Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather?

My little sister still cringes at using mineral oil or, in her words, laxatives on leather. And while the regular advice is to use oils and conditioners made for leather to maintain the quality, I have seen mineral oil on my leather boots work wonders.

My shoes were fading and wearing a dull look. Mineral oil restored the shine, and two years after, it’s still looking solid. So, if you are not aware of the powers of mineral oil in moisturizing and cleaning or still have questions like Can you use mineral oil on leather?

Whatever the case, this article looks into the use of mineral oils on leather, the benefits, and the drawbacks to look out for. Let’s dig further.

can you use mineral oil on leather Shoes

What is Mineral oil?

Made from petroleum, mineral oils are transparent, colorless liquids with no additives. When crude oil is distilled, the byproduct is mineral oil. It is then refined to remove impurities resulting in mineral oil, a mixture of hydrocarbons.

Because of its properties, mineral oil is used in different industries like cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, mechanical engineering, and food processing, taking the lead.

For instance, you’ll find it in cosmetics, skin care products, baby oil, makeup removers, etc. Pharmaceuticals use it as laxatives and other medicinal products. Indeed mineral oil is an asset in different industries. Can the same be said for leather?

Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather?

You can condition and clean leather with Mineral oil. When used, it penetrates the leather skin and restores the lost oil and color to refresh it. I have seen it restore the suppleness of my leather jacket drying from cracks.

In addition, mineral oil also protects all leather types against stains, be it full grain, top grain, genuine leather, or bonded leather.

Is Mineral oil good for Leather, and why it’s good

Do you know mineral oil is used in leather care products too? This is because it’s an excellent moisturizing agent that can prevent leather cracking.

It also contains emollient ingredients- a substance that reduces evaporation on the skin, making it soft and supple. Emollients also prevent water loss by creating a barrier on the skin. And the same applies to leather.

That said, here are some reasons why mineral oil is a good option:

  • Moisturization: Mineral oil can hydrate leather skin. This helps in preventing cracks that come from dryness.
  • Restores the shine: Leather, like any other material, can lose its brightness and become brittle over time. You can restore a dry leather shine with mineral oil and make it supple again.
  • Protection against Drying: when the environment has low humidity, leather loses moisture and becomes dry. Mineral oil has a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss.
  • Budget-friendly: Looking to save on special leather conditioners and treatments? Mineral oil is more affordable and can give the exact results you seek.
  • Versatility: Let me add that mineral oil is not limited to leather care. It also has been used for skin care, lubricating wood, and in the production of medicines.

using mineral oil on leather

Read Also: Can You Use Linseed Oil on Leather?

When should you use Mineral Oil on Leather?

Mineral oil is excellent. It keeps your leather shiny and clean. But before you apply it, taking the extra time to view the circumstance of use can be the thin line between getting a great result from the application and damaging the leather:

From experience, here are some signs to consider before using mineral oil on leather:

  • Is your leather stiff, dry, or has it started showing signs of cracks?
  • Has your leather been in storage for long without any proper care?
  • Do you live in a low-humidity climate, or are you in a season where moisture levels are low?
  • Is the color faded, or do you need a quick fix pending when you get a specialized leather conditioner from the store?

If yes is your answer to any of the above, you can use mineral oil. Although mineral oil helps, it would do you better to take regular care of your leather. By care, I mean cleaning and using the oil the right way.

How to use Mineral Oil on Leather?

Mineral oil is relatively easy to apply. Here’s a general guideline on how to go about it to prevent unpleasant results:

  • Before using mineral oil treatment, remove dust and dirt from the leather surface. Do this with a soft cloth and mild cleaner-like household products, then dry the area completely.
  • Next, pour a small quantity of the mineral oil on a dry cloth.
  • Focus on dry areas and gently rub the oils on the leather surface in circular motions.
  • Take a clean, soft cloth and pour some mineral oil on it. Use only a small amount at once so it doesn’t leave a greasy residue.
  • Wait for at least 15 minutes to allow the leather to absorb the oil. You may likely wait hours if the leather is in bad condition.
  • After the oil has taken effect, remove the excess with a clean cloth. Doing so prevents greasy residue and lowers the risk of attracting debris.
  • Remember to use a soft cloth to polish the leather when done. And if you decide to integrate minerals into your cleaning, remember to make room for regular maintenance, such as regular cleaning and avoiding direct sunlight exposure.

can you use food grade mineral oil on leather

Read Also: Can You Use Clorox Wipes On Leather?

