Contents: Auto Trim: History | Recommendations | Fabric, leather | Boots

Keywords: Cleaning, Protecting, UV, UVA, UVB, rubber, wood, vinyl, plastic, ...

Auto Trim History:

Armor All, has been the leader in Vinyl, plastic and rubber protection, but Meguiar's, 303 Aerospace Protectant and others (see below) are all popular now.

You can find blogs claiming problems with Armor All such as, dust collection, no UV protection, deteriorates rubber, etc.
I couldn't find anything that looked like a scientific test.
I have a bottle of Armor All fro about 2000 and it says it has UV protection, yet there are web blog posts as recent as 2008 that claim it doesn't. It was reformulated somewhere around 2005 to be water based, so most of those claims were based n the old product.

A comment at 303 Protectant VS Armor All - in 2007 says,
"From what I understand (*disclaimer - I am not a chemist*) the polymers in plastics and vinyls consist of Bis-(2-ethylhexyl)PhthlateakaDiOctyl Phthlate, (DOP) or di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). This is a plasticiser that makes polymers soft and pliable. It evaporates when exposed to UV light."

The arguments against Armour All are as follows:
  * Armour All brings the DOP to the surface and allows it to evaporate quicker. Many studies show this is true, while others show that this is not the case, so I guess this needs further testing.
  * Armour All doesn't block UV, thus allowing the DOP to evaporate. This is true as far as I know.

Armor All claims:
"Our improved, thicker formula provides enhanced control, a nongreasy finish and a deeper shine. All this plus even better UVA and UVB protection."
  * Helps prevent cracking, fading, discoloration and premature aging.
  * Renews and revitalizes vinyl, rubber and plastic.

See: 303 Protectant VS Armor All, 2008 at for pros and cons.
One comment there:
As many of your know, I work for Meguiar's. Of course we test and compare all the competitors products, even to the point of having our chemists literally take the stuff apart.

Armor All is, without a doubt, the single most maligned product in the automotive finish care world. Back in the day it was just about the ONLY product of it's kind on the market, and it was being used on plastics and vinyls of the time (think back to the great quality of domestic car interiors back in 1975 - yeah, junk). Now consider that most people did NOTHING to the dash in their cars and over time the material would just dry out horribly. So Armor All hit the market and people jumped on it. Spray some on that badly weathered dash and the material would often swell and split, so everyone blamed Armor All - after all, the dash appeared fine before applying the stuff. Truth is, if the dash is that badly dried out it will have a tendancy to swell and split if you appy almost anything to it - even plain water. But since Armor All had virtually no competition at the time, it took the blame.

Armor All was reforumlated several years ago, mostly due to changing VOC regulations that they, us and all of our competitors face on an ongoing basis, and it's now basically just a water based dressing not terribly unlike 303, or several of our own (Meguiar's) dressings. It does tend to impart a pretty high shine still, which I personally don't care for (but then again we make a product or two who's appearance I don't care for, but some folks like that look so we make 'em). Of course, just because many of these are water based doesn't mean their all identical - far from it. 303 is an excellent product, but I'd put our M40 Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner or Hyper Dressing up against it any day.

Otherwise Armor All is fine to use on the interior, tires, etc. If you don't mind the look.

A note at the Wolfgang Vinyl & Rubber Protectant page in 2009 still claimed "Other protectant products contain petroleum distillates as their shine agent." Because of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) regulations in many states this is no longer true.

Vinyl & Plastic Auto Trim:

Ratings at Amazon: (2014)
303 Aerospace Protectant-4.8
Meguiar's Ultimate Quick Detailer-4.7
Mothers Back-to-Black Trim Care-4.0
Turtle Wax T-125 Trim Restorer-3.7
Armor All Outlast Trim and Plastic Restorer - Only 1 review

Armor All Protectant Gel vs. 303 Products vs. Meguiar's vs. Mothers Polish at

The general purpose products like Armor All and Meguiars protectant say they are good for rubber also.
However there are a bunch of products designed just for tires:
Meguiars Gold Class Endurance High Gloss Tire Gel
Zaino Bros Z-16 Perfect Tire Gloss

A 2012 review of wheel and tire cleaners at Consumer Reports rated Eagle One A2Z, Meguiars, and Mothers best.

