Boots oiling is a timeless, traditional and effective way of caring for leather boots to keep them both looking good and performing well. That’s why, knowing how to oil boots is pretty no-brainer!
In the countryside, where I grew up, boots were an important part of a young boy’s life. They came in all shapes and sizes and everyone had at least two pairs: one to wear out, and the other waiting, shiny and ‘new’, in hope that you didn’t have to fall flat on your face, in the muddy yard.
Your boots should be the only footwear you own. They should not be the clothes that keep you warm, they should not be the pants that hold you up, they should not be the trousers that are a part of your everyday wardrobe, they should not be the article that is worn by everyone and yet that no one likes. They should be the thing you love, the item you are proud of, and the piece that gets you noticed.
Now, if you have a leather boot or a pair of shoes made of leather, you know that it’s important to take care of them with proper cleaning and oiling.
But how do you know if your footwear is actually leather?
Which oils are best for your boots?
How often should you oil them?
In this blog post, we’ll look at different types of boots oils. We’ll also give step-by-step directions on when, what, and how to oil yours.
Boot oil is a type of care product that is specifically designed to condition and protect leather boots. It helps to keep the leather supple, flexible and waterproof while also restoring any lost oils and nutrients.
This not only keeps the leather looking good but also helps boots to break in faster and prevent from drying out, cracking or becoming brittle.
Boot oil is sold in a can/tin as cream/paste, in a bottle as a liquid, or even in a spray can and is a great option for quick maintenance. When you’re in a rush, simply spritz your boots with this stuff!
Here is the result of our extensive testing and research as we picked the top 14 popular and most selling boot oils:
|Top||Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, Non-Toxic and Made in The USA!||100% all natural non-toxic||Both new boots and dried, old common and exotic leather boots||4.5/5||$||Details|
|Saphir Medaille d'Or Renovator – All-Purpose Leather Shoe Oil & Conditioner||Blend of beeswax, lanolin and mink oil||Best for anything made of leather (except suede and nubuck)||4.8/5||$$||Details|
|Obenauf's Leather Oil Conditions Restores Preserves Dry Leather (8oz with Applicator)||Combination of Natural leather conditioning oils, beeswax, and propolis||For both new leather boots and dried up, sun faded old boots||4.8/5||$||Details|
|Huberd's Shoe Oil||A mixture of beeswax, and natural oils||Ideal for general leather maintenance, when heavy duty waxing/greasing not required||4.7/5||$||Details|
|Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP Natural Oil Leather Conditioner Beeswax Formula||Mix of real beeswax and plant oils||For both new leather boots and dried, sun faded old boots||4.8/5||$||Details|
|Red Wing Heritage All Natural Boot Oil||Mix of mink oil and pine pith, all-natural||Oil-tanned leather boots||4.6/5||$$||Details|
|Sof Sole Mink Oil||Combination of mink oil, glycerin, and fat||All Leather (except suede and nubuck) and vinyl shoes, boots||4.7/5||$$||Details|
|Lexol Leather Conditioner||Purely from emulsified tanning oils||Both new boots and dried, old common and exotic leather boots||4.6/5||$||Details|
|Bickmore 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil||100 percent natural ingredients||For all finished, smooth leather boots and shoes except suede, nubuck or napped leather||4.7/5||$||Details|
|Huberd’s Shoe Grease||Original beeswax||Recommended for heavy work and outdoor gear and leather goods||4.7/5||$||Details|
|JobSite Premium Mink Oil||Blend of mink oil, silicone, lanolin and pure Neatsfoot oil||All Leather (except suede and nubuck) and vinyl shoes, boots||4.6/5||$||Details|
|Red Wing Heritage Mink Oil||Blend of mink oil, lanolin, and silicone||All Leather (except suede and nubuck) and vinyl shoes, boots||4.8/5||$$||Details|
|KIWI Shoe Conditioning Oil||Blend of petrolatum, paraffin, neatsfoot oil and alkane||Nourishes and waterproofs smooth leather||4.7/5||$||Details|
|Ariat Unisex Mink Oil Paste||mink oil, lanolin, and silicone||All Leather (except suede and nubuck) and vinyl shoes, boots||4.8/5||$||Details|
If you want to see the details of the top picks, click here.
Types of Boot Oil
There are three main categories of oil for leather boots based on ingredients : animal, mineral and natural.
