What is Alcantara? – It’s Not Leather!
Alcantara car seats
It’s not leather as a lot of people think – it’s a synthetic manmade material just like a fabric.
It was invented in the 1970’s by Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for the Japanese chemical company Toray Industries.
Alcantara was based around another material they produced called Ultrasuede.
In the early 70’s the company joined forces with a chemical giant in Italy for Alcantara spa, this was formed and set up to manufacture the Alcantara materials for distribution around the world.
Alcantara is made up of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane this enabled the products to have increased durability and stain resistance properties. It has a look and feel just the same as suede does. How it becomes so strong, durable and resistant is its manufacturing process, its of a very advanced spinning process, where everything interlocks and interwinds with each other a bit like carbon fibre does.
A lot of manufacturers use Alcantara like, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Toyota just to name a few.
It can be found on steering wheels as well to give you a softer more luxury feel to the wheel, but sweat and compounded dirt can soon make the steering wheel look terrible as it flattens out the fibres and grease and grime build up.
Steam cleaning the material is by far the best method we have found, producing outstanding results every time. When steam cleaning use a soft suede brush to fluff up the fibres making it look as good as new again. What you have to be careful of doing with this method is that you don’t get the material too hot as this can also cause issues.
To help prevent the material from getting ingrained dirt and grime build up you can apply a fabric protector to give the material a waterproof finish, stopping dirt and grime attacking the surface.
Pilling on car interiors!
How do I avoid pilling of alcantara fibres on my vehicle’s interior?
You can never avoid it but using the correct care can reduce down how quickly this happens.
Removing the pilling from Alcantara can be done in many ways, steam as above is an excellent way of just generally cleaning the surface and helping to stop pilling taking place.
Another method is using a sanding block with the alcantara cleaner, spraying this onto the fabric and in a circular motion use the sanding block to remove any pilling that has appeared on the surface.
If the pilling is too intense then you may find the only option is to re upholster the areas that are affected.