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      05-23-2010, 02:10 AM   #1
swamp2
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Great method to restore badly "shined" leather or leather with significant build up

I thought the truly amazing results I (and others) got from the "Magic Eraser" sponge-like product deserved a post of it's own. You can get these at any Target and many other stores.

I was having problems getting rid of the typical interior leather shininess that seems to creep up on us all. I tried many different products with little to no success. However, the Magic Eraser will restore shiny interior leather on "tougher" colors such as Red, Grey or Tan back to the perfect OEM matte finish. The products are really inexpensive and work basically with hot water alone. These things are truly a detailers dream. Now I just have to find a similar product that will last. I suspect someone makes one.

Read my original post with instructions here (and link to where I got the tip from).

I do hope this helps many of you as much as it helped me.

Last edited by swamp2; 05-23-2010 at 07:16 PM.
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      05-23-2010, 03:02 AM   #2
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Before and after pics pls!! Sounds great!
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      05-23-2010, 03:32 AM   #3
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Yeah sorry. I really should have taken pics. Unfortunately I didn't. For one I did not know how well these things would work. Secondly with all issues of "shine" the pictures may not have accurately reflected a real world examination of the finish. You can see some loosely similar results by following the link in the link (the really bad steering wheel case). I hope my further descriptions will suffice. Trust me on this. Amazing product.

Before: About 25k miles, 2008 car, Fox Red leather. Leather occasionally cleaned and conditioned. DISTINCT shininess on all parts of drivers seat especially bottom and left side bolster. Noticeably different than the passenger seat which gets little use.

After: Literally ZERO appearance difference between sides of passenger or drivers seat (never get any contact, dirt, oil, sweat, nothing - thus in perfect showroom floor condition) and bottom of drivers seat (worst part with the most shininess).
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      05-23-2010, 06:59 AM   #4
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Be careful as it strips the leather away.
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      05-23-2010, 10:47 AM   #5
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It's abrasive. So use it too much, and you'll be regretting the fact you ever found it. Leather cleaners always get the shine out and restore the matte look for me without being abrasive.

BTW stop conditioning your leather, that's probably why the shininess was there in the first place. Remember that you are dealer with a topcoat on the leather, and not the leather itself. Just like how you don't try to revitalize the color coat through the clear coat on the paint, you do the same with the leather. Use a cleaner that leaves nothing behind and wipe the seat down with distilled water after for good measure.
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      05-23-2010, 01:41 PM   #6
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Sorry but I am going to disagree and have good evidence for doing so.

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Originally Posted by Darkstar752 View Post
It's abrasive. So use it too much, and you'll be regretting the fact you ever found it. Leather cleaners always get the shine out and restore the matte look for me without being abrasive.
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Originally Posted by Martin_D View Post
Be careful as it strips the leather away.
I think I agree that is might be ever so slightly abrasive. However, I am not worried about it at all. The only color that came off my Fox Red seats was black - black oily grime. It is pretty clear from my other post using a variety of products (some heartily recommended as "the best on the market") that cleaners absolutely do not get the shine out and restore the matte look. The MAIN function of this product is to grab, remove and hold contaminants and at that it is absolutely killer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkstar752 View Post
BTW stop conditioning your leather, that's probably why the shininess was there in the first place. Remember that you are dealer with a topcoat on the leather, and not the leather itself. Just like how you don't try to revitalize the color coat through the clear coat on the paint, you do the same with the leather. Use a cleaner that leaves nothing behind and wipe the seat down with distilled water after for good measure.
I absolutely never over conditioned my leather. I had the car about 2 years and have maybe done it 2 or 3 times. Also I treated all my leather equally with cleaning and conditioning hence the drastic difference between the drivers and passengers sides seats means something with the use/friction/body sweat or oil was the main problem, not any conditioning.
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      05-23-2010, 03:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
Sorry but I am going to disagree and have good evidence for doing so.

