Is Olive Oil Good for Leather?

Is Olive Oil Good for Leather?

Leather is a natural and durable material that has been used for thousands of years. It is often used to make furniture, clothing, and other accessories. Leather is also very popular among car enthusiasts, who use it to make car seats, steering wheels, and more. So the question arises: can olive oil be used to clean or condition leather? In this article, we will answer that question once and for all!

Olive Oil in General

Leather is a material that has been used for centuries to make clothing, wallets, bags, and various other items. It is made from animal hides that have been treated with chemicals or oils to make them more durable and resistant to water and sunlight.

The most common type of leather used in apparel and accessories is full-grain leather, which is the top layer of the hide that contains all of the natural grain patterns. This type of leather is considered to be high quality due to its durability and resistance to wear.

Other types of leather include top-grain leather (the second best grade) split-grade leather (which has had some of the grain removed), suede (which has had its surface brushed or buffed to make it soft and pliable), and nubuck (which is made from the less desirable bottom layers of the hide).

Unfortunately, as durable as it is, leather can be damaged if not cared for properly. It can become cracked, stained, and discolored due to exposure to the elements, or from everyday wear and tear. To help keep leather in good condition, it is important to use a product that will nourish and protect it.

Some people may wonder whether olive oil is a good choice for conditioning leather. After all, olive oil has many uses in general and there’s no wonder why people often use it in a variety of areas.

Olive Oil in General

For one, it can be used in cosmetics as it’s a great moisturizer for the skin. It helps maintain suppleness and improves the elasticity of the skin. This is because olive oil contains antioxidants that slow down premature aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.

Obviously, cooking is another use of olive oil. It’s considered to be a healthy alternative to butter and margarine as it lowers bad cholesterol levels while raising the good ones. Olive oil is also a healthier choice for those with lactose intolerance or following vegan diets.

Medicine is another area where olive oil is used, especially in the form of pomace and extra-virgin varieties. It can be used to treat some skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, or eczema. [1] [2]

Is Olive Oil Safe For Leather

But the question is: is olive oil good for leather? After all, leather is a luxurious and expensive material, so it’s understandable why someone would want to be vary of using a product on it that may damage it.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Olive oil is not a good choice for leather conditioning. It may seem like it’s an inexpensive and natural alternative to other commercial leather conditioners, but the truth is that olive oil could actually cause more harm than good.

And to explain why that is, we shall discuss the major risks that come with using olive oil on leather.

It can discolor your leather

The biggest concern when using olive oil on leather is the risk of discoloration. Olive oil has a tendency to penetrate into the surface of leather, leaving behind an oily residue that can easily discolor your material and turn it yellow.

This is especially true for lighter-colored leathers, as they are more prone to staining from oils compared to darker-hued ones. So if you value the aesthetic of your piece, then it’s best to avoid using olive oil on it altogether. Even if you are careful to remove all excess oil from the surface, some will remain deep in the pores and cause discoloration.

The best way to avoid this problem is to test any product in a discreet area before applying it liberally to your entire item.

It can stiffen the leather when overused

Another of the main reasons why olive oil isn’t a good choice for leather conditioning is because it can actually stiffen the material over time. This is due to the fact that when it comes into contact with leather, it seeps deep into the pores and will eventually harden them if not removed properly. This means that your leather item could become stiff and brittle in the long run, making it difficult to use and maintain. Furthermore, this can also make your leather item look aged and worn out prematurely.

Is Olive Oil Safe For Leather

This might not be the case for occasional (very occasional) use, but it’s still recommended to avoid using olive oil on leather as much as you can.

It can cause mold growth on the material

Another risk that comes with using olive oil on leather is mold and mildew growth. The problem here is that olive oil, being a natural product, contains proteins that act as a food source for mold and mildew. When applied to leather, these proteins can feed the fungi and create an ideal breeding ground for them.

And if you don’t think this is a big deal, then it’s important to note that mold and mildew can cause serious damage to the leather’s surface, making it look worn out and discolored over time. Not only that but dealing with mold growth can be very tricky and costly as well.

It can ruin the natural smell of the leather

The natural smell of leather is very popular – especially when it comes to furniture, clothing, and accessories. This scent has a unique warmth that many people find comforting and luxurious. In addition, the smell of leather is strongly associated with luxury items like designer handbags and high-end cars.

Unfortunately, olive oil can dramatically change this smell. It may lose its natural aroma and be replaced by a very distinct scent of the oil itself. This could ruin the experience of wearing or carrying certain items, as well as make them less pleasant to be around.

The reason behind this is that when you apply olive oil to leather, it binds to the proteins in the hide and can create an unpleasant odor that may last for a long time. This means that over time, your leather will start to smell like olive oil instead of its original scent.

