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The Only Thing You Need To Condition Your Leather Naturally & How To Do It

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Portrait of stylish young woman in black jacket looking confidently at camera on rural background.

Leather is one of the most durable materials out there, making it wonderfully long-lasting—but only if you take care of it. Whether it's used to make couches or jackets, the material needs to be conditioned whenever it starts to look a little dull.

According to green cleaning expert Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama, if your leather seems dry or is losing its suppleness, it's time for some conditioning.

Here's how to condition leather the all-natural way:

What kind of oils can you use to condition leather?

Which kind of oil to use for a DIY conditioning is a hot debate among leather enthusiasts. Recommendations online include everything from olive to coconut to canola oil. But according to Rapinchuk, your safest bet might be to steer clear of common kitchen oils. "[These] oils might leave a residue, and spotting," she explains.

One oil that has shown promising benefits for your favorite leather goods is lemon essential oil. All you need is a soft cloth and around 10 drops of the essential oil, which you can massage into your leather.

But according to Rapinchuk, the best bet for a natural oil is beeswax. "Beeswax in a tub is my go-to. Look for all-natural beeswax in a tub that can be applied to a clean cloth and rubbed on the leather," she adds.

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A DIY leather conditioner recipe.

This leather conditioner from Rapinchuk will work for most types of leather, but that said, it's never a bad idea to try spot testing a small, discreet area before you go in and condition the entire thing.

Ingredients:

  • Two or three clean, soft cloths (one for spot treatment)
  • Castile soap (for spot treatment)
  • 100% all-natural beeswax (as the conditioner)

Method:

  1. Always spot clean any dirty areas before conditioning. To do so, use a barely damp cloth with a dot of Castile soap to clean the surface.
  2. Then, using a clean, soft cloth, dip it into the tub of beeswax, getting a small amount on the cloth. Less is more, according to Rapinchuk.
  3. Rub the beeswax into the leather, working in small sections and in a circular pattern.
  4. Use another clean, dry cloth to rub off any excess. Your leather should look noticeably shinier and supple.

Follow-up care.

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Smaller leather items like shoes, purses, or jackets should be stored in room-temperature conditions out of harsh, direct light. Ideally, you'd place them in a breathable storage bag. (Many leather goods come with these bags, but even a pillowcase would work!)

Direct light can discolor your leather, and as far as humidity levels go, too much can cause mildew and mold, and too little, of course, will dry out your leather, leading to cracking. The best environment for your leather is somewhere between 65 degrees and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and about 55% humidity.

If storing boots or purses, you can pack them with parchment paper or leftover cushioned packaging material to help them hold their shape. (Newspaper ink can rub off on some materials—no thanks!)

And of course, cleaning and conditioning your leather isn't a one-and-done thing. If you want your leather to stand the test of time, Rapinchuk suggests using the beeswax method seasonally, or at least twice a year. "Spring (after the furnace is off) and fall are the best times to do this," she notes.

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The bottom line.

Leather may not come cheap, but with the proper care, you can get a return on investment. By tending to it at least a couple of times a year, you can ensure your favorite leather boots or your beloved recliner will make it through the years.

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