When you’ve put your hard-earned cash toward a great pair of boots, the last thing you want is to use a leather oil that could potentially ruin them.
The footwear industry is brimming with maintenance products, yet it seems damn near impossible to find the best oil for leather boots. You’re bound to be met with a cluttered mess of contradictory advice that saturates the internet.
One person will tell you this product is “a must” and another will say to avoid it at all costs. This can start to feel like a sick game of Russian roulette when your expensive pair of boots are on the line.
But you’re in luck because this list compiles 9 of the best oils for leather boots on the market today. All of the offerings here can accommodate different lifestyles and uses because different types of boots require specific products for maintenance. The oil you’d use for a classy pair of dress boots varies from what you’d use on your rugged, work boots.
All of these options are primarily made from natural ingredients, such as mink oil (made from the animal’s rendered fat) and neatsfoot oil. Synthetic oils also have grown popular over the years, but there’s still some general hesitation regarding them. Mink oil and neatsfoot oil are two of the best oils for leather boots, which is why they’re so prominent.
In short, the best oil for leather boots comes from Leather Honey because of the versatility and quality this brand offers. This leather conditioner checks pretty much all of the boxes you’d expect and is sure to keep your boots looking as fresh as they were right out of the box.
Saphir Renovator is also a great option if you have a bit more cash to spend on a product some have described as “liquid gold”. So, without further ado, let’s look at the best oils to keep your boots feeling brand new.
In over fifty years since Leather Honey first developed this conditioner, the recipe has not changed at all. This family-owned company may be relatively new to the world of leather care products, but that’s no reason to discount them.
Leather Honey’s leather conditioner is an all-in-one product that rejuvenates dry leather, adds a water-repellent coating, and does away with dreaded, greasy residues. The viscosity of this conditioner is less oily and, well, more like honey. Leather Honey is pretty hush-hush about the exact ingredients because it’s a family secret. However, they do use all-natural ingredients, and this product is non-toxic.
When applied, this conditioner will likely add a bit of shine to liven up the leather and restore its color if it has faded. It truly is the all-around best option for a pair of chelsea boots, combat boots, or pretty much anything in between.
Ingredients: Natural Ingredients | Seasons: All | Item Volume: 8 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Yes
If you’re on a tight budget and are seeking something to simply get the job done, look no further than Fiebing’s 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil. You really can’t beat the value of this deal, considering how much oil you get for the price.
Of course, you won’t get any fancy benefits from this oil that you might get from other, more expensive alternatives. This is a pretty bare-bones package, but it should get the job done for moderate usage. Neatsfoot oil also has less of a darkening effect on leather compared to other types of oils. So if your boots are the perfect shade of brown, this oil can give you exactly what you need to keep them fresh and clean.
Ingredients: Neatsfoot Oil | Seasons: Summer, Fall | Item Volume: 16 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: No
Back when I worked at a boot store, my manager religiously recommended Saphir Renovator to customers asking about maintenance. This brand carries a distinguished reputation in the leather world for high-quality products that extend the life of your boots.
Renovator is a multi-purpose cleaner and conditioner with a mink and macadamia oil base. It’s typically used for dress boots and shoes, making it an excellent choice for the classiest pieces in your collection. As a result, it will likely add a decent amount of shine to your footwear, so take note if that’s something you want or don’t want.
As the luxury option, it’s obviously on the pricier side, but that money goes toward the long-term preservation of your boots. You’ll be able to stride in style when you use Saphir Renovator for your next formal outing.
Ingredients: Mink Oil, Macadamia Oil | Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall | Item Volume: 2.5 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Some
So most of the products in this list can be found on Amazon, which means this Otter Wax option might not be the best oil for leather boots per se. However, it does offer a well-rounded package, widely applicable to a variety of boots and leathers.
The addition of sweet orange oils gives this leather oil a subtle, refreshing scent. It might not matter too much when applied to boots, because they’re probably the farthest thing from your nose, but it’s a nice bonus.
At Otter Wax, they emphasize those who care about handcrafted leather goods and want to take the best care of them. The rehydration and glow this oil provides should bring any pair of lackluster boots back to life. If you want to shine up a pair of black boots, this oil will work wonders.
Ingredients: 100% All-Natural Ingredients | Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall | Item Volume: 5 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Some
When the temperature begins to drop, you want a leather oil that can protect your winter boots from the harshest conditions. This Mink Oil from SALTY FISH provides just what you need to keep your boots healthy when treading through snow.
The mink oil base provides an inherent layer of water protection, but the added beeswax really steps this up for those slushy days. Salt is also a well-known enemy of boots, but the protective shield this oil can create will ensure salt never makes direct contact with your leather.
This boot oil is more of a gelatinous substance, so be sure not to apply too much and try to maintain an even coat. While beeswax might prevent water from entering your boots and soaking your socks, it can also reduce overall breathability. This is nice when you want to keep your feet warm during the winter, but this oil may not be the best for warmer, dry seasons.
Ingredients: Mink Oil, Beeswax, Essential Oil | Seasons: Fall, Winter | Item Volume: 8 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Yes
What about a leather oil that can restore and protect your work boots which, let’s be honest, have seen better days? Red Wing is a legendary figure in the boot industry, producing durable, rugged footwear that can last a lifetime. Red Wing’s All Natural Boot Oil is specifically formulated to protect work boots from dust, debris, and anything else you might throw at them.
