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From TOGWT on Rennlist:


Water Ingress Damaged Surfaces - by inadvertently leaving a moon roof, convertible top or vehicles windows open during a rain storm will very likely soak the leather seating and perhaps the carpets. The damage would depend on how long it's exposed to water, restoration is important because it may become a breeding ground for mould and mildew. Left for a couple of weeks your whole interior would probably have to be replaced.

There are no leather finishes that are water proof. Leather hides used for automotive upholstery consist of approximately 45 square feet, that are stitched together to form a covering. The thousands of stitch holes allow any standing water to be absorbed and migrate laterally under the urethane finish. The perforated leathers used on many BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and other cars also allow standing water to permeate the urethane.

Leather that has been soaked may become brittle and may be ruined due to the formation of water mark stains and blemishes. Water damage restoration for leather is very manageable using the correct products and methodologies. When leather becomes soaked or wet, the best way to dry it is to use clean, dry towels to wipe away the water. Never dry leather using a heater as this will cause the leather to shrink rapidly, causing further drying and cracking.

Finished leather (urethane pigmentation) is water resistant, which means if you spill or allow liquid onto the surface and clean it right away it should not cause problems. Damage to the electronics that are under the seats (seat-belt sensor, seat positioning motor, air bag sensors, and etc) may be a cause for concern.
Obviously the amount of damage could be lessened dependent upon how quickly action was taken. If you saw it immediately, and got it home quickly and dried it out using towels to soak up the rain water, most things would be okay.


Avoid flexing or bending the leather while you are restoring it because leather is weakened when the fibres are dry and it may crack.

Wet a towel with warm water, wringing out excess. Proceed to wipe the leather to remove any dirt and moisten the surface. If you are working on a large item, do one section at a time so you can apply Leather Master™ Soft Touch, while the surface is still moist. This is not a conditioner per se; it contains polymers in an aqueous emulsion and is used to improve and maintain the tactile feel and lustre by rehydration and to ensure the leather remains matte, soft and supple.

Apply a small amount to a clean, damp 100% cotton micro fibre towel, use a circular motion and slight pressure to ensure the product permeates the dried-out pores, but do not push hard enough to damage the leather. Allow 20-30 minutes’ dwell time; unless the damage is severe, it should soften up after you massage it for a few minutes and then wipe surface with a dry 100% cotton micro fibre towel.

Although water (hydration) is good for leather and is what keeps it in good condition generally when its fibres become over soaked they swell and become deformed. When they dry they may not shrink back and revert to their original form and so become more brittle and distorted. Unfortunately, at this stage it may be impossible to rectify.

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