5 Best Leather Conditioners - Aug. 2022 - BestReviews (2022)

If you’ve ever been impressed by the rich color or supple condition of a well-cared-for leather sofa, chances are its owner has kept the leather in top shape by regularly applying a leather conditioner. Whether you’re investing in a new leather sofa or caring for a favorite pair of shoes, a leather conditioner is essential to renewing and prolonging the life of leather goods.

However, not all leather conditioners are the same. Some are expressly designed to be used with leather furniture, while other conditioners are best for shoes, and still others for leather coats. Leather conditioners keep these expensive goods supple and can protect against water damage and mildew while imparting an attractive patina to the leather. Some conditioning products are combined with leather cleaners or leather protectants, too.

At BestReviews, we want to make sure you know the differences between leather conditioners, and which types are best for the leather items that you want to protect.

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If you don’t want to use a combination leather cleaner/conditioner on protected or pigmented leather, clean the surface first using a solution of saddle soap and lukewarm water applied with a soft cloth. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth.

Key considerations


Match the conditioner to the leather

The type of leather conditioner you choose should be formulated specifically for the leather goods you will use it on. A leather conditioner for a sofa might contain very different ingredients than one made to condition leather shoes. And even the correct conditioner can have an undesired effect on the item it’s used on – it might darken the leather or leave an unwelcome sheen.

This can be very pronounced on nubuck and aniline leather, which absorb liquid much more easily than other types of leather. Pigmented or protected leather, on the other hand, is more water repellent and less likely to change color when a conditioner is used.

Furthermore, leather conditioners can darken your leather item – and you won’t know to what degree until you apply the conditioner to it. With some leather, this darker hue only lasts a few months, but if you apply conditioner regularly, eventually the color change will be permanent. Some owners love this effect, while others will be disappointed.

Conditioner plus cleaner

Some leather conditioners include a leather-cleaning component as well, which can save a step when protecting your leather goods. Just make sure the cleaning chemicals in the product are safe to use on your leather item.

Frequency of application

Leather conditioners should be applied every three to six months, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s a long enough period that you’ll have trouble remembering when the next application is due, so you might want to add a reminder in your calendar.

Waterproofing

While leather conditioners offer some protection to leather, they don’t make a leather item waterproof. You’ll still need to protect the leather against water, and the degree to which you do this depends on how the item is used and how often it’s exposed to the elements.

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We look at various types of leather and think about how the ingredients in a conditioner formula could affect them.

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Some leather conditioners are designed for use on furniture, while others are meant for footwear. Our comprehensive buying guide examines all types of leather conditioners.

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We look at the effectiveness of products that are able to clean leather items as well as condition them.

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Our search for the best leather conditioners includes an assessment of price, application frequency, and the quality of the product formula.

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Choosing the wrong conditioner could discolor your leather items or give them an unwanted sheen. We look for products that are versatile and effective.

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When searching for the best leather conditioners, we note the advantages and disadvantages of various application types.

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We research a variety of leather conditioners, from budget-friendly products to high-end conditioners that contain only natural ingredients.

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The right leather conditioner for you depends on your intended use. Our research is comprehensive so readers gain a clear understanding of which product would work best for them.

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Lanolin is a waxy substance used in many leather conditioners, but it may be too powerful for some items. We keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of this popular ingredient when searching for the best leather conditioners.

Leather conditioner features

Just as not all leather goods are alike, not all leather conditioners are the same. Their ingredients can have very different effects; for example, a conditioner that contains lanolin might soften a leather item too much.

Leather types

Pigmented or protected: These types of leather have an exterior coating of either silicone or polyurethane. “All-around” leather conditioners are just fine for these because they’ll work well without damaging or discoloring the leather.

Aniline: This rich and supple leather is very susceptible to staining, fading, and wear if not conditioned regularly with a product designed specifically for it.

Nubuck: With a “distressed” or suede-like finish, nubuck is somewhat easier to maintain than aniline, but it is essential that you use a leather conditioner specifically formulated for this type of leather.


Leather products

Furniture: Conditioners for leather furniture might contain a UV protectant to keep sunlight from fading, drying, or cracking the leather over time.

Bags: Leather purses, briefcases, and other bags are often vegetable-tanned with tannin and can discolor and shrink when they get wet. Higher-end bags often require a specific leather conditioner, so check with the manufacturer or the retailer.

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Shoes: Shoe conditioners are often part of a combination cleaner/conditioner solution.

Clothing: Consider using a naturally derived conditioner to keep your leather jacket or other garments supple and soft.


Application

Creams and lotions: These leather conditioners are simply rubbed in with the fingers or with a soft, lint-free cloth. A microfiber cleaning cloth is a good choice for applying the leather conditioner and then buffing the leather.

