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Blue Jean transfer and Leatherique

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If you have light colored leather seats you will sooner or later get blue jean color transfer, sometimes called crocking. Crocking is where the dye in pants will abrade into the top coat layer of the leather.  Leatherique Prestine Clean can help greatly in cleaning up this crocking!

Here at Reflections Detailing of Utah I have a few maintenance accounts that have this concern often during the year.  Often unknowing detailers or the owner will attempt to remove these unsightly dye transfers with chemical processes that are quite harsh for leather, or they will try abrasive means like “magic eraser” or good ole elbow grease.  Some others will use heat and/or try to steam out the dye.  All of these as your first attempt are much too aggressive, and in fact they are likely a means of setting the dye into the hide.

Leatherique Prestine clean is a great product for cleaning the Urethane coating on these type of leathers.  About 90% of all automotive leathers are Urethane coate, some times called top coated leather.  If you are unsure a simple scratch test will help.  Take your finger nail and gently, notice I said gently scape the hide. Ifthe hide changes color then it’s likely NOT top coated.  Urethane coated leathers have a slight to very “plastic” feel to them.  Prestine Clean will work fine on all leathers, coated or not.

Spray the Leatherique Prestine Clean, you can also wipe on, but I get better coverage and seem to use less when I spray the product.  Allow it to dwell.  The amount of dwell time will depend upon temp and the amount of cleaning you need done.  I let it dwell while I do the windows….

Wipe gently and the dye should come off. If the dye remains try more dwell time, and even some slight agitation with a super soft bristle brush will help.   I like to use the Tuf Shine tire brush, just make sure its super clean before you use on leather, or better yet dedicate a Tuf Shine tire brush for your leather care!

Apply a water based product on the top coated Urethane and you are now protected.  The sacrificial layer of say 303 Aerospace protectant acts much like a wax for the paint, it will come off in time, but provide some insurance.

So winter time is a great time to clean off all the summer grime, and protect the leather for the coming winter.

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Greg Nichols Reflections Detailing
Greg Nichols
Reflections Detailing
Logan, Utah
Reflections-Detailing.com

58 comments on Blue Jean transfer and Leatherique

  1. Great advice Greg…Leatherique Prestine Clean is always my initial go-to product for taking care of dye transfer. If the dye has penetrated too deep, then I’ll step up to the complete Leatherique system.

  2. Zack says:

    Would the same process work on synthetic leather, like BMW’s leatherette?

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      In my article that is the leather in an X3 BMW. This leatherette you speak of is Urethane coated leather, some call it top coated or protected leather. It will work.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  3. Leatherique Romania says:

    Great article, Greg. 2 weeks ago I’ve cleaned a MB G500’s seats with Leatherique system, it has a dye transfer. But, from my experience, if the dye transfer is to old, like 6 months or more, it can’t be cleaned.

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      Timing is key to removal. I’ve had some luck with SET in crocking with another product that adds in the solvents to the dye making it a fluid again, and have been testing that over the past few months.

      Once the dyes solvents/carriers are evaporated its very difficult to remove.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  4. Mike Cardenas says:

    Leatherique is such a great product on so many levels, and this is a great example of one of its many uses. I too have run into crocking that has been on there way too long, and Greg is right on the money with his suggestions.

  5. Sal Catalfamo says:

    Great timing on this article as my mother’s IS 250 has this issue. I’ve used a very diluted solution of Meguiar’s All-Purpose and a soft toothbrush before which works, but I prefer something that’s less harsh and made specifically for leather.

    Thanks for posting!

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      Sal,

      Some APCs will “set” the dye crocking making it MUCH more difficult to remove. If that happens with you, sometimes allowing the PC to dwell for extended time will help. If that doesn’t work, try the RO of leatherique and allow to dwell for a few hours. The dye has to become “fluid” again to be removed.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  6. Ronnie Neff says:

    Will this product work on a faux leather? I recently worked with a busy restaurant – and we used a
    commercial grade faux leather on the seats… The blue jean dye from the patrons is transferring to
    the chairs and booths..

