Leather has to be well cleaned and conditioned.
That is the only way to keep it looking good and lengthen its life.
This (Updated) guide will offer you insights on the top leather cleaners & leather conditioner for cars, bags, shoes, furniture, and jackets. It is also an all-encompassing guide on how to choose leather conditioners and how to use them.
Check out the list of best leather conditioners 2018:
Best Leather Conditioners 2018
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Leather Honey is one of the most dated leather conditioners on the market, having been in existence for more than 50 years now. No wonder most people trust this brand. The USA made conditioner was patented by a small family-owned business, and all those years later, it still uses the same formula as it did when it was first formulated. Leather Honey is a conditioner for people with different leather items including cars, shoes, and bags among others.
When applied, the conditioner will last about six months on your leather, keeping it moisturized to enhance its flexibility, appearance, and strengthen its water resistance quality. The formula is safe for the user’s hands, it is odor-free and silicone free. Granted, it can be used on all leather products with the same great results.
After application, the conditioner will absorb into the leather quickly, leaving nothing on top of your item. If you apply the right amount, you will have nothing left on the surface for you to wipe. If there is any remaining product, you can wipe it out with a clean piece of terrycloth. The manufacturer recommends ensuring that the conditioner is evenly spread on the surface of the leather item. Given the clear nature of this conditioner, it does not discolor articles, even the light colored leather products. However, be sure not to use it on suede or synthetic leather.
Note that, this product is not a waterproofing agent and it is not a cleaner. For impressive results, the manufacturer recommends using it with a leather cleaner.
- Formulated odorless, non-toxic, and silicone free, making it healthy for use at home.
- Offered with 100 percent satisfaction guarantee – the manufacturer will refund you in case you are not satisfied.
- The product has been on the market for more than 50 years within which it has attracted numerous positive reviews.
- The product lasts for six months, making it highly economical and ideal for all leather products.
- Formulated with no wax, no petroleum, and no mineral oils and this makes it safer for use.
- Its fast absorption can result in uneven distribution and this may bring the appearance of two-toned leather.
- Its effectiveness on exotic leathers such as alligator or crocodile is limited.
Bickmore Bick 4 was formulated for exotic and luxury leathers. Like the Leather Honey reviewed above, it is a US product. Having been on the market since 1882, the Bickmore Bick 4 conditioner has a reputation, spanning more than a century. Unlike many other conditioners on the market, this product is designed to maintain the new look of your leather and avoid darkening it. This makes it an ideal choice to use on light colored leather.
This leather is lanolin based but contains no toxic ingredients. During use, the conditioner applies smoothly. You can safely apply it with bare hands and expect no health conditions. When you use bare hands to apply, the lanolin in the product will leave the skin feeling smooth and soft. If you have new leather items, you can apply this conditioner to reduce the breaking-in duration.
Seeing that this conditioner does not leave a sticky feeling on the leather surfaces, it is suitable for furniture and car interiors or leather surfaces you are always touching. The formula is versatile, making it useful on shoes, bags, jackets, car interiors and other leather surfaces. A single application will last for months.
- Simple formula restores old leather to its new condition with great shine, flexibility, and suppleness
- It is formulated for use on exotic leather, luxury and synthetic leather, and on all leather products.
- Wax-free formula makes it easy and fast to apply and leaves no sticky residue on the leather surface
- One-step application lasts for months, giving you value for money.
- It is less effective on suede, distressed, napped, or pre-treated leather; ensure that you only use it on approved materials.
The Chemical Guys Leather Cleaning Kit is one of the top leather care combos on the market. The conditioner is accompanied by a cleaner, making this a complete set. The products are made of a simple natural formula geared towards offering effective and safe results.
The manufacturer recommends use with a microfiber cloth. Its clear formula ensures that the conditioner does not darken your leather. This makes it ideal for use on light colored leather on your car or furniture. The cleaner is highly effective in removing dirt and grease while the conditioner makes your leather softer and suppler. The conditioner has a wax-free and silicone free formula. This ensures that no sticky residue is left on the leather surface and the results are safe for the user at home.
The conditioner was designed for use on car interiors, but can also be used on furniture. When used on colored fabrics, the conditioner can discolor them. Granted, it is advisable that you give it time to absorb fully before you attempt sitting on it. Sitting on it might damage your clothes.
- Formulated with an artificial leather fragrance, which gives it a pleasant smell.
- The conditioner gives you value for money especially seeing that it is accompanied by a leather cleaner.
- Has an easy to apply clear formula that is safe for the skin.