Spray: These leather conditioners are delivered through either a pump- or trigger-action spray bottle or aerosol spray bottle.

Wipes: Convenient cloth or paper wipes treated with leather conditioner are wiped across the surface of the leather item.

Use caution if you’re trying a two-in-one cleaner/conditioner or three-in-one cleaner/conditioner/protectant. The chemicals and waxes in some of these products might not be right for your leather goods.

STAFF

BestReviews

Leather conditioner prices

Inexpensive: Combination leather cleaner/conditioners are among the lowest-priced products for conditioning leather, starting at around $10.

Mid-range: Easy-application conditioners, such as spray bottles, cost around $12 to $14, but these might not be the best choice for more delicate leather.

Expensive: For more delicate leather, consider conditioners in the premium price range of $18 to $20.

"For small, supple leather items, applying beeswax after conditioning can provide extra protection from rain and sun. But test it first because it can discolor some types of leather."

STAFF

BestReviews

Tips

  • Spot test first. Before using a leather conditioner for the first time, do a spot test on an inconspicuous part of the item to make sure it won’t damage or discolor the leather.
  • Look for a neutral pH. A leather conditioner with a neutral pH is less likely to negatively affect the condition or appearance of the leather.
  • Protect against sun damage. Leather goods that are regularly exposed to sunlight should be treated with a conditioner that offers UV protection.
  • Check the label. Reach the manufacturer’s label for any recommendations or warnings against using specific ingredients on the leather item.
  • Clean the leather before conditioning. Clean the leather item before applying a leather conditioner. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leather item between conditionings to keep it free of debris and dust buildup.
  • Stick with a neutral color. Choose a leather conditioner with a neutral or natural color to stay as close to the original hue of the leather product as possible.

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Keep leather goods out of areas that are either very humid or very dry because these extremes can damage the leather.

FAQ

Q. I heard that lanolin is the best conditioner for any type of leather. Can I safely condition my shoes with it?
A.
Lanolin, a natural secretion found in sheep’s wool, is very good at softening leather – it makes just about any leather more supple and soft. But it’s probably too good because what’s great for leather jackets and some handbags isn’t necessarily a feature you want in a pair of sturdy shoes. In that case, lanolin could weaken the leather.

Q. Does leather conditioner also make leather waterproof?
A.
Leather conditioner doesn’t make leather waterproof, but it can impart some protection to the leather. Conditioners are formulated to penetrate leather and keep it moisturized. Most small leather goods made today, such as shoes, bags and jackets, have a protectant added that offers some waterproofing.

Q. Do I really need to condition leather every three to six months?
A.
That’s a guideline rather than a rule. In dry climates, you might want to condition your leather items every three months. For temperate climates, every six months is fine. Owners who have leather items with a “rugged” look often wait a full year before conditioning.

FAQs

What's the best leather conditioner on the market? ›

  • 5 Best Leather Conditioners. ...
  • #1 Best Overall: Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP.
  • #2 Best Brand: Bick 4 Leather Conditioner.
  • #3 Best Value: Meguiar's G18616 Gold Class Leather Conditioner.
  • #4 Best Kit: Chemical Guys SPI_109_16 Leather Conditioner.
  • #5 Best Odorless Conditioner: Leather Honey Leather Conditioner.
Jul 22, 2022

What is the number one leather conditioner? ›

Leather cleaner and conditioner details
Best leather cleaner and conditionerBrandName
OverallLeather HoneyLeather Conditioner & Cleaning Kit
For the moneyLexolConditioner and Cleaner Kit
All-in-oneChemical GuysSprayable Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
Leather cleanerCarfidantUltimate Leather Cleaner
1 more row
Dec 28, 2021

What is the best exotic leather conditioner? ›

Bickmore Exotic Cleaner and Conditioner is specially formulated for Exotic Leathers and Reptile Skin. It is ideal to clean, soften, preserve and restore Exotic Leathers. Bickmore Exotic will NOT darken finished or smooth leather and will not leave a sticky or gummy residue behind.

What is the best leather conditioning oil? ›

While neatsfoot oil will restore dried leather, improving flexibility and pliability, mink oil is a better alternative for leather care and conditioning.

How do I choose a leather conditioner? ›

Leather is a natural material and it's best if the conditioners consist of natural materials such as mink oil or beeswax.

