Today I thought I would compare and test 4 leather cleaning products that fall into two different categories: leather wipes vs leather cleaner/conditioners.
So I stopped by my local Walmart and picked up a few of these products (you can also find on Amazon) to see which one really did the best job.
I tested the following:
- Auto Drive Leather Wipes – 27 Count ($1.88 USD)
- Meguiar’s Gold Class Leather Wipes – 25 Count ($4.97)
- Armor All Leather Wipes – 30 Count ($5.84)
- Lexol Leather Cleaner – Product #1 – 16.9 oz ($5.97)
- Lexol Leather Conditioner – Product #2 – 16.9 oz ($5.97)
If you’ve used leather wipes in the past, you know that they are definitely convenient, but I was curious as to how they would compare to a slightly more premium leather care product like Lexol.
How I compared these products
I began by taping off sections of my truck’s leather console (that was pretty dirty to start with) followed by wiping each section with a different product.
I then let each product dry for about 10 minutes (which didn’t take long in the 90-degree heat).
As you can see below, I created four basic sections with painter’s tape to compare the cleaned surface with the dirty surface once the tape is peeled off.
The console was relatively dirty just from normal use and had a few tiny crumbs and residue.
Review: Meguiar’s Gold Class Leather Wipes
The Gold Class Rich Leather Wipes by Meguiar’s (available here on Amazon) I was most impressed with out of all the wipes I tested.
These provided the most conditioner when used compared to the other two, which I think cleaned the surface slightly better. If you have a dirtier surface to clean, I would probably go with these.
Review: Auto Drive Wipes and Armor All Leather Wipes
The Auto Drive wipes I wasn’t particularly impressed with, along with the Armor All wipes, and really couldn’t tell a difference. They mainly made things a bit shiner, with little cleaning or foaming action.
Based on my experience, it also usually takes quite a few wipes if you use them on your car’s entire interior.
The Auto Drive Wipes performed maybe a tad worse than the Armor All wipes but also were the cheapest I could find at less than 2 bucks.
The downside of leather cleaning wipes
One downside to using wipes I found was the fact that they do leave a slightly greasy appearance on the surface of the leather.
While the pictures don’t do it justice, you can definitely tell a difference in the wipes vs. the cleaner.
While I missed a few spots in the Lexol section, I thought this liquid product cleaned better, as well as helped condition the leather to its original finish.
Based on my experience, wipes can also make your seats and steering wheel rather slippery as well, due to the protectant that is used in these.
Some have said wipes can also accelerate cracking (especially on the dash), which I can’t deny or dispute based on my experience.
Armor All makes a protectant-only interior wipe, which I wouldn’t recommend using on leather. It’s mainly designed for protecting vinyl dashboards and trim.
My favorite: Lexol cleaner and conditioner
Overall, if you are just looking to restore your leather to its natural non-shiny state, I would go with Lexol (that many pros use) or another similar premium product.
You can find the Lexol cleaner and condition combo here on Amazon for around $20, and for my 2010 Silverado, I can honestly say it has been the key to maintaining my interior for the last several years.
If you are looking for a high gloss appearance, the wipes do achieve that, it’s just not what I prefer personally.
Should you ever use leather wipes?
I do think that the wipes have a place if you’re not a car enthusiast and are just looking for convenience.
It is a bit easier and more convenient to clean leather door panels or other hard-to-reach areas with wipes if you are in a hurry.
The greasy appearance isn’t quite as noticeable after a couple of days, which is nice, but they’re not designed for premium auto detailing anyway.
If you spill something on a leather seat, it’s also nice to have leather wipes on hand. I’ve used the Armor All and Meguiar’s wipes for that only that purpose in the past.
For non-detailers, it really comes down to personal preference and the quality of leather you are dealing with.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend leather wipes for high-end Italian leather or anything else exotic, but for most vehicles they’re fine.
Overall, when comparing the leather wipes to the dedicated leather cleaner and conditioner by Lexol, I definitely prefer using a cleaner and conditioner more often.
Especially when cleaning really dirty surfaces, it’s nice to be able to use more product and apply it liberally, instead of going through a bunch of wipes.
Using a microfiber towel also helps, since these are designed to actually lift substances off of a surface (like paint or leather).
But again, it’s nice to keep a container of leather cleaning wipes in the car when traveling. After all, spills do happen.
To learn a few more tips and techniques that the professionals use, check out my post 17 Interior Detailing Tips the Pros Keep a Secret.