Everything About Leather Conditioning For Bags

Leather conditioning for bags at home
Leather conditioning for bags at home

Table of Contents

Your leather bags can last forever if you clean them properly and give them the right aftercare.

In case you already know the cleaning process, that’s great and if don’t know what to do exactly, you can refer to our blog – How to clean leather bags. It will give you all the details to clean your bags in the right way.

In this blog, we will discuss the post cleaning care, i.e. leather conditioning for bags which is extremely crucial to preserve them. 

So, let’s start by understanding what is a leather conditioner. 

We will cover following aspects of cleaning leather bags in this blog:

What Is A Leather Conditioner?

Leather conditioner is any natural or commercial substance which is used for nourishing the fibres of leather. It can be a single substance or a mixture of different oils, waxes and other conditioning agents. You can find conditioners in crème as well as liquid forms.

It works exactly the same way hair conditioners work for your hair. When applied to a leather bag it gets absorbed by the fibres. Thereafter, it offers nourishment to the leather. This restores flexibility and softness in leather bags. In general, you can use leather bag conditioner 2-4 times a year.

Some people don’t know why leather conditioning is important for bags. If you are also unaware, then we should first see why it is important for your bags. Then we will move to discuss how to do leather bag conditioning.

Why leather bag conditioning is important

Why leather conditioning is important for bags
Why leather conditioning is important for bags

Leather is made up of animal skin. It is a natural substance, hence, it requires proper nourishment. Otherwise, the leather fibres will dry out and your leather bag will become stiff. It can also become brittle by absorbing moisture. To prevent such damages it is crucial to do leather cleaning and conditioning. 

Here is how a good leather conditioner helps:

  • Nourishes the leather from deep within and prevents it from drying out.
  • Acts as a barrier to stains and dirt.
  • Preserves the natural shine of a leather bag.
  • Gives a soft, supple look and feel to your bag by preventing peeling.
  • Protects leather from UV exposure and prevents premature ageing and fading.
  • Prevents leather bags from becoming stiff and brittle.
  • Increases and speeds up the development of the patina.

Natural leather develops a patina over time because it absorbs heat, sunlight, etc. It showcases the ageing of good-quality leather.

Leather cleaning and conditioning will make the fibres of your bag stronger and increase its durability. Even if your leather bag has already become stiff you can still make it better by using a good conditioner as it will soften the fibre. So, don’t forget to apply conditioner on your bags after leather cleaning.


Types of Leather Conditioners

Types of leather conditioners for bags
Types of leather conditioners for bags

Choosing the proper leather conditioner is a very important decision, and a conditioner that might work great for a specific type of leather can easily damage another. There are several high-quality types available, some of the more popular include:

Leather Oil

Leather oil is a natural or synthetic substance that helps to moisturize and condition the fibers when applied properly. It can extend the lifespan of leather bags and make them soft again. It can be composed of a singular oil, or a blend of oils, fats, waxes, and other conditioning agents.

Leather Cream

Leather cream is another option for leather conditioning. They are generally lighter in consistency than oils, making them suitable for some thinner leathers and related applications. Some leather creams also have waterproofing agents integrated into the compound, for those needs where this can be a benefit.

Leather Wax

Wax conditioners are more like complementary leather conditioning items. They don’t penetrate deep into the leather to nourish the fibres, but they add surface protection to the leather. The wax forms a water-resistant, and in some cases, a waterproof barrier between the elements and the leather fibers underneath it.

Since it doesn’t penetrate the leather, the fibers are usually still in need of moisture. Thus, leather wax can usually be applied onto the surface of leather items, after proper conditioning has been done.

In case you want to make a leather conditioner at home, click here.

Is it important to consider colour of a leather bag conditioner

Colour of leather conditioning has an impact on the bag
Colour of leather conditioning has an impact on the bag

Some leather conditioners are clear while some have added colours. Their colour does not make a huge difference on leather skin if you have a dark-coloured bag. However, a coloured leather conditioner may leave a tint behind if you are using it on a white or very light-coloured bag. Thus, we recommend you choose a clear conditioner.

Your white and pastel colour leather bags need special care.

Carry out a patch test

Even clear conditioners can change the colour of your bag by giving a darkening effect to some types and shades of leather. This happens majorly due to fading caused by dryness and wear. When you apply conditioner to such bags you add moisture to them which may deepen the colour slightly. Hence, we recommend you do a patch test by applying conditioner on a hidden area of your bag.

If you intentionally want to darken faded leather bags, a leather conditioner can do the job for you.