Coconut oil vs. Mineral oil vs. Mink oil on leather

Which is better for leather; coconut oil, mineral oil, or mink oil? The answer depends on the use. Each has its pros and cons, and it’s best to compare before choosing any:

Coconut Oil

One of the best natural oils you can find is coconut oil. It contains moisturizing ingredients that prevent all types of leather from dryness. It’s also friendly and has a pleasant tropical smell. However, suppose you don’t know how to use coconut oil on leather. In that case, it can leave greasy deposits and darken certain types of leather.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a synthetic petroleum-derived oil. It undergoes refining to remove impurities, and when used on leather, it prevents drying and cracks. I love it because it’s an affordable alternative to branded leather conditioners. But truth be told, mineral oil is ineffective against stains and moisture like coconut oil. And since it’s not explicitly made for leather, using it too long may affect the leather quality.

Mink Oil

Mink oil is from the fat of mink. It has been used for centuries to soften and waterproof leather, with people comparing mink oil’s effectiveness to leather conditioners. But Mink oil has darkening properties, making it unsuitable for white and cream-colored leather. Mink oil also has a greasy texture, so you must take extra care during application.

Choosing between the three depends on your preference, leather type, and expected outcome. If you want to condition your leather deeply, go for coconut oil. If you’re on a budget but want to condition your leather, mineral oil works. And if waterproofing your leather is the focus, I’ll advise you to go for mink oil.

Best Oil for Leather (YouTube Video)

What will happen if you don’t take care of your leather regularly?

Without regular care, the natural oils in the leather will deplete in the long run. This, in turn, makes the leather dry, stiff, and damaged in ways beyond repair. The leather may also over-absorb liquid if left uncared, making it challenging to remove discolorations and stains. If you want your leather to look good for years, never leave it untreated or allow dust and dirt to accumulate over time.

What not to use on leather?

Stay away from harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia. Oil and water should also be used cautiously as they can strip off the natural oils and protective coatings of the leather, which may lead to dryness, discoloration, and damage.

Although saddle soaps are great for cleaning leather, they are only suitable for some types, especially non-equestrian leather. Using heat sources like hairdryers, heaters, or direct sunlight to dry wet leather is also a no. After all, you don’t want your leather packing up quickly.

What oils can you use on leather products?

Here are some common oils you can use on leather:

  • Neatsfoot Oil: Neatsfoot oil is extracted from the shinbones and feet of cattle. Because of its moisturizing powers, it is used chiefly for saddles and other horseback riding outfits.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil on leather keeps it conditioned. However, you need to apply it because it has darkening properties.
  • Beeswax: a natural wax used to condition, waterproof, protect, and polish leather. Beeswax also blocks UV rays that cause faster leather wear out.
  • Jojoba Oil: Besides being non-greasy, Jojoba doesn’t darken leather, unlike some oils. It gets the job of cleaning done and remains one of my favorites.
  • Linseed Oil: The gold-colored linseed oil is obtained from pressed flaxseed of flax plants. It’s effective in cleaning, softening, and moisturizing leather.

Leather responds differently to substances. So what oil to use on leather ultimately depends on the purpose you hope to achieve.


Mineral oil has great moisturizing powers. This is evident in its use across different industries, but can you use mineral oil on leather? While the average advice is to go for oils and conditioners made specifically for leather, mineral oil is an excellent alternative to restore your leather shine, moisturize it, protect it from cracks, and save costs if you are low on budget.

It’s also a powerful cleaning agent. But as with everything else, it has the downside of causing discoloration or leaving greasy residue when misapplied. Look out for any adverse signs when using and stop the application instantly. Also, remember that keeping your leather strong requires routine care and maintenance.

Titi Taiwo

Titi Taiwo is a passionate writer who's all about tech and giving expert leather advice. With experience writing for both online and print publications, Titi has collaborated with leading companies such as Pactnuel and Groomlog where she contributed her knowledge and expertise. Titi is always on the hunt for new and innovative ways to inspire and educate her readers. So if you're looking for some fresh tech insights or just want to up your fashion game, Titi's writing is your sure bet.

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