Is Olive Oil Good For Leather? (Explained)

Olive oil dripping onto a leather sheet from an olive oil jar. Is Olive Oil Good For Leather?

There are a lot of quick fixes out there that will help you save your leather, supposedly. Is olive oil one of them? Should you trust it? Here’s what you need to know about using olive oil on leather!

Olive oil can be helpful as a quick fix for leather. It helps restore its original color and repair small scratches to all sorts of leather goods. You’d use it as a replacement for a leather conditioner, so you’ll still want to do what you can to clean your leather first before using it.

That being said, olive oil can deplete your leather when used only as a first resource. It might even speed up its natural drying-out process. It’s a quick fix that could shorten the overall lifespan of your leather item.

Key Takeaways:

  • Olive oil can be used as a quick fix for leather, restoring color and repairing small scratches.
  • It is used as a substitute for leather conditioner, but cleaning the leather first is recommended.
  • Using olive oil as a primary resource can deplete leather and accelerate its drying-out process, potentially shortening its lifespan.
  • While olive oil can be used on genuine leather items, its benefits are short-lived and vary across different types of leather.
  • Olive oil can soften leather to a limited extent, and it is more effective for removing scratches and restoring color.
  • However, olive oil can damage leather and stain it if not applied carefully, particularly on sensitive or light-colored leather.
  • Olive oil doesn’t waterproof leather; commercial leather-specific waterproofing products are necessary for true waterproofing.

Can olive oil be used on genuine leather?

Olive oil can be used on genuine, authentic leather, yes. However, I don’t recommend using it with genuine leather because its benefits tend to be short-lived. You can technically use olive oil on all kinds of leather products, including leather bags, boots, and furniture.  

From one leather type to the next, though, it will have short-lived benefits. It’s a great choice if you have nothing else to use, but it’s not a great option if you have any other choice for leather care with purpose-designed products.

Will olive oil soften leather?

Olive oil can soften leather, but it won’t soften it much. This common cooking oil is best used for removing scratches and restoring your leather’s color to its original hue. Mixing olive oil with water, cocoa butter, and almond oil can be beneficial for old leather. Using olive oil with old leather can specifically help give it a new second life.

Does olive oil destroy leather?

Unfortunately, olive oil can destroy the leather. It must be used carefully and precisely (more on that later), and even if you do everything perfectly, there’s still a chance it can stain your leather items. Olive oil can permanently stain your leather, so apply it just right for the best effects. Or not use it at all, whatever is easiest.

Will olive oil darken leather?

Olive oil can certainly darken leather, but whether it does or not is going to depend greatly on what kind of leather you have. You won’t notice any visible darkening if it’s darker or heavier leather. If you have sensitive leather and light-colored leather, you might be able to see the discoloration/darkening process.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that olive oil can yellow your leather?

To protect your leather, you’ll want to understand the potential risks of color changes and your leather’s sensitivity to olive oil.

Does olive oil remove scratches in leather?

Olive oil is often helpful at removing scratches in the leather, which, specifically, is going to be one of the main reasons you should seriously consider using olive oil if you have nothing else available. Interestingly, Animal Path explains that it can be helpful with cat scratches, in particular.

Other products and care for scratches will be your best choice for the safety of your leather, but olive oil can work for scratches — at a price.

Can you polish leather with olive oil?

You may already know that you should polish many leather items like shoes, boots, and bags. This keeps them as their refined, glossy selves for much longer, and they’ll present well. However, you shouldn’t rely on olive oil to polish leather.

If anything, olive oil is a conditioner product that will help buff out scratches, protect your leather from drying out, and more. It should never be used deliberately as a polishing product. It won’t have the effect you’re going for, and it isn’t going to do much good otherwise, either.

Does olive oil waterproof leather?

No, olive oil doesn’t waterproof leather at all. It just works to soften the leather and conditions it. Despite claims that many products can help waterproof your leather, only a leather-specific waterproofing product can guarantee true waterproofing.

Reasons not to use olive oil on leather

As you can guess, you’ll find a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t use olive oil when caring for your leather. Some of the most important ones are below for you to take a look at and take seriously:

  • It stains easily
  • It can attract mold
  • It can attract dust
  • It can attract pests
  • It does more harm than anything else
  • It can dry out your leather

When you see details like these, it’s easy to understand why olive oil can be such a bad idea. Anything that attracts dust, pests, and mold will be better off left alone, right? Exactly.  Even if it does help with shoe scratches, you can see just why it’s not the best choice for, well, anything in leather care.

Fun Fact:

Olive oil can make your leather smell like a salad! It also will mess with that classic leather smell that you love. Click to learn what leather smells like!

How do you soften leather shoes with olive oil?

Perhaps you’re here because you need to use olive oil to soften leather shoes just because you want and need to. If so, that’s totally fine. After all, other research you read might have you convinced that this is your only option. If so, here are some important points to keep in mind.

  • Clean your leather first (otherwise, it’ll lock the dirt or debris in)
  • Use olive oil lightly on your shoes
  • Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe it on
  • Less is more (seriously)
  • Only use olive oil if you absolutely have to

Olive oil is a dangerous product for your leather; there’s no question about it. However, it can help restore the original color of your leather and repair minor scratches in your leather as well.