I think I agree that is might be ever so slightly abrasive. However, I am not worried about it at all. The only color that came off my Fox Red seats was black - black oily grime. It is pretty clear from my other post using a variety of products (some heartily recommended as "the best on the market") that cleaners absolutely do not get the shine out and restore the matte look. The MAIN function of this product is to grab, remove and hold contaminants and at that it is absolutely killer.
Sorry Marshall, but you're incorrect here. The Magic Eraser works by removing the top layer of finish on your leather. It is, after all, a very fine sandpaper. While you're removing the sheen (which is dirt condensed into the leather's pores), you're also removing Fox Red's pigment. By using the Magic Eraser once, you've already removed a good amount of your finish. Use the Magic Eraser multiple times and eventually you'll have no pigment left. This is why the only situation I'd use the Magic Eraser in is if I'm refinishing a leather structure and need to smooth down the surface before redying it.

If you want to get the shine out of your seats, get a brush with stiff hairs like the Swissvax Leather Brush (the brush actually gets into the grain pattern much better than the Magic Eraser) and a water-based cleaner like Leather Master Strong. The brush is the key to exfoliating the leather's pores. You can damage your seats as much as you'd like though with the Magic eraser.
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      05-23-2010, 04:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsis View Post
Sorry Marshall, but you're incorrect here. The Magic Eraser works by removing the top layer of finish on your leather. It is, after all, a very fine sandpaper. While you're removing the sheen (which is dirt condensed into the leather's pores), you're also removing Fox Red's pigment. By using the Magic Eraser once, you've already removed a good amount of your finish. Use the Magic Eraser multiple times and eventually you'll have no pigment left. This is why the only situation I'd use the Magic Eraser in is if I'm refinishing a leather structure and need to smooth down the surface before redying it.

If you want to get the shine out of your seats, get a brush with stiff hairs like the Swissvax Leather Brush (the brush actually gets into the grain pattern much better than the Magic Eraser) and a water-based cleaner like Leather Master Strong. The brush is the key to exfoliating the leather's pores. You can damage your seats as much as you'd like though with the Magic eraser.
You can have your opinion and I'll have mine. However, you've said some totally false things.

One question: Have you actually used this product on leather? Do you have any first or second hand account of someone damaging their leather with this product?

I did do some further research on the material though. It is simply melamine foam. Have a look at this good information: here. I'm guessing you did't realize it is made basically of plastic, right? I'm also guessing you did not realize that it works like a brush (which you recommend) - a "micro brush" actually. But because of it's cage like microstructure it traps contaminants instead of spreading them around? Either way you are certainly incorrect that a brush "gets into the grain pattern better". This is the key reason the product works so well - the way the micro fibers get into the grain pattern. It is indeed categorized as slightly abrasive but it the only caution is for soft and shiny things, ones which you could easily see any damaging abrasive effects. It is also recommended for leather. Calling this product "very fine sandpaper" is definitely not an accurate characterization, any more so than calling a brush sandpaper. Brush something enough times and it WILL abrade it as well.

With my own use I found: Shiny parts of any leather - dark black/brown deposits in the Eraser. Guess what I found on the parts that get no contact and hence are already OEM-like in appearance - NOTHING. The product was not really removing anything OF surface, just FROM the surface. There certainly never was a trace of red color in anything that came off my seats.

Do you think you could have cleaned a steering wheel like the one I linked to with a brush and water based leather cleaner? Sorry but even without trying I would have to say no way.

I'll happily plod along with a 2 minute touch up cleaning once a year or so on the worst parts of my shiny leather. I'll be sure to let you know when all the color is gone and the leather is "sanded" away .