    Regards,

    Ronnie Neff

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Ronnie,

      Faux leather you mean like Naugahide? It won’t hurt to try, but I’ve never tested it myself. Give it a try and report back!

      Cheers,
      GREG

  7. Tim says:

    Great tip. Thanks Greg. I always appreciate your detailing insight.

  8. Mark M Detail says:

    Great article very useful.

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Mark,

      Thanks for the feedback. The authors always wonder if the articles are useful, they just get published and we don’t know the extent of their benefit most of the time.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  9. Ray Scott says:

    I have an X#3 on order with leatherette. I will definitely be ordering this product. How does it work on coffee stains left over time. I tried some normal leather cleaners on a customers MB but nothing touched it. Thanks and Merry Xmas.

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Ray,

      I have no idea about coffee stains, let it dwell and see you might have to use rejuvenator and allow it to dwell. I wish you the best stains are just that some times.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  10. Brett says:

    Sorta-related, but I’m on my second bottle of Prestine Clean, and this bottle seems to have a diesel/oily smell to it, did they change the formula in the last year? It seems to clean and do everything else fine, but the smell is a bit off-putting.

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Brett,

      I can’t say I can relate to that diesel smell you speak of? Todd do you know of anything like that?

      Cheers,
      GREG

  11. Andrew says:

    I have really light beige leather in my 09 Subaru Legacy. Been using Wolfgang cleaner and conditioner for the better part of a year and my seats are progressively getting darker. The cleaner just doesn’t have the bite to get the leather/vinyl seats clean. It is very rare I can find the time to use something like the complete Leatherique system. Would I see good results by using just the Pristine clean as my new cleaner and keep with the Wolfgang conditioner? Thank you for your time.

  12. Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

    Andrew,

    I’ve never used the wolfgang stuff, so its hard for me to recommend.
    It sounds like its not getting clean? Do this experiment in a hard to see location: Use a white cloth and some woolite mixed 1:10 and see if that cleans better than wolfgangs, rinse the area with another clean towel to remove any residue. You can also try a diluted APC say 1:10 or 1:20, rinse well to remove any residue. These methods are a bit more harsh but will give you (me) and idea of how dirty they are.

    I would use the prestine clean as your cleaner, allow it to dwell and agitate with a soft brush (the tuf shine brush works on coated/protected leather). You can skip the harsher methods mentioned and just use prestine, but at times you will need to do extra applications, if they have heavy bonded grime.

    Cheers,
    GREG

  13. Andrew says:

    I didn’t have any woolite, only some Tide. I tried it anyway, diluted 10:1. It hardly did anything to clean up the seat on my test spot. It lightened one stain streak but didn’t really lighten the overall area. Searching the seat I could find a few areas where sections of the seat come together, where your body doesn’t quite touch. These areas really told my how filthy the seats are. Tried taking a few pictures but all I have is a camera phone. I’d have to say most of the seat has almost “grayed” compared to the original whitish beige. Overall the seat mimicks the above picture of the jean stain (lighter and over most of the seat though). Is the full Leatherique treatment probably my only option?

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      You are a go’er Andrew!

      You can just prestine without having to do the “whole” process. I would order some up, if you don’t like it I’ll buy the remaining from you.

      the more you talk of this darkening it very well might be dye transfer.

      cheers,
      GREG

  14. Andrew says:

    I’ll have to order some up. Thanks a bunch for the speedy responses! Out of work for a bit due to injury, staring at the filthy car is driving me nuts!

    Thanks,

    Andrew

  15. John Marshall says:

    I just purchased a 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan with light colored leatherette interior. I payed the extra money to have the interior and exterior coated with poly shield ($500 bucks) and now all I got is blue dye transfer from both my and my wife’s jeans. My jeans have been washed a hundred times and are still transferring color. The dealer has been helpful to a degree, saying just bring it back and we will be happy to clean if for you, no charge. Had them clean it last Thursday and it’s already back to blue. Maddening at best. Keep in mind this car has less than 8,000 miles on it. I think what ever I paid extra for was a bunch of nothing. Any thoughts on this matter will be greatly appriciated

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      John,

      sorry to hear about the frustration, I would venture to say part of that is because of your 500$ investment that you thought would stop the problem. I have NEVER seen a dealership add-on be worth it for paint protection or interior protection.