Can same product be used for leather conditioning on all bags

No, you cannot use the same leather conditioner on all bags. Because leather bags can be made of two types of leather: finished and unfinished.

Some examples of unfinished leather is suede, nubuck, aniline, pull-up, semi-aniline leather. Whereas, horse leather is finished leather as it is 100% natural cowhide.

Many homemade and commercial leather conditioning products are good for finished leather. However, if you have unfinished leather you must check the manufacturer’s label on the conditioner to know if it is good to use or not.

When You Should Use A Leather Conditioner On Bags

Typically, you only need to use leather conditioner 2-4 times on your bags. Because over-conditioning can make leather too soft which makes it lose its shape. However, there are some other signs that show your bags need conditioning:

  1. Change in colour: As mentioned above in this blog a layer called patina develops on leather skin with constant usage. Due to patina development, the colour of the leather changes slightly with time. But, if you notice the colour getting very light and individual fibres becoming more visible, you should apply leather conditioner. Because this is a sign of a lack of moisture.
  2. Cracks & Loss of flexibility: Leather bags often have the flexibility of their own, if you notice that your bag is uncommonly stiff or there are tiny-trivial cracks on the leather, use a leather conditioner. Because this is a sign of increasing dryness.

How To Do Leather Conditioning For Bags


Things you need for conditioning leather bags:

  • Leather conditioner
  • Microfiber cloth or any white cloth (for wiping conditioner)

You can either buy a leather conditioner from your nearest retail stores or from online stores. Always ensure that you are using good leather cleaners and conditioners, poor quality ones are not effective for leather protection. 

Now, let’s move to see how to do leather conditioning:

Prepare the leather bag

Clean your leather bag properly. Next, if you are bag has some embellishments or metal on straps, if it has brooches, etc. remove them before conditioning. In case they are not removable you can wrap cotton or any other soft cloth on them. You should avoid applying leather conditioner to these elements as they may get discoloured or damaged.

Get your leather bags cleaned by the best dry cleaners near you to preserve them forever.

Pour conditioner on a cloth

Choose a white, lint-free cloth to avoid colour bleeding on leather. Apply leather conditioner on the bag using this cloth. It is good to have an even layer of conditioner spread on the bag. And this is why you should never apply the conditioner directly to your bag. There is no standard quantity to apply leather conditioner, it differs from conditioner to conditioner. Every leather conditioner comes with a usage guide, you can follow that. In general, you can take one drop (dime-sized) of conditioner and apply it to a small area (approximately 10 inches).

Always do a spot test

Instead of randomly applying conditioner anywhere on the bag, choose a part that is less visible and do a spot test. Apply conditioner, let it dry and check whether the bag is fine or not. If you see discolouration, don’t use the product further. 

Pro-tip: Leather conditioners can react to different types of leather in distinct ways. If you see discolouration after the spot test, it is better to reach expert leather cleaners. Because they have an in-depth understanding of which products work well for a specific type of leather.

Apply conditioner to the whole bag

Start by applying the conditioner in smaller sections and then gradually apply it to the whole bag. You don’t have to splurge too much, a thin coat of conditioner will serve the purpose. Then rub the surface gently in a circular motion with slight pressure.

Buff the whole bag gently

After 15-20 minutes of applying the conditioner, you need to gently buff the leather surface using a soft, white and clean cloth. It helps in taking the small leather grains back to their place.

Leave the bag to rest

After this, leave your leather bag overnight so that it can get air-dry.

Keep all the above-listed points in mind while doing leather cleaning and conditioning for bags. You will surely see the best results and your bags will have a long-lasting shine. If you don’t have enough time to clean them on your own, prefer sending your bags to professional dry cleaners.

FAQs on leather conditioning for bags

Faux leather, also known as fake leather and leatherette does not have pores. Hence, the leather conditioner will not be absorbed into faux leather. You can use a PVC moisturizer instead of a pure leather conditioner on faux leather.

Yes, leather conditioners generally have a shelf life of 3-5 years. We recommend you always check the expiry date before using them because they might not work properly after expiring.

No, a good quality leather conditioner will get absorbed in the bag completely. So, if you will not use extra conditioner (more than recommended quantity) it will not make your bag sticky.

Even though leather conditioners are the best thing to soften leather, you can still use natural oils and Vaseline to soften the leather. Always remember these products should be used once or twice when you can’t manage to apply an actual conditioner on your bags. They are not a good replacement for conditioners.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily purport to reflect the values or views of Tumbledry.

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