P.S. What part of this are you guys missing: Using the top recommended "Leather Master" trio, with the supplied foam sponge and MF towels, as per the exact instructions, did NOTHING to correct my basic problem??? Perhaps the brush you recommend is the missing link but that doesn't take away from the power of the Magic Eraser.
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      05-23-2010, 04:42 PM   #9
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This is not a matter of opinion. It's a matter of fact that I've seen before my eyes. Yes Marshall, I have used the Magic Eraser. I've reconditioned (sanded and redyed) at least five interiors that each customer tried to fix with a Magic Eraser. It's the same story each time: the ME worked several times before the leather's top coat gave way. I tested a ME several years ago on a E36 junker's driver's seat and I reproduced the same defect my customer's brought to me: worn down leather.

Do I think I could fix the steering wheel cleaner you linked to with just a water-based cleaner and a sponge? Of course not, and I never said I could. I would tell the customer two things: use the ME once and only once, or get a redye. The only time I'd recommend using the ME is when you have a severely damaged leather product that is steps away from needing a redye.

When you say you didn't see any Fox Red dye on your eraser, well no joke. Our seats have a top coat just like how our exterior paint has a clear top coat to protect the base coat (in the case of leather, dye). A gentle enough brush like the Swissvax Leather Brush will not abrade the top coat enough to cause damage unless you apply tremendous pressure. It will however exfoliate the leather's pores with GENTLE agitation. A sponge isn't capable of proper exfoliation, which is why your use of Leather Master failed. Don't blame the product for your failure to use it properly.

In typical you fashion you'll fight to the death over an opinion you have, no matter what kind of evidence you're faced with. When you bolded the "calling ME sandpaper" part of your response, you couldn't be any more incorrect. ME is the equivalent of 1500 grit sandpaper in my experience, and the "very fine sandpaper" description is on Melanine Foam's Wikipedia page and any other legitimate site that talks about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
You can have your opinion and I'll have mine. However, you've said some totally false things.

One question: Have you actually used this product on leather? Do you have any first or second hand account of someone damaging their leather with this product?

I did do some further research on the material though. It is simply melamine foam. Have a look at this good information: here. I'm guessing you did't realize it is made basically of plastic, right? I'm also guessing you did not realize that it works like a brush (which you recommend) - a "micro brush" actually. But because of it's cage like microstructure it traps contaminants instead of spreading them around? Either way you are certainly incorrect that a brush "gets into the grain pattern better". This is the key reason the product works so well - the way the micro fibers get into the grain pattern. It is indeed categorized as slightly abrasive but it the only caution is for soft and shiny things, ones which you could easily see any damaging abrasive effects. It is also recommended for leather. Calling this product "very fine sandpaper" is definitely not an accurate characterization, any more so than calling a brush sandpaper. Brush something enough times and it WILL abrade it as well.

With my own use I found: Shiny parts of any leather - dark black/brown deposits in the Eraser. Guess what I found on the parts that get no contact and hence are already OEM-like in appearance - NOTHING. The product was not really removing anything OF surface, just FROM the surface. There certainly never was a trace of red color in anything that came off my seats.

Do you think you could have cleaned a steering wheel like the one I linked to with a brush and water based leather cleaner? Sorry but even without trying I would have to say no way.

I'll happily plod along with a 2 minute touch up cleaning once a year or so on the worst parts of my shiny leather. I'll be sure to let you know when all the color is gone and the leather is "sanded" away .

P.S. What part of this are you guys missing: Using the top recommended "Leather Master" trio, with the supplied foam sponge and MF towels, as per the exact instructions, did NOTHING to correct my basic problem??? Perhaps the brush you recommend is the missing link but that doesn't take away from the power of the Magic Eraser.

Last edited by eclipsisNA; 05-23-2010 at 04:50 PM.
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      05-23-2010, 07:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsis View Post
This is not a matter of opinion. It's a matter of fact that I've seen before my eyes. Yes Marshall, I have used the Magic Eraser. I've reconditioned (sanded and redyed) at least five interiors that each customer tried to fix with a Magic Eraser. It's the same story each time: the ME worked several times before the leather's top coat gave way. I tested a ME several years ago on a E36 junker's driver's seat and I reproduced the same defect my customer's brought to me: worn down leather.

