10 Must-Know Reasons Olive Oil Is Bad For leather

is olive oil bad for leather

Leather is a popular material for furniture, car seats, and other items because it is durable and looks good. As far as leather goes, you always need to use the right leather care product for the type of leather you own, to protect it and keep it looking good and healthy. So in this article, I set out to answer one of the most common questions about leather care and that is: is olive oil good for leather?

The answer to that question, as it turns out, is a little complicated. Olive oil can be beneficial for leather in some ways, especially in the short term, but in the long term, olive oil can cause severe damage such as stiffening leather over time, causing mold, deteriorating leather, etc.

Personally, I find the long-term effects of using olive oil on leather to far outweigh any of the benefits, so I would not recommend using it on your leather furniture, car seats, or other items. So here are seven awful reasons why olive oil is bad for leather.

1. Olive Oil Will Stiffen Leather In The Long Term

One of the things that are guaranteed to happen when you use olive oil on leather is that it will start to stiffen up after some time.

This happens because, in the short term, using olive oil can give your leather a more supple texture and make it feel softer and silkier.

But when you apply the product to the surface of your leather, it creates a film or coating that prevents moisture from escaping.

And over time, that will make the leather become dry and stiff – not exactly what you want from your leather furniture or car seats.

So if you’re looking for a way to soften up your leather, using olive oil might seem like a good option. But in reality, it’s only a temporary fix, and the long-term effect is that it will make your leather stiffer and more difficult to manage.

So in the long run, using olive oil on leather can be a massive mistake because you’ll end up with harder, drier, and significantly less supple leather than what you started with.

2. Olive Oil Will Not Nourish Your Leather

One of the biggest misconceptions about using olive oil on leather is that it will nourish your leather and keep it healthy and hydrated.

But in reality, this isn’t true at all. Although olive oil will soak up quickly into the leather, it will not serve as a food source to help retain moisture within the leather.

In fact, olive oil is so non-nourishing that it can actually dry out your leather. That’s because the natural oils in your leather are only meant to be there for so long, and once they begin to break down, your leather will start to crack and become brittle.

Usually, you would want the conditioner or nourishing oil you use on your leather to be able to penetrate the leather to prevent this from happening.

But like we’ve talked about, olive oil will soak up quickly into your leather but it does not provide any nourishment for the long term.

This is contrary to using leather conditioners like leather honey which will continue to nourish your leather up to six months after it has been applied.

3. Olive Oil Can Accelerate Deterioration Of The Leather

Olive oil can accelerate the deterioration of your leather because it contains some amount of acid in it. For example, Virgin olive oils’ acidity ranges between 0.8% to 2%.

While the acid levels in olive oil may not seem much, it is still enough to break down the natural oils in leather over time. When these oils are broken down, the leather will become dry, brittle, and eventually crack.

This is also largely because olive oil does not have any nourishing qualities to help keep the leather hydrated. So, if you are looking to maintain your leather furniture or accessories, it is best to avoid using olive oil on them.

There are plenty of other oils that can be used without damaging the material. You can even use natural oils such as coconut or shea oil to condition your leather.

But, if you want a product that is specifically made for your leather, do consider buying yourself a good quality leather conditioner instead. That way, you will be able to ensure the longevity of your investment in the long run.

4. Olive Oil Can Turn Leather Yellow

Another downside to using olive oil on leather items is that it can leave yellow stains, especially on light-colored leather surfaces.

It can even become worse if you use olive oil that is also low-quality, it will leave an unpleasant yellow stain on the surface of your leather item. This is because some olive oil contains a pigment called chlorophyll.

As well know, olive oil is sourced from plants and chlorophyll is one of the main pigments in olive oil. The chlorophyll content is even higher when the fruits harvested are still fresh.

The more fruit matures, the chlorophyll content decreases, which is why green olives have a higher chlorophyll content than black olives.

In short, olive oil contains pigments that can easily stain leather, so it’s not the best choice for protecting and cleaning your leather items.

If you’re looking for a natural way to protect your leather from the elements, try using beeswax or carnauba wax. These products will help create a water-resistant barrier on the surface of your leather without leaving any unsightly stains.

Alternatively, you could also try a leather conditioner like mink oil. These products will help keep your leather looking and feeling soft and supple without any discoloration.

5. Can Cause Mold To Form On Leather Over Time

Olive oil can also cause mold to form on leather over time because it is made up of natural fats and oils. These are food sources that attract bacteria and microorganisms, which then feed on them and grow into colonies of mold.

If you know anything about mold and leather, you know that it is not a good combination. Mold can cause the leather to deteriorate, become brittle, and even fall apart. Not forgetting the smell that mold produces, which is definitely not desirable.

