The years are rarely kind to your baseball glove. I remember back in the day – if my baseball glove lasted an entire season, I would count my lucky stars. But these days, with glove care being what it is, you should expect your one set of gloves to last you more than two seasons easily.
But the key to making your gloves last is to take care of them. You need to properly condition and oil the leather in your baseball glove to prevent it from drying up or cracking. And to do that, you need a proper baseball glove leather oil.
However, glove oils can be pretty expensive. And if you are a teenager, maybe expecting you to get glove oils is not exactly fair to you. Well, in that case, let’s look at the alternatives. And yes, there are quite a few alternative products that you can use if you cannot afford baseball glove oil.
Here’s a quick list –
- Lanolin Oil
- Neatsfoot Oil
- Mink Oil
- Olive Oil
- Shaving Cream
Baseball Glove Oil Alternatives – What are They?
Now before you get your hopes up, let me clarify something. To get the best performance and most lifetime out of your gloves, you should only use specialized glove oil designed specifically for baseball gloves. The alternatives that I’m mentioning here are meant to be used as a last resort.
What that means is if your leather glove feels extremely dry and you don’t have any glove oil left, then these products can help you out in a pinch. However, you shouldn’t rely on them indefinitely, as prolonged exposure to other oils can damage your gloves over time.
With that said, here is a couple of alternative baseball glove oil that can serve you well if you need a quick solution.
1. Lanolin Oil
Here’s a fun fact for you – lanolin oil is one of the key components in almost any glove oil you pick out from the market. Yes, there are other additives there too, but if you read the ingredient list in your old baseball glove oil, there’s a good chance that you will find some amount of lanolin in it.
Lanolin oil is designed to protect, preserve and soften the leather, which is why it works so well in baseball gloves. It is a waxy-like substance derived mostly from sheep. And it is undoubtedly the best alternative if you don’t have any store-bought glove oil for your baseball glove.
Since lanolin oil is easy on the skin and leather is, in fact, dried and processed skin, it does not have any noticeable negative impact on your glove. You can even apply pure lanolin to your skin if you have a rash or itchiness. So that should give you an idea of how good it is for your glove.
2. Neatsfoot Oil
Neatsfoot oil is another type of oil that can work well on baseball gloves. It is extracted from the shin bones of cattle, and it can help soften and condition the leather in your baseball glove to a decent degree.
However, you shouldn’t use primed neatsfoot oil since it contains certain chemicals that can damage your glove. If you do decide to use this oil, make sure you are using it in its pure form.
Personally, I don’t like using too much neatsfoot oil for baseball gloves as I find that it makes the glove a bit heavier. Regular usage can also accelerate cracks in the leather. But if you use it sparingly, it shouldn’t pose any serious threat to your baseball glove.
3. Mink Oil
Similar to neatsfoot oil, mink oil is an animal fat-based oil. It is extracted from the fat layer under the skin of minks. As gross as it may sound, mink oil is actually a pretty popular oil in leathercraft as it can restore moisture in the leather. So naturally, you would think that mink oil is good for baseball gloves, right?
To some extent, yes. However, the effectiveness of mink oil is nowhere close to what you would get with lanolin or neatsfoot oil. Its effect duration is much shorter, and prolonged use of mink oil is also not that good for your baseball glove.
I would only recommend using mink oil on baseball gloves if you want a quick fix. But for regular usage, lanolin oil is still what I would suggest using for your baseball gloves.
4. Olive Oil
I think it’s a safe bet that you already know what olive oil is. It is one of the most common cooking oils out there, and there’s a good chance that you already have a bottle in your kitchen if you look. But before you pour olive oil on your baseball gloves, take a step back and consider the risks.
Yes, olive oil can work and moisturize the leather to some degree. But it also darkens the leather. So if your leather has a light texture that you love, you will have to say goodbye to that.
In addition, too much olive oil will make the glove slippery and heavy. If you do decide to use olive oil on your glove, apply only a small amount and rub it across the entire surface thoroughly. Otherwise, you would be causing more harm than good.
5. Shaving Cream
I know; who would have thought shaving cream could help condition the leather in your baseball glove? But when you take a moment to think about it, it starts to make sense. Shaving cream is designed to soften up your skin before you shave, and by the same logic, it also softens up the leather glove pretty effectively.
However, a word of caution before you proceed – you should avoid using shaving cream on baseball gloves if it contains any alcohol or fragrance additives. Both alcohol and perfume can damage the leather, and using a shaving cream that contains one or the other is nothing short of inviting trouble into your life.
Another common household item that you can use to soften and condition your baseball glove is Vaseline. It’s a mineral-rich cream that can help moisturize and preserve the leather of your baseball glove. And the added benefit of using Vaseline is that it protects your glove from excessive heat from the sun.
However, you want to practice some patience when using Vaseline on baseball gloves. Only apply a little bit on a clean rag and rub it gently into the glove. If you need to apply more, make sure the previous coat has dried fully. Overdoing it can make your glove heavier.
Is It Safe to Use a Substitute for Baseball Glove Oil?
Baseball gloves are not exactly cheap. And if you have a high-end baseball glove, it is natural to wonder whether using an alternative baseball glove oil will damage your glove.
Truth be told, I would not recommend using a baseball glove oil substitute if you can manage it. Using a decent store-bought oil made specifically for baseball glove use is always the better approach. These oils come with many additives to enhance their effectiveness and also preserve the leather in your glove better.
But a glove oil substitute, like lanolin oil, won’t ruin your glove right away – if that’s what you’re scared of. When using an alternative oil, there are a few ground rules you should follow.
For one thing, you shouldn’t apply the oil directly to the glove’s surface. Always apply it on a clean rag and use it to rub it into the leather. You should also make sure you are applying only in small quantities. Going overboard with oil application is never good, even when you are using specialized glove oils.
Also, after applying the oil, let the glove rest and dry up properly before you use it. Give the glove at least 24 hours to dry up. Make sure you check in with the glove to see how it’s doing at least two or three times.
As long as you follow these ground rules and stick with the oil alternatives that I mentioned above, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about damaging your baseball glove.
Now That We’re Here
As you can see, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t afford to buy an expensive bottle of good baseball glove oil. There are plenty of good alternatives out there. And while they may not work as well as manufactured glove oil, they will help you out in a pinch.
The most important thing to remember with these alternatives, though, is that “less is more.” When applying the product, you don’t want to go overboard. Only apply a small amount and rub it so that the leather eats it up entirely.
I hope my complete breakdown of different glove oil substitutes can help you figure out which product you want to use on your favorite baseball glove. Good luck!