3 Best Neatsfoots Oil Alternatives: Pros, Cons & How To Use

Neatsfoot Oil Alternatives

Many of us have at one point or another, read, seen, or experienced the effects that Neatsfoot oil has on leather. If you’re reading this article, then there’s a possibility you’re either not overly thrilled by its results or you’re just out here to explore some other Neatsfoot oil alternatives that have some cool additional benefits than what Neatsfoot oil offers.

In this article, I’m going to be sharing with you 3 best Neatsfoot oil alternatives, their pros, cons, how to effectively use them to treat your leather items or if you’re a leather crafter, how they are going to be applicable to what you do – whether it’s tooling or carving.

Neatsfoot Oil Alternatives

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Best Overall Neatsfoot Oil Alternative 
  • Jojoba Oil: Neatsfoot Oil Alternative That Never Goes Rancid
  • Mink Oil: Neatsfoot Oil Alternative That Waterproofs Leather

Keep reading this article to find out more about these awesome Neatsfoot oil alternatives mentioned above. But first, what are the common properties of Neatsfoot oil.

Neatsfoot Oil

In order to really understand which oil will be a great alternative to neatsfoot oil, it’s important we take a closer look at some of the qualities of Neatsfoot oil so that we can find oils that have similar or better properties when compared to Neatsfoot oil.

Neatsfoot oil is made from the cattle shin and foot bones. It’s one of the best oil you can use on leather to generally condition and preserve it. But that’s not all. Neatsfoot oil also lubricates leather, softens its fibers, and puts a nice shine on it. 

The downside to Neatsfoot oil you would want to find an alternative for is how dark it will make your leather items. Neatsfoot oil is an absolute overkill if you would want to keep the natural color of your leather products intact. 

Another downside to Neatsfoot oil is that it’s acidic when it comes into contact of thread stitching meaning it can severely do damage to a product that is stitched with a thread. 

So when looking for the best alternatives, it’s no brainer you would want to get an option that does all the good things Neatsfoot oil does to leather and avoids its negative effects on leather as much as possible.

So without taking too much of your time, let me head over to the 3 best Neatsfoot oil alternatives I found in my research.

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a great alternative for Neatsfoot oil especially if you want a Neatsfoot oil alternative that won’t ever darken your leather, natural, and very safe to use. 

Extra Virgin Olive oil has great effects not only on our skin or food but on most leathers. It’s one of the most obvious alternatives a lot of the leather industry experts will recommend for conditioning leather goods or for crafters who do a lot of tooling. 

The catch when it comes to using Extra Virgin Olive oil is that while most oils such as vegetable, animal, and mineral will go rancid, only Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil will not go rancid.

Most oils will go rancid when used on leather when there is the presence of certain circumstances such as moisture, heat, along with smog. 

Usually, regular olive oils and vegetable oils are heated in their making process and the heat applied to it is what contributes to it becoming rancid with time when used to oil leather.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not only rich in healthy fats good for cooking. It also contains a suitable pH-balance good for oiling leather.

Most leather work crafters will sometimes use Olive oil instead of Neatsfoot oil to condition their leather after carving, tooling, or molding design on their leather.

Extra Virgin Olive oil helps greatly because when tooling leather, it tends to become dry due to how much moisture (water) the leather takes in during the tooling process so what the Olive oil does is to restore the natural oils lost from the leather.

For most regular leather consumers, the use of Extra Olive oil will be to oil leather goods such as leather car seats, saddles, boots, bags, holsters, knife sheaths, etc.

And if you’re particularly after a Neatsfoot oil alternative that does not significantly darken leather then the Extra Virgin Olive oil will especially work great for you.

The way you would store Extra Virgin Olive oil is also not very complex. All you do is to keep it tightly closed and stored on a shelf. Or better still a darker place is a good place to store your Extra Virgin Olive oil as UV does a lot of harm to it. 

