What is the purpose of oiling leather

Leather care

From Lederzentrum Leather Lexicon

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The Care needs each leather product are individual. They depend on how a leather was made, how it is processed, what it is used for, how old it is and, last but not least, on how intensively it is used, i.e. exposed to wear and tear and environmental influences.

Whether leather cleaner or leather care, the market offers a lot, and the decision for the "right one" is not easy.


When it comes to caring for a shoe, more emphasis is placed on a beautiful shine and waterproofness. But that doesn't go with new car leather and also not with furniture leather, which is usually very matt and should stay that way. The focus here must be on maintaining the degree of gloss and on protection against abrasion and against soiling and discoloration (especially with light-colored leathers). Old car leather, however, needs to be re-greased to prevent embrittlement and UV protection against damage from the sun. A lambskin coat has different care needs than a patent leather bag or a horse saddle.

The following guide should help you to orientate yourself a little better in the range of care products.

Home recipes

An excerpt from a household magazine. Such home remedies are expressly opposed to modern, specialized care products for leather Not to recommend.

In the course of our years of experience with leather care products, we have already heard the most absurd insider tips on leather care, we have heard everything from Nivea milk to whole milk to castor oil and olive oil. Such secret recipes are of little use to today's leathers. The [vegetable-tanned] leathers used in the saddle and [shoe area] were very [thick] and robust. These could be greased with almost anything. The [impregnation] by grease was in the foreground. Before the "secret recipe" could show any negative effects, the lifespan of the [saddle equipment] or the shoes was already over. Today's [leathers] are thinner, softer and different [tanned]. You need coordinated care. A wide variety of care products from different manufacturers are available from specialist retailers. When in doubt, these are better than any secret recipe. The damaging effects of fats and other liquids that go rancid in leather should not be underestimated.

Care products in stores

There are many different care products in various price ranges on the market. Which one is right for your leather? Customers often say that they preferred not to use a care product for fear of incorrect care. But this is the completely wrong way. Even "cheap" care products are i. d. Usually better than no care.

If in doubt, the effect of a care product can always be tested in advance on a hidden area.

Newer leathers in particular are seldom cared for. The trade shows i. d. Usually not on necessity. New leathers do not yet have the risk of drying out and becoming brittle, but light-colored leathers in particular can quickly become visible soiling or wear or, in the worst case, even discolouration from clothing. To avoid such problems, there are extra care products that are precisely tailored to this.

If the leather is particularly valuable, better quality care products should be used. Synthetic oils in these care products do not go rancid and are not a breeding ground for bacteria and [mold]. The lifespan of valuable leather is thus significantly extended. Care products with synthetic oils, fats and additional UV filters are i. d. Usually more expensive, but also much more effective.

With many care products it is important to do a "trial sample" beforehand. There are many care products with a strong odor that are not annoying when caring for shoes, but can be quite unpleasant on a [jacket] or [bag] or on [furniture] and [vehicle leather].

Care product names

Care milk

Care milk for leather is basically a thin emulsion of water and fats / oils, which is given a uniform texture with the help of an emulsifier and can be easily applied to the leather with a soft cloth. In addition to its moisturizing properties, it can also be equipped with other additives, such as UV filters to prevent fading, antioxidants to stop the deterioration of the leather, or anti-creak additives to minimize noise.

Care cream

Compared to the care milk, care cream has a higher [viscosity], ie firmness in its structure, because it contains stabilizers. Otherwise, however, this is also an emulsion. Their effect is comparable to that of the care milk. A care milk penetrates deeper into the leather structure because it is thinner.

Leather grease

Especially for the [shoe care sector] leather greases are used, z. B. Vaseline-based, or based on animal fats. Above all, they have a [hydrophobic] (water-repellent) and naturally moisturizing effect, but are only suitable for covered smooth leather, as they leave stains and residues that cannot be removed on open-pored leathers ([suede], [aniline leather]). Depending on the ambient temperature, their structure is tough to creamy. Due to their strong moisturizing properties, leather greases are more recommended for leather outdoors, but only to a limited extent in the vehicle or furniture sector, as the strong moisturizing effect only makes sense with older leathers.

Leather oil

When it comes to soaking and [impregnating] the leather with moisturizing substances in hardened and dried out leathers (also important for shoe soles), liquid leather oil is the best choice. Here, too, only covered leathers are suitable for the treatment, not open-pore leathers.

It is very often debated whether a grease or an oil is the best care for a leather. It is often argued that a leather grease would close the pores. Conversely, it is argued that a leather oil makes the leather "too oily".

Regarding leather grease, it should be noted that a leather grease without particularly tough resins and waxes hardly affects the breathability of a shoe leather or a motorcycle suit. Likewise, a sparingly applied leather oil does not "oily".

With old, dry leather, it makes perfect sense to use a leather oil. This is more fluid and penetrates deeper into the fibers that have already suffered from the drought. In the case of new leather, on the other hand, it does not matter whether oil or grease is applied sparingly. In such cases it is up to the customer which product he prefers.

Saddle soap

An alkaline soap that was historically used to clean saddles, straps, and similar items. Nowadays, the saddle side is rarely used and is actually not ideal for cleaning leather. Leather itself is produced in the tannery in the acidic range. Modern cleaners take this into account and ideally are not strongly alkaline.

Saddle soap is commercially available in both liquid and solid form.


As a leather balm, care products for smooth leather that are made on the basis of resins and waxes, such as beeswax, are often offered. Their main effect is the water and dirt repellent coating.

Resin or wax-based products are mainly used for impregnation. Therefore, these products are more suitable for exterior leather. The pore-closing effect of resins and waxes, the polishability and especially the creak-intensifying effect of beeswax make such products unsuitable for the automotive and furniture sectors.

Shoe polish

See main article: [Shoe polish]

shoe polish

See main article: [Shoe polish]

High quality shoe care products


The right advice

After the many years in which the LEDERZENTRUM] has already been working on the development of leather care products, it has been found time and again that the right care product is not available for all types of leather. Each [type of leather] is colored and sealed differently, is exposed to the sun differently and is stressed differently. Some leathers are [smooth], others [rough], some [shiny] and others are matt. Some leathers are exposed to the elements. In addition, one has to distinguish whether a leather is new or already old and used. Actually, you have to develop your own care product for every type and type of leather. Fortunately, a few groups can be lumped together.

Ultimately, competent advice plays a key role. There is no such thing as the best care product for leather, only the right care product for a special leather or for a special leather problem.

The LEDERZENTRUM] has summarized its many years of experience with the care and restoration of valuable leather in extensive information texts, which are available free of charge on the Internet.

The following is a list of the most common leather problems. We offer two grades for reference: firstly according to the leather variant, secondly according to the type of leather product: [furniture leather], [car leather], [clothing leather] or leather for [bags] and [suitcases].

[Leather types]

[Covered smooth leather]

[Open-pored smooth leather / aniline leather]

[Suede] ([Nubuck], [Buffalo], [Velours])

[Synthetic leather], [Alcantara]

Areas of use

[Car leather]

See also the entry [car leather].

[Upholstery leather]

[Clothing leather]

[Shoes and boots]

[Bags] and [Suitcases]

Films about leather: Leather production in the tannery - types of leather - leather by animal species - motifs on leather

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