When to Apply Leather Conditioner: Timing and Tips

When to Apply Leather Conditioner

A good leather conditioner replaces natural oils lost during cleaning and exposure to sunlight. It is recommended that leather items be cleaned and conditioned about every three months.

However, like a dog eating its entire week’s worth of food at once and then throwing it up later, too much conditioner can actually suffocate the leather.


The spring is a good time to recondition your leather furniture. Once the leather is clean and dry, put a small amount of your leather conditioner (we recommend Smith’s or Moobuzz) on a lint free cloth and massage it into your leather in a thin layer. Be sure to work it into the grain and crevices, too.

Once conditioned, your leather will be ready to take on the summer sun and heat without drying out or cracking. Keeping up with regular conditioning will keep your leather looking great for years to come.

It’s also a great time to condition your leather car seats before winter salt and snow arrive, making them much easier to wipe off. Remember, always do a spot test on your leather before using any new product to ensure that it doesn’t stain or cause any other problems. A simple test patch on the underside of a seat or inside the collar of a jacket is usually easy to do.


Real leather is naturally strong, but regular conditioning strengthens it and helps it resist scuffs, scratches, and watermarks. It can also enhance the development of a gorgeous patina over time.

Apply conditioner to clean leather, and let it soak in. After a few minutes, buff off excess with a dry terry cloth towel. Ideally, use a product that does not contain acetone or alcohol as these harsh chemicals can stain leather.

Don’t overdo it with the conditioner, though. Just like Fido, animal hide has a limit on how much nourishment it can absorb. Too much conditioner suffocates the fibers, preventing them from breathing and keeping the moisture out. A thin layer should be plenty. Test any new conditioner on a small area of the leather, and allow it to dry completely to see if it darkens or has other effects on the surface quality. If you don’t approve, move on to a different treatment option.


In fall, the leather can benefit from a little TLC after enduring a harsh winter. Conditioning helps maintain pliability and may create a protective layer against salt and staining.

Choose a lint-free cloth and apply a dime-sized amount of leather conditioner. Use the conditioner sparingly – too much will saturate the leather and block its pores, causing it to stiffen and crack.

Let the leather conditioner sit for the recommended time on the label, typically two hours. Wipe away any excess to prevent a sticky residue and allow the leather to air dry overnight.

Remember, genuine leather is the skin of a cow and must be kept moisturized to avoid drying out, cracking, and damaging. Use a leather conditioner 2-4 times per year to keep your bag soft, supple, and resilient. You will notice the difference! This is a quick and easy way to restore the luster, color, and flexibility of your leather items.


Just like your skin, your leather shoes and boots need to be moisturized and nourished. This will help prevent cracking in the winter and brittleness due to the harsh weather conditions. Apply a nickel-size amount of your chosen conditioner to a clean cloth or sponge and rub thoroughly on the surface of your shoes. Allow to soak in overnight and gently wipe away excess.

You may want to consider adding a waterproofing spray as well, especially if your shoes or bags are frequently exposed to water. The key is to find a water-repelling spray that doesn’t dry out the leather and doesn’t contain silicone, like this one from Saphir.

Be sure to test your product in a hidden area before applying. Some conditioners will turn your leather darker as they penetrate into the pores. This is normal, but you don’t want to waste your product on an unsightly spot. It’s also a good idea to brush your leather items before conditioning them. This gets rid of any large particles of dirt and debris that can clog the pores and cause long term damage.

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