- It discolors any fabric it comes into contact with before fully absorbing and you should reserve the application cloth for conditioning only.
- Not everyone will love the artificial fragrance added to this leather conditioner.
LeatherNu is formulated to restore leather that is in constant wear and tear. When applied, the product not only conditions but also repairs damaged leather goods with great effectiveness. It is formulated with special ingredients that make it easy to seal holes, rips, and generally cover up a sign of wear and tear. This makes it suitable for shoes that experience a lot of wear and tear, and for car seats and the steering wheel.
Its formula has seven intermix color dyes blended to offer impressive results. The conditioner lets you perform touchups on leather that is worn out and discolored. Its formula allows it to be used on virtually any leather product from shoes, bags, jackets, furniture and much more. Repairs with this product is easy – it involves trimming off excess leather and filling the holes, then sanding to make the leather surface smooth. You can then condition the surface normally. The clear conditioner is easy to apply and works well on all leather types, from exotic to luxury.
When conditioning alone is not enough and you need to take more care of your leather products, this kit can come in handy. It lets you repair items and condition them to lengthen their life.
- Offered in seven colors of dyes, letting you blend it perfectly with any color of the leather on different products.
- You are offered other treatments besides the conditioner to take care of your leather better.
- The conditioner is easy to apply thanks to its light formula, its clear color, and its odor-free nature.
- The repairer product adds a step into the conditioning process and it might be challenging for some people to mix the dyes right.
TriNova Conditioner and Restorer is formulated to moisturize and rejuvenate leather that is dry and cracked. If you are looking for the best leather conditioner for jackets, shoes, car upholstery, furniture, and bags among others, this formula is designed to offer just that. It enhances the water repellence quality of leather, letting you wear your leather items in any weather. The product has a leather scent that may be appealing to most people. The clear formula is fast absorbing and leaves nothing to be wiped.
The application is easy – like all other products on this list, the manufacturer recommends applying the conditioners, leaving it for some time to absorb, and then buffing the excess with a piece of soft cloth. On drying, the conditioner leaves your leather shining with a wet-look. This product is effective exotic leather but does not work well on suede.
For those who are looking for a conditioner to brighten their old looking leather, the TriNova might be a good option. It was initially formulated for car upholstery and furniture, but it can also be used on other leather products such as shoes and jackets. Its fragrance brings back the smell of new leather.
- The product is safe for use on all types of leather products including exotic and luxury leather.
- Made of synthetic polymer and is free of animal products, making it safe for use by all people.
- Can be used on all leather items, but it is highly recommended for car interiors and furniture.
- It might not appeal to users with chemical sensitivities thanks to its fragrance.
- Its effectiveness on suede products and other artificial leather products is limited.
KevianClean is a product that offers double action, it cleans and conditions. This saves you money that would otherwise be spent buying a cleaner. However, unlike other products on the list, which are versatile and useful in conditioning all leather items, KevianClean is formulated specifically for car interiors. If you need to keep your car upholstery in tip-top shape, this can be an ideal choice. This does not mean it is not safe for other leather products – it is just not as effective.
It has a light formula, making it easy to apply with a soft cloth and then buffed out with another soft cloth. When used correctly, this double action product removes dirt and grease, increases dye absorption on leather, and maintains the shine of your car interiors. It is also recommended when you need to shorten the breaking-in period on leather upholstery.
When you need an easy to apply a conditioner that saves you money, the KevianClean might do it for you. The cleaner conditioner formula is safe for the environment and for the user. It increases the water repellence quality of the leather in your car and also protects the leather from UV rays that might hit it.
- The formula is designed to clean, condition, and protect your car from UV rays, thereby, offering you value for money.
- Offered with 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and users can get 100 percent of their money back if they are not satisfied.
- All ingredients in this product are organic and safe for use even with bare hands.
- The light formula is easy to apply, absorbs, and dries relatively fast and lasts for more than five months.
- Formulated for use on cars only and is not ideal for use on furniture and shoes among other leather goods.
- Does not work well on suede and synthetic leather products.
The Chamberlain Leather Milk is another double-action conditioner. It cleans as it conditions. The USA made a product is shipped with an application pad, so, you do not have to look for an application cloth. The Saddleback Leather Company, one of the reputable leather companies in the US and in the world, endorses this leather conditioner product and this makes it a favorite of many.