- Animal-based oils include lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool; mink oil; neatsfoot oil; tanners’ grease or “pure” tallow (made from rendered suet).
- Mineral oils, on the other hand, are made from petroleum and include paraffin oil and petrolatum.
- Natural boot oil – such as coconut, jojoba, shea butter and olive oil – come directly from nature and do not contain any additives or chemicals. These types of natural boot oil tend to be milder than mineral-based oils, so they can be more easily absorbed by the skin.
Also, there are different types of boot oil for leather boots available in the market based on their form, consistency, package type, and how to apply them. They are typically categorized as liquid, cream, and paste.
- Boots Oil Liquid: Boots oil can be in liquid or oil form, which is expected. A most common example of boots oil liquid is mink oil, which is normally mixed with boot polish and lime.
- Boots Oil Paste: The most popular example of boots oil paste usually comes in a tube, such as neatsfoot or chilblains (a name derived from the feet that have skin chapped from pressure). This form of applying it can make your shoes stay safely inside their boxes for some time because you do not need to use too much product.
- Boots Oil Cream: This one is not common in the market but it can be purchased. It depends on preference and your environment, though these soaps are most often used to help moisturize by giving off a lubricity feeling when applied.
Pro-tips: It is recommended to choose the boot oil which is non-toxic, all-natural, gentle on leather, penetrates the leather fibers deeply.
What is Leather Oil?
Leather oils are special kind of oil for leather boots that can be used to care for and condition leather. It’s made from refined oils, which come from vegetable fats and animals (mostly cows), so it is entirely plant-based.
Leather oils won’t ruin your shoes as some petroleum-based products can. It is non-toxic, biodegradable, and 100% free of nasty chemicals. We should also mention that it smells great!
Difference Between Boot Oil and Leather Oil
The main difference between the two can be described in how they are made, what kind of distillation process used for making each one and also their purpose.
- The most important factor is that leather oil works great on vegetable-tanned leather. Boot oil can be used on both vegetable-tanned/ oil tanned leather and full-grain leather.
- Also, Boot oil is thinner and more watery, whereas leather oil is thicker and less watery. This means that boot oil won’t be as effective at waterproofing your boots, but it will help the oils penetrate the leather better.
- As we said before, both oils are 100% natural oil and will not damage your shoes. However, leather oil is much thicker than boots oil.
- Leather oil is around 30% solids, while boots oil has around 8-10% solids.
- Again, both oils are free of nasty chemicals and odorless.
- They’re safe for the planet and the people who will be using them.
When to Apply Boot Oil or Leather Oil?
It’s important to apply this product to your boots before you wear them, because it will give the highest effect. That’s why we don’t recommend applying is during wet weather – if you do that then water might penetrate inside and damage rubber components of your footwear (carpet fibers are porous). Consider the following scenarios to start using boot oil:
- You have a new pair of leather boots which need quick and effective break in.
- Your boots have become dried or sun-faded due to prolonged use.
- Your pair of leather boots have become shabby and/or brittle due to climate and frequent use.
- You need to protect your favorite leather boots from weather and water effects.
- You need to condition your leather boots effectively to make them soft, supple and last longer.
Pro-tip: Most boot oils will darken the color of your leather. So apply accordingly!
Popular Boot Oils/ Leather Oils
Just as there are many types of boots, there are also a variety of different oils that can be used to care for them. Here are few of the most popular types:
This is a natural oil that is made from the rendered feet, shinbones, and tails of cattle. It is a thick, yellowish, waxy substance that is also an excellent preservative. It’s perfect for restoring the leather and will leave it shining and smooth. Neatsfoot oil has some distinct advantages and also downsides when compared to mink oil.
Be warned though: this oil has a pungent smell and can take several days to dry completely. This means that you will need to let your boots sit overnight before wearing them again. If you're heading out for a special occasion, you might want to use an alternative oil.
Mink Oil is another oil commonly used to soften up leather work boots. Like neatsfoot oil, mink oil comes from animal byproducts but is less smelly and can be applied more quickly (it dries in about an hour). It even has the added benefit of making your boots smell nice! Mink oil also darkens leather, which some people love for boots, but if you’re looking for a subtle effect, this is not the oil to use.
This is a popular choice for those who want to condition and protect their boots without giving them a glossy shine. It’s a water-based product that doesn’t leave an oily residue and is safe to use on all types of leather. It’s perfect for everyday use and comes in both liquid and spray form.