This oil is primarily meant for oil-tanned leathers and it may cause some temporary darkening after initial application. The addition of pitch pine gives this oil a reasonable water-resistant coating, perfect to reinvigorate an old pair of waterproof work boots. It also provides an anti-bacterial component, to help avoid the dreaded boot stench. So lace up or pull on those work boots and get to business with this oil.
Ingredients: Mink Oil, Pitch Pine | Seasons: All | Item Volume: 8 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Yes
One of the trickiest factors when adding leather oil to a pair of boots is the application process itself. The most common method is to apply some oil to a cloth and wipe the boot with it.
Another method is to apply oil directly onto the boot and evenly disperse it with a rag. Both of these methods are acceptable, but they can lead to inconsistent spots and oversaturation in areas–potentially ruining an otherwise great pair of boots.
Fortunately, Obenauf’s Leather Oil negates these common issues with a built-in applicator in the cap of the bottle. This delicate brush allows the oil to be easily applied in a consistent, quick fashion, ensuring perfect dispersion.
This oil also has beeswax for added weather resistance, meaning it’ll excel at leather restoration and protection on the fly. If you want the least amount of room for error, try Obenauf’s Leather Oil for your boots.
Ingredients: Natural Oils, Beeswax | Seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring | Item Volume: 8 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: Yes
If you’re the type of person to drop over $2,000 on some crocodile-skin cowboy boots, leather care should be a top priority. Exotic leathers must receive special treatment compared to standard cattle leather. Bickmore brings nearly 150 years of experience to the table in this department.
This exotic leather cleaner is ideal for skin types ranging from ostrich to reptile. The spray bottle makes for an efficient application process to clean, soften, and persevere these cherished leathers.
Bickmore also ensures there should be no discoloration when using this spray, so you can care for your exotic boots with zero hesitation. This cleaner doesn’t offer a ton of water resistance though, so you might want to avoid plunging into the Nile like an actual crocodile.
Ingredients: Neatsfoot Oil, Leather Lotion Blend | Seasons: Summer, Fall | Item Volume: 8 FL. OZ. | Waterproofing: No
If you’re completely new to boot care, you might want to start out with a kit to cover all the bases. The Essential Leather Kit from Cobbler’s Choice has your back, offering everything you need when looking after a pair of boots. I’ve personally trusted these products for use on some of my favorite boots.
This kit includes three main components: the leather cleaner, conditioner, and waterproofing spray. Along with those, you also have a horsehair brush and microfiber cloth. The horsehair brush is used before applying any care products, as it clears off existing debris and dirt on your boots. The leather cleaner is then applied with the cloth, essentially acting as soap for your boots. This scrubs down and clears off any penetrating dirt on the surface. The leather conditioner is, of course, what conditions and hydrates the leather after it’s been cleaned off. Finally, the waterproofing spray can add even more protection when the wet seasons roll around.
If you want to take it a step further, you could also invest in a pair of shoe trees to support the structural integrity of your boots for years to come.
Ingredients: Natural Ingredients | Seasons: All | Item Volume: N/A | Waterproofing: Yes
What To Look For In The Best Oil For Leather Boots
Type of Leather
Not all leathers are treated equally, so the first thing you always need to consider when looking for care products is what type you have. Suede is notoriously difficult to maintain, although modern weather-proofing technology has made that job a little easier.
However, there’s a substantial difference between veg-tanned, chrome-tanned, and oil-tanned leathers when it comes to maintenance. Some heavily saturated leathers require less care than other, more brittle varieties. Oh, and it’s always recommended to apply a small amount of product on an inconspicuous area of your boots for the first usage.
Ingredients are also important when choosing the best oil for leather boots. When it comes to animal-based products, mink oil is the overwhelming champion with neatsfoot oil coming in a close second.
Mink oil hydrates leather really well and adds a minimal layer of water protection, but there can be some discoloration when used. Neatsfoot oil is also a great option, often coming in at a cheaper price point while minimizing color changes. In general, companies tend to avoid disclosing the exact ingredients of their oils, so just search for the base you want and assess your desired purpose.
The environment and weather you deal with on a day-to-day basis can also play a major part in the decision-making process.
If you’re constantly in snowy or rainy conditions, it’s best to look for oils with added wax or other hydrophobic ingredients. If you’re in dry conditions, you can opt for something primarily used to hydrate leather and keep it from growing too brittle under the unforgiving sun.
If you simply want the best oil for your leather boots, grab a bottle of Leather Honey’s Leather Conditioner. It’s great for year-round endeavors, and it will keep your boots looking as sweet as honey. Saphir Renovator is for those who desire something distinguished that will reanimate their boots no matter how much they’ve aged.
Generally, the best natural options are mink oil and neatsfoot oil-based products. Synthetic oils have also become popular over the years and are definitely a more humane option than their animal-sourced counterparts. Ultimately, what you want from a good leather oil is the ability to hydrate and rejuvenate your leather boots–any additional features are just icing on the cake.
You might have looked at that bottle of olive oil in your pantry and asked yourself, “Could I use this on my boots?” Although olive oil is, well, an oil, and it shares many properties with those used on leather, it is never recommended. If olive oil is used on your boots, it won’t destroy them, but it could lead to severe discoloration and patchiness. So it’s probably best to simply save it for pasta night instead.
Typically, the job of leather oil is to rehydrate dried-out leather. Waterproofing is not an essential component of a good leather oil; however, some oils do include ingredients that aid in water resistance. If you see ingredients such as beeswax or pitch pine in a boot oil, this means there will be an added level of weatherproofing. You may also want to consider a dedicated waterproofing spray or balm to ensure your leather is always protected.