Why You Should Avoid Using Neatsfoot Oil on Leather

If you own leather goods, you may have heard of neatsfoot oil – and you may even be tempted to use it on your beloved equestrian tack, furniture, bags, boots, or clothing. After all, this stuff is touted as a "leather conditioner," right? Well, not exactly. In reality, neatsfoot oil can actually do more harm than good to leather items. In this post, we'll explain why you should avoid using neatsfoot oil and what you should use instead.

antique leather bag with neatsfoot oil

Here is an example of why we do not recommend applying Neatsfoot oil to leather. Over time, the "foote" from the oil will spew out and form a white waxy film - especially when the leather gets cold.


What is Neatsfoot oil?

Neatsfoot oil is a substance that is produced from the bones and feet of cattle and other hoofed animals. It has been used for generations as a method for treating leather. Neatsfoot oil has some benefits, such as making your leather water-resistant and giving it a nice shine.

However, there are too many negatives to make using neatsfoot oil worthwhile. 

Why is Neatsfoot oil bad for leather?

Overall, the negatives of neatsfoot oil far outweigh the positives, and it is not worth using this substance on your leather goods.

  • It can harm stitching. Neatsfoot is acidic in nature adversely reacting with thread
  • It reacts with oxygen, clogging the leather pores and eventually rotting the leather. This causes cracks and flaking
  • When leather gets cold, it forms a white, waxy film, just like you see in the photo of the antique leather powder bag
  • It will darken the color of your leather. This can sometimes happen in a single application!
  • It attracts dirt and dust

So, if you're looking for a way to treat your leather, there are much better options out there than neatsfoot oil.

What are the better alternatives for treating leather?

Here at Preservation Solutions, we know leather. We know that it's a natural material that needs to be treated with care, and we have a wide range of products that can do just that. Whether your leather is dry and cracked, or just starting to show signs of wear, we have a solution that will help. And unlike neatsfoot oil, our products won't harm your leather in the process. 

When you want to condition everyday leather that is just dry, use our Leather Saver. For your equestrian items, go for our Saddle & Tack Conditioner. If you need to treat older, stiff leather, use Leather Rejuvenator. And, for fragile, antique leather, use Restoration Leather Conditioner.

And if you aren't sure what product will best meet your needs, contact us! We believe that your leather should last a lifetime, and we would be happy to help provide you with advice on the best treatment for your leather goods.