Do I think I could fix the steering wheel cleaner you linked to with just a water-based cleaner and a sponge? Of course not, and I never said I could. I would tell the customer two things: use the ME once and only once, or get a redye. The only time I'd recommend using the ME is when you have a severely damaged leather product that is steps away from needing a redye.

When you say you didn't see any Fox Red dye on your eraser, well no joke. Our seats have a top coat just like how our exterior paint has a clear top coat to protect the base coat (in the case of leather, dye). A gentle enough brush like the Swissvax Leather Brush will not abrade the top coat enough to cause damage unless you apply tremendous pressure. It will however exfoliate the leather's pores with GENTLE agitation. A sponge isn't capable of proper exfoliation, which is why your use of Leather Master failed. Don't blame the product for your failure to use it properly.

In typical you fashion you'll fight to the death over an opinion you have, no matter what kind of evidence you're faced with. When you bolded the "calling ME sandpaper" part of your response, you couldn't be any more incorrect. ME is the equivalent of 1500 grit sandpaper in my experience, and the "very fine sandpaper" description is on Melanine Foam's Wikipedia page and any other legitimate site that talks about it.
This is good further evidence of your claims. Perhaps very regular or repeated use of this product is not a good idea. I'm not about fighting to the death when presented with clear factual evidence. Much as it seems you are trying to do, I am about facts, evidence and helping people understand things better.

I'm curious about this idea of a "top coat" on leather. It does seem plausible that the Magic Eraser has removed some top coat. What is the top coat, is it leather, is it a layer of leather impregnated with conditioner, is it something else?

What has been particularly disappointing to me in regards to the Leather Master product is that it was supplied with specific sponges also referenced by the instructions on the bottle. A "product" is often a combination of products and in this case it seems the only successful (and sustainable) removal of this shiny leather phenomena is both a gentle water based leather approved cleaner PLUS a very specific brush. In other word my blaming of product is absolutely fair and justified. If the kit as sold doesn't work without a special brush that should be amply noted with the product.

The next time I have this build up I will hapily, as per your advice, try the Swissvax Leather Brush plus Leather Master cleaner and report back.

Based on your advice I am also going to modify my post title as I certainly don't want to be guilty of contributing to folks damaging their leather.

Cheers.
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      05-25-2010, 10:20 AM   #11
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I'm glad you see that I'm trying to help here. I don't want you or anyone else to ruin their leather. The top coat is like the "clear coat" found on your car's exterior paint. Its job is to protect the colored layer of your leather, known as the dye. The top coat is, depending on the leather type, made of polyurethane and needs to be treated with water-based, not oil based cleaners. Our leather is aniline, and there's a decent amount of info on the web regarding its construction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
This is good further evidence of your claims. Perhaps very regular or repeated use of this product is not a good idea. I'm not about fighting to the death when presented with clear factual evidence. Much as it seems you are trying to do, I am about facts, evidence and helping people understand things better.

I'm curious about this idea of a "top coat" on leather. It does seem plausible that the Magic Eraser has removed some top coat. What is the top coat, is it leather, is it a layer of leather impregnated with conditioner, is it something else?

What has been particularly disappointing to me in regards to the Leather Master product is that it was supplied with specific sponges also referenced by the instructions on the bottle. A "product" is often a combination of products and in this case it seems the only successful (and sustainable) removal of this shiny leather phenomena is both a gentle water based leather approved cleaner PLUS a very specific brush. In other word my blaming of product is absolutely fair and justified. If the kit as sold doesn't work without a special brush that should be amply noted with the product.

The next time I have this build up I will hapily, as per your advice, try the Swissvax Leather Brush plus Leather Master cleaner and report back.

Based on your advice I am also going to modify my post title as I certainly don't want to be guilty of contributing to folks damaging their leather.

Cheers.
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      05-26-2010, 01:59 PM   #12
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According to wikipedia ...

Quote:
In reality, aniline is a clear and transparent chemical that allows the grain structure of the leather to be seen. It has nothing to do with protecting leather from damage or hiding it.