      I would not have them clean it unless you fully understand HOW they will clean it, they could do more harm than good. A lot of dealership just spray on harsh degreasers and wipe it off, sure it comes off, but weakens the top coating of the leather. Did it turn blue because someone got in the car and re cocked the seats, or dealership never got it truly clean?

      Even when I clean with Leatherique it will come back if blue jeans keep transferring the dye (crocking), BUT leatherique will NOT weaken the seats with its cleaning. Like your paint, your seats need a protective layer that sacrifices its self for the cause, Leathermaster makes a product that is a protection cream that will do just that, it works very well. leatheriques prestine clean leaves some protection but I find LM protection cream more durable.

      Solution: put in a seat cover, sit on a white towel, don’t allow new jeans into the car, or if you’ve had it and can’t take it anymore….drive naked :)

      Hope that helps?
      Cheers,
      GREG

    • jeffrey lowe says:

      Hi: I’m jeff and have been in the automotive trade since 1972.Poly shield is a after market insurance company that the dealership sells and makes a big profit from.So you are buying a insurance policy that if anything goes wrong inside/outside you car ,poly shield will repair it.1)you have to read ploicy to see how it states conditions;but on the same token it was probly told to you that if any thing goes wrong it would be covered;and with that in mine it would be repaired per factory procedures.Body/Paint repair is very percice to what brand of paint,how it is applied,prep work prior to paint,Rust coating on “inside of” Fender panels,doors,exct… As VW has a factory rust warranty for (not sure how long ,check you warranty book) but something like 7 years!! Which reguires you to have it inspected at given times.3)Your seats, if it has a defective seat cushion under factory warranty ,they would replace seat cushion,and or seat cushion & seat back..I think the way poly shield iworks as all after market warrantys do is that their coverage starts after the factory warranty stops.So your 1st recourse is that you contact dealer,problem with seats and because of its uph. problem they contact VW of america to get authation to order seat parts and install them.You can also request to speak to the factory rep.(service mrg.) they would set up apt and meet you at dealer and inspect car.I have never heard of this crocking before with car seats,Nor does it list in dooes & don’ts you cannot wear bule jeans.In the furture(we no not to wear blue jeans’my self included) or coat the seats with protectent that works,Not waveing a wond over it for $ 500.00 Hope this is help full..Mabe reguest you $500.00 back jeff

  16. Pav says:

    Hi Greg,

    First of all thank you for a very helpful post. I just purchased a 2012 Volvo xc60 with cream colour leather interior, and already had jeans dye transfer after one week of usage.
    I am in the process of buying your recommendations to John’s post, Leatherique Pristine Clean and Leathermaster protection cream.
    I also found that Leathermaster has another product called, Stay Bright for Light Colours Kit, which contains their Leather & Vinyl Barrier product. They claim that it can prevent most dye stains and help in removing future dye stains.
    Can you provide us any feedback on that product?

    Kind Regards,
    Pav
    (Melbourne – Australia)

    P.S. Cannot thank you enough for sharing your knowledge and experience with the rest of us :)

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Pav,

      you went for the trifecta of high maintaince on a car; black paint, cream/white inteior, and blue jeans! I’ve not used the stay bright for light colours kit, sounds interesting. My question is what does the “kit” contain that they don’t all ready sell individually? I did some quick research and don’t see they sell what is in the kit individually. Which makes me wonder if they just relabel items in the kit something else when its really just something they sell individually under another name. When you run out of the kit supplies how can you restock? If I where you I would contact them and ask how you restock the kit items if you need to?

