Homemade leather conditioners for a Coach purse?
April 25, 2014 7:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a homemade leather conditioner for a Coach leather purse. I see linseed oil + vinegar. What could I substitute, if anything, for linseed oil?

I'm hand washing a vintage Coach purse today for use tomorrow. The internet covers a lot of methods. I will wipe down with a microfiber rag in warm water a little gentle soap.

But for leather conditioners, I see mink oil and linseed oil and vinegar combos.

I don't have time to go out and get either the Coach one or anything I don't already have on hand.


1) Is there another oil I could substitute for linseed oil?

2) Will conditioning even make the bag look nice and shiny, or should I just put it off a few days?
posted by vincele to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can only answer #2. I just handwashed a vintage leather coach bag two weeks ago. The leather conditioner made a difference, but not an "oh my goodness, I am so amazed" difference. So, I would definitely just use it tomorrow without conditioning, if you can't find a substitute before then. I found that the leather tanning process Coach uses makes the leather supple and nice, that it looks really nice after washing. (And, by handwashing, I mean, in a sink full of tepid water and Eucalan for 15 minutes. So pretty heavy-duty.)
posted by umwhat at 7:47 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

1) It's not recommended. Sometimes I do use vegetable oil or olive oil anyway, and the worst that has happened is that it was difficult to get it to spread around evenly and some stickiness remained.

2) Conditioning won't make it shiny like patent leather. Think of it like moisturizing dry skin.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:48 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok that sounds reasonable. Will wait on conditioning. Will find a mink and barter oil for food with the critter.

After washing, the sturdy black bag looks great.

The jury is still out on the hot pink leather bag, also in sturdyish leather. I will take that one to the pros next week if it still looks dirty.

When I pulled out the third bag I noticed it has a small but noticeable ink stain on it. The bag is soft tan leather. The internet suggests isopropyl alcohol on qtip. I am not sure that is worth the risk. Thoughts?

Apologies for the appearance of threadsitting.
posted by vincele at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2014

Oils tend to darken leather and actually make it less shiny it can also take a little while to soak in which if you need the bag tomorrow might not be great as it can come off on clothes. The best way to make leather shiny is with a soft cloth or brush and to dry buff it lightly, the softer the leather the less vigorously you'll want to buff it. I don't think a good leather handbag needs much oiling unless you are exposing it to all sorts of weather elements regularly as it can change the colour dramatically, oiling is more for leather like shoes or saddles that get wet & dirty often.

I'd try the alcohol on a q tip method in an inconspicuous place first.
posted by wwax at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

It depends on your location, but my local coach store always conditions the outside of my bag when I walk in the store. I'd probably wait and stop by the Coach store next time it's convenient.
posted by 26.2 at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow, linseed oil has a pretty strong, distinctive smell. I'm surprised someone would recommend it to condition something you wear on your body. I think that recipe is one to avoid.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:01 PM on April 25, 2014

Lexol, which is available at auto stores and possible other places (I haven't looked) is a good, cheap leather conditioner for that kind of leather, and won't darken it. Conditioning will make the color more even, but can rub off until it soaks in.

I have never heard of putting linseed oil on leather, and it does not smell nice and is not good for your skin. Alcohol shouldn't hurt the leather, though I would test it first somewhere inconspicuous in case it discolors (which I doubt). Definitely condition after that, though.
posted by sepviva at 8:00 PM on April 25, 2014

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