Beeswax is a natural protectant that is often used on shoes and boots. It’s an all-natural product that comes from bees and helps to waterproof, sunproof, and dustproof your boots. It also gives them a nice shine.
Grape Seed Oil
This is an odorless alternative that’s used in many beauty products. It also doesn’t darken your leather so it’s perfect for those who don’t want their boots to look shiny or darker than they already are.
This is another type of oil that is used for its recognized benefits but also has the added benefit of not staining your leather or clothing. Because it can clog pores, however, you must make sure to wipe off any excess before allowing contact with your skin. Also be careful when using on suede as it can make the fabric become slick.
To me wax oil is the smell of childhood memories as my Mum would use this on my leather shoes and sandals each weekend. It comes in a tin and has that classic smell that takes us right back to our parents’ house!
This oil is suitable for use on both smooth leather and suede. It has a waxy texture that allows it to dry very quickly, making it ideal for quick touch-ups. Be careful when applying though – this oil can cause your boots to become slippery!
The shape of this oil bottle often makes us think of our childhood when we used to play Cowboys and Indians. Saddle soap or Saddle oil is made from natural ingredients such as lanolin, beeswax, and turpentine. It’s a light brown in color and has a slightly sweet smell.
Unlike mink oil, saddle soap/oil is suitable for cleaning conditioning delicate leathers such as suede or nubuck. It’s also great for restoring the color of faded or dry leather. Saddle oil is a little more expensive than some other options but a little goes a long way!
This is the most popular type of boot oil and can be used on all types of leather – from calfskin to suede. It comes in a spray and is designed to penetrate deep into the leather, softening it and protecting it from moisture.
This oil doesn’t need to be rubbed in or allowed to dry before wearing your boots. If you’re time-poor, this is a great option for regular maintenance of your favorite pair of boots/shoes!
Pro-tips : Just because shoe oil is a great way to protect and condition your boots, it doesn't mean you can neglect cleaning them! Dirt and dust can build up over time, which will eventually cause damage. Make sure you give your boots a good clean at least once a month using a suitable leather cleaner.
How to Oil Leather Boots
Now that you know a little more about the different types of boot oils, let’s take a look at how to go about using them. At first let us know what are the logistics you need to start with:
Items Required to Start Oiling Boots at Home
- Your Boots
- Boot Oil
- A Soft Cloth or Work Flannel sized 8×12in
- Filler brush with soft material
- An Old Towel
- Polish Remover(optional)
- Dryer (optional)
Before You Apply Oil
Take into account some important tips you should know before applying this product:
- Your footwear must be clean and dry.
- It should always be nice and snug.
- Shoelaces must tighten properly.
The Process of Oiling Boots
- Start by cleaning the surface of your boots with a clean brush, polish remover and an old towel.
- If you have scuffs or scratches on the leather, use a filler brush to cover it before you start oiling.
- Apply the boot oil using a cloth or flannel, rubbing it gently into the leather in a circular motion.
- The best time to apply it is before you go to bed, so the oil has a chance to soak in overnight.
- Leave your boots to dry for at least 12 hours (24 is better).
- After the Boots Are Dried, if you want to add a shine to your boots, use a polish remover and a clean cloth, then apply a wax-based shoe polish in a circular motion.
- When buffing your boots, use a clean, old towel.
- If you have a dryer, set it to low heat and place your boots inside for about 30 minutes.
- Repeat the process till you are satisfied.
Don’ts while Applying Boot Oil
1. Don’t use any type of detergent or soap as it will remove the oil and make your leather dry.
2. Don’t use a excessive heat to dry your boots as this can damage the leather.
3. Don’t over use the boot oiling process as it will make your boots prone to early cracks and brittleness.
4. Don’t use boot oil more than advised, it may harm and discolor the leather.
Don’t use common boot oils to suede or nubuck.
How Much Do Boot Oils Cost?
In terms of price, boot oil is little more expensive than leather conditioner, costing from $10 – $40 per bottle. How long a bottle lasts depends on how often you use it – for regular use, a bottle should last for several months.
How to Choose The Best Boot Oil For Leather Boots?