      Cheers,
      GREG

  17. Pav says:

    Used Leatherique Pristine Clean to remove dye transfer. Overall the product did a great job. Some dye still left upon close inspection, but have to look for it hard.
    Applied Leather Master Stay Bright for Light Colours Kit as protection on the front two seats.
    Used Leather Master Protection Cream on rear seats. Tested all products prior to use in inconspicuous area, all were safe.

    Will see progress over next few weeks and I will let you know on the performance of the light colour kit. I did find refills for the Leather & Vinyl Barrier product that came as part of the kit.

  18. Melissa says:

    Great info here! I just purchased a new Mini Cooper with white leather seats and am now afraid to wear jeans! In order to protect from die transfer do you suggest Leathermaster protection cream or 303 Aerospace Protectant? Thanks!

    • Greg Nichols Greg Nichols says:

      Melissa.

      Sorry for the delay in response.

      I would have to say I prefer Leathermaster PC a bit more for protection. If you have 303 already use it, it will be a good product. While both of these won’t prevent dye transfers, they will make it easier to clean up the transfer when it happens, much like a coat of wax/sealant will for your paint and a bird turd.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  19. Dale says:

    Hi Greg,
    My kid put a silicone based goopy substance on the VW Toureg black leather seat. Can you recommend any commercial product or any alternative procedures using household products(perhaps rubbing alcohol or vinegar, etc) to remove the shiny residual stain mark on the leather without discolouring it.

    Thanks

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      whatever you decided on trying needs to have a test spot in a inconspicuous spot. If you rub too hard, use a harsh cleaner you will remove the Urethane coating on the leather surface and expletives will be heard throughout the neighborhood! I would first try and wipe off as much as possible with a towel. As for home based cleaners……… I would try Woolite 10:1 water to product. Allow it to dwell and wipe with a damp rag, rinse often. Many of the other cleaners are too harsh in my experience……

      Cheers,
      GREG

  20. Larissa says:

    Do you have a product that will clean dye that is not on leather seats?

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      Larissa,

      Please contact me via email by going to my website reflections-detailing com I’ll discuss with you the details of your question and get a better idea on how we can help.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  21. Jeff says:

    Hi, I just bought a 2013 Jeep Cherokee Limited, and I upgraded the seats to the perforated Nappa leather seats. I have the light beige leather interior, so I am already worrying or trying to get ahead of dirt and or dye transfer. Do u recommend a conditioner on a brand new leather seat?, or something preventative? Or is it basically once a week or so use the pristine cleaner for maintenance?
    Thanks

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      @Jeff
      I really like Leathermasters protection cream, creates a nice barrier that if a transfer happens its sitting on top of the cream, not crocking down into the seats.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  22. Ron Morse says:

    Regarding “crocking” and blue jeans, I’ve found that running a new pair through the washer wotn no detergent but approximately 1/4 cup of white vinegar added to the liquid bleach dispenser or softener cup (doesn’t seem to matter) significantly reduces the tendency of the dye to transfer to the Ivory leather seats in my Audi. Doesn’t completely stop it, but Pristine Clean deals quickly and easily with what little crocking does occur.

  23. Nora says:

    Hi Greg,

    I have a 2012 Jetta TDI with cornsilk beige interior. I have had this issue with the blue dye. I’ve had my seats treated by two different auto places trying to take the dye out and putting “protectant” on my seats. The blue still came back. Is it safe to use the pristine clean still? Thanks!

    • Greg Nichols greg nichols says:

      Hello Nora!

      I hope the “blue” is only coming back from the jeans you keep wearing in the car. If the blue is coming back and thats not the case they (detailers) didn’t clean the seats properly. the protectant is to help offer some level of protection from the dye crocking deeply into the top coat. You can use Pristine still at this point, but may have to allow product to dwell a bit more and reapplication is likely. Pristine is not a wipe on walk away type treatment.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  24. Rob says:

    I was walking to my car( 09 tl ) when it was raining pretty hard so my hoodie was pretty wet. I drove home and when i got out noticed that the hoodies dye transffered to the leather seat. Tryed armorall leather cleaner and lexol and it did not remove it.

    the leather is umber/brown and the stain is black

    will leatherique work

    • Greg Nichols Greg says:

      hello Rob

      It should work fine, my only concern is that you used other products and they could interfer with cleaning. You may have to allow it to dwell longer and use a soft soft brush to agitate it.

