Most leather goods such as hiking boots, wallets, and belts are hardwearing and need to be oiled or conditioned from time to time. There are a lot of household items you can use to condition your leather.
One common household item you can use is vegetable oil or cooking oil. You can either rub it in with a cloth or brush, or put some on a cotton ball and dab it onto the leather. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes before buffing it off with a clean cloth.
It is important to remember that there are some possible downsides to using vegetable oil to condition your leather. Vegetable oil can go rancid and can also darken the leather when it is used to condition leather. So it is best to test it on a small inconspicuous area first.
Stick around as I share more details about the pros and cons of using vegetable oil to condition leather.
The Pros Of Using Vegetable Oil On Leather
Let’s begin with the positives or the pros of using vegetable oil on leather.
1. Vegetable Oil Is A Natural Product
The number one pro has to be that it is a natural product. So you are not exposing your leather to any synthetic chemicals or harsh ingredients that could potentially damage it.
With most people becoming so self-aware of what they are exposing themselves and their families to, this is a big selling point.
If you have young children or pets, you will be glad to know that vegetable oil is also safe for them should they come into contact with it.
2. It’s Cheap And Easy To Find
Another plus point of using vegetable oil is that it is readily available and cheap. You probably already have a bottle of it in your kitchen cupboard. It is also very easy to find if you need to buy some.
You can usually pick up a small bottle for a couple of dollars at the supermarket. This makes it an attractive option for those on a tight budget or who don’t want to spend a lot of money on leather care products.
3. Vegetable Oil Will Soften And Condition Your Leather
The third pro is that it does an excellent job of softening and conditioning your leather – especially if you do it properly.
Leather can often become stiff, dry, and brittle over time. This is especially true if it has not been adequately cared for or if it has been exposed to the elements.
Although you will have to apply it frequently, conditioning your leather with vegetable oil will help to keep it supple, soft, and pliable. It will also help to prevent it from cracking or splitting.
Vegetable oil will seep deep into the leather fibers and help to keep them hydrated. This is important as leather is made from animal skin, and it needs to be kept moisturized to prevent it from drying out.
4. Prevents Water Damage
Conditioning your leather with vegetable oil will also help protect it from water damage and staining.
When you use vegetable oil to condition your leather items, you are creating a barrier both on the surface of the leather and within the leather fibers.
This barrier will help keep water and other liquids from penetrating the leather and causing damage.
5. Gives Leather A Natural Shine
Another advantage to conditioning your leather with vegetable oil is giving it a natural shine.
If you don’t want to use synthetic products or try to avoid chemicals, this is a good option.
The oil will help bring out the natural color of the leather and make it look healthy and vibrant. It will also add a protective layer that will help to keep it looking good for longer.
6. It’s Easy To Apply
Last but not least, vegetable oil is very easy to apply. You don’t need to dilute or mix it with any other products.
You need to pour a small amount of oil onto a soft cloth or cotton ball and dab it onto the leather. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes before buffing it off with a clean cloth.
It is important to note that you should only use a small amount of oil. You don’t want to saturate the leather as this could cause the leather to become sticky or tacky.
The Cons Of Using Vegetable Oil On Leather
Let’s now look at the negatives or the cons of using vegetable oil on leather. While there are some advantages to using vegetable oil on leather, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of. Here are the main ones:
1. Vegetable Oil May Be Made From A Combination Of Oils
The first thing to be aware of is that some vegetable oils are not just one type of oil. In fact, it is usually made from a combination of different oils.
This means that you don’t really know what kind of oils are in the product and what effect they will have on your leather.
Some oils may be good for leather, while others may not be so good. This is something to keep in mind if you consider using vegetable oil on your leather goods.
2. Vegetable Oil Can Go Rancid
Another thing to be aware of is that vegetable oil can go rancid. This means that it can spoil and become rancid over time.
There are two perspectives you can view this particular point. First, if you use vegetable oil that has gone rancid, it could damage your leather goods.
It is important to check the expiration date on the bottle before using it and make sure that it is still good.
On the other hand, when you use vegetable oil or cooking oil to condition your leather items, it can go rancid in the right conditions like heat and moisture.
The bottom line is that you should be aware of this and if you are going to use vegetable oil, make sure to check the expiration date before using it.
Rancid vegetable oil can damage your leather goods, so it is best to avoid using it.
3. Requires Frequent Use To Keep Leather Conditioned
One application of conditioners like the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner can last up to six months. This is because it is formulated to penetrate and remain within the leather.
However, when you use vegetable oil to condition your leather goods, it will need to be reapplied more frequently as it does not penetrate the leather and will eventually evaporate.
So, if you are looking for a long-lasting solution, vegetable oil is not the best option for conditioning leather.
Specially formulated products like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner are a better choice as they will last longer and do not need to be reapplied as often.
