This simple homemade leather conditioner seals in moisture and protects against the elements helping leather look and feel its best, longer.
This year I decided to invest in some durable leather boots for winter. To me, the extra cost of a quality product often means it will pay for itself in the end. So far, they still look beautiful!
We’ve had some snow already, which means my boots have come in contact with water, salt, and cold air. That has left them looking a little weathered and a tad bit dry. Leather can withstand a lot, but it will crack if it dries out too much.
That’s when I decided to make a homemade leather boot conditioner. I wanted to keep it simple because I know leather just needs oil to replenish and something to help protect it as well.
Which Oils to Choose
When it comes to which oil will condition leather best there is quite a debate. Some swear by neatsfoot, while others believe mink oil is the best. Still, others argue that any oil will do, even vegetable or olive oil!
I decided to base my choice on shelf life and the properties of the oil. That’s why I ended up choosing castor oil as the base of this recipe. It has a long shelf life and is an oil that helps retain moisture.
Castor oil is a thick, moisturizing oil that is readily absorbed by the skin. I was hoping the same would be true for leather. Turns out, it is! My boots absorbed this cream very well.
For this recipe, I decided to leave out any essential oils as I am not sure how they will affect my leather. The only reason I would include them is for scent, which I really have no need for in a leather protector. However, you certainly could add essential oils to this leather protector, but just watch to see how they affect your leather.
Making Homemade Leather Conditioner
Finding ways to protect leather without sealing it are fairly easy as well. Leather needs to be able to breathe, so you don’t want to use anything that would fully seal it.
At first, I thought about using pine rosin (also known as pine resin when melted). I have seen it used to seal leather before and I actually bought some to experiment with for this homemade leather conditioner. Turns out that pine rosin is REALLY sticky, and all of my experiments resulted in a cream that was pretty tacky.
So I decided to keep it simple and went with beeswax for this DIY. Beeswax allows some oxygen flow and also provides a barrier to the elements. It also helps seal in moisture.
Homemade Leather Conditioner
- 2 ounces beeswax
- 6 ounces cold-pressed castor oil
- In a small glass pyrex measuring cup, add beeswax and castor oil
- Place the pyrex measuring cup in a small saucepan of water on medium heat
- Melt until completely liquid
- Pour into a glass storage container
- Allow to completely cool before using
- Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight
- Clean leather with a wet rag and soapy water, taking care to rinse off all soap.
- Allow leather to dry completely. I generally wait 12 hours.
- Using a clean rag or your bare hands, apply the homemade leather conditioner in gentle circles until the leather has been completely covered. Wipe off any excess.
- Allow the leather to dry once more, another 6-12 hours.
- Reapply as needed. I use this every month or more depending on the weather conditions and how much I wear my boots.
Note: this homemade leather conditioner will darken leather. As it wears off, leather will lighten again.
Tip: you can also learn how to waterproof shoes and boots naturally.
If you tried making this homemade leather conditioner let us know how you liked it?
- David W. York. Measuring the permeability of thin solid layers of natural waxes. ScienceDirect.com. March 2019.