Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Car Care: Choices in Upholstery

The upholstery of most modern cars is made of vinyl, flannel, fabric or leather. The term "vinyl" strictly means a type of plastic material made by a chemical process called polymerisation.

Luxury cars often come with leather interiors which exude sheer comfort and extravagance. In terms of comfort, leather ranks the highest as it is similar to human skin.

Regular cleaning and conditioning are important in keeping upholstery looking new. Both flannel and fabric upholstery collect dirt easily. Vacuum cleaning is required for flannel seats, and fabric seat covers have to be removed for regular
washing. For vinyl seats, wiping with a cleaner is recommended. Generally, leather upholstery only needs wiping with a damp cloth but specially-formulated cleaners are also available.

However, please note that a cleaner specially formulated for leather will also normally work on vinyl but not necessarily the other way round. This is because many cleaners made for vinyl have an alkaline content which works against leather. A leather cleaner contains oils and lubricants which are designed to soak into the grain of the leather thus keeping it supple.

Vinyl is impermeable; therefore, stains usually will not be absorbed into the material. However, when vinyl loses its elasticity and becomes stiff, a vinyl conditioner cannot readily soak into the material to revive it as can be done in the case of leather. When vinyl dries out to the point of cracking, it is time to think about re-upholstering. If it is necessary to repair cracks, tears and holes in vinyl upholstery, vinyl repair kits are available that are simple to use.

Leather is permeable and with regular use of leather conditioners, it is possible to use a car's leather upholstery for decades. Some vintage cars are proof of this. Many stains on leather can be removed with a good leather cleaner. On more stubborn ones, a mild degreaser can be used but first make sure that the type of degreaser you are using will not discolour the leather too much. Apply it on some unseen part of the upholstery first. Tears and holes in leather upholstery cannot be fixed as easily as in vinyl but leather is much more durable. Seek professional help in complicated cases. Leather upholstery also increases the value of your car, and will not discolour even under ultra-violet lights.

Many suggestions can be made on how to keep your car's upholstery clean. For a start, both adults and children should not eat in the car. Smoking is also taboo. Cigarette butts have been known to cause many holes (and accidents as well) in the upholstery of cars and once the smell of cigarettes permeates the car seats, it is difficult to get rid of. Flannel is particularly susceptible to unpleasant smell.

Drink only plain water inside the car, which if spilled, will not stain the upholstery. Unless absolutely necessary, pets should not be in the rear seats of cars. Get a station wagon or remove the back seats to transport any pets.

Use seat covers when the car is sent to the workshop or any place where there is a possibility of greasy mechanics entering the car. Some workshops have seat covers but they might not have been washed for some time.

In this country, mechanics with greasy hands and feet may have no qualms driving your car without first cleaning themselves. They do not wear overalls and once they sit in the car, you may have to spend the weekend cleaning up the stains. Try to educate such mechanics on not to dirty the upholstery of your car.

Lastly, try keep your upholstery out of direct sunlight. One way is, of course, to avoid parking your car in an open area. If this is not possible, use a sun-shield.


Heat Dissipation
Temperature drops to 29 degrees Centigrade.

Similar to human skin. Touch is organic and natural.

Clean and Refreshing Feeling
Breathes through its trichopores and does not collect dust. lt provides
a clean and comfortable ride.
0nly wiping with a damp cloth is required

Heat Dissipation
Temperature drops to 42 degrees Centigrade

Prohibits body movement and gives rise to a feeling of restriction and being tied up

Clean and Refreshing Feeling
Collects dirt and holds moisture. Tendency for bacteria breeding, producing on
unpleasant smell


Vacuum cleaning required, impossible to be completely rid of any unpleasant
smell and bacteria


Heat Dissipation
Temperature drops to 45 degrees Centigrade

Stick to your back! Does not provide comfort at all

Clean and Refreshing Feeling
Does not breathe well at all. Smell of vinyl.

Wiping with damp cloth and mild detergent required.

Heat Dissipation
2 layer covers: Temperature drops to 45 degrees Centigrade
1 layer cover: Temperature drops to 43 degrees Centigrade

With the fabrics rubbing against each other, you simply connot move.

Clean and Refreshing Feeling
Collects dust easily. Very difficuh to keep clean.


Removal for washing or replacement with new set.


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