that is the treatment specification. A clearly noticed image of a car on the canister indicates that this leather conditioner was at least initially developed for cars interiors, thus making it less suitable for other types of items. The description suggests precisely that: the conditioner is recommended for shoes, boots, luggage bags, car seats, maybe even horse saddles – but not for anything made of soft leather. There isn’t a word about the product’s toxicity which may be the case. Taking into account its main designation as a solution for hard leather items, we wouldn’t suggest trying to get in close contact with the substance.
For the best results it should be accompanied by another product called “Deep Cleaner”, meaning that you’ll have to buy 2 instead of 1. The company, on the other hand, has a fairly long business history since the year 1933 – the fact is also mentioned in the review we found. In full accordance with recommendations, the guy on the video tested two products together (the conditioner and the cleaner) – and he tested them on slightly stained car seats. Although markings of dirt weren’t serious, they were surely noticeable on bright seats upon a closer look. The cleaner made them fade away easily, although not completely.
The conditioner itself behaves better on already cleaned surfaces. It indeed added a feeling of soft clothing upon touch, identifiable even by the sound left by fingertips – soft and smooth. Strangely, the conditioner somehow made the initially cleaned dark cracks on the surface look worse immediately upon application, but it was only temporary – let the surface get completely dry to see the true difference. Well, it won’t be an astonishing difference anyway because dark clogged cracks in the seat were still slightly visible – but it was obviously better than before.
|• Best value |
• Highly effective
• Famous brand
|• Won’t fit for all types of stains|
Let’s have a look at yet another “hard leather” solution with a cosmic “scent” in its name. The packaging choice is more appealing as compared to the previous case, but in many other ways they are much similar.
Just like the brand reviewed above, TriNova is best suited for leather made automobile surfaces, home furniture, shoes and bags, but for softer items – very unlikely. And similarly to the previous case, there is the same “bundling” option: here we have the conditioner, but here we also have the cleaner, and although you can buy one without another, better results are achieved only if they go together. To push your thinking in that direction, a discount of 20% is provided for pairing of two products in one purchase (don’t forget the discount code).
This product costs more than the previous one (about $2 per one ounce of liquid), but it also provides something in return – something which Lexol doesn’t. Most importantly, it is positioned as good investment: any leather surface wears out eventually – but not with this treatment which covers it with soft moisture and restores it. The full name also hints at water repelling features which is good news for motorists who drive a lot in any weather conditions. As a pleasant bonus, there is also an applicator included, so you won’t have to search for an old t-shirt or a rag.
Fairly good ratings on Amazon (close to 5 stars – and much more “5s” than “4s”) make us think that among the last two products we have a winner. But again, we subjectively take lack of universality as a very serious drawback.
How effective is the treatment with its prime job? Judging by another testing video we would cautiously recommend it if hard leather goods are precisely what you care for. Again, the girl on the video first applied the cleaner, then the conditioner. She mentioned good smell in both cases (good to hear that!). Car seats became much softer upon touch, at the same time not slippery as it happens with many other brands. The conditioner also added pleasant “leathery” gloss to the surface – so why not to give this “Nova” a “tri”?
|• Claimed to be leather made auto surfaces|
• Discount 20%
• Application included
• Good smell
|• More expensive than others|
Allow to introduce an even narrower solution from “Chemical Guys”, the company which specializes mostly on car accessories and tools. This, however, may be seen as plus for auto fans because in many cases – although not always – specialization leads to perfection. This brand is quite popular in the USA, and the product reviewed here is a natural upgrade of their earlier propositions. It is also a treatment which is best suited for not really expensive but nevertheless fine leather covers which can be afforded by consumer from the most massive market segment.
Here we have not only leather conditioner, but a whole bundle consisting of 9 different items: a bottle of leather cleaner, another one with leather conditioner, one more leather detailer, several towels, a brush, and something else – all for a price of almost $67. Bundling makes it a bit hard to compare with anything from the above, so total purchase benefits are individual and will likely depend on your personal preferences and need in other included items. However, the average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 makes think that people generally like the idea.
The company positions this option as a complete set to take care of any leather (including artificial leather) surfaces. The set consists of goods which are naturally used together. It is a real auto fans’ toolkit to be applied on steering wheels, car seats – also on door panels, knobs and dash panels which are, as we remember, made not exactly of leather! If we think of “limited” universality in automobiles’ space, this solution is truly universal, but even beyond that space – as the description suggests – it is versatile enough to be applicable for home and/or office furniture. We would, however, be cautious with the latter as we suspect the liquid may leave stains. It may also be not completely safe in terms of toxicity.
|• Specialized company|
• Set of goods
• Limited universality
|• Could be toxic|
Just like shining armor protects a knight’s body from heavy blows, this leather cleaner and protector does the same for everything in your possession which is made of leather. This product is almost crying about its universality out loud – starting with its unique chemical formula which grants you great money saving options as you need to buy only one solution instead of two. No more bundling of separate cleaners and conditioners together! Did we mention that it also costs less than $2 per one ounce?