Pros and Cons of Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil On Leather

There are a couple of things that make Extra Virgin Olive oil the best alternative to Neatsfoot oil and a few things you need to reconsider before going ahead to use Extra Virgin Olive oil. 


  • Olive oil penetrates leather faster. This means your leather getting its nourishment is instant. 
  • Cheap and less expensive 
  • Very easy to find 
  • Olive oil gives the leather a good protection
  • Olive oil also goes on leather more evenly and more smoothly especially when compare to Neatsfoot oil.
  • Olive oil usually almost never darken leather like Neatsfoot oil will consistently do. At the very least, olive oil will only slightly darken your leather to about a shade darker which will quickly disappear in a matter of hours if not minutes.
  • It’s chemical-free and very safe to use
  • Olive oil is without animal fats so mold and mildew growth is fairly minimal unlike you would have with Neatsfoot oil – an animal-based fats which is an ideal food source for mold.
  • Olive oil can extend the life of the leather


  • The biggest disadvantage I found when it comes to using olive oil is that it tends to attract rodents like rats to chew on the leather
  • Does not last very long on the leather

Uses of Olive Oil on Leather

Olive oil can be used for a couple of things on leather. Some of the uses of olive oil on leather are:

  • Olive oil can be used to condition leather
  • It can be used as a leather softener

Here’s How To Apply Extra Virgin Olive Oil On Leather Goods

Applying olive oil on leather is pretty easy. Here’s all you need: 

Things Needed:

  • Paper towels (a lot of it) or brush
  • A soft clean cloth or microfiber cloth
  • Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Step 1: Load up your tissue papers or brush applicator with a liberal amount of Extra Virgin Olive oil and apply it over the leather surface you want to condition, soften, or restore. 

Step 2: Allow to set for about an hour. If you want your leather to darken a bit, you can allow your leather set on the sun for a couple of minutes before allowing it to air dry and set nicely.

Step 3: (Optional) Apply another coat of olive oil to your leather again and allow it to set. 

Step 4: Buff off any excess olive oil from your leather

Step 5: Let the oiled leather air-dry

2. Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is a very common ingredient in a lot of skincare and hair products but can also be used as oil for leather and in this case one of the best substitutes for Neatsfoot Oil.

What Jojoba oil actually offers is a chemical-free solution to conditioning leather goods, unlike the many other leather conditioning oils that contain chemical additives.

So if your goal for getting a Neatsfoot Oil alternative is to get another natural alternative, then jojoba oil will be a great natural option you can use to condition all your leather bags, shoes, purses, gloves, wallets, baseball gloves, etc.

Jojoba oil has certain properties that make it a great alternative to Neatsfoot oil. Jojoba oil is a great softener that goes on leather very smoothly. It’s technically some sort of wax and is very safe to use on leather. 

Jojoba oil is also non-staining which is very important when oiling leather items. Usually, our leather items such as bags, wallets, jackets, etc would often have close contact with our clothes and one of the most common concerns for most people are their conditioned leather items transferring oils or staining their clothes. 

When you use Jojoba oil you can be rest assured that no oil residue will permanently stain your clothes as jojoba oil stains can be easily washed out. 

One of the best things about using jojoba oil as a leather conditioner in place of Neatsfoot oil is that it never gets rancid both on the leather item it’s used on and on the shelf. 

So Jojoba oil will not rot and cause stitches or seam edges to weaken or break apart. It will also not cause your leather to develop foul smells or get your leather item to develop stickiness —  which can happen a lot with most oils.

Related Article: Why Does Leather Feel Sticky Plus How To Get Rid Of It

Pros And Cons Of Using Jojoba Oil On Leather


  • Jojoba oil is a good leather protectant
  • It can deeply penetrate the leather to nourish and keep the leather supple
  • Natural with no added chemicals
  • Very safe for use on leather
  • Jojoba oil does not leave a greasy residue on the leather
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Never goes rancid
  • Doesn’t cause staining to clothes from leather 
  • Jojoba oil when used on leather has no bad smell to it


  • Jojoba oil when applied on leather will darken it but not like how mink oil will though
  • It’s quite hard to get an even application with Jojoba oil without over-saturating the leather

How To Use Jojoba Oil To Oil Leather 

Using Jojoba oil to oil leather instead of Neatsfoot oil is pretty simple. Here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to condition, soften, and protect your leather goods using Jojoba oil.