It doesn’t nourish your leather properly

Another problem with using olive oil on leather is that it won’t provide the proper nourishment for your leather. Leather is a natural material, which means that it needs proper care and nourishment if it is to retain its supple feel and attractive patina. Leather can become dry and brittle over time due to wear and tear as well as environmental conditions. Proper nourishment helps keep leather in good condition so that it can last for many years.

So as you can see, proper nourishment is essential for leather care. And unfortunately, olive oil won’t provide that. Olive oil is not the proper nourishment for your leather. While it will soak into the leather, it won’t provide the nourishment that leather needs in order to remain in good condition.

It doesn't nourish your leather properly

It can destroy the finish of the leather

While you may have thought that olive oil is a natural lubricant that works well with leather, the truth is that it can actually damage the surface of your leather goods.

When applied to leather, olive oil acts as a solvent and can dissolve the finish on any leather item, leaving behind an oily residue. This makes it difficult for dirt and other materials to stick to your leather items and can cause them to become more susceptible to scratches and staining.

And not only that, but olive oil also can remove the natural sheen of the leather, leaving it looking dull and lifeless. This sheen is one of the most praised features of leather and can be very difficult to restore once removed.

It may not be absorbed properly by leather

The huge nuisance with using olive oil on leather is that it may not be properly absorbed by the material. Leather, like other natural materials, has pores and pores need to be filled in order to fill out the material and restore its original shape.

Unfortunately, olive oil does not have the same properties as commercial leather conditioners which can penetrate deep into the fibers of leather and help them retain water molecules. While some leathers can absorb olive oil to some extent, others may not be able to absorb it properly. This can lead to olive oil just sitting atop the surface and forming a greasy layer over time that can attract dirt and dust particles.

This greasy layer will also prevent air from getting to your leather, which in turn may lead to discoloration or cracking.

It can worsen the existing stains

Olive oil can worsen existing stains on leather, particularly if the stain is caused by dirt, dust, and oils that have already accumulated in the material.

That’s because olive oil any natural oil can penetrate deep into the material and cause the stain to become even more pronounced. As a result, you could end up with an even worse-looking leather item than what you had before.

This is a particular risk if you’re dealing with already damaged leather as it may have existing stains that could worsen.

Can oil damage leather?

It will attract dirt and debris

Lastly, olive oil will attract dirt and debris to the surface. This is because olive oil has a certain stickiness to it which can bind with all sorts of dirt particles, allowing them to stick to your leather item.

This means that after a while, your leather item could become dirty and covered in dust or even worse – moldy! Furthermore, this layer of dirt and grime may also make it difficult for you to clean your leather properly in the future. So no matter how much cleaning solution you use to try and get rid of this mess, chances are that you won’t be able to make your leather look brand new again. [1] [2]

It can speed up the deterioration of your leather

Leather is a natural material that has been around for centuries, and it requires special care to keep it in tip-top shape. One of the biggest risks of using olive oil on leather is that it can speed up the deterioration process.

Olive oil contains fatty acids which are known to break down leather fibers over time. This causes your leather to become brittle, dry, and cracked more quickly than it would otherwise. Moreover, fat molecules in olive oil can also penetrate into the leather and cause discoloration and staining.

In addition to this, when you use too much olive oil, it can make a mess on your furniture or clothing as well as attract dirt and dust from the air. This not only makes your leather look old and worn out, but it also increases the risk of bacterial growth.

The issue with oil is that it is quickly absorbed and lies deep within the grain and pores of the leather, which in turn makes it hard to remove in a timely manner. Not only is this hard for a professional to deal with, but impossible for most people to take care of in their homes.

What are Safer Olive Oil Alternatives For Leather?

For the reasons stated above, it’s best to avoid using olive oil on your leather goods as much as possible if you want them to look their best for years to come. There are many other options available when it comes to conditioning leather and restoring its smooth, supple texture. In this section, we will discuss some of the safer olive oil alternatives for leather.

What are Safer Olive Oil Alternatives For Leather?

Commercial leather conditioner

The most effective and safest way to condition your leather goods is to use a quality commercial leather conditioner.

Leather conditioners are products designed to keep leather supple and prevent it from cracking. They restore natural oils, protect it against water and abrasion damage, and help to maintain the leather’s original softness. Leather conditioners come in various forms, including cream, lotion, sprays, waxes, and oils.

Most commercial leather conditioners contain a blend of ingredients like lanolin, mineral oil, or silicone oil for water resistance; fatty alcohols for flexibility; petroleum distillates for shine; and fragrances or preservatives. Some may even contain beeswax for extra protection. Many leather conditioners also contain dyes to match the color of your furniture or shoes. 

You should always check the label before using any commercial leather conditioner. Be aware that some of these products might contain harsh chemicals like toluene, which can damage your leather over time.


