Cleaning & protecting Alcantara / Microsuede interior trim

 

What is Alcantara/Microsuede?

Alcantara, Ultrasuede and Microsuede are the brand names for a type of microfibre, made synthetically to replicate the soft, luxury look and feel of old, natural suedes and other cloth trims of decades gone. Used in many luxury and performance cars nowadays, it gives a lovely, sophisticated feel to many of these vehicles. As tough as it's been engineered however, you cannot use normal generic fabric cleaners on them, especially anything solvent based, as they can easily damage the material and lose the softness and texture that makes it look and feel so good.

 

Our compatible cleaner

Our Fabra Cadabra cleaner was created to be compatible for cleaning this delicate type of suede trims, a solvent free formula that is literally magic for cleaning marks off it. Still there are a few great tips and tricks to doing it right, which we'll share with you here. 
 
 

Safe techniques

Generally the areas that require cleaning have the material looking dull and the pile lying flat, held down by the grime and sweat that builds up when you drive. You'll most commonly find this on the steering wheel and the seats.   

The first step is to vaccum the entire fabric surface, to remove any dust, dirt and heavier particles. For effective cleaning, use the crevice tool held at a slight angle away from the suface. 

Now closely inspect the fabric, look for potential stains and other marks in it. You want to identify and remove these marks first, as you don't want to be rubbing any grime from them further into or across the material (called stain migration) while you're cleaning it. 

Work on small sections at a time, like a seat bolster, one side of the steering wheel etc, before moving on to cleaning the next section. You can do the entire fabric surface for the last two stages in this article (vacuuming and brushing).

Important steps for application

One of the most important things to remember is don't ever spray the Fabra Cadabra directly onto the fabric surface, as this can over-saturate and negatively affect the material. Here are our three best ways to clean the fabric, depending on what it's affected by. 

For Removing Stains & Heavier Grime.

If it's liquid or other bad stains, first apply a couple of sprays of Fabra Cadabra into a microfibre applicator pad like our Square Bear. Gently place on the mark and blot it, then pull the stain out using an action like you would be picking it up in the pad. Inspect the pad after each application and turn the pad to a clean side as soon as you see any grime appearing in it, as you don't want to keep transferring it back into the fabric. Apply 2 sprays of Fabra Cadabra to the other side of the pad and continue. 

After both sides of the pad are used, hand rinse in fresh water, doing your best to gently rub the grime out of it. Wring out as much water as you can, apply 2 sprays of Fabra Cadabra and continue, this time wiping the pad over the stain in one direction to remove what's left of it. Then wipe with the low pile side of a folded Plush Daddy microfibre cloth, again moving it across in one direction to help dry the material. 

For Removing Lighter Grime.

If the mark is a lighter stain (like makeup) or more grime related (on an area affected by sweat, like a steering wheel), you can spray Fabra Cadabra into a round detailing brush, like our Soft Details brush, and gently agitate it into the area. Then wipe it clean using the low pile side of a folded Plush Daddy microfibre cloth, move the cloth in one direction, folding and turning the cloth each time you wipe, so you don't transfer the grime back to the material.

For a Quick Freshen Up

If you feel your trim just needs a quick freshen up, or you wish to clean the rest of the material around the stain you've just removed, you can apply the Fabra Cadabra into a folded Plush Daddy cloths' low pile side and wipe it over the entire section of fabric you're cleaning. Again, wipe in one direction and turn the cloth often to a fresh side. Then wipe the whole area down with a seperate dry and fresh Plush Daddy cloth. 

Steering Wheels, Shifters & Handbrakes

Many steering wheels, shifters and handbrakes are usually clad in a lower pile fabric, that allows for a more simple approach to cleaning them. 

Apply 2 sprays of Fabra Cadabra to a folded Plush Daddy's low pile side of the cloth and lightly wipe the surface in a side to side motion. Turn the cloth often to a clean side, re-applying the Fabra Cadabra and continue cleaning till it's done. Then gently wipe dry with a second clean and dry, low pile microfibre cloth. Then follow the next two steps to finish it all off. 

Drying, a Great Tip

Now for one our favourite drying tricks, get your vacuum cleaner and using the crevice tool, once again run it over the fabric surface in straight lines. Put your finger at its tip, so it doesn't quite touch the fabric surface, pulling all the fibres upwards and outwards, as well as picking up any final particles you may have released in your cleaning. 

Now leave it to sit, with the car doors or windows open for it to totally dry. In warmer conditions this can take 30 mins, in cooler climates leave it a bit longer. 

For That Professional Finish

Once it's all dry, you can do what the professional detailers do - run a soft bristled brush like our Plush Brush over the clean and dry surface, always move it in same direction to bring back that uniform, factory fresh look to the material. 

A Before & After

A quick before and after shot of the trim we were cleaning here. Our system of products has worked a real treat. 

Protecting your Alcantara/Microsuede

Now that the trim is all clean, we strongly recommend that you protect it. You do this to stop the chance of it staining as well as making it easier to clean next time round. We have developed a safe and water based fabric protection coating called Fabratection just for this job. Most fabric protectants are solvent based which are not compatible and can permanently wreck with the look and feel of the microfibre material used in Alcantara and Microsuede. 

First Steps:

  • It's important that the surface is totally clean (which you should have just done in the above steps) and dry, so the Fabratection can bond into the fibres.  
  • Make sure the day is going to be dry and warm (never do it on a rainy day), also work in a well ventilated area with the car doors open.
  • Using a Plush Brush or similar soft bristled detailing brush, brush all of the fabric fibres in one direction and then mist a light and even coat of Fabratection directly onto the surface in a sweeping motion.
  • DO NOT oversaturate the fabric surface, a light mist is all that's needed. If you do apply too much it can affect the look and feel of the fabric. 

Your Next Step:

  • Wipe off any overspray off surrounding areas with a damp microfibre cloth before it can dry. Be careful not to touch the trim that you coated with Fabratection when doing this. 
  • Leave to sit for 20 minutes for the Fabratection to start bonding with the fibres.
  • Put the damp cloth in a bucket of water in this time as well. 

Final Steps:

  • After 20 mins, use the Plush Brush to push the fibres in the opposite direction and mist another light coat of Fabratection on.
  • Wipe away any excess overspray, agaun being sure to not touch the sprayed trim. 
  • Then wash this cloth straight away after either by hand, or machine using our Microfibre Wash. If you do not it will no longer be able to absorb liquids.
  • Do not disturb or sit on the material for 5 to 6 hours. 
  • It will take 24 to 48 hours to cure, do not let it get wet in this time period.

Once this is done, you will have a nicely protected fabric finish, that will still feel and look as it was before. this should be reapplied in higher wear areas every 6 months and yearly on other surfaces. 

Any questions?

You can find Fabra Cadabra at all of our supporting retail stores on our stockist page.

If you have any questions about this product or how to use it, please feel free to drop me an email dan@bowdensown.com.au or call our office on 1800 351 308.

Love your car,

Dan Bowden


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A water based, super hydrophobic fabric protectant.

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