When choosing the best oil for your leather boots, we take a number of things into consideration. These include:
- Type of Boot Material – Different types of leather require different types of oil. For example, suede is a delicate material that should not be treated with the same oil as cowhide. If you’re not sure what type of leather your boots are made from, it’s best to consult a professional before applying any oil.
- Type of Oil – We look at the various types of oils available and choose the one that is most likely to be effective on leather boots. This includes both natural and synthetic oils, as well as those that are water-resistant.
- Climate – Boot oil should be water-resistant to protect your boots from the elements. If you live in a wet climate, it’s important to find an oil that will make your boots waterproof effectively and keep them from getting wet and damaged.
- How Often You Wear Your Boots – The more often you wear your boots, the more often you will need to apply oil.
- Ease of Use – Some oils are more difficult to apply than others, so we take this into account when rating them.
- Effectiveness – Boot oil should protect your boots from the elements, keep them looking good and extend their lifespan. We rate oils based on how well they achieve these goals.
- Price – Boot oils can vary in price, so we take this into account when rating them.
When it comes to leather boots, applying the right kind of oil is essential for keeping them looking good and lasting longer. Oils can be either natural or synthetic, and some are water-resistant while others are not. The best oil for your leather boots will depend on the type of material they are made from, how often you wear them and the climate you live in.
If you’re looking for a top-rated oil that is suited to leather boots, check out our list of the best oils below.
How often should I Oil My Boots?
Manufactures typically suggest oiling boots every six months to a year, depending on the boot. Users who wear their boots frequently may have to re-apply oil more often than this.
People living in wet environments should probably apply oil more frequently. If your boots get soaked through with water it is important that you apply oil quickly – though not many oils are marketed as water-resistant.
5 Home Made Options for Boots Oil
There are a few different home-made oils that can be used on leather boots. All of these oils are made from natural ingredients, so they are gentle on the material and good for the environment.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a popular choice for boot oil, as it is gentle on the leather and has a pleasant smell. It is also affordable and easy to find, as it can be purchased from supermarkets or small grocers.
To use: Place a few drops of oil on your fingers and rub the surface of the leather. Allow the oil to soak in for two minutes before wiping off any excess with a soft cloth. Word of caution – be very sure and precise if you want to use olive oil for leather boots! Why? Check this article describing olive oil and leather.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another great alternative to store-bought boot oils, as it has properties that help protect leather.
To use: Apply the oil by rubbing a small amount between your fingers before applying it to the boots. Allow time for the oil to soak in before wearing your boots. Avoid re-applying too frequently because this can make the boots greasy.
Lanolin is a by-product of wool production, so many people opt to use it on their boots as a form of recycling. It has properties that help protect the leather from water damage and keeps the leather soft.
To use: Apply Lanolin the same way as beeswax. After applying, it can be left to soak into the leather for a few hours or overnight before wearing.
4. Olive Oil & Lanolin Oil
This blend contains two ingredients that are gentle on leather, and can keep boots looking newer for longer. The lanolin in this oil helps condition the leather, while the olive oil helps to repel water.
To use: Apply a small amount of the oil to your boots, using a cloth or your fingers. Allow the oil to soak in for two minutes before wiping off any excess.
5. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is a gentle substance that contains properties that help condition leather. It also repels water, which makes it suitable for wet environments.
To use: Apply the oil in the same way as beeswax or Lanolin. Allow time for the oil to soak into the leather, and avoid re-applying too frequently because this can make the boots greasy.
10 Best Boot Oils for Leather Boots
When it comes to taking care of your leather boots, it’s important to use the right type of oil. Not all oils are created equal, and some are better suited for certain types of leather than others. Here are five of the best boot oils on the market today.
Leather Honey, my personal favorite, is an excellent leather care product serving Americans for long. It’s main features:
- 100% American made, family owned company since 1968.
- It effectively penetrates into the layers of new leather boots to create protective shield.
- It contains non-toxic ingredients and has no solvent, silicone or harmful animal ingredients.
- It restores and rejuvenates dried up, sun-fade old leather boots to the highest satisfaction level.
- It is not at all sticky and odorless.
- Provides excellent all-weather protection from rain, snow, humidity by market-leading water-repellant formula.
- Not suitable for suede, faux leather or vinyl.
Courtesy : Leather Honey
This product is made from a Blend of beeswax, lanolin and mink oil, which makes it perfect for high-quality leather boots. It helps to protect the leather from water and weather damage, while also conditioning and nourishing it. Its main features:
- Natural and eco-friendly Saphir goods are made with high-quality and low-consumption materials.
