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Published Sep. 20, 2021

Everyone wants leather in their cars. It’s classic, durable, looks great, and is easy to clean. The flipside of that coin is, however, once leather starts to get damaged, it looks terrible and can be very expensive to fix or replace. This is where regularly conditioning your car’s leather becomes key as it can help your leather stay healthy and new-looking for years to come. If you’re in the market for an effective and high-quality leather conditioner, we’ve got you covered with our list of top faves and an informative buying guide that will have you selecting the best leather conditioner to suit your needs in no time.

Best Leather Conditioner Reviews & Recommendations

We like the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner as our top overall pick because it’s simple, effective, and designed to be a long-lasting product. This conditioner penetrates deep into leather grain to provide the ultimate in protection and rejuvenation without leaving behind a greasy, slimy feel. Made without any toxic solvents, animal by-products, or silicone, it’s a safe and odorless choice and the formula is even hydrophobic.

We also appreciate that it’s made by a family-owned, American-based company, so you’ll be supporting a local small business with your purchase. It comes backed by a 100 percent unlimited satisfaction guarantee where the company will refund your money, no questions asked. The downside: a tiny 8-ounce bottle will cost you a pretty penny. However, a little goes a long way, so even a tiny bottle will be sufficient to do multiple jobs.

Specs
  • Brand Leather Honey
  • Model 085783400203
  • Weight 7.8 ounces
PROS

Non-toxic, odorless formula

A little goes a long way

Backed by an unlimited 100 percent satisfaction guarantee

CONS

Pricey

May darken lighter leathers

May not last the full six months, depending on how hard you are on your leather

If you’re looking for an effective leather conditioner that won’t cost a ton of cash, check out the Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. It’s a specially formulated, non-toxic combination of four natural oils that are meant to restore suppleness and shine to your car’s leather upholstery without leaving behind a greasy mess. It even offers UV protection to prevent sun damage that can lead to fading, cracking, and drying.

The formula is safe for most leather products, including your car’s interior, briefcases, bags, shoes, boots, furniture, and more. It will safely remove dirt, residue, and soil from surfaces. One thing to be aware of, however, is that it’s not recommended for use on Natuzzi brand, nubuck, or suede leathers, as it can permanently discolor them. Be sure to wipe it off thoroughly, as this product has been known to leave behind a sticky film if not cleaned off properly immediately after applying.

Specs
  • Brand Weiman
  • Model 75
  • Weight 15.2 ounces
PROS

Affordable

Provides UV protection

Non-toxic

CONS

Not the most effective at cleaning leather

May leave behind a sticky residue if not fully wiped off

Not for use on suede or nubuck items

The Chemical Guys SPI_109_16 Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner Kit deserves a nod for offering two separate and distinct products that clean and restore your car’s leather, versus most other products that just combine everything into a single bottle. The first bottle contains a colorless, odorless, pH balanced formula that is meant for cleaning and preserving leather’s appearance, durability, and strength. It penetrates deep into the pores of your leather upholstery to lift out damaging dirt and oils. The second bottle is for conditioning and preserving your leather.

This formula has a subtle leather scent and contains vitamin E to nourish and protect against UV damage. And though this kit is a little on the pricey side, since Chemical Guys makes professional-grade products, a little goes a long way and these two bottles will last you quite a long time before needing to be restocked.

Specs
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model SPI_109_16
  • Weight 2.4 pounds
PROS

Two separate products clean and condition leather

pH balanced formulas are gentle and effective

Treatment dries without any annoying residue

CONS

A little pricey

Takes longer to clean and condition than using one product that combines both

The leather scent of the conditioner may not be appealing to everyone

Best Multi-Surface Cleaner

If you want one product that will effectively clean and treat multiple different materials, it’s got to be the TriNova Leather Cleaner. Safely use it on faux leather, durablend, suede, vinyl, saffiano, and plenty of other “leather-like” materials, as well as actual leather, it quickly and efficiently lifts up dirt, debris, and grime to leave behind a pristinely clean, like-new appearance. As an added benefit, considering its versatile uses, this product is decently priced.

It’s most effective when used routinely to help extend the health and life of your leather and this formula is gentle enough for your most precious leather and suede. We recommend wearing gloves when using this product, as it’s not an all-natural formula and may irritate your skin with prolonged contact. Also be advised that it has a distinct scent that may irritate those with allergies.

Specs
  • Brand TriNova
  • Model FBA_33508
  • Weight 1.45 pounds
PROS

Effective on multiple types of leather and leather-like materials

Offers a heavy-duty clean

Gentle enough for delicate leathers

CONS

Not an all-natural formula

Has a distinctive scent when you use it

Leaves behind a slight residue that can be tough to completely remove

The KevianClean Leather Cleaner & Conditioner is an eco-friendly, non-toxic formula that combines three products in one: cleaning, conditioning, and protecting to leave your leather fresh, soft, and free of cracks and dry spots. This cleaner is a creamy formula, unlike a lot of others that are spray-on, oil-based formulas. It won’t leave behind a greasy residue like some others.

Use it safely on your most valuable leather upholstery, handbags, boots, shoes, briefcases, jackets, furniture, and more as it promises not to alter the color of your leathers, but will protect and nourish the natural grain of each item. The product is guaranteed to produce ideal results, or the company will offer you a full refund, no questions asked. One drawback to this particular formula is that it’s not safe for use on your suede, lambskin or unfinished leathers. It also has a subtle cherry smell that you may or may not be a fan of.