The potential risk of olive oil

Okay, so you’re getting the idea that olive oil isn’t a good choice for leather. This is my intention. But, to ensure that you don’t grab that oil anyway and use it just because you can, here’s some more information on the risks of olive oil.

Leather is designed to absorb scents and oils since it’s an organic material (aka animal skin). So, your leather shoes or bag will absorb the olive oil and draw it deep into the leather’s bark (the base layer). It can be deceiving because the leather will absorb it, and it’ll seemingly disappear.

But that greasy oil will reappear in blotches and spots later, and those dark marks will most often be permanent. Your leather bag will have gross, slippery spots seemingly appearing out of nowhere. It’s not what anyone wants for their luxury good.

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? That’s how classic oils work with leather. That’s why you should be very careful with any kind of DIY oil-based options for leather care. Commercial leather care products will always be better than natural food oils because they are designed to protect the leather and not put it at risk.

FAQ: Olive Oil on Leather

Is Olive Oil Good For Leather?

Olive oil is not recommended for use on leather. While it may seem like a natural and readily available option, olive oil can actually cause more harm than good to leather products. It can create a greasy residue that attracts dirt and dust, leading to a buildup that can be difficult to remove. Additionally, olive oil can darken leather and leave a sticky or tacky feeling on the surface.

What is mink oil?

Mink oil is a popular type of oil used for conditioning leather. It is derived from the fat of minks, a small mammal commonly found on commercial fur farms. Mink oil is known for its ability to penetrate deep into the leather, providing moisturizing and conditioning properties. It helps to soften and rejuvenate the leather, making it more flexible and resistant to cracking or other forms of deterioration.

Can I apply neatsfoot oil on leather?

Yes, neatsfoot oil is a commonly used oil for leather. It is derived from the shinbones and feet of cattle and has been used for centuries to condition and protect leather. Neatsfoot oil helps to restore natural oils to leather and keep it supple and soft. It is especially beneficial for older, dry, or stiff leather products.

Can I use coconut oil on leather?

While coconut oil is sometimes suggested as an alternative to other types of oils for leather, it is not the best choice. Coconut oil can darken leather and leave an oily or greasy residue on the surface. It is also not as effective at penetrating the leather as other oils such as mink oil or neatsfoot oil. It is generally recommended to use oils specifically designed for leather care.

How should I apply oil to leather?

When applying oil to leather, it is best to start with a clean and dry surface. You can use a leather cleaner or a mild soap and warm water to remove any dirt or stains before applying the oil. After cleaning, you can apply a small amount of oil onto a clean, lint-free cloth and rub it into the leather in a circular motion. Make sure to apply a thin layer and avoid excessive oil, as it can lead to a greasy appearance.

Can I apply oil to any type of leather?

While many types of leather can benefit from oil conditioning, it is important to use the right oil for the specific type of leather you are working with. Some leathers may require special treatment or may not be suitable for oil application. It is always recommended to test the oil on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not have any adverse effects on the leather.

What are the benefits of applying oil to leather?

Applying oil to leather can have several benefits. It helps to moisturize and condition the leather, making it softer and more supple. This can prevent the leather from drying out, cracking, or becoming stiff over time. Oil also creates a protective layer on the leather, which can help to shield it from moisture, dirt, and other environmental elements. Additionally, some oils can improve the appearance of leather by enhancing its natural luster and shine.

Can I use mink oil on other leather items besides jackets?

Yes, mink oil can be used on various leather items besides jackets. It is suitable for use on shoes, boots, bags, belts, wallets, and even leather furniture. The moisturizing and conditioning properties of mink oil can benefit any type of leather that requires regular care and maintenance. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test the oil on a small area first to ensure compatibility.

Can using oil on leather harm the environment?

The use of oil on leather itself does not directly harm the environment. However, it is important to consider the source of the oil and the impact of its production. For example, mink oil is derived from animals raised on fur farms, which raises ethical concerns related to animal welfare. Additionally, the production and transport of oils may have indirect environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction. If environmental sustainability is a concern, you can explore alternative leather care products or methods that have minimal ecological footprints.

How often should I apply oil to leather?

The frequency of oil application depends on various factors such as the type and condition of the leather, the amount of use it receives, and the environmental conditions it is exposed to. As a general guideline, it is recommended to apply oil to leather every 6-12 months or as needed. However, it is always a good idea to assess the condition of the leather regularly and adjust the frequency of oiling accordingly. The goal is to maintain the leather’s moisture balance and prevent it from becoming excessively dry or cracked.

Olive oil might be good for cooking and other cleaning or oiling, but not for leather. It can help take care of minor scratches — mainly cat scratches — but it also carries many risks and can cause many problems when it comes to protecting your leather.

It might even prematurely age your leather and make it smell bad. There will always be more risk than reward when it comes to olive oil and your leather, so keep this in mind when looking for proper DIY options for your leather’s best interests.

Know someone with beloved leather prone to focusing on DIY fixes for proper care? If so, warn them of the potential risk by sharing this article with them! It might just save their leather from permanent damage and harm!

Andre from leatherninja.com

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.