Do not use Olive Oil to Restore your Leather!
When thinking of the best DIY method for repairing your leather furniture or other leather goods, what comes to mind? Mink oil? Hmm, we’ll save that topic for another day. Neatsfoot oil?! What even IS neatsfoot oil? Well, actually, it can have benefits.
The culprit of this article, though, is olive oil. Delicious, aromatic, and available everywhere. Is olive oil good for leather? And can olive oil really be used to condition leather? Let’s find out.
Using olive oil on leather: Good in the kitchen but not as a leather conditioner
With dry, dirty, or scratched leather items, you may find yourself scouring the internet for do-it-yourself treatments. Many articles cite extra virgin olive oil as a cure-all for every leather ailment, from scratches to dryness to odors.
Olive oil might make a great base for salad dressing, marinades, or lightly frying your favorite dish. But unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to leather care.
It is likely that this myth came from the age-old practice of oiling baseball gloves and horse saddles. Natural oils may work well for those purposes, but we strongly discourage using any type of oil on your leather shoes or any more valuable leather products.
Why olive oil isn’t your best bet for leather care
Although leather does indeed become a bit more supple after applying olive oil, this instant gratification comes with a price. Olive oil, and alternatives you might have on hand—coconut oil, for example—and every oily substance for that matter, will not “nourish” your leather, but actually accelerate its deterioration.
Leather is extremely permeable, and will soak up any excess oils you put on it:
- When oil first saturates leather, it seeps to the back—to the part you can’t see.
- Eventually, the oil ends up spreading throughout the leather and naturally resurfaces.
- Once this happens, your leather will have unsightly oil spots.
Because oil sits deep within the leather, it cannot be removed with any cleaner available to the general public. A professional can give your leather a deep cleaning to get out most of the oil, however, it is infrequent that even a professional can truly remove the problem entirely.
Additionally, oil-saturated leather will give off a salad-like scent, meaning that it won’t work to ward off existing odors.
Whenever you use olive oil to treat a leather problem, you will always be trading instant gratification for the long-term health of your leather.
Alternatives to olive oil for leather care
For leather treatments, don’t always trust what you read on the internet. Stick to products designed especially for leather or take your leather to a professional. The quick, cheap olive oil “fix” renders a much higher cost in the end.
That being said, if you’re curious what the best oil—if any—is to use on your leather products, then use mink oil in favor of any others.
There are also some other alternatives to using oily substances on your leather items:
- Beeswax: This is a safe alternative for cleaning, protecting, and extending the lifetime of your leather products. It provides natural cleansing and waterproofing buffs that are fantastic for keeping leather in top shape.
- Vaseline: Petroleum jelly is a popular choice for shining, moisturizing, and protecting leather goods against water damage. Apply a protective layer of Vaseline sparingly, using a clean cloth, to the leather’s surface. Repeat this as necessary without applying too much or you may stain the leather. Pro tip: vaseline should be avoided for certain types of leather, like suede.
- Lanolin: This is a great moisturizer, but it does tend to soften leather more than other choices. This could be good for leather boots, handbags, wallets, jackets, or other apparel, but maybe avoid lanolin on your car seats or leather couch.
For more information, check out this post on dirt and oil damage to leather.
Fibrenew has you covered for all your leather needs
If all else fails, Fibrenew is here to help!
Contact your local Fibrenew operator to receive best-in-class repair for all your leather needs at incredible prices—straight to your front door.
Or, for guaranteed safe DIY repair for all your leather, buy one of our leather care kits and never worry about oily messes again.