The 10 Best Leather Conditioners
How To Choose A Leather Conditioner
Certain leather conditioners are suitable for dyed or color treated leather, while others can easily leave permanent stained or darkened spots on certain types of leather.
Some conditioners can be used on stiff leather, while others are perfect for softer varieties.
Whether you are trying to restore a pair of well worn cowboy boots after a ride across the range, or you are trying to bring the shine back to your Mont Blanc wallet, there is a leather conditioner out there that will serve your purpose. And in fact, sometimes the best way to use a leather conditioner is while a garment or accessory is brand new, as many leather conditioners are designed not to restore leather, but to protect it while breaking it in at the same time.
Before choosing a leather conditioner, you must know the types of leather to which it will be applied and have a general sense of their condition. Certain leather conditioners are suitable for dyed or color treated leather, while others can easily leave permanent stained or darkened spots on certain types of leather. Some conditioners can be used on stiff leather, while others are perfect for softer varieties. Few leather conditioners can be used on suede, and then again a few are formulated especially for this type of product. Thus you must choose a leather conditioner based on the leather at hand.
If you are trying to restore cracked or dried out upholstery, be it inside an automobile or inside your home or office, look for a leather conditioner formulated with a rather thin viscosity that can be brushed all over the surface of the seating evenly. As you will need a fair amount of conditioner for this type of application, look for a moderately priced variety. And also look for long lasting treatments: many leather conditioners can breathe new life into upholstery for as long as six months. You will appreciate the infrequency of these treatments, as they require leaving the upholstery untouched many hours or even an entire day following the application.
For pretreating shoes, a jacket, or a bag that will likely be worn outside in inclement weather, look for a leather conditioner that adds waterproofing to your material. The small investment of money and time you devote to applying a leather conditioner to your goods can help to greatly extend their life, keeping them looking newer and working better for much longer than the raw leather alone.
With smaller items such as a wallet, purse, or belt consider semisolid leather conditioners such as those made with a beeswax base. These products allow for extended polishing and can restore the as-new look glossier leather goods had before they were loved.
How To Use A Leather Conditioner
Quite often, the key to using a leather conditioner properly is to use it liberally. Most formulas are designed to be applied all over the surface of the garment, accessory, or upholstery in question, not merely on a few cracks or problem spots. Just be sure to wipe away excess conditioner left on the surface of the leather after letting it sit for an hour or two, and to let treated leather rest at least overnight before you again wear it, carry it, or sit on it, whatever the case may be.
Most formulas are designed to be applied all over the surface of the garment, accessory, or upholstery in question, not merely on a few cracks or problem spots.
Some leathers may quickly absorb a leather conditioner and may darken when so doing. If you're worried about permanently staining a piece of leather, try testing a small patch of leather with a dab of the solution before applying it all over the material. More often than not, the leather will return to its proper color once the conditioner has been fully absorbed and has a chance to dry.
Always use the applicator that comes with a leather conditioner if one was included with your order. Otherwise, using a clean and lint-free cloth is the best approach. An old t-shirt cut into strips works well both for applying leather conditioner and for wiping excess away. For treating cracks and worn spots on large upholstery or in vehicles where coating the entire surface of the leather is either unnecessary or impractical, you can deftly apply leather conditioner only where needed using a paintbrush. In this scenario, you should apply the formula conservatively and precisely, not liberally at all.
If you're trying to restore an old and/or worn pair of shoes or boots, make sure you thoroughly clean the footwear before you apply any leather conditioner, and allow the leather to dry fully before the treatment as well.
Keep in mind that some items, such as work boots, may be pretreated to resist moisture and to strengthen their leather against damage. Goods such as these should not be treated with leather conditioners that are designed to soften a leather; doing so may actually cause more harm than good, undermining their rugged design.
The Brief And Burnished History Of Leather Conditioners
Many leather conditioners on the market today have in fact been available for well over a hundred. Some formulas even date back decades into the 19th Century and have see their formulas changed little in all those years. When a product is already performing its duty adroitly, there is little reason to alter its makeup, after all.
Leather conditioners were originally concocted to restore saddles and harnesses used with horses and other farm animals and implements. By regularly conditioning the leather, one could extend the working life of their gear. Many of the leather conditioners common in generations past used tallow rendered from animal fats as their base material. Mink oil was also a common ingredient used to make leather conditioners, a practice which led to the slaughter of untold thousands of animals.
In the 20th Century, many brands began to create leather conditioners using ingredients less harmful (or lethal) to animals, such as cocoa butter and almond oil and even lemon oil in mild concentrations. Many homemade leather conditioners use mild baby soaps and white vinegar, though experts recommend professional formulas.