The most complex operation in strop maintenance is applying oil to rejuvenate the leather. For normal, everyday maintenance, all that one strop maker recommends is to rub your hands up and down the strop. This will transfer the natural oils in your hands to the strop leather. If you use the strop every day, the daily action of the razor and your oils should keep the strop hydrated. In extreme cases, your strop may have dried out. Meaning, the natural oils found within your strop have evaporated. If this has happened, don’t panic. Your strop can be brought back to life with the simple application of oil.Neatsfoot oil is distilled from the shin bones of cattle. Neatsfoot oil is used as a conditioning, softening and preservative agent for leather, making it ideal for strop rejuvenation and conditioning. It is useful for all types of leather and is widely used. It is also relatively inexpensive. An alternative to neatsfoot oil, if you have aversions to animal based products, is light mineral oil. This is not to be confused with heavy mineral oil widely found at pharmacies and supermarkets in the U.S.. Light mineral oil is thinner. It also goes by the name of butcher’s block oil or food grade mineral oil. It can be special ordered by your local pharmacy as well. This derivative of oil production serves as an alternative to neatsfoot oil.
You can tell if/when your leather is in need of conditioning if you experience high levels of “leather dust.” You will notice the dust after a round of stropping. The leather particles are being shed much like our skin sheds cells on a daily basis. However, your razor shouldn’t be coated in this “dust.” It is a sign that your strop could use some conditioning because it is dried out and needs oil.
To condition the strop, just put a little bit of oil on the palm of your hand, and rub it up and down the strop. Repeat as necessary.