- Made in France with best quality.
- Saphir Cleaner restores leather to its original color and shine.
- The mink oil and waxes in this product provide everything you need for shoe maintenance.
- Well known for exceptional cleaning, conditioning, smoothing, and brightening..
- This product is used to soften hard-to-soften box calf, goat, and cordovan leather.
Obenauf’s Leather Oil is a very effective and popular name in the present market. The main features are:
- The main ingredients are a combination of natural preserving oil, beeswax, propolis.
- It shortens the break in time for leather boots when you use it effectively.
- It effectively Conditions, restores, and preserves old dried up, sun-fade leather.
- Provides waterproofing the leather boots.
- Contains a dauber applicator for easy application on leather boots.
- This Boot Oil is proudly made in the USA.
- Not advisable for nubuck or suede.
Proudly serving America since 1921, this Huberd’s Shoe Oil provides excellent leather care for your favorite pair of leather boots. Its main features:
- Ideal for general leather maintenance, when heavy duty waxing/greasing not required.
- Contains a blend of beeswax, and natural oils, and no animal fat/ solvent/ harmful additives.
- Provides effective waterproofing for leather boots.
- Restores your favorite boots to a soft and supple condition.
- Soften and prolongs the life of leather boots.
- Protects leather boots from being brittle, hard and prone to cracks.
- Proudly made in the USA.
- Not suitable for nubuck or suede.
( Suitable for Heavy Duty Old Leather Boot Restoration )
Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP Leather conditioner Natural Oil is manufactured with real beeswax and plant oils and provides easy application by hand. Its main features:
- It effectively waterproofs and prevents deposition of acids, petroleum, salt, and harmful chemicals on your leather boots.
- It conditions regular-use boots and provides max restoration of old dried-up and sun-faded leather boots and shoes.
- Prevents scuffing, dust deposition, brittleness, rotten stitch and cracking.
- Proudly made in the USA.
Some Other Boot Oils Worthy to Check Out
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to oil boots too much?
If the boot is oiled too much it will make it very soft and prone to damage.
How can I tell if my boots need oiling?
The best way to determine if your boots need oiling is to perform the water test: Take a damp paper towel and wipe it over the boot. If there is color from the paper towel on the boot, then it needs oiling.
Can you oil boots with motor oil?
No, you should not use motor oil to oil your boots. It is not a good quality product and can actually damage the leather.
Is oil bad for leather boots?
All types of oil will weaken leather, and this includes the oils on your skin. It may be necessary to oil boots at times (more often for some than others), but it is best to use a good quality conditioner specifically designed for boots.
Is Vegetable Oil good for leather boots?
Vegetable oil is not ideal for softening leather. However, it can be used in moderation on boots that are very dry or cracking. If you use vegetable oil, make sure to let the boots dry out well before wearing them again – otherwise they will become too soft and prone to damage.
Is Vaseline good for leather boots?
No, Vaseline is not good for leather boots. It will make the boots sticky and cause them to lose their shape.
What to do when my boots are too greasy after treatment?
If your boots feel greasy after treatment, it means you have applied too much oil. Use a cloth to remove the excess and allow the boots to dry completely before wearing them. You can also use a boot brush to help speed up the drying process.
Can I use boot oil on light colored leather boots?
Yes, you can use boot oil on light coloured boots. However, because the oil darkens leather it is best suited to boots that are not water-resistant.
How We Tested Boot Oils & Grading Criteria
We split our grading criteria into six key areas:
- Ability to soften leather (comfort)
- Ability to nourish and protect (condition)
- Water resistance
- Durability – how long the product lasts before it needs re-applying, if at all
In addition to our grading criteria, we also consider what each boot oil is designed to do as well as the practicalities of how it works – i.e. its application and whether it needs time for it to dry before wearing your boots again. We also share a few tips from boot-makers on prepping and treating new leather boots.
Before We Say Goodbye
Leather boots are a popular choice for many people, as they are both stylish and durable. However, to ensure that your leather boots last for years to come, it is important to perform regular cleaning and maintenance. This includes applying a quality leather conditioner at least once a month, and oiling the boots every 6 months or so.
In this article, we have outlined everything you need to know about how to oil boots and which products are the best for this purpose.
We hope you find it useful.
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