Amazon’s ratings are strikingly high – 4.9 out of 5. What impresses even more is the product’s ability to work with virtually any surface imaginable, satisfying all need of motorists as well as those who simply like elegant leather clothes and accessories.
Thanks to its extended functionality, it is capable of not only cleaning, but also conditioning, polishing, and even restoring of surfaces. More so, its universality extends even to leather colors as the treatment applies absolutely safely to any type of surface without leaving any stains.
The complete list of advantages goes on even further. The product also has very prolonged action of up to 6 months thanks to its deep penetration in the fabric. While active, it removes old and damaged leather particles, moisturizes and softens the fabric, thus making your belongings look as good as new – and all without that “greasy look” which sometimes accompanies results of other brands’ action.
Thanks to high quality of care, Shine Armor greatly extends useful life of your goods. We couldn’t hope for more.
|• Universal formula|
• Conditioning, polishing and restoring
• Action up to 6 months
|• More expensive than others|
KevianClean is an US company which holds a tight grasp onto the market segment of eco-friendly car care products – an excellent idea, considering how much attention is paid by today’s investors to “ESM” (environment, social, and governance) issues. Socially responsible business models oriented towards long-term sustainable development are valued much higher, sometimes even contrary to financial results – that’s today’s reality.
In the very beginning we mentioned environmentalists as a big part of today’s society. Naturally, they also have something to drive. An electric car or not, its interior has to be taken care of. KevianClean’s products might be a good choice thanks to their ecologically safe formula based on organic ingredients derived from plants – let your vehicle go vegan!
Slightly less than $25 per 16 ounces of the double action product (cleaning and conditioning) seems to be a good price choice, although slightly more expensive because of production specificity. Unlike those who choose to go with Lexol’s or TriNova’s products, here customers have to buy only one bottle. More so, what they buy here also lasts longer thanks to really small amount of substance needed for more than satisfactory cleaning and conditioning care.
The treatment is also said to restore old leather and prolong its useful life, adding light natural scent and gloss without changing original colors, at the same time making the cover smooth upon touch.
This brand earned its place among three our best choices despite its narrow orientation: originally only cars, although the product is said to do its job with luggage bags, horse saddles, clothes, belts, and – believe it or not -even gloves. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find strong evidence in support for the brand’s effectiveness in non-auto field, so it has to be tested personally. Plus, the brand is said to have limitations with certain types of surfaces. Good thing is that price allows some degree of freedom for experimentation.
|• Socially responsible business|
• Prolong action
• Smooth finish
|• Not that many evidences for brand’s |
Not exactly a conditioner, but rather a restoration toolkit, but we nevertheless decided to include this one because the restoration function, as we’ve seen, is featured in several previous products’ descriptions. This brand may potentially be of interest because it is argued that, contrary to many other solutions on the marker, this LeatherNu can recreate and repair items made of leather, successfully dealing with damages of different origin: knife cuts, burns, tears and so on. There are several interchangeable colors included in the kit for making a mix that perfectly matches original color of an item.
The question is – how good the product really is in its main field? To answer that one, we went directly to testing which was performed in 2014 – quite a long time ago, but still it was precisely that company’s product, and cracks on the car seats’ artificial leather surface looked quite disappointing.
The very first portion was sucked up by lower layers, leaving the cracks still visible, although looking slightly better. Drying up the surface with a heat gun produced some kind of small bubbles, though, and it all looked like a dried up glue spot. At least the treatment filled most of the cracks, but there were some gaps missing. A couple of days later the damaged part looked even better and definitely stopped it spreading, but the spot was still scratchy because of the bubbles left after the first application.
The color match was far from perfect (“kinda rubbery”), but fairly acceptable. In any case, this was better than the original cracks. What’s more – after applying separately a “leather sealer” (and not taking care about the color anymore), the tester got even better results. Cracks were left slightly visible, but sealed tightly. His conclusion – and only his conclusion, we emphasize – was that the kit wasn’t probably worth it, and maybe it was better to use some other leather sealer.
|• Deals with damaged of different origin|
• Can cope with knife cuts
|• Don’t worth its price|
The “CPR” acronym stands for “cardiopulmonary resuscitation”, an emergency medical procedure performed to bring someone back to life. From this it may be presumed that one of the product’s main functions is, again, repair and restoration. Unlike the previously reviewed repair kit, it also possesses cleaning and conditioning features.
This brand may be of interest for several good reasons. First, it makes you leather goods last longer. Secondly – it is fairly universal and works well with shoes, leather jackets and furniture alike. What comes third and fourth is most interesting because the product does its job with common and exotic types of leather – even with alligator skin! We’d call this a new dimension of universality!
What also differentiates it from others is safety for your own skin because the treatment passed dermatological tests. All of its components, although not necessarily organic like in case of KevianClean we examined above, are at least as good as common cosmetics. This means there should be no irritation (of course, if you still have allergic reaction to cosmetic ingredients, you should be careful anyways). The description says nothing about toxicity, though: if it is safe for your skin, this doesn’t mean it is also safe if inhaled or swallowed.