A full aniline dye is one method of tanning to achieve a desired, natural looking hide or leather. Semi-aniline utilizes aniline and other chemicals to get different looking finishes. A very appropriate analogy is the difference between a semi-gloss and satin paint finish. Neither is better or higher quality than the other. Different chemicals are used to achieve different finishes.
But now I'm curious. Where did you find information that confirms that Novillo leather is aniline. I cannot find out much on the Internet about "Novillo" leather.
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      05-27-2010, 05:01 AM   #13
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According to wikipedia ...



But now I'm curious. Where did you find information that confirms that Novillo leather is aniline. I cannot find out much on the Internet about "Novillo" leather.
I think it is a process of elimination more than anything. Names like Novillo are pretty much meaningless brands names chosen somewhat arbitrarily by an OEM. Either way I am keen to learn more about how a Magic Eraser destroys the "clear coat" of leather. That is why I posted the question.
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      05-27-2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp2 View Post
I think it is a process of elimination more than anything. Names like Novillo are pretty much meaningless brands names chosen somewhat arbitrarily by an OEM. Either way I am keen to learn more about how a Magic Eraser destroys the "clear coat" of leather. That is why I posted the question.
You could keep using it then report back to all of us if it kills your leather. Doesn't an eraser, e.g. a pencil eraser, actually work by abrading away the top layer of things. Of course, just because it is name "Magic Eraser" doesn't mean it works this way, but if it does then it's an appropriate name.


Cheers.
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      05-27-2010, 02:31 PM   #15
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melamine foam

Below is from Wikipedia

In the early 21st century it was discovered that melamine foam was an effective abrasive cleaner. The open cell foam is microporous and its polymeric substance is extremely hard, so that when used for cleaning it works like extremely fine sandpaper, getting into tiny grooves and pits in the object being cleaned. On a larger scale the material feels soft. Because the bubbles interconnect, its structure is more like a maze of fibreglass strands than like the array of separate bubbles in, for example, styrofoam.

Rubbing with slightly moistened foam may remove otherwise "uncleanable" external markings from surfaces. For example, it can remove crayon, magic marker, and grease from painted walls, wood finishings, plastic-adhering paints from treated wooden tables, adhesive residue, and grime from hub caps[citation needed]. The surface being cleaned may be finely scratched if not hard. The foam wears away, rather like a pencil eraser, and leaves a slight residue behind which can be rinsed away.

Melamine foam for cleaning uses is supplied by several companies under brand names such as:

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
3M Scotch Brite Easy Erasing Pad
Nano Sponge
Coralite Ultimate Sponge
a generic "dirt eraser"
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      05-28-2010, 04:12 PM   #16
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Below is from Wikipedia
Indeed I read that before.

The key difference is in both hardness and macroscopic feel.

Sandpaper is sand or even harder carbide. The melamine is basically plastic. Sure the microstructure makes the cells stronger but it is plastic. That is a far cry from sand or carbide.

Also significant is the feel to your hand at the macroscopic level. The Eraser feels softs. Heck if it felt anything like sandpaper I don't think anyone in their right mind would use it on nice soft leather.

I am confident much of the "magic" of this product is simply as a cleaner - its ability to get at the contaminants on a microscale, lift AND most importantly TRAP them.

I think we all more or less agree here. The product can work wonders on badly soiled, greasy or shiny leather. It is slightly abrasive and should be used gently. It also should not be part of a regular cleaning or detailing program.

As an aside I am still unclear and interested in what exactly gets removed and damaged in a typical automotive leather product by extreme abrasion. Is there really something on the leather in analogous to a clear coat on paint?
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      05-29-2010, 10:25 AM   #17
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i use magic eraser only on stubborn stains /spots, and fallow with a conditioner.
if you magic your seats u better save for new a pair or dye.
is just my opinion
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      05-29-2010, 01:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
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As an aside I am still unclear and interested in what exactly gets removed and damaged in a typical automotive leather product by extreme abrasion. Is there really something on the leather in analogous to a clear coat on paint?
I don't want to get into the ME discussion, but I can provide some info on this point.

