Should You Oil Or Condition A Leather Jacket? [And How Often To Do So]

Leather jackets are one of the few apparel items that will never go out of style. That being stated, they can be a bit tricky to maintain, especially when applying oil or conditioner. But which product is best for leather jackets? And how often should you apply it? We've researched the answers to these questions, and in this post, we'll answer them for you.

Whether you use leather oil or leather conditioner on your leather jacket mostly depends on the current state of the jacket. If your jacket sees a lot of dirt and grime daily, a leather conditioner can help clean and moisturize it so that it maintains a brilliant finish. Leather oil, on the other hand, should be applied every few months to keep the leather jacket from cracking, peeling, and drying out-- and it's a must if your leather jacket sees a lot of sunny days.

It's always best to read the care instructions before applying any chemicals to your leather jacket. Continue reading to learn more about how leather oil and conditioner can benefit your jacket and how best to use them.

man in biker jacket drinking coffee from paper cup. Should You Oil Or Condition A Leather Jacket [And How Often To Do So]

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Best Practices For Leather Jacket Care

man with beard wearing black leather jacket

Using Leather Oil

Leather oil can condition your leather and protect the fibers from cracking and drying. It also moisturizes the leather to keep its surface supple and to prevent it from peeling. It's best to apply leather oil every three or six months to prevent your leather jacket from becoming damaged. This is especially the case if you wear your jacket frequently and expose it to conditions such as rain, sunlight, or excessive heat. Before applying the oil, it's helpful to clean the jacket using mild cleaner and warm water.

Learn more about this leather oil on Amazon.



Leather oil provides a waterproof surface to prevent water or excessive humidity from damaging the leather. It creates a solid barrier between the surface of the grain and the water to prevent it from penetrating the fabric. As a result, water will bead off the jacket instead of being absorbed by the grain.

Keeps it Soft

If you're looking to soften up your leather jacket, it's a product that you should definitely keep on hand. Not only can it keep your jacket shiny and brilliant, but it can also help to soften tough leather as you wear it.

Strengthens, Protect, and Moisturizes

While a quality leather jacket won't immediately fade, it can cause do so after continued exposure. Leather oil helps add moisture back to the surface of the leather, preventing the fibers from becoming too dry.


Unpleasant Odor

There are many different oils that you can use on your leather jacket, and some can leave your leather jacket with a strong or chemical smell. Mink oil specifically can be rather strong after its application. Leather oils can also go rancid if they are left in poor conditions or if they're used after their expiration date. This smell can be transferred to your leather garments and can be hard to get rid of.

Can Make Leather Too Soft

Over-using leather oil can make your leather garments extremely soft. This can cause the fabrics in the garments to break down, making them more susceptible to damage. If you regularly oil your garment and then find that it's starting to display dents and bubbles on the grain, it may be because it's been over-oiled.

Can Darken Leather

If the leather oil is not applied to the garment properly, it can also cause dark stains to appear. Some leather oils can be too heavy for certain types of leather and can cause permanent discoloration. It's important to read the tag on the leather just in case the manufacturer does not recommend applying oil to it.

Using Leather Conditioner

A leather conditioner can help restore your leather and strengthen it, which ultimately helps to increase its longevity. If you are looking to improve your leather jacket's durability and overall look, a leather conditioner is the way to go. It's also good to have a quality leather conditioner on hand if you wear your leather jacket frequently to help clean it and protect it from outside elements. Before applying conditioner, it's best to remove any surface stains and then clean the jacket using mild cleaner and warm water. You'll also want to let the leather jacket hang dry before the condition application.

Read more about this leather conditioner on Amazon.


Improved Texture

Leather conditioners help to improve the leather by nourishing the leather fibers and restoring moisture to them. If your leather has endured a lot of heat or sunlight, a quality leather conditioner can help to prevent it from peeling and cracking.

Increased Shine

If you're looking for a way to increase the shine on your leather jacket, a leather conditioner is definitely is a must-have product. Leather conditioners help to provide the leather with a lustrous finish and typically won't darken the fabric as leather oils can sometimes do.


Leather conditioner also works as a great water repellent to prevent leather products from absorbing water. As the conditioner works to soften and restore leather fibers, it also provides a thin barrier to help prevent water damage.


Limited Longevity

Leather conditioner doesn't last as long as leather oil due to the polymers and other chemicals that it contains. It'll typically require more applications than leather oil, especially if you wear the garment frequently or subject it to harsh weather conditions.

