Natural animal skin is the oldest and one of the most long-lasting materials – if you maintain the material with a leather conditioner. Over time, leather loses moisture and becomes prone to damage and decay. But, the best type of leather conditioner to use depends on several factors.
Learn everything you need to know about the best types of leather conditioner for your car's interior upholstery, seats, furniture, or other leather surfaces. Find out why some leather conditioner treatments can cause damage, while others will maintain your leather for many years to come. And, discover the most common mistakes when trying to repair and maintain your leather.
Types of Leather Conditioner for Cars, Furniture, and Other Surfaces
Leather oil or conditioner is a moisturizing treatment that is essential to keep leather from becoming dry, cracking, and wearing-thin over time. There are different types of leather oil – each with its benefits and limitations. Some leather conditioners are synthetic, while others are all-natural, and the best choice depends on the type of leather.
Leather has natural moisture within the fibers of the hide. When these fibers dry-out over time or from moisture or damage from ultraviolet light, the leather cracks and rips easily. In addition, some leather conditioner oils provide a water-resistant exterior coating.
Which Leather Conditioner is Best to Use – and When?
Since there is a wide variety of different types of leather, there are many different types of leather conditioner. Heavy, natural leather requires a more heavy-duty leather conditioner, while thinner leather, like smooth or soft leather, is best maintained with a natural leather conditioner treatment.
The frequency with which leather needs treatment depends, on its regularity of use, as well as the kinds of usage it receives. For example, car seats and furniture can be treated on a predetermined schedule, while leather boots may need conditioning only after the boots are worn. By giving leather the conditioner treatments, it needs, it will not require a leather repair or replacement service for many years to come.
Over-conditioning leather can be just as harmful to the material's longevity as neglecting maintenance, altogether. In general – leather that receives regular use, like car seats and furniture should get a leather treatment every two to four months. For fine-leather, like that which is used in making dress shoes or upholstery, needs less frequent treatments – usually, around twice-per-year.
What is Mink Oil?
Mink oil is a natural leather conditioner, and the use of this natural oil goes back hundreds of years. The oil extracted from minks is composed of around 70% unsaturated fatty acids, and 30% saturated fatty acids. Mink oils high viscosity and natural chemical composition allow it to deeply penetrate leather and effectively moisturize the fibers to ensure a flexible matrix.
What is Lexol?
Some varieties of leather conditioner are the exact-opposite of a naturally-derived oil, and are, in fact, synthetic. Lexol is water-based and petroleum-free, making it non-toxic and non-flammable. And, Lexol dries evenly and dry, making it a common and effective option for a wide range of leathers.
What is Neatsfoot Oil?
Neatsfoot oil is extracted from the bones and hooves of cattle and other animals' hoofs. Neatsfoot oil is not a natural leather oil, since the final product's chemistry includes petroleum-based materials. This type of conditioner is often seen in older leather products but is not used as much anymore because it tends to dry out the leather fibers over the long-term.
The most common mistake in treating your leather is applying too much product, which can result in unsightly stains. Also, be careful not to make the mistake of using home-made or DIY-based leather conditioners, such as canola oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or any other cooking product. Talk to a leather repair expert to find out what the best leather cleaner and conditioner is for your fleet, furniture, or other leather surfaces.
CCI certified technicians do use and offer for sale an environmentally friendly water-based leather cleaner and conditioner that provides the essential oils to replenish your leather that are lost through everyday use and cleaning. This product will assist in repelling stains and soiling of your leather, while at the same time keeping your leather soft. To learn more about our exclusive leather care products, visit our online store.