Specs
  • Brand KevianClean
  • Model KC-16-LCC
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

2-in-1 cleaner and conditioner formulation

pH-balanced, eco-friendly, and organic formulation

Comes with 60-day money back guarantee

CONS

Not for use on unfinished leathers, lambskin, or suede

Doesn’t leave behind a shine like some products do

Has a cherry odor which can smell artificial

How We Selected The Products 

There are dozens of leather cleaner products that promise to deliver stellar results. In order to weed through all of them and find the best ones, we only included products from well-known and long-standing manufacturers who have a proven track record of delivering high-quality, effective products. We wanted to offer affordable options, so we kept to products that were under $20. Lastly, we wanted to offer a diverse range of products, not just one formulation made by different manufacturers. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

Not all leather conditioners are created equally and the following buying guide will show you exactly what to look for to ensure you’re getting the perfect product for your specific job, whether it’s cleaning only leather, man-made faux leathers, or a variety of both.

What to Consider When Buying Leather Conditioners

Types of Leather Conditioners

Pigment or Protected Leather Conditioners

Generally for use only on real leather, most aren’t suitable for suede, lambskin, or nubuck fabrics, these are the most common types of leather conditioners. They can be spray- or rub-on formulations that provide a cleaning and conditioning action. Most will also leave behind a somewhat waterproof coating that helps further protect and lengthen the life of your leather. 

Aniline Leather Conditioners

These products are specifically made for aniline or semi-aniline leathers that are typically characterized as having a very rich look and feel and should be able to prevent staining of the delicate leather especially if a protective sealant was not used. Aniline leathers are much more difficult to maintain as they are quite fragile compared to pigment type leathers and are more susceptible to the effects of accumulated dirt, moisture, and oils often leading to staining, if not damage. These conditioners typically contain a protective sealant component to afford some degree of protection for the leather, too.

Nubuck Leather Conditioners

This type of conditioner is somewhat similar to aniline leather cleaners since nubuck shares quite a handful of characteristics with aniline. Technically, nubuck is full aniline and is also known as distressed or suede. The good news is that these leathers are a lot easier to maintain than semi aniline, but of course, they simply cannot compare to the ease of maintenance of pigment leathers. Nubuck conditioners, like aniline, contain protective sealants.

Things to Consider When Buying Leather Conditioners 

Type of Leather 

We already mentioned above that there are different types of leather. Aniline and nubuck leathers easily scratch and can readily absorb water. They also come in little variations of color and hue often complete with natural markings, scars, and bites. On the other hand, pigmented leather will have a more uniform color and hardly-recognizable natural markings. Pigmented leathers will usually feel slick, almost similar to vinyl. Nubuck and aniline leathers, meanwhile, are more velvety and buttery, respectively. Knowing the type of leather in your car will help you identify the right leather conditioner and cleaner to buy.

pH Balanced 

Whether your car’s interior is made of genuine leather or synthetic, it is imperative that the product you are going to buy to clean and condition these surfaces has a neutral pH. The reason is quite simple as like any other material that depends on the correct balance of acidity and alkalinity, the integrity of leather is best kept if the pH of the cleaning solution is maintained within the normal or neutral pH level. 

Product Limitations

Always read the label as most manufacturers explicitly disallow the use of its products on certain surfaces such as faux leather and suede, among others. While there are also products that can be used on vinyl materials, it is still important to double-check on the specific kind of vinyl surface that the product is intended for. This way you save your car leather and your pocket, too.

Ease of Application

Some products are so complicated in their application that you’d be better off just discarding them altogether. The point in cleaning and conditioning your car leather is to make it easy so that you will find the correct motivation to do it regularly and more frequently. As such, you have to look for leather treatment for cars that feature ease of application. You can actually check customers’ reviews as they will usually be sharing their experiences about a particular product.


Leather Conditioner Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and leather conditioners. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Always spot test your leather conditioner on an inconspicuous area to see if it will alter the color of your leather or not.
  • Wear gloves when applying leather conditioners to protect your hands from getting too greasy or suffering from prolonged chemical exposure.
  • Start out by using a much smaller amount than you think you will need. Oftentimes with leather conditioners, a little goes a long way.
  • Read the label fully before applying any leather conditioners in order to familiarize yourself with any warnings or application tips and suggestions.
  • Apply leather conditioners with a soft microfiber towel that’s sure to be gentle on your most precious fabrics.

FAQs

Q: Can you use too much leather conditioner?

It’s easy to overdo it when applying leather conditioner as your leather will only be able to absorb so much conditioner, so apply it sparingly, or you’ll end up wasting a bunch and creating a greasy residue that won’t absorb into your material.

Q: How often should you apply leather conditioner?

Most experts recommend reapplying leather conditioner every 6-12 months, depending on how frequently you use your leather and the amount of wear and tear it’s subjected to on a regular basis. Depending on how humid or dry the climate is where you live, the frequency of reapplication will also be affected.

Q: How long should leather conditioner sit?

After conditioning your leather, let it sit for 4-6 hours in order to optimally absorb into the grain of the leather and provide maximum protective benefits.

Final Thoughts

Like a lot of car care, the greater the investment of time, cost, and effort you put into your leather, the more you’ll get out of it. If you’re looking for a relatively easy and inexpensive solution, we recommend Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. For a deeper clean, try Chemical Guys SPI_109_16 Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner Kit.

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