- Vacuum with narrow nozzle
- Stiff toothbrush
- Several towels or Microfiber Cloths
- Vinyl or Leather Cleaner
- Prima Nourish Leather Treatment
- Prima Nero Vinyl Treatment or Aerospace 303
Most classic Minis have vinyl seat covers. On occasion, there were cloth but the overwhelming majority were vinyl. The later Rover minis had options for a half or full leather seat. Vinyl and leather are both great materials that resist wear and fading very well however, they still need care and attention. This cleaning guide is for Vinyl and Leather seats only.
The most common problem leading to ratty looking seats is a combination of material stiffening due to age and stitching degradation. We can prevent both by following the steps outlined below. Stiffening is caused by a lack of treatment and stitching failure is usually caused by dirt getting wedged in-between the seams. Dirt particles are like tiny razor blades that slowly work at cutting through the stitches and material. Every time you sit in the seat the seams stretch and the dirt slips further into the seams.
Expansion and contraction of the material due to temperature changes also lets dirt creep slowly into the seams.
The process for cleaning vinyl and leather seats are similar, however, the products to treat them are different.
Note: Before cleaning and treating your seats, be sure to test the cleaners and treatments on an inconspicuous area of the seat to ensure that no damage will occur to your seat material. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations when using these products.
First step is to use a vacuum with a brush attachment to remove the lose dirt, coins, etc...
Next, using a stiff old (or new) toothbrush, brush along the stitching and seams to loosen dirt that has settled in. Brush from top to bottom and front to back of the seat area, this keeps the cleaner areas of the seat clean. Try to spread the seams by leaning or pulling on the material. Be sure to have the vacuum at hand to suck out the dirt.
Chemical Cleaning Stage:
This is the most tedious and time consuming stage. It requires a clean stiff toothbrush and microfiber towels.
Use of any proprietary vinyl cleaner will work here. Diluted simple green or dish soap also works. Check in a hidden spot to ensure that it doesn't harm the color.
Use of any PH balanced leather cleaner will do. The key being PH balanced. Follow the instructions on the product label.
Again, starting at the top or cleaner areas of the seats, apply material to the toothbrush and scrub in circular motions in a 4" square area. Wipe away cleaner after a few minutes. It will be obvious where you have cleaned if the seats are dirty, try to move slowly and along straight lines when cleaning to ensure you do every section of the seats evenly.
If this is the first time cleaning your seats, I would do it twice before applying the treatment.
It can be a tiring process scrubbing your seats with a toothbrush. Focus on doing only one seat and, if you are limited in time, focus on doing only one section at a time. Spreading the work out over a couple of weekends will make it more enjoyable, produce better results, and will be less tiring.
Apply the conditioner:
For Vinyl seats use either Aerospace 303 or Prima Nero
For Leather seats use Prima Nourish
Apply product to microfiber cloth and rub into seats. Leather can get quite dry and the first time you treat your seats it may take several treatments before the seats stop absorbing the conditioner. Massaging the leather treatment into the leather can enhance product absorption.
Once you go through this process the seats will look great and will take less time to clean in the future. At this point, just a basic cleaning with the vacuum and light brushing with the toothbrush is all that is needed to keep your seats clean.
Recommend treating leather seats with conditioner twice a year (once before winter and once before summer) but use the cleaner four times a year. Leather seats have open pores, like our skin, and will absorb dirt and chemicals hence the need for more cleaning then treating. Vinyl only needs a good cleaning once a year due to it's hard surface but might need more depending on use.
Enjoy your clean seats!