Dry Seat Leather

The front seat leather on my 2004 vehicle is dry and hard. Two weeks of leather softener has made little difference. Is there anything else I can try?



What brand leather softener did you use?



Thanks for your response.

The firm is called Color Plus, Softener, Conditioner. They make the paint that I use to change the color of the leather.


Yes, that is good product, and the company used to be called Leatherique. Same product lineup, and for the most part, good stuff. I have tried them all, and their re-color material is excellent, but you have to really clean the leather before using. As to the softener; if your leather is like cardboard and is cracking, I don’t believe anything will work, One thing that might replenish the oils that are gone from the leather is Vaseline. Yep, the stuff in the jar. Rub plenty in, and if you can put the seats out in the hot sun, it works even bettte. Old product and is a favorite of miners with rough, dry, cracking skin.


I can only suggest to keep up with the treatments - it will take time but it should get better. I had an old Porsche I had to do the same on, it took months and to be honest was an ongoing process.

I do recall an episode of ‘Wheeler Dealers’ in which they had the same issue, took the seats out of the car and smeared leather feed all over, then wrapped the seats in plastic (trash bags?) and left them outside in the sun. Supposedly the heat opened up the leather pores and the closed environment forced the leather feed to get into the leather. Results were pronounced a success but we never really saw a closeup…

As far as I recall, Color Plus and Leatherique are two entirely different companies, but with similar product ranges.

Leather seats may have been treated with products that contain silicone, which does a great job of plugging the pores and making sure the leather dries out. The best way to accelerate a softening process is to remove the leather from the seats and treat from the rear side. The for the seat squabs this is easily done by removing the metal clips. For the seat back, more involved. This allows the oil to seep right in where it is needed though, rather than wait for months with fingers crossed.

Thanks for your email. I will give the Vaseline a try. Odd word, Vaseline. Wonder where it comes from ?


I also recall someone–Andrew Waugh?-- saying that to effectively soften leather on its painted side, you would clean it–never use water–lightly sand it with fine grit sandpaper, soften it with something like neat’s foot oil, then recolor it.

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Right, that is the good way, and if you don’t remove the finish you can’t reach the leather itself, but most people would not do this. Labor intensive and most will just buy the re-up holstery kits and pay someone to put them on.


Thanks for that. Interesting, Titusville is only a few miles from where I live in Pennsylvania, USA. From now on I will give it greater respect when I pass by on the interstate highway :slight_smile:


Recolor before you use any oils.Before you can recolor leather yo need to strip off all the old finish. Any oils or residue will prevent the color from penetrating or adhering to the leather. First wash thoroughly with soap and water. Sand with 400 to 600 grit paper than use recommended leather cleaners to remove old finish. .Some people use lacquer thine to strip off as much of the finish as possible. Next fill any crack with appropriate leather filler and repair any holes or tears Follow the color agent manufactures instructions for applying color. Once the seats are finished then treat with conditioners.
The_jagster is right, this is very labor intesive project.

Hello there,

I have used with great success beef foot oil to soften completely dried leathers such as motorcycle and bycicle leather seats, motorcycle clothing and boot, shoes which looked like cardboard at first.

Highly efficient, sometimes 2 or 3 coats are necessary. Apply with a soft brush, it is absorbed relatively quickly and works wonder. Note that it has a tendandancy to darken the color.

Here is an example https://equibotte.com/en/boutique/cleaning-product/huile-pied-de-boeuf-etalon-noir-saphir/

Other brands available on Amazon. Commnoly used on horses seats

One of our J/L members holds the Leatherique franchise in Canada. IIFC correctly, he can’t sell in the USA but I bet he could give you some straight answers and information, and point you in the right direction if you are in the USA. His name is Rob Laughton www.leatheriquecanada.com
SD Faircloth www.jaguarfuelinjectorservice.com

Hi folks,

Dave’s given me a nudge.

I don’t know everything about leather, and I haven’t tried every product out there, but after selling Leatherique for 14 years I’ve come to believe in a few things.

Luo, as Bertie says, I would continue soaking the leather. Very dry leather is slow to absorb, as it needs some moisture in it for the conditioner to move through. It’s like a dry chamois, when dry you can blast the hose right at it and it won’t absorb, but once wet it absorbs well.

As Nick says, the previous owner may have used products with wax or silicone in them. These clog the pores, and repel the very emollients you want absorbed. It’s like putting on rubber gloves, then trying to apply hand cream. If when you apply the Softener, it beads up like oil on water, you have found the problem. A quick wipe with isopropyl alcohol can remove the silicone. A quick wipe only, or you may dissolve colour.

Vaseline is a petroleum product which Leatherique believes is wrong, because with its lubricating qualities, it allows the fibres to separate, rather than bind. All the best leather conditioners are animal-fat based, and contain protein, collagen, elastin, fat and moisture; just what cattle have naturally. Watch out though, lots of products add wax or silicone as a water repellent intended for saddles and army boots. Beeswax is added to lanolin for saddle soap for example. For indoor use, this is discouraged.

Leatherique and Color Plus sell very similar products. I believe they were affiliated years ago.

I’ve never used a garbage bag on the seats, so I can’t comment, however I did have a customer try it and had the writing come off the bag onto the seat! So use a bag without writing.

Lou, let us know how it goes.



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I’m a big fan of Leatherique. More than 7 years ago I purchased a ‘package deal’ from them of biscuit color dye for my series 3 XJ6 along with prep, conditioner, and their ‘prestine clean’ cleaner. My center console lid between the two front seats was peeling on the back. Bought a replacement one at an auto wrecker yard. Seats came out great, but now the door panel color and console lid no longer matched the color on the front seats, so I ended up using Leatherique on the entire interior, including the front ‘parcel shelf’ , giving the interior more of a ‘Sovereign’ look to match the rear seat headrests I’d purchased from an out of state vendor. I’m more than pleased ith the result.

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