What do car detailers use to clean leather seats? ›

Best Interior Detailing Tricks: Leather and Plastics - YouTube

What is the best product to clean leather? ›

Best Leather Cleaners To Protect Your Furniture and Retain Its Beauty
  • 1 Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner.
  • 2 Leather Honey Leather Cleaner.
  • 3 Weiman Leather Cleaner.
  • 4 Meguiar Leather Cleaner.
  • 5 Armor All Leather Cleaner.
  • 6 Lexol Leather Cleaner.
  • 7 TriNova Leather Cleaner.
Jul 6, 2022

Is Vaseline good for leather? ›

You don't need fancy leather moisturizer to take care of your favourite leather jacket. Petroleum jelly does the job just as well. Apply, rub it in, wipe off the excess, and you're ready to go.

Does Lexol conditioner darken leather? ›

It's a very lightweight product and does not darken the leather when used sparingly. However it must be applied regularly because the light oil are quickly absorbed by the leather.

How do you care for exotic leather? ›

For routine cleaning, a soft brush or damp cloth will do just fine. You can also use saddle soap to give them a deep clean every once in a while—just don't let the soap dry, as it will crack the leather. To keep alligator leather looking its best, use a conditioner made specifically for reptile leather.

How do you use Saphir Reptan? ›

Using a chamois, massage Saphir Reptan Beauty Milk generously into the skin using circular motions. The more time you spend massaging the Reptan into the skin, the more effectively it will penetrate. You can either leave to dry and then buff off with a horsehair brush.

How do you condition shark leather? ›

Once you've covered the entire surface of the shark leather, let it dry in a cool, indoors location away from sunlight and direct heat. Conditioning is just as important as cleaning, and should be performed any time you've given sharky a heavy cleaning.

Is mink oil the best for leather? ›

Mink oil does a much better job at conditioning the leather because it also leaves behind protective waxes that will keep your boots looking shiny and new. The leather's natural oils are lost during usage and, to an extent, during the cleaning process.

Who makes Lexol leather conditioner? ›

To find out, we went to Summit Industries, the manufacturer of Lexol® leather care products and a world respected leader in leather care. Summit Industries, Inc. is one of Atlanta's oldest, privately held companies with origins going back to the 1920's.

What does neatsfoot oil do to leather? ›

Neatsfoot oil is used to soften, condition, and preserve a number of leather products, including baseball gloves and horse tack, including saddles and harnesses. It is being displaced by synthetic products in certain applications.

How long should you leave leather conditioner? ›

Apply Leather Conditioner to the boots with a sponge or your hands and allow the conditioner to soak into the leather. Leave your boots for 24 – 48 hours to allow the conditioner to fully absorb. Once the conditioner is completely absorbed into the leather, give the leather a good buff with a dry cloth.

How often should I apply leather conditioner? ›

By applying the leather conditioner to your leather furniture or leather car upholstery, you essentially keep the leather from succumbing to dryness, as well as adding a layer of protection. A good rule of thumb is to apply leather conditioner once a month to keep the leather looking its best.

How much leather conditioner is too much? ›

1. Dab up as much excess conditioner as you can with a soft, clean cloth. Your goal is to get the surface of your leather as dry as possible before you begin. This will allow your cleaner to penetrate the pores directly, saving time and resources (and a potentially drawn out cleaning session).

What is the best way to clean leather seats in a car? ›

You can use a commercial leather cleaner, or you can make your own. Mix warm water and Castile soap or liquid dish washing soap together in a bucket. Use a ratio of 5 parts water to 1 part soap. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe down the seat surfaces.

How can I make my leather car seats shine? ›

If you suspect some solution might have leaked through your seat, turn on the heating to make sure it dries up. For cleaning leather car seats: Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle, apply, let it sit for five minutes and wipe.

How do you condition leather car seats? ›

How To Condition Leather Seats | Autoblog Details - YouTube

How do you keep leather car seats looking new? ›

These items can scratch or tear your upholstery.
  1. Step 1: Vacuum Any Loose Dirt and Contaminants. ...
  2. Step 2: Apply Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. ...
  3. Step 3: Gently Scrub Your Leather Car Seats and Upholstery. ...
  4. Step 4: Wipe Away Excess Product and Soils. ...
  5. Step 5: Buff Leather Surfaces to a Supple Shine.

Is Bag Balm a good leather conditioner? ›

So, it is important to always moisturize the leather. It is also important to water-proof your shoes to avoid water damage in rain and snow. Bag Balm both moistures and provides a water-proof coating for shoes making it one of my favorite products.

What can I use to condition my leather couch? ›

Mix two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of natural baby soap and a splash of vinegar in a bowl. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the conditioning mixture into the leather, making sure not to soak the area. Simply moisten the leather and leave the conditioner on the furniture.

Is leather conditioner necessary? ›

Leather conditioning is a routine care process that can restore moisture to your leather and strengthen it for the future. While conditioning your leather isn't necessary for it to last a long time, regular conditioning (up to once a month) can drastically improve the look and durability of your leather items.

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