Lanolin is a greasy, yellow, waxy substance found in sheep’s wool and other animal skin. It can be used to condition leather and make it softer, more pliable, and less likely to crack over time. Lanolin also provides water resistance without leaving behind a residue or an unpleasant odor like some commercial leather conditioners.

If you decide to use lanolin for your leather goods, always buy pure lanolin from reputable sources instead of using regular lanolin ointment or lotion as these products may contain additional chemicals that could harm your leather’s texture or color over time.

Mink oil

Mink oil is another popular alternative to olive oil for conditioning leather. It is extracted from the fatty tissue of minks and contains natural oils that can help keep your leather soft and protected. Mink oil is often used on leather shoes, boots, belts, wallets, purses, and other accessories.

When using mink oil, it’s important to not overdo it as too much can darken the leather’s color or even cause it to rot. Always apply a small amount and test it on a small area first before using it all over the item. You should also ensure that you use pure mink oil, as some products on the market may contain additional chemical ingredients that could harm your leather goods. [3]


Can you use virgin olive oil on leather?

No, using pure virgin olive oil on leather is not recommended. While it’s true that pure, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil is a natural product, it contains a high amount of acidity and can damage the fibers in the leather. The surface of leather furniture or clothing may be initially softened by applying olive oil, but over time this can cause discoloration and cracks due to the oils’ high acid levels breaking down the fibers.

Can you use virgin olive oil on leather?

For those looking for natural treatments for their leather goods, there are better alternatives than pure virgin olive oil. Some alternatives include coconut oil, beeswax, and mink oil. These products are more suitable for use with leather because they are more nourishing and will not damage the material.

What kind of oil is good for leather?

There are a variety of oils that are good for leather, including mineral oil and silicone-based lubricants. Sadly, olive oil isn’t one of them. In fact, olive oil has the potential to cause damage to leather by weakening its fibers and making the material stiffer and less pliable. Instead of olive oil, use a product specifically formulated for leather care, such as saddle soap or mink oil.

Or, you can opt-in for a commercial leather conditioner, which will help protect the leather from wear and tear as well as keep it clean. Leather conditioners typically contain a blend of natural oils (such as lanolin and jojoba) that nourish the material without breaking down its fibers or altering its appearance.

Is vaseline good for leather?

Vaseline is a great option for protecting and conditioning leather, but it’s important to use it carefully. It can cause darkening and discoloration if used too heavily or in the wrong way.

To use vaseline on your leather items, start by wiping down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Then, dab a small amount of vaseline on a clean cloth, using just enough to lightly coat the material. Gently rub the cloth over the surface of the leather item, coating it evenly. Make sure to avoid rubbing too hard and concentrate mainly on covering all of the cracks and creases. Let the vaseline sit for five minutes before buffing off any excess with a dry towel or rag. 

Using vaseline sparingly on your leather items will help preserve them and prevent further damage. However, it’s important to remember that it won’t provide lasting protection and should be reapplied regularly.

Can oil damage leather?

Yes, some oils can damage leather if not used properly. Olive oil for example will penetrate and soften the leather, causing it to become brittle over time and eventually crack or break. The type of oil and how it is applied is important when determining if it will damage the leather.

When using olive oil on leather items, it is best to test a small area first to ensure that no discoloration or other damage occurs before applying the product more widely. When cleaning with olive oil, use only a light coating – too much can lead to darkening or weakening of the leather surface as well as attract dirt and dust particles. Additionally, it is important to keep leather regularly conditioned and sealed with a product specifically designed for this purpose in order to reduce the risk of damage.

For this reason, we recommend using a product specifically designed for leather care if you want to ensure that your item is properly cleaned and protected.

Useful Video: Coating Veg Tan Leather With Costco Kirkland Organic Olive Oil


As you can see, olive oil isn’t the best option when it comes to preserving and protecting your leather items. While it may provide some short-term relief, it can cause long-term damage to the material.

For one, it can make your leather feel stiff and brittle. This is the opposite of the supple, soft feel you want when you invest in leather goods. Furthermore, applying olive oil to leather can attract dirt and dust particles over time. As they accumulate on the surface of the material, they can dull its natural color and introduce stains.

It may seem like a good idea at first to condition your leather with olive oil but it’s not an ideal solution for any kind of long-term preservation or care. Instead, use specialty products that are designed specifically for leather care — this will ensure your items look their best for years to come!

With all this information in mind, you now have enough knowledge to make informed decisions about how best to care for your leather items. Taking proper steps now can help you preserve and protect your valuable investments for a long time.

Just be sure to spot-test any cleaners or polishes you use on leather before applying them all over your item— even natural ones like olive oil. And always follow up with a quality leather conditioner to prevent further damage down the line. Thank you for reading!

We hope this guide has been helpful and you now feel confident about using the right products for your leather goods. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us! We’re here to help. Happy cleaning!