How to Apply Mink Oil to Boots: The Only Guide You Need

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How to apply mink oil to boots? 

It’s simple, right? Why would you even need an article for that?

WRONG. It might sound like it’s nothing. But there’s both a right and a wrong way to do something.

On top of that, plenty of people are ruining their boots due to not knowing the proper rules of applying mink oil. 

This is why I’ve prepared an elaborative guide for you. Let’s jump in without wasting any more time here- 

How to Apply Mink Oil to Boots: Easy 7-Step Process 

Even though a lot of people suffer from the case of ‘mink oil ruined my boots’, applying mink oil is basically a piece of cake. But you do need to know what you have to do. 

So, here’s an easy guide on how to put mink oil on boots-

Step 1: Clean the Loose Dirt with a Brush or Cloth 

The boots can’t stay dirty when you actually apply the mink oil. Even tiny amounts of dirt can get clogged up in the oil, eventually leading to cracks. 

What I recommend is getting the Jovitec Horsehair Shoe Brush. It’s a 3-piece set that’s perfect for reaching all the nooks and crannies of your boots. 

But if you’re not feeling like it, a simple dry cloth could do the same job. However, it won’t be as effective. 

Step 2: Use a Damp Cloth to Clean Out Any Grease 

It’s not only the dirt. Slimy grease can mess up the conditioning of the mink oil. It’s best if you remove them beforehand. 

The simplest way is soaking a damp cloth in warm water and wiping the boot with it. But don’t make the boots soaking wet. A few wipes should be enough to do the trick. 

Step 3: Start Applying the Mink Oil in Circular Motions (with a cloth or gloves)

There are two ways you can scoop out mink oil from the container. One is to use a cloth. 

And another one is to wear rubber gloves and use your fingers to rub the oil on the boots. 

Personally, I prefer using my fingers. And it’s the same for liquid mink oil. I think the cloth itself absorbs most of the oil. So, it’s a waste. And I don’t want that.  

Anyway, take small amounts and start rubbing in circular motions. This way it’ll spread evenly. 

Related: Smoke-Free Feet: How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Leather Shoes

Step 4: Cover Every Inch of the Boots with Multiple Applications 

It takes some time to cover every inch of the boots. As you ‘should’ take small portions each time, you have to do it plenty of times. 

But sooner or later, you’ll be done. Just don’t leave out any part. 

Step 5: Wait 1-2 Hours to Let the Mink Oil Dry 

Once you’re done applying, leave them like that. You don’t have to do anything. Simply leave them in a well-ventilated room for 1-2 hours and the oil will be absorbed by the leather. 

Do not even think of speeding up the process anything like heat or heavy airflow. It’s going to mess up the process. 

Step 6: Lightly Wipe Away the Remaining with a Microfiber Cloth 

After the waiting period is over, most of the mink oil should be absorbed. Although it greatly depends on how much you applied. 

Nonetheless, if you feel like waiting a bit longer, you can do that too. Then, wipe the boots with a microfiber cloth. You can use regular clothes too. But a microfiber cloth is going to be smoother. 

However, you shouldn’t apply extra pressure. The wiping should be as light as possible. 

Remember, you’re not polishing them. You’re only removing the excess. 

Related: Revitalize or Protect: Decoding Leather Honey vs. Mink Oil

Step 7: Polish the Boots to Give Them a Shine (optional)

Now, this step is completely optional. But if you didn’t know, your boots are going to have a matte look unless you polish them. 

If you like that look, then, keep it. 

If you don’t, grab your shoe polish or buy my personal favorite, the Red Moose Shoe Polish. It’s got every color possible and the shine is fabulous. 

Mink Oil Before and After Photos 

Mink oil can leave a darkening effect on leather boots, especially light ones. So, it’s better to have an idea of what to expect-

mink oil before and after 3

Things to Consider While Using Mink Oil 

There are a few things you should know before you apply mink oil to your boots. Knowing these can save you from making a huge mistake- 

It’s a Big No for Light Colored Boots

Light-colored leather boots and mink oil don’t mix well especially if you like the original color of your boots. Light-colored boots are going to get darker to some extent when the oil is absorbed. 

But if you already made this mistake, I have a guide on lightening leather boots that can help you solve this problem. 