Not Weather-Resistant

Generally, leather conditioners don't offer the same water-resistant benefits that leather oils may. While they may help restore leather and bring out the oil in the grain, they do not protect it from rain, humidity, or other elements.


You'll find that most leather conditioners offer some water repelling features, but they aren't necessarily waterproof. Their main purpose is to add moisture back to the leather and condition the grain to prevent it from drying out. That being stated, you may need to apply leather oil after using a conditioner on your garment to waterproof it.

What is the best oil for leather?

While there are several different oils that you can use on leather fabrics, natural oils such as mink and neatsfoot oil are the most common ones. Mink oil is typically considered the best oil to use on leather as it can help restore its shine and provide sufficient waterproofing. Mink oil can also help to soften leather material to make it more pliable and comfortable, which can be beneficial if the garment is new.

Check out this mink oil on Amazon.

Can I use coconut oil on my leather jacket?

natural coconut oil, whole coconuts, palm leaf

Yes. Coconut oil can help to add shine to your leather jacket and offer a thin layer of waterproof protection. The saturated and unsaturated fats in coconut oil can easily penetrate the surface of the leather, making it more supple, flexible, and lustrous. However, it's important to note that coconut oil won't provide long-lasting waterproof protection on the garment. The oil will need to be re-applied every few months or so--especially if you wear the jacket frequently.

Find coconut oil on Amazon.

Can I use Vasoline on my leather jacket?

It's generally not recommended to use petroleum-based products on leather, as it can cause the fibers to break down prematurely. You can also produce a residue on the surface of the leather that can be difficult to remove and may rub off on other surfaces. It's best to use natural oils on the leather. Oil to consider includes olive, coconut, mink, and neatsfoot oil.

How do you condition a leather jacket?

A quality leather conditioner can help to ensure the effectiveness of the conditioner. But how exactly do you apply the conditioner? And, if your jacket is particularly well-worn you might wonder can leather jackets be washed? Let's take a look.

Here are the steps to apply conditioner to a leather jacket:

  1. Before conditioning a leather jacket, you'll need to hand wash it with warm soapy water and a gentle cleanser such as Dove or baby shampoo. Be sure to also perform any stain removal tasks during this process and wipe away all of the lather with a clean cloth.
  2. Then, you'll need to rinse the jacket by running it over warm water or wipe it down with a damp cloth.
  3. Next, pat the jacket dry with a lint-free towel to remove any excess water. Then lay the jacket on a flat surface to air dry.
  4. Once the jacket is dry, apply the conditioner to a lint-free cloth and then rub it onto the jacket in a circular motion. Never apply the conditioner directly to the jacket.
  5. Apply two to three light applications of the conditioner, letting each coat penetrate the jacket for at least 20 to 30 minutes before applying the next coat.
  6. Finally, let the jacket hang dry for 24 hours so that the conditioner can dry.

What is the best leather jacket conditioner?

One of the most commonly used and highest rated leather conditioners is Leather Honey. This is also one of the oldest leather conditioners available. This trusted leather brand is over 50 years old and makes one of the longest-lasting conditioners on the market, with it lasting up to five months.

Leather Honey keeps leather surfaces moisturized and helps to enhance their appearance, flexibility and strengthen their water resistance qualities. You'll find that the chemicals in Leather Honey are odor and silicone-free and generally safe to use. One of the biggest benefits of Leather Honey is that it absorbs quickly on leather surfaces and doesn't leave any sticky residue that needs to be wiped off. You simply apply it to a cloth and rub it into the fabric--that's it.

Learn more about Leather Honey on Amazon.

Will my leather jacket get softer?

A high-quality leather jacket will typically be a bit hard and stiff when you first purchase it. However, there are techniques that you can use to help soften up the jacket. One of the biggest things that you can do to soften it up a bit is to wear the jacket and stretch it out by moving around in it. Raising your arms and bringing them to your front can help break into leather and stretch the fibers so that they can become softer. You can also apply a leather conditioner to the jacket to make it more soft and flexible.

Wrapping Things Up

A leather jacket is typically considered a high-maintenance garment. Taking care of your jacket by oiling or conditioning can help ensure its longevity and keep it looking its best.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Does A Leather Belt Stretch? [And What You Can Do About That]

How To Clean A White Leather Purse [6 Effective Methods]

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