Despite its fairly strong differentiation from others, this brand is far from perfect and could really impress more. One of its main disadvantages – stated very clearly and visibly – is that this treatment is not at all suitable for porous soft leather like suede. So forget about gloves – a big minus in terms of universality.
What also confuses is packaging choice: why put two 18oz bottles in the pack for a price slightly lower than 28? Total volume is one thing, but we aren’t 100% we really need that much – unless, they run out fast, of course. In any case, it is hard to guess how much we’re overpaying or underpaying here. At least its ratings are high above “4”, but with a comparatively small number of votes – can’t serve as a reliable estimate.
|• No irritation guaranteed|
• Safe for skin
|• Little bottle, high price|
And last but not least – one more “all-in one” pH balanced formula which is capable of cleaning, conditioning, and protecting leather items. A sprinkler-type 12 oz bottle allows easy application, and that’s good news for its quite affordable price.
A car seat imaged on the label may be an indicator that the product was originally designed for car interiors. Appears to be true: a bit scarce description gives no other clues, so it is hard to tell whether it is safe to use it with non-car leather items.
The rating is above average, but again – with a number of votes that low it is impossible to completely exclude tweaking.
Also, there aren’t too many reliable videos of precisely this product in the Internet other than those from “Pep Boys”, the producing company. In one of the videos, however, leather seat covers of an expensive Ferrari were successfully restored with two a bit different products from the same company’s product line – one of those was a cleaner, and the other was a conditioner. The product reviewed here may thus be seen as a combination of two. Despite fruitful results of application on the video, it is hard to tell that the video was films for purposes other than advertising. Even if so, the tester on the video did not recommend direct application of the solution, suggesting instead a rag for that purpose – please keep that in mind. Could it be not safe for your car?
|• All-in-one product |
• Can cope with any stains
|• Not enough info about safety|
|Pluses||Minuses||Notes||Made up your mind?|
|Solid Choice: Leather Milk Conditioner and Cleaner||· Non-toxic!· Large product line· Conditioning and rejuvenation· No “greasy” impression· Universality· Excellent results demonstrated by real-life testing||· Price is a bit high||The choice is “solid” because it suits soft as well and hard leather surfaces, although universality does not imply universal perfection everywhere||Check price|
|Best Value KevianClean Complete Leather Cleaner and Conditioner||· A truly “vegan” choice for those who care about nature!· Lasts long because of high efficiency· Cleans and conditions, but also restores fabric and even original colors, adding gloss and light pleasant scent· Fairly applicable for hard leather types in general||· Originally designed for auto interiors – could be not so good with certain types of leather surfaces||Could not but grant this brand its place in the final table. Being most eco-friendly among others would already be subjectively seen as enough for that. But apart from that, the product has many other great features||Check price|
|Editor’s Choice SHINE ARMOR Leather Cleaner & Conditioner Protector||· Truly universal: works well with almost anything and of any color!· Very nice price for everything it is offering· Extended action· Conditioning, cleaning, moistening, recovering, protecting, you name it· Great ratings||· Could be toxic: if it was completely safe, we think this would definitely be indicated among its main features||Just as it is normally the case with “best choices” – sounds like a dream come true, and it is even hard to think of any disadvantages. A real armor for all leather you care for.||Check price|
A great variety of leather conditioners and similar products has been reviewed here. Highest ranking normally go to those which combine other features apart from mere conditioning: cleaning, restoration, etc. True leaders of our choice are those which not only do that where they were originally supposed to do all that (with auto seats and panels, for example), but are also good with broader types of leather items (clothes, bags, boots, etc.):
- The first thing you have to make clear is what exactly you need a leather conditioner for. If it is just your car, you go for more niche brands from “Chemical Guys” (for instance) – companies that have been developing their car treatments for years and maybe decades. If you also need to take care of furniture, it’s better for look for something more universal like “Shine Armor”.
- Even when choosing something more tailored for car care, it is still better to pick “combined formulas”. It’s just like “shampoo & conditioner”: helps to save money.
- Ratings are a good indicator, as it turned to be with one of today’s leaders. Almost full 5 stars really make believe that the long list of feature may indeed be true.
- Reviews from common people in the Internet may still serve as good confirmation (or strong disproof) of what is said in the product’s description – first check those reviewers who earned reputation big enough at least to be recognized by a nickname.
- Just as it is normally the case with auto products, environmental considerations play a very big role. We started the review by stating there are normally two main attitudes towards using something made of leather (or furs). On the other hand, even if you really care about nature, you may still choose synthetic leather. If so – what types of cleaners and conditioners go best with it? And among those cleaners and conditioners – which ones do least harm to environment – see the point?
- But being nature-friendly doesn’t always mean that the product is also safe for your health (or health of your kids or pets). To think of, the opposite is also true.
We wish you all the best choices!