The product is known for its natural formula and its deep conditioning property. It is non-toxic and safe for use in any condition even with bare hands. You can apply it on deep scratches on leather to buff them. When applied, it restores the moisture and the shine on leather that has dried out. Even better, it is also a cleaning agent and helps remove dirt and grease. The enclosed applicator pad is specifically to buff the conditioner evenly on the surface of the leather. The conditioner’s light formula makes it absorb fast and evenly.
This is a multi-purpose conditioner and cleaner, which would be a good choice when you are searching for the best leather conditioner for furniture, bags, car interior, shoes and much more. Ergo, you can choose it if you prefer using a single condition for all your leather items.
- Formulated with all-natural ingredients, making it safe to use even when it touches your skin during application.
- It is endorsed by the Saddleback Leather Company, which makes a high number of users trust it.
- This is also a cleaning agent and it comes with an applicator pad to reduce environmental waste.
- The formula is not ideal for use on unfinished leather, suede, and synthetic leather products.
- Spot testing is recommended as the condition may darken light colored leather.
Leather Rescue is stellar in that it has a balanced pH. It is a conditioner that restores your old leather furniture, car upholstery, shoes, or bags among other leather items. Unlike other products on this list, the conditioner can be used on unfinished leather, making it a suitable choice when you are looking for versatility in a conditioner.
When applied, this conditioner restores the state of your leather, moisturizes it, and improves its water repellence properties, prevents cracking, and covers it from UV damage. This conditioner sports a light clear formula that dries out in less than an hour. You can safely use it on faux leather and suede, enhancing its versatility even further.
The conditioner is gentle on your hands and gentle on leather. The application is as easy as spreading the formula on leather and buffing it with a soft cloth.
- Has a non-greasy formula that does not leave unpleasant residue behind and you can use it on leather items that you touch every day.
- It is highly penetrating and thus leaves the leather softer, suppler, and more moisturized than before.
- Features a natural formula that is non-toxic and safe for use.
- Helps prevent drying, cracking, and damage from UV rays, and can be used safely on suede and faux leather.
- It has a synthetic fragrance, which may not appeal to some of the users.
Beesbutter is a conditioner that has been used for more than 150 years. It offers the consistency of butter, making it easy to apply at all times. During application, the conditioner melts into your leather item as the warmth in your hands soften it. A single application will last for about 6 months, giving you value for money. When used sporadically, a single jar of conditioner will last you for a long time even if you use it in different leather items.
This is a multi-purpose conditioner with a natural formula. You can use it on car upholstery, clothing, shoes, furniture and more. It is an all-inclusive formula that lets you clean, moisturize, and keep the leather protected. The conditioner also enhances water repellence.
When applied, the conditioner restores the look of old and worn out leather, making it shiny and supple. It is recommended for use on car upholstery and furniture as well as other leather goods. It is formulated from beeswax and animal oils.
- The conditioner has a 150-year-old formula, which shows its reputation, which makes it last for more than a century.
- It is formulated from natural ingredients free of chemical, dyes, and adulterants, making it safe to use.
- The formula is all-encompassing, offering protection from drying and cracking, UV rays, and worn-out appearance.
- A little conditioner goes a long way and the product lasts for up to 6 months.
- The formula may darken leather after application and as such, spot testing is recommended.
- It is made of beeswax and takes longer to absorb and dry; it may also leave a stick residue that takes a day or two to clear.
Obenauf’s Leather Oil is one of the all-natural products on this list. The conditioner is formulated from beeswax and natural oils. It can be used for all leather items including shoes, car upholstery, and furniture among others.
Primarily, this product is formulated as a conditioner to be used in conjunction with a cleaner. Though it is made of beeswax, it has been made light to ease applying and reduce absorption time. After application, the conditioner makes the leather softer, moisturized, and suppler. If you need a product to enhance the water repellence property, try other products.
The oil is geared towards leather boots and accessories made of leather. The conditioner is delivered in a relatively small container and users might need to buy a number of containers to apply large surfaces such as car interiors and furniture.
- Soaks into the leather quickly, leaving a rich, supple, and moisturized sheen.
- The conditioner is delivered with a built-in applicator lid to reduce wastage and make it easy to apply.
- It is ideal for reducing the appearance of dryness and scratches on the leather.
- Delivered in a very small bottle, making it only suitable for shoes and small accessories.
Best Leather Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
Why Do You Need Leather Conditioners?
If you do not condition your leather up to this point, you might be sending your leather items to an early old appearance. First off, you need to understand what leather is. Leather in a way behaves like the human skin. Whether you have leather or eco-leather, it will need regular care to keep it at tip top shape. The same way you moisturize your skin and apply sunscreen to protect it from UV damage, it is the same way leather items need to be protected to prolong their lifespan.
