Is Glycerin Bad For Leather? (7 Pros & Cons)

is glycerine bad for leather

It actually takes a great deal of time, energy, and resources to get the best leather products, and naturally, you would always want to take very good care of it. There are several human skincare products you can use for your leather items but is glycerin one of such products you can use or it’s bad for leather?

You can use pure glycerin, glycerin soaps, and glycerin conditioners to help clean and moisturize your leather goods and make them water-resistant. However, it will come with certain disadvantages like causing the leather to become moldy and sticky which can then result in the leather item attracting and building up a lot of dirt very quickly.

There’s obviously more to using glycerin on leather. To learn more about the pros and cons of using glycerin on leather, keep reading this article.

Pros And Cons Of Using Glycerin On Leather

There are some advantages and disadvantages to applying glycerin on the surface of leather. Depending on what you’re seeking to achieve, glycerin can be both a good and bad servant. Let’s begin with the cons of using glycerin on leather.


Glycerin generally is a non-toxic and integral liquid used extensively in cosmetic products for the skin.

Its key property is that it penetrates the human skin and leaves the skin with a beautifully soft feel.

Due to this special quality of glycerin, it’s also often used in many leather shoes and other leather care products such as conditioners, cleaners, etc.

So now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of using glycerin or having glycerin as an ingredient in a leather care product.

1. Glycerin Is Sticky

One of the first downsides you will notice especially in glycerin-made cleaners is that they get very sticky.

While cleaning your leather from time to time is a very important thing to do, you never want the leather cleaner you use to leave a sticky residue on your leather after cleaning.

Related Article: 3 Reasons Why Faux Leather Gets Sticky & 6 Ways To Easily Fix It

This is because the sticky residue can cause the leather item to become even dirtier a lot faster. This is a common result you will often have with leather care products that have large amounts of glycerin.

The negative effect of glycerin being very sticky doesn’t, however, defeat the fact that it can enable glycerin-made products to act as some form of sealant against stains on the leather.

So during cleaning, the glycerin may stick to your leather which will subsequently cause the leather to trap dirt and grime to the surface of the leather and to the pores and fibers of the leather. Talk of counterproductive!

Related Article: 5 Best Non Sticky Leather Conditioners

2. Glycerin Can Cause Mold On Leather

Leather as a material is extremely durable and will be able to do well against most aggressive elements.

However, leather is absorbent and can easily become susceptible to different kinds of damages including moisture and even mold.

What actually happens when you put glycerin or products largely made up of glycerin is that while the glycerin component moisturizes the leather, it will at the same time allow the leather to draw water vapor or moisture from the atmosphere into its fibers.

And just so you know, leather goes through a lot of water treatments during tanning, dyeing, cleaning, and conditioning processes so water is not really an arch-nemicies of leather but it’s not benevolent to it either.

When leather becomes damp or wet it can result in the formation of mold or mildew on the leather.

And we all know how mold can cause serious damage to the leather. It can cause discoloration and can also affect the structure and the durability of the leather.

Related Article: 6 Reasons Why Chlorine Bad For Leather

3. You May Not Be Able To Use Glycerin On Leather When It’s Humid

Usually, you would want the leather care products you use to be something you can apply every time of the day and whenever necessary.

Glycerin in particular is not suitable for treating leather during humid conditions.

This is because instead of giving your leather items the best of the best treatment and nourishment you will only subject your leather item to drawing a lot of unwanted moisture into it’s fiber.

If you’re looking for a leather care substance you can use frequently no matter the time of the year or day then glycerin may not be what you would want to go for.

4. Glycerin Is Acidic And May Harm Leather

If you have been using leather products for some time now then you would have at one point or another come across the term or expression pH value of leather care products.

You may even know or have heard about what pH value is required for use on leather items.

Leather as a material has a pH neutral value which is 5 so it requires that any leather care product applied to it maintains the same pH level.

You wouldn’t want the leather care products you put on your leather to be too acidic (pH level more than 5) or alkaline (pH level below 5).

Glycerin is generally acidic and if not properly used on leather can cause severe damages to the leather.

It’s quite understandable that a lot of the leather cleaners on the market today may contain glycerine so when you use such cleaners with glycerin components, you would want to make sure you thoroughly remove any soap or conditioning residue to prevent the acid in the glycerin from reacting to the leather.


It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to using glycerin on leather products. There are a few outstanding benefits to using glycerin on leather but these benefits must be justaposed against the disadvantages of using glycerin on leather so that you do not make any decision that can negatively impact your cherished leather items.

Here are some of the benefits applying glycerin can give to your leather.

1. Glycerin Is Great For Deep Cleaning Leather

If you’re a frequent user of leather products then you would know by now how important cleaning those leather items are.

One of the important aspects of owning leather items is not only cleaning by also using the right cleaning products.

Glycerin leather care products are a great alternative to cleaning your leather items.

As a matter of fact, glycerin is a great way to deep clean your leather items. You can use something like the glycerin saddle soap to remove damaging dirt and grime from the pores and fibers of the leather to help keep the leather looking clean and healthy.

The key thing when it comes to glycerin-made products is to ensure the ones you pick out are low in percentage in terms of the amount of glycerin ingredient.

With such products, you will be able to clean your leather without it drying out and you will also be able to clean your leather items no matter what leather it’s made out of and no matter the time of the year.

Related Article: 6 Awesome Home Remedies For Cleaning Leather Car Seats

2. Pure Glycerin Is Colorless

Leather is very absorbent and will assimilate any color it comes into contact with. These will typically include dyes, leather care products, stains, etc.

There are some instances where you would want the leather care products you use on your leather items to affect the color of the leather items. That is making the color a shade or two darker than what it presently is.

There are some other instances where you wouldn’t want the general appearance of the leather item to change.

Pure Glycerin is a great moisturizing substance you can use on your leather without having a significant effect on the color of your leather item whether it’s a tack, shoe, or saddle.

Having said that, pure glycerin can also be colored to suit a particular leather item to help enhance its color and look.

Related Article: 6 Reasons Leather Changes Color & How To Preserve The Color

3. Glycerin Help Make Leather Water-Resistant

Although glycerin will gradually cause leather to draw water or moisture from the air, the gunk or sticky build up glycerin puts on the leather will cause the leather to be water-resistant.

This is because the glycerin seals and locks in the natural oil that is contained in the leather and that makes the leather somewhat water-resistant.

As ironic how this is, it’s something you’re going to often find when you apply glycerin on your leather items.

You would always want the leather care products you use to offer your leather some level of water resistance so that the leather will be resistant to the water and other forms of liquid stains.

Related Article: Does Coconut Oil Waterproof Leather?

Pros And Cons Of Using Glycerin On Leather – Summary

1. Glycerin Is Sticky
2. Glycerin Can Cause Mold On Leather
3. Not Advisable During Humid Conditions
4. Glycerin Is Acidic
1. Glycerin Is Great For Deep Cleaning Leather
2. Pure Glycerin Is Colorless
3. Glycerin Helps To Make Leather Water-Resistant


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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