Most automotive leathers (regardless of marketing name) are "coated" or "protected." What this means is that after the leather is tanned and dyed for color the surface is coated with a protective chemical. This is analogous to the clearcoat on modern paints. The formula of the coating can be changed in order to alter the sheen of the finished leather (from matte to glossy) much in the same way that the formula of paint clearcoat can be altered to change the surface finish.

The benefit of this process is that it makes the leather resistant to water and dirt build-up. In a quality leather the material still feels soft to the touch and has the high-quality look, feel, and smell that we've all come to expect.

Trying to figure out if a leather is coated/protected or not?? Put a drop of water on the surface (use a hidden spot) and see what happens. If the leather is coated then the drop will just sit there and eventually evaporate (I'd recommend wiping it off after your curiosity is satisfied). If the leather isn't coated then the water will very quickly absorb into the leather (and ultimately stain it).

Almost all automotive leathers in use today are coated. The exceptions are the ultra high end (Rolls, Bentley, etc) and, oddly, the Ford King Ranch Edition trucks.

Coated leathers can be cleaned using any number of products including a mild all purpose cleaner (like 1Z Blitz). I've gotten excellent results cleaning leathers using Blitz or 1Z Plastik deep clean. After cleaning I follow with a conditioner that is designed for coated leathers. This isn't a typical hide food style conditioner (as you aren't doing anything to the leather itself) rather it's a protectant for the coating on the leather.... much in the same way that wax protects your paint's clearcoat. Most good leather conditioners are designed to provide this protection without making the surface glossy. I typically use 1Z Leather Conditioner and find it works great on my BMWs.

Over time leather is getting shiny from the oils and contaminates from your body and clothing getting stuck to the leather surface. Although most conditioners have some cleaning properties often they aren't strong enough. That's why a gentle APC works wonders.

As for the ME... I don't doubt its effectiveness, but it is an abrasive. It may not feel that way to the touch, but at a microscopic level it does break down the coating on the leather. Look at it this way.... Meguiar's M105 Ultra Cut Compound doesn't feel rough to the touch, but use it too much on your paint and you won't have any clearcoat left.
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      01-28-2013, 05:33 PM   #19
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Very interesting post...I've used ME on a lot of my leather shoes with great results. I've never had the dye/color removed during the process.
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      01-28-2013, 06:01 PM   #20
Thebigbus
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Well, for myself, I researched the heck out of this topic over on the autopia forums in order to try and restore the steering wheel on my newly purchased '09 M3 with a sticky/tacky and shiny steering wheel.

I used a combination of steam towel, soapy warm water and a toothbrush with MANY passes, which worked wonders. Then followed it up with Leather Master Foam cleaner (foam version of their "Strong Cleaner"). The results have been great, but there is still a bit of a "sticky" feel after my hands have been on the wheel for a bit...I'm thinking some of the urethane coating has come off...? But I'm not getting color transfer, so who knows...may just need a few more passes.

I'm going to put some Leather Master protection cream on and see if that helps.

But all in all, I can say you can get great success with warm soapy water, a toothbrush, and patience, and the Leather Master stuff is great as well!

I think we all forget that our leather is coated, and most of these leather conditioners on the market are just putting oils onto the coating, which is not the ideal solution. We need water-based cleaners and even "conditioners" (LM Protection Cream is supposed to be great).
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      01-28-2013, 06:24 PM   #21
Z K
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I would not use an Magic Eraser on the leather. That stuff is abrasive and will scratch the crap out of the exterior paint let alone something soft and delicate like leather.
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      01-28-2013, 06:29 PM   #22
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Its amazing how well leather perks up with heat and moisture..cleaning and conditioning it often is the way to keep it from cracking and getting shiny.
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