When you apply a conditioner on your leather item, it reintroduces moisture back to dry leather, and this keeps it supple, flexible, and smooth. The moisture that has been reintroduced then helps reduce the appearance of dryness, cracks, and possible discoloration. Conditioning leather also has the effect of reducing or completely removing the discoloration that occurs on leather when the natural oils from our hands come into contact with leather or even remove the dirt that settles on the leather items when worn outdoors.
By conditioning, you make leather items more water repellant. Though it does not make leather 100 percent waterproof, it reduces its water absorbency in case you are caught in the rain.
The type, condition, and age of the leather will determine the amount of leather conditioner you use. Old and worn out leather will use more than the recommended amount. While different manufacturers will recommend different amounts, below are some of the standard measurements.
- Pair of new work boots – 2 ounces
- Jacket – four ounces
- Full-sized couch or car interiors – between 16 and 32 ounces
- Saddle – a pint
You will only need to apply a small amount and it goes a long way. Seeing that some conditioners last for about 6 months, you will seldom need to replace conditioners.
How Often Do You Need Leather Conditioner?
Most leather conditioners are formulated to be water resistant with no solvents. This means they will penetrate deeply into the leather and stay there. The conditioner can be effective for about 6 months. However, certain factors will determine how frequently you need to reapply the conditioner. When the leather is saturated with water, the conditioner tends to float on the surface and this means you need to reapply within a short period. Granted, keep the leather away from water as much as possible.
Direct sunlight also has an effect on the duration your leather conditioner stays effective. If you are treating a jacket that you often use in direct sunlight, you will have to treat it more frequently than you would a jacket that you use inside your office. This is the same for a couch that stays near the window or a car that is always parked under direct sunlight. You will know when time to reapply is ripe if the leather feels dry to touch or looks chalky. Note that, you should not confuse dirt with a need for a conditioner. The conditioner needs to be applied on a clean surface.
You can clean the leather item several times in between conditioning.
Should You Buy Leather Conditioners with Applicators?
A leather conditioner with an applicator comes in handy. However, most of the conditioners do not have applicators accompanying them. Rather, you will need a lint-free soft cloth to apply the condition on a clean leather surface. You can also use a sponge to apply and to buff. You can also use a brush, especially when you need to apply a large leather surface with cracks.
During application, irrespective of the applicator, allow time to absorb before buffing. Worn out leather might require a second application.
Does Conditioner Quality Affect Application Time?
The application time will be dependent on the size of the leather item and the lightness of the formula. On a pair of boots, it will take you about a minute. When the formula of the conditioner is light and runny, the application time is less. For waxy and thick conditioners, the application time will be relatively long. Seeing that reapplication will be in months, whatever time application takes is worth it.
Should You Buy Conditioners with Cleaners?
Some conditioners have a double formula that allows them to clean as well as condition leather. These are great choices as they offer you value for money and reduce time taken during two-step conditioning where you first clean and then condition. Even then, these formula may not be as strong as the conditioner-only formula and may, therefore, not offer as many benefits. For you to buy a cleaner/conditioner product, you must first ensure that the formula is effective.
What are the Best Conditioners for New Leather?
Most new leather item needs a conditioner. By applying the conditioner, you make the leather items soft, more flexible, long lasting, and you improve their appearance. You also protect them from wear and tear that is common in untreated leather. The best product, therefore, is one that softens, moistens, and protects.
However, not all new leather items will need a conditioner. Some, especially car upholstery, come with a silicone sealer. The sealer reduces the absorption rate of the conditioner. You might have to wait until the leather is a little worn out to apply the conditioner.
Will Leather Conditioner Prevent Mold and Mildew?
Leather conditioners prevent the buildup of mold and mildew by creating a seal in between leather and water. While water might finally seep in if the leather is saturated, as long as it lasts, it keeps mold and mildew out. When applying the conditioner, ensure that you clean all the mold and mildew to ensure that you do not seal it in.
Clear leather conditioners are recommended all day. In most cases, they are great when used on light colored leather as they do not darken them. Most of the conditioners on the market are clear and your choices are wide. Other conditioners are light brown or a light version of any other color. You can tell whether a conditioner will darken light colored leather by performing a spot test. Apply the conditioner on a small piece of leather and let dry, then observe. Most manufacturers will advertise their conditioners as safe for light colored leather, but trust the reviews more.
Should You Consider the Shelf Life of Conditioners?
