How Mink Oil Ruined My Boots: Full Guide on How I Fixed It (2023)

Hey there! is supported by its readers. Please assume all links are affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of our links we make a small commission from Amazon. Thank You!

Mink oil is immensely popular for its protective characteristics. But what a lot of people don’t understand is mink oil can turn the leather a few shades darker. 

And that’s when people start panicking and say stuff like, “Mink oil ruined my boots.”

Well, that’s where the misconception is. Your boots aren’t ruined. It’s only the color that’s changed. Everything else should be okay(better if you’ve done it properly) unless you use an excessive amount. 

Nevertheless, this color-changing is a major issue for boots like the Red Wing Heritage. These boots are known for their unique color. Luckily, there are ways you can bring them back to their original glory.

I’ll be explaining everything about those methods. Apart from that, I’ll try to cover everything related to this topic. 

Let’s start, shall we? 

mink oil ruined my boots cover photo

How Mink Oil Ruined My Boots: Here’s What Actually Happens

Mink oil is commonly used to condition and protect leather, but if overused, it can have disastrous effects on your boots. Here’s basically what happens-

1. Hardening and Cracking of Leather

Mink oil can cause the leather to harden and crack. This is because the oil can change the texture of the leather and make it stiff, causing it to lose its natural flexibility.

2. Loss of Flexibility

In addition to hardening and cracking, mink oil can also cause the leather to lose its flexibility. This can lead to boots that are stiff and difficult to walk in, which can be uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your feet.

3. Residue and Discoloration

Finally, mink oil can leave residue on your boots and cause discoloration. This is because too much oil can be difficult to remove and can leave a film on the leather that can change its appearance.

In conclusion, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of mink oil you use on your leather boots. Overuse can lead to hardening and cracking loss of flexibility, and residue and discoloration. To protect your boots and keep them in good condition, it’s best to use a light coating of mink oil and avoid overusing them.

Luckily, if you know how to lighten leather boots, you’ll have no problem bringing back the original color. Or you can change the color altogether.  

Related: 6 Best Mink Oil for Boots: Replenish Your Boots with Right Product

How to Remove Mink Oil from Leather Boots?

Your local boot store messed up your boots or you did it by mistake. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Lucky for you, there are 2 ways you can fix it. Here’s how you can fix your mink oil-ruined boots- 

Method 1: Removing with Soap (Saddle Soap’s Better)

This method might have more steps. But the end result is still way better too. Here’s how to do it-

Step 1: Dampen a Cloth with Soap and Warm Water 

Grab a piece of cloth and dampen it with a gentle soap like Cetaphil Bar Soap and warm water. But remember; having warm water’s important because it will allow the oil particles to break down faster.  

However, if you can manage to get saddle soap, that’s even better. After all, these products were made for cleaning shoes and boots.

Step 2: Rub the Boots with the Dampened Cloth  

Now, start rubbing the cloth to create some lather. Your goal should be to get the soap into the leather so that it can push out the oil from the inside.

Step 3: Wipe the Boots and Let them Dry Completely 

First things first, wipe off all the soap residue. And then let the boots dry out naturally. You might want to get it over with. But don’t. It’s essential that you wait till the boots dry out completely. Whether it takes 1 hour or 13 hours, give the boots enough time to dry. 

And for God’s sake, don’t use a hairdryer or anything like that to speed up the process. 

Step 4: Remove the Stains with a Suede Eraser 

Now that the boots are all dried out, it’s time to get out the remaining. Most of the stains should already be gone. But there might be a few smudges here and there.

At this stage, you can use a shoe cleaner. Personally, I find the Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit better than a lot of other products on the market.

But remember, these are the tough stains that didn’t go away with soap. So, take your time. You probably won’t get them out on the first try.

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

Step 5: Condition with Leather Cream

A lot of people will tell you to use leather conditioners at this point. If you really want to use one, get the Bickmore Leather Conditioner. This is one of those few products that actually disclose its ingredients. And not to mention, it works great.    

Method 2: Using Acetone (Quickest Solution)

Applying acetone is a much faster process but remember that IT WILL dry out the leather. So, there’s no way you can skip conditioning the leather.

Step 1: Soak Cotton Balls in Acetone

One of the most effective ways to remove oil stains from leather boots is by using acetone. To get started, soak a few cotton balls in acetone.

Step 2: Rub the Stained Area

Once the cotton balls are soaked, use them to rub the oil-stained area of your boots. You’ll see that the oil residue will come off in the cotton balls as you rub. If the cotton balls get dirty, simply replace them with new ones.