The result is an unpleasant-looking piece of leather with brown and white spots all over it – not exactly the look you’re going for when using up valuable resources like good quality animal hides.

So, while olive oil may have some benefits for leather in the short term, it is not a good long-term solution and should be avoided if possible.

If you do not have any other option or are already using olive oil on your leather products, be sure to do so in moderation and keep an eye on them for any signs of mold growth.

Or just to be on the safe side, if you do need to clean or condition your leather with something oily, consider using a product that is specifically designed for this purpose instead.

6. Olive Oil Can Ruin The Finish

Moving on, another downside to using olive oil on leather is that it can ruin the finish.

Leather is a type of material that has a natural shine or luster to it. This shine or luster is what gives the leather a luxurious and expensive look.

However, if you apply olive oil to your leather, this shine will be diminished and eventually disappear altogether. Or the natural beauty shine on the leather could be ruined or replaced by an oily sheen.

This is because the olive oil will coat the surface of the leather and prevent light from reflecting off it in a subtle and natural way.

Over time, this will result in your leather looking dull and lackluster, which is not what you want for something that is supposed to add value to your life.

If you are looking to restore or enhance the shine on your leather, there are a few products that you can try.

One option is to use a commercial product like Pledge or Armstrong Leather Care. These products contain silicone-based ingredients that will help restore and protect the natural sheen of your leather.

7. Olive Oil May Not Be Absorbed Properly

The next downside as far as using olive oil on leather goes is that olive oil may not be absorbed properly.

As mentioned earlier, the surface of leather is made up of tiny pores that allow for absorption and evaporation.

In fact, this porous nature is what allows leather to breathe, which means it retains moisture better than other types of materials such as plastic or metal. When these pieces get wet, they tend to stay wet for a long period of time after being exposed to water.

Similarly, leather can also absorb moisture from the air and release it when there is no longer any available in its environment.

When using oil as a conditioning agent on your leather, it is important that the oil can be absorbed properly into these pores so that it can do its job.

If the oil is not able to penetrate deep and evenly into the pores, it will just sit on the surface and will not do anything to improve the condition of the leather.

In fact, it could even make things worse by causing the leather to become greasy and slick. This is why it is important to use an oil that is meant for leather conditioning, as it will be better able to penetrate into the pores and do its job.

8. Attracts Dirt And Debris Easily

If you are thinking about using olive oil on your leather furniture, you should know that it attracts dirt and debris. This means that your leather furniture can get dirty very quickly if you use olive oil to clean or condition it.

When this happens, the next thing is for stains to form on the surface of the leather. You may not notice a stain right away, but it will become obvious over time. It is important to note that stains on leather are very difficult to remove.

A classic example is; have you noticed how your body attracts a lot of dust, dirt, or debris when you apply body oils or lotions on them? That is the same way the leather surfaces you apply olive oil to will attract dirt and debris.

You may have to clean your leather furniture every other day if you want it to remain clean and look attractive at all times. But, who has the time for that?

Your best bet is to use a quality leather conditioner (and not olive oil) on your leather surfaces that will not leave any greasy residue that attracts dirt and debris.

9. Affects The Natural Smell Of Leather

Olive oil has its own unique smell, and it can be a bit overwhelming if you use it too much. Leather on the other hand has its very own musty, leathery, and earthy smell.

When these two smells are combined, it can be a bit overwhelming for some people.

Leather’s smell is a unique and desirable smell that should not be overshadowed by the smell of olive oil or any other thing. If you want to enjoy the natural smell of leather, then using olive oil is not the best option.

There are many good-quality leather conditioners on the market that will not affect the natural smell of leather, and you should consider using one of them if preserving the natural smell of your leather is important to you.

So if you do not want your leather to have a salad-like smell, it is best to avoid using olive oil on it.

10. Olive Oil Makes Existing Stains Permanent

Last but not least, olive oil can make existing stains on your leather permanent. This is because olive oil can penetrate deep into the leather material and affects everything that touches it.

Stains are a common problem with leather, especially if you do not clean or condition your furniture regularly to prevent them from forming. If you want those stains to disappear, then using olive oil is the wrong approach.

A better solution is to use a quality leather cleaner and conditioner that will remove the stains without making them permanent. There are many good-quality products on the market, so you should have no trouble finding one that meets your needs.

Final Words

In conclusion, using olive oil on your leather furniture is not a good idea for several reasons. It attracts dirt and debris, affects the natural smell of leather, and it can make existing stains permanent among other things.

There are many good-quality leather conditioners on the market that will not have these negative effects or break your bank. So you should consider using leather oil or conditioner specifically made for leather if you want to protect your leather furniture from damage. Thanks for reading!


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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