Before the roadtrip begins
Before you pack the car for the big trip, itís a good idea to clean and protect the seats. 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. You should also pack an absorbent towel or two in addition to one or two rolls of paper towels.
Once on the road
1) Food or drink stain:
Donít 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 isnít going to hurt as long as you clean it up quickly, before it soaks through.
Donít 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 coating on your leather.
Do use a soft sponge and specialized leather cleaner. Buy it at most leather furniture retailers.
3) Nail polish:
Donít use nail polish remover because it will take all of the color out of your leather and leave a bleached spot bigger than the nail polish spot.
Do, once again, use a soft sponge and leather cleaner. However you will most likely have to call a professional for help to get rid of this stain.
4) Animal scratches and picks:
Donít touch up the spots with shoe polish or markers because it makes an ugly, sticky mess.
Do try to reduce the visibility of the problem by snipping off the cotton interior strands that often get pulled out when leather gets picked. Do use a hair dryer and massage minor scratches with leather cleaner to try to rub it out. Call a professional to fix larger scratches and holes - this is not a DIY kind of job.
Once you get home, itís a good idea to clean out the car, especially if you have been at the beach. Use the leather cleaner mentioned above on the seats. In most cases, a good vacuuming will remove the sand and salt. If sea water found its way into the car and really soaked the carpet, it might be wise to get the carpets washed as well.