Can You Use Coconut Oil on Leather Shoes?

One unconventional yet frequently debated method in the leather care community is the use of coconut oil. In this article, we delve into the perplexing question: Can you use coconut oil on leather shoes?

Leather, a natural material, demands gentle care to preserve its quality and longevity. Coconut oil, derived from coconuts, has gained popularity for its various uses, from cooking to skincare. But can these two worlds collide for the benefit of your leather shoes?

Let’s find out

Can you use coconut oil on leather shoes

Can You Use Coconut Oil on Leather Shoes?

Yes, you can use coconut oil on leather shoes, but there are some considerations. Coconut oil, a natural substance revered for its conditioning properties, can be a double-edged sword when it comes to treating leather shoes. Let’s explore the nuances:

1. Darkening Effect

Coconut oil, a natural substance, tends to darken leather upon application.

This color change can be significant for those who prioritize maintaining the original shade of their shoes.

2. Application Challenge

Applying the right amount of coconut oil can be challenging, requiring even distribution.

Excessive use may over-soften leather, raising concerns about compromising its structural integrity.

3. Limited Water Resistance

While coconut oil offers a modest degree of water resistance, it does not translate to long-lasting waterproofing.

Alternative products, such as dedicated leather conditioners, are more effective for prolonged protection against moisture.

4. Caution Against Regular Use

Many leather specialists advise against regularly treating leather with coconut oil.

Dedicated leather conditioners are recommended alternatives known for their exceptional ability to effectively condition leather and provide long-lasting preservation and protection.

Does Coconut Oil Waterproof Leather Shoes?

Coconut oil, while capable of providing a thin layer of waterproof protection to leather, exhibits a short-lived effect. Typically, it can repel water for a brief period, ranging from 1 to 2 days.1

Contrary to the comprehensive waterproofing capabilities of other specialized products, coconut oil falls short in terms of sustained water resistance. When compared to dedicated leather waterproofing options, coconut oil’s effectiveness in this regard is limited. 

Consequently, while it may serve as a temporary solution for water repellency, it is not considered the optimal choice for achieving the enduring waterproofing of leather.

How to Clean Leather Shoes with Coconut Oil

To clean leather shoes using coconut oil, a systematic approach can be followed with the following steps:

Step 1: Clean the Shoes:

Begin by wiping off any accumulated dirt or dust from the shoes using a damp cloth.

Prepare a solution of warm water and castile soap. Dip a cloth into the solution, wring it out, and proceed to wipe the shoes, targeting any stains or remaining dirt.

Step 2: Apply Coconut Oil:

Take a clean, dry cloth and dip it into coconut oil. Apply a thin, even coat of coconut oil to the entire shoe using circular motions.

Allow the shoes to sit for approximately 20 minutes, giving the leather ample time to absorb the oil.

Step 3: Buff the Shoes:

Once the oil has been absorbed, use another clean, dry cloth to buff the shoes. This step serves to remove any excess oil and enhance the shine of the leather.

Can you use coconut oil on leather shoes

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Does Coconut Oil Ruin Leather?

Using coconut oil on leather is a practice that comes with both positive and negative effects, and it’s important to consider several key points:

  1. Coconut oil, similar to other natural oils like neatsfoot, olive, and mink oil, has the potential to darken leather upon application. This darkening is temporary and tends to fade over time.
  1. The application of coconut oil may result in a spotty, patch-like appearance on the leather, and the surface may feel sticky. However, it can soften the leather and provide a thin layer of waterproof protection.
  1. While coconut oil can offer a degree of waterproofing, it is not as effective in this regard compared to some other dedicated leather conditioners or oils.
  1. Advocates of coconut oil highlight its natural composition, free from harsh chemicals, making it an attractive option for those who prioritize organic and chemical-free solutions for leather care.
  1. Some caution against using pure coconut oil, citing difficulties in the correct application. There’s a concern that improper application may lead to over-softening, potentially weakening the leather.

What are Some Other Natural Oils that can be used on Leather Shoes?

Several natural oils are suitable for treating and enhancing leather shoes:

1. Linseed oil: The use of linseed oil on leather is recognized for its ability to nourish the material, leading to improved flexibility and suppleness. Linseed oil is valued for its natural properties that can penetrate the leather, providing essential nutrients that contribute to the overall health of the material.

2. Neatsfoot Oil: Derived from the foot and shin bones of cows, neatsfoot oil is renowned for its leather-softening properties. It is particularly effective in improving the flexibility and pliability of leather, contributing to increased comfort and durability.

3. Mink Oil: Widely embraced in leather care, mink oil is a popular choice for conditioning. Its application is known to revive dried-out leather, restoring its vitality and improving flexibility. Mink oil is often favored for its ability to bring a rich luster to leather surfaces.

Using these natural oils can provide leather shoes with benefits such as softening, conditioning, and rejuvenation. However, when selecting an oil, it’s crucial to consider a few key factors:

  • Different oils can affect leather color differently, so it’s important to choose an oil that matches the desired appearance outcome.
  • Check the oil’s compatibility with the specific type of leather for optimal results.
  • Follow the recommended guidelines for applying oil to ensure even application and avoid excessive use that may lead to undesirable outcomes.

Can you use coconut oil on leather shoes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is coconut oil good for leather?

A: While coconut oil is praised for its non-damaging qualities in conditioning leather, its effectiveness in waterproofing is limited. Overconditioning concerns and application challenges make it less than optimal for leather care.

Many experts now recommend alternative products, like mink oil or neatsfoot oil, for restoring and enhancing leather’s flexibility and pliability.

Q: How do you condition leather shoes with coconut oil?

A: First, clean the shoes, then apply coconut oil, let it absorb, and then wipe off excess oil. Store in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture damage and allow ongoing absorption of oil.


While coconut oil possesses conditioning properties, its potential to darken leather, uneven application, and limited waterproofing raise important considerations for those seeking to preserve the quality of their footwear.

For optimal results, consider dedicated leather conditioners. These offer superior waterproofing and suppleness without the risk of darkening or oversoftening.

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