4. It Darkens Leather In The Long Term
Because vegetable oil will have to be reapplied very frequently to keep the leather conditioned, it can darken leather over time.
If you are not careful, you could end up with a piece of furniture or a leather good that is much darker than when you first started using vegetable oil.
So, if you want to keep your leather goods looking light and bright, vegetable oil is not the best option. Other options like these leather conditioning wipes will not darken leather over time.
5. Can Make Leather Surface Sticky
In addition, because you have to use vegetable oil very frequently to condition leather, it can make the surface of the leather sticky.
This is because the oil will sit on top of the leather and will not be absorbed as it should.
This can be a problem if you are not careful, as it can make your leather goods difficult to use and care for in the long run.
So, if you are looking for a leather conditioner that will not make the surface of your leather sticky, vegetable oil is not the best option.
6. Vegetable Oils Can Attract Dust And Dirt On Leather
As you can see, when you use vegetable oil to condition leather, it can make the leather surface sticky, and when this happens, it can attract dust and dirt. The sticky surface will act as a magnet for dust and dirt particles.
So, if you are looking for a leather conditioner that will not attract dust and dirt, vegetable oil is not the best option.
7. It Conditions Leather Temporarily
Most importantly, vegetable oil is only a temporary fix for conditioning leather.
It will not condition the leather long enough to make a difference in the long run, and it will need to be reapplied very frequently.
So, if you are looking for a leather conditioner that will condition the leather and not just temporarily fix it, vegetable oil is not the best option.
8. Not Suitable For All Types Of Leather
If you decide to use vegetable oil on leather, it will be best used on vegetable-tanned leather. This type of leather is more porous and will absorb the oil better.
However, if you have another type of leather like chrome tanned leather, it is not suitable for conditioning with vegetable oil.
Best Alternatives To Vegetable Oil For Conditioning Leather
There are a few alternatives to vegetable oil that you can use to condition your leather. These include:
- Lemon Essential Oil
The lemon essential oil is a great alternative to vegetable oil as it will condition the leather and has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
This means that it will help keep the leather in good condition and help prevent any mold or mildew from forming.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another great alternative to vegetable oil as it is a natural moisturizer. Using coconut oil to condition your leather will keep it soft and supple and help protect it from water damage.
Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather in a circular motion. Allow the coconut oil to soak into the leather for at least 5 minutes before wiping away any excess.
- Homemade Beeswax Leather Conditioner
If you are looking for a more natural alternative to store-bought leather conditioners, you can make your own at home with beeswax, cocoa butter, and almond oil.
To do this, combine equal parts of beeswax and olive oil in a small bowl. You can also put a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Heat the mixture until the beeswax has melted, and then allow it to cool slightly.
Once it has cooled, apply it to your leather in a thin layer and then buff it off with a clean cloth. This homemade beeswax leather conditioner will condition your leather and help protect it from water damage.
- Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
You can also use a store-bought leather conditioner like Leather Honey. This leather conditioner is made with a blend of natural oils and beeswax and is one of the most popular.
It is also very easy to use. Simply apply a small amount to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather in a circular motion. Allow the conditioner to soak into the leather for at least 5-10 minutes before wiping away any excess.
So, there you have it, a few alternatives to vegetable oil that you can use to condition your leather. Be sure to choose one best suited to your type of leather and needs.
Why Are These The Best Alternatives?
Since vegetable oil is not the best option for conditioning leather, you may be wondering why these alternatives are any better. Here’s a quick rundown of why they are better than vegetable oil:
They Last Long When Used To Condition:
One of the main reasons coconut oil, beeswax, essential oil, or leather conditioner are better alternatives to vegetable oil is that they last longer when used to condition leather.
Unlike vegetable oil, which evaporates quickly, these alternatives will penetrate the leather and help to keep it soft and supple.
They Are More Suitable For Different Types Of Leather:
Another reason why these alternatives are better than vegetable oil is that they are more suitable for different types of leather.
For example, while vegetable oil is not suitable for chrome tanned leather (the most popular type of leather), coconut oil and lemon essential oil will be suitable for all kinds of leather.
They Are More Effective At Conditioning Leather:
These alternatives are also more effective at conditioning leather to top it all off. This is because they penetrate the leather, unlike vegetable oil, which sits on the surface.
So, if you are looking for a better way to condition your leather, be sure to try one of these alternatives. You won’t be disappointed!
Does Not Go Rancid:
One of the main problems with using vegetable oil to condition leather is going rancid over time.
This is because vegetable oil is a natural product and, as such, it contains fatty acids that can go bad.
On the other hand, leather conditioner provided it hasn’t expired, will be much more stable and will not cause any problems.
In conclusion, while you can use vegetable oil to condition your leather, it is not the best option. Better alternatives will last longer, be more effective, and won’t go rancid as quickly.
I hope this article has helped you understand why these alternatives are better and has given you some options to try. Thanks for reading!