Conditioners might last more than the ink on the label of their bottles. This is why most of them do not have expiry dates on their labels. According to some users, they have had their conditioners for more than ten years and they still function effectively. The conditioners will not evaporate and the ingredients do not react with each other. However, it is still advisable that you check whether the conditioner has an expiry date. Some natural conditioners might not last more than a few couple of years.
Some conditioners will deepen the brown of leather that has been tanned naturally and often gives the leather back its color. Any leather conditioner that penetrates the pores of naturally tanned leather will slightly change its color. This is more reason to spot test the conditioner on a small piece of leather before the final application. For some conditioners, the color of the leather will not be affected. The bad conditioner darkens, but a good conditioner offers a slightly deeper tone.
Should You Consider a Conditioner that is Effective on Synthetic and Exotic Leather?
A good conditioner should be versatile. Some are not recommended for suede, faux leather, and exotic leather. There is no problem with these conditioners if you do not have these types of leather. However, when you need to treat suede and other faux leather items, you will need a conditioner that covers you. Exotic leather such as crocodile and alligator leather needs special conditioners. When shopping, look at the descriptions and the list of leather items to treat.
Should Safety be a Concern When Buying Leather Conditioners?
Most conditioners are labeled as safe and non-toxic, but a look at the list of ingredients can tell you whether these conditioners are safe for you. To be on the safe side, choose conditioners that are all-organic, free of silicone, and other toxic chemicals. Even then, keep it out of children’s reach as they are difficult to clean when they spill on a carpet or any other fabric. Most conditioners will discolor fabric and you should ensure they do not come into contact with your clothes.
The contents of leather conditioners are shown under ingredients on the label. Most of the natural leather conditioners are made of essential oils from plants or animals, vinegar, and beeswax. The combination of these ingredients makes all the difference in the products. If the ingredients are not shown, you can always ask the manufacturer. Some might have mineral oils or lanolin, which some people might be allergic to.
How Do You Tell a Conditioner will not Result to a Sticky Residue?
Most conditioners are not sticky and any residue can be wiped off with a soft lint-free cloth. Conditioners made of a waxy substance, however, might have a sticky residue that might last a day or two. Ultimately, the residue will clear.
Should Allergic People Be Cautious When Buying Conditioners?
If you are allergic to animal based products such as lanolin, you should be careful when you are buying conditioners. Most of them do not irritate the skin, the eyes, or the nose. Even after you have verified that a conditioner does not have allergic substances, you need to wear gloves if you know you are allergic. Again, for allergic people, avoid applying the conditioner on areas that are always in contact with your skin.
Why are there different conditioning formulae?
There are different methods applied in the tanning of leather. The main difference, however, comes in the way leather is finished after tanning. Oil tanned leather undergoes fat liquors treatment that replaces the oils taken out during tanning processes. These oils dissipate with time and you need to keep the leather items soft and supple. When this happens, an oil based conditioner will be a good choice.
Dry tanned leather will not have oil, and in most cases, will have a nap. For these, a silicone based protectant will come in handy. A number of leather items have a sprayed on-coating and their treatments do not work well with oil or silicone based conditioners. To this end, a water based lotion comes in handy. This is why in some instances, the best leather conditioner for shoes might not work well for car upholstery.
Before you place your order, it is advisable that you confirm whether you have leather or vinyl. It is a common phenomenon to have car upholstery and furniture having leather on the sitting areas and vinyl on the sides. When this happens, identifying the material becomes a little challenging.
When you touch leather, it feels naturally soft and warm. Vinyl is hard, cold, and stiff. It will feel artificial. While touch may be a simple way for some people to distinguish between leather and vinyl, others may still have problems. The sure-fire way of distinguishing between leather and vinyl is to look at the underside of the leather item. If the fabric has a cloth-like material glued to the underside, then that is vinyl. At times, the backside of vinyl will have a white-colored fuzzy fabric. Natural leather, on the other side, has no backing and has a rough texture. The backside of leather has the same color as the front side.
A scratch test and an oil drop test will tell you the kind of leather you have. If you can easily scratch the surface of leather with your fingernail, then you have oil tanned leather. If there is no scratch, the leather is coated. For the water drop, oil turned leather will absorb water and form a dark sport while coated leather will roll away the drop.
Irrespective of the type of leather you have, it will need conditioning at one point. You do not have to wait for the leather to get all dry, cracked, and looking worn out to apply the conditioner. Apply when the leather is new and reapply after every six months or immediately the leather feels like it is drying. The above review has the best leather conditioner for bags, shoes, car interiors, and other leather items. All you need is to pick one that meets your budget and your needs.