Meguiar's Supreme Shine Protectant (SSP)
Meguiars Mirror Glaze M40
Wolfgang Vinyl/Rubber Protectant
303 Aerospace Protectant
Comment at "When 303 Aerospace Protectant is used on the external trim, such as bump strips, wiper arms, etc - don't bother. Doesn't last, streaks as soon as it gets wet, and I shudder to think how much silicone it contains.

Fabric protectors and Leather protectors:
Treatment for outdoor apparel, backpacks, tents, nylon, boots (nylon or leather)..., Most rainwear requires periodic revival to maintain a durable water repellent (DWR) finish.
Wash a waterproof/breathable (WP/BR) garment at least once a year.
Most of the products below are water based, do NOT contain silicone, work with breathable linings (e.g. Gore-Tex®, SympaTex, eVENT) and provide UV protection.

Gore recommends applying a topical water repellency restorative (DWR treatment) for outdoor fabrics, available at your local outdoor retailer. We do not recommend wash-in treatments as they can affect the garment's breathability.

See Leather Care in products

Comment on the Forum at GardenWeb says:
I have been told that chemically treating microfiber actually DECREASES its natural stain restistance.

Silicone water repellents are not recommended now as they are oil based and retain a tacky-ness that attracts dirt, they bond to oil based stains and make fabrics much more difficult to clean.
Fluoropolymer based treatment such as Grangers Superpruf, ReviveX, Scotchgard, 303 fabric guard, and Tectron, are commonly recommended.
Note: Fluoropolymers have been implicated in creating PFOAs (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) which have been deemed as potentially hazardous to human health by the EPA.

The above do not contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs)

Durable water repellents are often used in conjunction with waterproof waterproof breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex to prevent the outer layer of a laminated waterproof breathable from becoming saturated with water. Common Brands are:
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finishes are hydrophobic coatings applied to fabrics to make them water-resistant by causing water to bead up and roll off fabrics, rather than soaking into them.

At Backpacker - Camp Boot - Google Books they recommend using the Nikwax Aqueous Wax and Tectron as a tag-team treatment system. Two coats of Tectron worked best.

2010 notes at How to Waterproof a Nylon Tent Fly? [Archive] - Expedition Portal say,
The reviews on the web spike all over the place for both Nikwax and Tectron. For every 3 that love one, another 3 hate it.

At GEAR ยป Best way to revive DWR? -- Forums they say, "ReviveX is great because it's a heat-set forumla & the only DWR that restores it to factory-level condition. "

Product Base water-
OK w/ Gore-Tex Lea-
UV pro-
Tectron Water Repellent* fluoropolymer Y Y Y Y Y spray
Tectron Suede and Nubuck Sponge ? Y ? Y Y ? sponge
Nikwax Fabric & Leather proof wax-elastomer Y N Y Y Y sponge
Nikwax TX direct wax-elastomer Y
Nikwax Nubuck & Suede ? Y N Y Y Y sponge
Nikwax Waterproofing wax for Leather ? Y N Y Y Y tube
ReviveX fluoropolymer ? ? Y ? ? spray
Penguin Leather Water & Stain Repellent resin ? ? ? Y ? spray
Granger's G-Tec Fabric and Leather Protector fluoropolymer ? ? Y Y ? spray
303 High Tech Fabric Guard fluoropolymer ? ? ? ? ? spray
Scotchgard™ Outdoor Water Shield ? ? ? spray
Scotchgard™ Durable Water Repellent Y ? ? ? ? spray
Kiwi Camp Dry silicone N ? Y Y ? spray
Rust-oleum NeverWet Silicone-based N ? ? spray
* As of June 2015 the only place I could find Tectron available was at Dodds Shoe Co.. The normal places like REI and Amazon say it's no longer available.

See: How to Care for Technical Fabrics : Expert Advice from REI

Rustoleum Neverwet® (silicon based) Outdoor Fabric Water Repelling Treatment , Boot & Shoe Water Repelling Treatment and Liquid Repelling Treatment 2 part kit
Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Waterproofing
Not recommended at:
Scotchgard vs NeverWet Comparison On Fabric - YouTube -
or NeverWet Review: The Magical, Water-Repelling Spray Is Kind of Amazing

Tectron did not work for one person (Amazon Review)

See more on Leather at boots below.