Here’s All You Need

  • Microfiber Cloths (2)
  • Jojoba Oil


Step 1: Put a few drops of Jojoba oil on a microfiber cloth or a soft lint-free cloth. Don’t put the Jojoba oil directly on the leather item.

Step 2: Now gently rub the oiled cloth over the leather surface and work the entire surface until the Jojoba oil is completely absorbed. Depending on the size of the item you’re oiling, you might have to add a couple more drops to your cloth in order to cover its entire surface. 

Step 3: Once the entire surface is thoroughly covered, buff the oiled surface with a dry clean microfiber cloth or soft rag. This will help to remove any excess oil residue from your leather. 

Step 4: Allow your leather to air-dry for a couple of minutes and that’s that!

3. Mink Oil

Mink oil is manufactured from mink pelts and is really beneficial for lubricating leather. Mink oil is one of the conventional oils for leather and will make a great alternative for Neatsfoot oil. 

Usually, you will hear either Neatsfoot oil or Mink oil coming up when you’re out looking for oils or lubricants for leather. But Mink oil is going to be a less costly alternative to Neatsfoot oil.

Mink oil just like Neatsfoot oil can be used to treat and prevent the leather from becoming dry or rot but has an added advantage of superior waterproofing qualities. 

But there is a huge continuous debate on whether mink oil is good or bad for leather but what I find is Mink oil particularly a great softener for oil-tanned leathers and will go on dark-colored leather perfectly well. 

Mink oil is also good for leather goods such as leather sofas, chairs, and other leather goods that often needs lubrication and fiber softening.

Just like Neatsfoot oil, Mink oil is known to make leather goods about 2-3 shades darker. This is because when mink oil is used on leather, what it does is to block or clog the pores of the leather and this gives this oil its waterproofing prowess.  

Mink oil is generally very similar to Neatsfoot oil in terms of its effects on leather. So if you want a Neatsfoot oil alternative that works and has almost the same effects as Neatsfoot oil but comes with an added protective layer that’s going to make your leather highly waterproof,  then mink oil will be a great substitute.


  • Mink oil increases water resistance
  • Protects leather from salts and dirt from the environment
  • Mink oil can moisturize your leather
  • Darkens the leather to create a deep rich color
  • It’s also good for restoring and replenishing leather


Only conditions leather for only a short period of time and will eventually oxidize and harden your leather. So constant regular use of Mink oil to lubricate your leather is what will keep your leather soft, conditioned, protected, and water-resistant for longer periods of time. 

Mink oil also removes the natural shine on leather and makes the leather surface to dull up

How To Use Mink Oil On Leather

As mentioned earlier, Mink oil is great for leather items that need a lot of constant lubrication and not more softening. So here’s how you use Mink oil on such leather goods.

Most Mink oil products may be mixed with beeswax to maximize how well the mink oil conditions your leather items.

Things Needed:

  • Hairdryer
  • Mink Oil
  • Soft clean cloth


Step 1: Warm up the leather item. You can use a hairdryer or put the leather item close to a heat vent for a couple of minutes. Warming up the leather item first will help the Mink oil to absorb nicely into the leather pores.

Step 2: Put a liberal amount of Mink oil on your applicator and rub it over the leather item until it’s totally absorbed and melted into the leather. Make sure to condition or oil small sections of your leather items at a time with the mink oil.

Step 3: Clean off any excess Mink oil residue with a clean cloth

Step 4: Allow to air dry overnight

Step 5: (optional) You can repeat the entire application process for more secure and thorough conditioning.


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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