      Let us know how it works.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  25. Rob says:

    would i need the rejuv oil to or just the prestine clean

  26. Rossy says:

    Hey guys, purses get the blue jeans color transfer also, and nothing seems to help to get rid of them other than re-dye the leather, so would this product work on leather purses with this kind of stains? (I had to ask!) Thanks!

  27. Sal Manzo says:

    I just got a 2009 BMW M5 with merino leather. I am guessing these seats are not coated, and prestine clean would work great on them?

  28. Petentyce says:

    Hey Greg, I’m glad I found this post. I just bought a used BMW 550 GT. When I got it home I noticed some yellow dis-coloring on the driver side head rest. I assume it’s either from lots of hair product or sweat. I also assume its been there a couple years since the car is a 2010. Will Pristine work on that or should I try something else?

    • Greg Nichols Greg says:

      Petentyce,

      You must have the light colored leather in that 550GT, I’ve got a lady client that likely has a similar leather and it get yellow “stains” on it. Its from her hand lotions, and I can’t get them to totally clean up, I think the lotion has dyed the leather. I’ve not have time to allow long dwell times to see if that would help.

      Cheers,
      GREG

  29. Ronald Huffman says:

    Can you “over” clean leather seats? I have a 2013 Volvo xc60 with the soft beige interior. I use the Pristine clean every couple weeks on my front seats to remove the blue jean dye transfer particularly on the outside edge where the jeans rub the seat when you get in and out. I follow up with the Leather master protection cream. Is it better to wait longer between cleanings and let a little more stain build up, or to clean often to reduce the time it has to sink in to the leather?

  30. mary says:

    I have dye transfer on a porous “very soft” cream leather jacket. What should I use to remove the dye without damaging the leather?

  31. Martha says:

    Hello Greg,

    So glad I found your site….

    I recently bought (has less than 3000 miles) a 2013 RAV4 with beige “leather” seats. I don’t think they are really leather because the Toyota refers to them as “Soft-tex”. I have jean dye transfer and have used a product called Mothers Leather Tech but it has done very little to remove or lighten the stains. Do you think the Pristine clean will work or am I “screwed”. Any help you provide will be greatly appreciated.

  32. Colton says:

    Hi there, I am experiencing a wear down to the base coat on the leather even though I just bought the car. I am trying my best to clean the leather every couple days with BMW leather cleaner, and using mothers conditioner, so that the dye transfer from wearing jeans doesn’t stick.
    I have wear from a manager wearing a watch on the door panel;
    then I have a little of my own wear I created in a small area while wiping the seat with a microfiber cloth.

    I would like to know what products I should use and how to apply them?

    I am wondering about touching up the leather with dye so it doesn’t show the marks and looks like nothing happened.

    I would like to know how to clean my leather properly and what cloth or brush I should use?

    What should I do about conditioning the leather?

    The leather is also drooping a bit from people sitting on it. How can i make it nice and tight again, looking like new?

    Is 303 a good protectant to use on seats after cleaning and conditioning?

    For reference, I have a 2013 BMW 328xi, with premium Dakota leather, Venito beige colored interior

    I am panicking that this wear is already apparent even though I clean the leather often. I am desperate to fix the small damage by using a Venito beige touch up dye if possible

    and here are some pictures.

    The areas effected are circled in red.

    http://s230.photobucket.com/user/ChaosTides/library/BMW?sort=3&page=1

    Thank you so much for your time!

  33. Lora says:

    Thanks so much for your informative information! This is by far the best source of info relating to Blue-Dye Transfer I’ve seen! I’ve been doing alot of research & would like to know if it’s necessary to use the Rejuvenator Oil prior to using the Leatherique Pristine Clean or will be the Pristine Clean be sufficient? Thanks for all your great advise!

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