* In May 2000, 3M made a voluntary decision to phase out its production of products having perfluorooctanyl chemistry which included Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), and PFOS-related products, which included many Scotchgard™ Protector products and applications.

303 High Tech Fabric Guard
Kiwi Camp Dry Fabric Protector - This non-silicone polymer repels water, dirt and oil stains without darkening or discoloring. Restores durable water repellancy on apparel to prevent "wetting out." Ideal for all apparel and light-colored boots. Dries quickly, leaving no odor.

  Penguin Leather Water & Stain Repellent
  Tectron Water Repellent for gear - Formulated to give maximum water, soil and grease repellency to natural and synthetic fabrics and leather. Contains sunscreen to reduce fading and UV degradation
Tectron for boots and shoes.

(They recommend a two treatment system with cleaner then waterproofing.)
See their brochure How To Clean & Waterproof Your Clothing, Footwear & Equipment

Grangers: -GTEC Fabric & Leather Protector Water based, ok on Gore-Tex.
Other Granger products (Leather, outerware, ...) at Ames Adventure Outfitters


There are both spray-on and wash-in products for jackets.
See more products at and Fabric and Gear Care at REI
Boot Treatments and Care and Fabric Treatments at at
Fabric Care Products at

Avoid using oil-based treatments like Mink Oil on any leather hiking boots. Oil-based products are intended to soften leathers and make them more supple, which can negatively affect the support of hiking boots.
Some silicon treatments will also migrate into the leather.
Beeswax (e.g. Snoseal) is commonly recommended because it stays on the surface layer.

Common wisdom was to use wax or liquid-silicone-based compounds on Vegetable or crome-tanned uppers, and petroleum distillates on oil-tanned leathers.
However anything oily will ruin the appearance of boots with a Nubuk or suede finish.

Silicones should be kept away from rubber soles and rands of boots/shoes.

Then consider whether it has a wicking lining - if so the recommendation is not to use wash in but to use spray on as the wash in interferes with the wicking mesh and stops it working just like fabric conditioner does.

New treatments such as Nikwax and Tectron* claim to work for most leathers and combination leather/fabric construction.
Tectron also has a Suede and Nubuck Sponge.

Montrail lists the following instructions in their product users guide for their Nubuck, Suede and Full-Grain Rougout Leather boots:
Use Nikwax Nubuck & Suede or AquaSeal Suede protectnt.
If appearance is not critical, a paste or wax is very effective, but will darken and smooth over the leather surface. Use Waterproofing Wax for Leather Liquid
or Sponge-on waterproofing conditioner for leather

Preserving leather artifacts requires different methods of protecting. For example, saddle soaping, oiling on aged leather actually will shorten the life span of an antique object made of leather.
See: Leather Care And Restoration Guide

Caring for your Hiking Boots: Expert Advice from REI
Forum Index -> Gear Talk -> Boot Care at
Boots and Tanning in Recreation
Proper Care of Hard-Working Leather at Atsko

Leather treatment Products:
Aquaseal -- Leather Waterproofing & Conditioner
Sno Seal Beeswax from Atsko

Car tops:
A comment at amazon: "For low quality fabrics, it might work. But for the convertible top on BMW, it doesn't do much. The effect worn out very quickly. I should have stick with Autosol Convertible Top Sealant and Protectant. It is a little more expansive. But it last almost a year for each application."
303 Fabric Gard got 5 stars in 9 out of 11 reviews.

Raggtopp and Renovo were also recommended for convertible tops.

95% of ALL convertible tops including all Ford products use a top made by a German company called Haartz. Haartz and the company Wolfsteins developed the product called RaggTopp. RaggTopp is the only product endorsed by Haartz and actually applied to the material when manufactured, the manufacturer recommends that is be maintained with RaggTopp. RaggTopp besides cleaning will condition the material, block UV rays from fading the material and just as importantly is conditions the stitching on the top. Source Greater Toronto Area Mustang CLub (

DWR - Durable Water Repellent - Generic term for scotchgard like products.

PTFE - Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that has numerous applications.
Teflon is the best known PTFE.


Return to Home & Garden

last updated 11 June 2015