Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather? You Shouldn't
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Are your old leather couches looking worse for wear? If they look like they could use a bit of maintenance, you might wonder if you can use mineral oil on leather for reconditioning them. Is it a good idea? Or should you look for other products to spruce up your lounge?
Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather?
Is mineral oil good for leather? Mineral oil is common in many leather cleaning products, so can you use it on your couches in an undiluted format?
After all, it's way cheaper to buy a bottle of mineral oil than it is to spend money on expensive premium leather care products. However, leather care products include mineral oil for a specific purpose – to remove any grime on the material.
The other components in the formula are what help to restore and protect the leather. Using undiluted mineral oil on the couches won't offer the same protection barrier as specialized formulations. You might end up damaging the leather with extended use of mineral oil alone.
So here is your dilemma: undiluted mineral oil can make the leather too soft and cause tearing and future problems. Diluted mineral oil isn't going to impart the qualities you're hoping for into your leather. There are better options, such as creams, conditioners, and dubbin wax, which we discuss below.
Will Applying Mineral Oil Soften My Leather Products?
Apart from removing stains and grime, mineral oil on leather also provides the function of softening the material. However, using it in an undiluted format makes the leather too soft, resulting in easier tearing and scratching of the leather on your couches and other leather products.
Can I Apply Mineral Oil to My Leather Couches?
Using undiluted mineral oil to maintain your leather types of couches is a bad idea. The oil soaks into the leather, causing a weakening of the material. As a result, the leather may split when you sit on the couch, and you'll have to send it to the manufacturer for a costly repair. That doesn't mean leather isn't one of the best types of upholstery fabric, though.
It's a better idea to spend a little more money on a high-quality, reputable leather-care product. There are countless products available to help you keep your couches looking great and to help you deodorize your couch.
Leather creams or conditioners are a popular choice. You add them to the couch surface and work them into the material with a microfiber cloth.
The cream removes any oils, stains, or grime on the leather while making it soft and supple. Since leather couches are expensive, it's worth spending the money on a specialized product to care for your furniture.
You'll need to add the leather cream to the couches once a month or so for the best results. Using mineral oil for couch maintenance will also remove the coloring from the material, producing light spots.
You can also use leather cream for your leather car seats. Don't use mineral oil on them. Car seats are high-traffic items. You get in and out of the car often, and if you drive a lot, adding leather cream to the seats every time you wash and detail your care extends the life of the seats.
Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather Boots?
Whether you're cleaning leather couches or leather boots, avoid using mineral oil as your preferred cleaning product. It's easy to assume that leather boots are more durable than couches, so you can get away with adding mineral oil to them. However, like the couch example, the mineral oil breaks down the leather, making it easier to scuff your footwear.
Leather boots are expensive items, and you want to keep them looking good throughout their service life. Caring for them with dubbin wax is the best option. Dubbin is a traditional leather cleaner, and it comes in tubs. The dubbin looks like a yellowish wax. You add it to a buffing cloth and rub it into your boots.
The dubbin protects and seals the leather, making it resistant to scuffing and water. Dubbin also moisturizes the leather, making it the ideal choice for stopping the leather from drying out. It seals and protects the material, preventing it from splitting.
Dubbin also helps to prevent the color of the leather from fading. Many brands include a small tub of dubbin or leather protection wax with your boots when you purchase them. Maintain your footwear by rubbing the dubbin wax into the footwear once a month or whenever they appear dry or dirty.
Using this care strategy for your footwear makes the leather last a lifetime, and your boots will always look good.
What are the Best Oils for Maintaining Leather Products?
Mineral oil on leather is a bad choice for conditioning this material. However, there are some neutral oils that are okay to use on leather to keep it looking great. Mink oil is an example of a neutral oil that's good for caring for leather products.
Conditioning your leather with mink oil gives the material more moisture and crack resistance, turning it supple. You won't get the same degradation of the leather as you do with applying mineral oil, making it a more sustainable choice. However, mink oil still isn't as effective as leather cream or dubbin for caring for your furniture and footwear.
Some homeowners use essential lemon oil on their leather. This oil doesn't harm leather nearly as much as mineral oil, making it strong and supple. It's a good conditioner to work into cracks in the leather to prevent them from splitting, especially around the seams.
While essential lemon oil and mink oil are both okay for conditioning your couches, car seats, and boots, we don't recommend you use them. Stick to using proper leather care products for the best results with leather maintenance.
Can I Use Olive Oil on Leather Products?
There's an urban myth suggesting you can use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to maintain and care for leather products like couches, car seats, and boots. However, we assure you that's not the case. While EVOO might seem like it absorbs into the leather, making it more supple and protecting the material.
However, using EVOO on your leather actually causes it to deteriorate, split, and tear, just like mineral oil on leather. EVOO also seeps into the leather, causing oil spots to appear on your couches and car seats. These unsightly spots ruin the leather's aesthetic, causing the need for replacement.
Plus, wiping your couches or car seats down with EVOO leaves behind a thin film of oil on the leather's surface. As a result, the couches have an unpleasant, greasy feel. When you sit on the seat or couch, the EVOO seeps into your clothing, leaving spots.
Avoid using EVOO to recondition or treat leather; it's a waste of time. Besides, the cost of a bottle of good-quality EVOO is probably more than a bottle of leather care cream or dubbin wax.
Can I Use Coconut Oil on Leather Products?
There's another myth circulating the internet stating extra virgin coconut oil is a great product for caring for leather products. However, once again, this is nothing but malarky, and you want to avoid using coconut oil on your car seats, furniture, and footwear.
Coconut oil looks hard and white when it's at room temperature. It's easy to see how homeowners might confuse it with a leather care product like dubbin wax. However, we assure you that it's nothing like dubbin and has nowhere near the same effect on the leather.
Coconut oil provides the same effect as olive oil when caring for leather products. It seeps into the leather, leaving behind oil stains. When you start using the coconut oil, you'll find it doesn't maintain a solid consistency like dubbin wax.
Instead, it turns into liquid oil, like EVOO, as soon as you start working with it. Like EVOO, you'll find a thin film of oil that stays behind on the leather's surface, providing a greasy, uncomfortable feeling when you sit on the couch.
So Can You Use Mineral Oil on Leather? No!
So, can you use mineral oil for leather or other oils to maintain leather products like your couch, car seats, and boots? The answer is absolutely not. Steer clear of these products unless you want to damage the leather and watch it deteriorate.
Leather couches cost a lot of money, as do leather boots. We don't even want to think about what it would cost to replace your car seats. Considering the amount of money you spend on these products, it seems silly to care for them with anything but an approved leather care item.
Instead of trying to find a hack to save money on your leather care, buy a leather cream or dubbin wax to use in your maintenance duties. Most leather care products are inexpensive. You can pick up a bottle of leather care cream from an online dealer like Amazon or from local big box stores.
Most products retail for under $10, and they have dozens of applications in the bottle. A single bottle of leather cream can maintain your leather lounge suite for years. Considering the value these care products offer your leather couches, car seats, and boots, it's not worth using anything else in your maintenance routine.
Dubbin wax is a little more challenging to find at retailers. However, visit a shoe store and ask them if they have any dubbin in stock. You'll probably find they offer it in tubs, and it costs the same as leather cream. A tub of dubbin wax lasts for years, making it an affordable and high-value leather care product you can't do without. Consider it your replacement for mineral oil on leather.