NEVER Apply on Suede and Nubuck Leather 

This is something you should never ever forget. And it’s not just mink oil. Avoid any kind of leather conditioner for suede and nubuck leather. 

These leather types weren’t made to be conditioned. In fact, they don’t even need it. If you ever do apply, the fluffy fibers are all going to go away.  

Avoid Using on Boots with Cotton Threads 

Even though this isn’t something you should worry about that much. Most manufacturers these days don’t use cotton threads anymore. 

But it’s better to know beforehand. Cotton threads tend to rot away when in contact with mink oil for a long time. 

Do Not Apply More than Necessary or More Often Than You Need 

Don’t go overboard with the amount. A lot of people apply so much mink oil that it looks like the leather is soaking. 

That’s the worst thing you can do to leather. The natural integrity of the leather is going to get destroyed. 

Long story short, apply small amounts and refill(can’t figure out a better word) if necessary. 

How Long to Leave Mink Oil on Boots? 

Mink oil will take at least 1-2 hours to be dried to the touch. However, liquid mink oil will get absorbed at a faster rate than paste mink oil. If the leather is excessively dried up, you might consider leaving it overnight or for 8 hours. 

The next day, you’ll find out the actual color of your ‘new’ boots. Chances are low but if you do find excess mink oil on the surface, use a microfiber cloth to wipe it away.

And as I’ve said before, don’t apply too much pressure when wiping the excess. So, that’s the answer to how long to let mink oil sit. A minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 8 hours. 

How Often Should You Apply Mink Oil to Boots? 

How often you should apply mink oil to boots depends on how often you wear the boots. If you wear them regularly, once a month is adequate. But if you don’t, take them out of the closet every 6 months and put a layer of mink oil. 

On top of that, you should keep in mind that mink oil is going to darken the leather a little bit. You might not notice it with dark-colored boots. But it’s going to be as clear as the sky on the light ones. 

Mink Oil Liquid vs Paste: What’s the Difference?

They are both mink oil. And when it comes to the basics, there’s really no difference. 

Some people like one better than the other. For example, liquid mink oil is easier to spread as it’s liquid. 

But on the other hand, you have more control with paste/wax mink oil. At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of preference. 

Does Mink Oil Damage Leather?

Mink oil does not damage leather. This is only a misconception some people are spreading. Once you know the facts, you’ll realize how made up this is. 

People have been using mink oil on leather for hundreds of years. It’s nature’s waterproofing agent for leather. Once upon a time, people even used it on their own skin. 

People started losing their minds when they saw mink oil was darkening their light-colored leather boots. This will happen with any kind of leather conditioner. 

It’s oil, of course, it’s going to darken the leather to some extent. But no, it’s not going to change the color drastically. 

Another thing is mink oil ruins cotton threads. Most manufacturers don’t even use cotton threads nowadays. So, don’t waste your time worrying about it. 


Does mink oil soften leather?

As mink oil is absorbed by the leather pores, the leather becomes much softer than before. But that’s not a bad thing. What happens is the natural integrity of the leather gets replenished. The boots are going to be a lot more comfortable to wear every time you condition them.

Does mink oil darken leather?

Mink oil deeply penetrates the leather because of its higher viscosity and silicone content. While it does create a waterproof barrier, it does darken the leather 2-3 shades darker. It’s going to be even more noticeable on light color boots. 

Does mink oil go bad?

If you store mink properly away from heat and in a cool place, it’s going to last many years to come. Thanks to the stable fatty acids, mink does not go bad despite having high unsaturated fats similar to other vegetable or animal fat. 

Does mink oil waterproof leather?

Mink oil penetrates deep into the pores of the leather creating a thick waterproof barrier. Apart from conditioning, waterproofing is a beneficial property of mink oil. Moreover, it repels most of everyday salt and oil stains

Does mink oil damage stitching?

Mink oil will not damage stitching unless they are made out of cotton. The good news is, most manufacturers have been using nylon or other stronger threads for a long time. So, chances are, you won’t find boots with cotton threads. 


That’s the end of my guide on how to apply mink oil to boots. Hope you found what you came for. I tried to explain things from a neutral point of view. So, I mentioned everything I could. 

If you have something to add, don’t forget to leave a comment down below. 

Richard Nelson

Richard is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. From an early age, leather boots have been a passion for him. So, he thought why not share his knowledge with the rest of the world? 

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