Step 3: Wipe Off Acetone and Build-Up

After you’ve finished rubbing the stained area, use a clean cloth to wipe off the acetone and any remaining build-up.

Step 4: Sprinkle Talcum Powder or Cornstarch

To help remove any remaining oil residue, sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on the spot and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. The powder will help absorb any remaining oil, making it easier to remove.

Step 5: Brush Off the Boots

Once the talcum powder or cornstarch has had a chance to absorb the oil, use a brush to brush off the boots, including the corners. Make sure to brush thoroughly to remove all the powder and any remaining oil residue.

Step 6: Clean the Boots with Soapy Water

Next, use soapy water to clean the boots. This will help remove any remaining oil residue and will also help restore the leather’s original appearance.

Step 7: Leave the Boots to Dry

Once you’ve finished cleaning the boots, let them air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid exposing the boots to direct sunlight or heat, as this can cause the leather to crack and become damaged.

Step 8: Condition the Boots

Finally, wrap up the process by conditioning the boots. This will help keep the leather soft and supple, and will also help protect the boots from future damage.

Method 3: Talcum Powder and Hairspray 

It’s hard to mess up this method. But personally, I’d prefer the first method. Don’t come running at me when you’ve made a mess.  

Step 1: Sprinkle Talcum Powder All over the Boots

You can apply as much talcum power as you want. There’s no limit to that. But remember that, you’ll have to clean it all up afterward.

If you don’t have talcum powder at home, baking powder also works. Although I’m not sure it’ll work as effectively as talcum powder.

Step 2: Let It Sit for A Few Hours

Now that the boots are covered in talcum powder, it’s time to wait. Give it a good 6 to 8 hours so that it can suck out all the oil from the boots. 

You can go as high as 24 hours but don’t go over that. The degreaser might give unexpected results if you do that.

Step 3: Wipe/Brush Away the Talcum

The waiting period is over. Now brush off the talcum powder off the boots. It won’t come off that easy so use some pressure. But make sure you don’t damage the leather. 

Step 4: Apply Hairspray All Over the Boots(Skip for Degreaser)

Start applying hairspray to the boots. Remember not to miss an inch. This is an important step as you want to get all the talcum powder out of the leather surface.

Step 5: Remove the Excess with a Damp Cloth

Before you remove the excess, you should wait for at least 60 seconds. Give the hairspray enough time to stick with the remaining talcum powder.

After that’s over, use a damp cloth to wipe the boots. Take your time and be thorough with it. Trust me, you don’t want any hairspray or talcum powder in your boots.

Step 6: Apply Leather Conditioner

The Bickmore Leather Conditioner is my choice of leather conditioner. Apply a small portion on a part of the leather you don’t care about and see how it reacts. 

If everything goes well, apply to the entire boot. However, the boots might get a bit wet from the damp cloth. If that’s the case, make sure to dry them out beforehand.  

How to Apply Mink Oil to Leather Boots: The Proper Way 

You’ve gotten the mink oil out of your boots. Now it’s time to know how to do it the right way. If you want to skip this section, remember one thing. NEVER OVERUSE mink oil on your boots. Less is better in this case.

how to apply leather oil to boots

Step 1: Remove Any Excess Dirt with a Brush

Take your boots outside and slap them together to remove the light dirt. Then, grab a soft or medium bristled brush to remove the remaining dirt.

Step 2: Wipe with a Damp Cloth to Clean Built-in Grease

The loose dirt is already gone. But the built-in grease is what’s going to create the problem. There are 2 ways you can fix this-

  1. Wipe with a damp cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Give it a few scrubs and it should be okay.
  2. Use a soapy solution. You can either use a bar of saddle soap or regular dishwashing soap works just as well.

Step 3: Dry for 2-3 Hours or Until They’re Fully Dried

Depending on how wet the boots got, the drying time will increase or decrease. But you should wait at least 2 to 3 hours. Drying overnight might be overkill IMO. But do that if the boots are fully soaked.

Step 4: Apply Mink Oil in a Circular Motion with a Clean Rag

Now, grab a dry, clean rag and scoop up some mink oil. Don’t take too much. Always remember less is better when it comes to mink oil.

However, be thorough when applying. You should cover every inch of the boots. If there’s too much mink oil on one spot, wipe it away to another spot.

Step 5: Wipe Away Excess Mink Oil

There shouldn’t be any excess mink oil on the boots. But if you feel you’ve applied too much, wipe away before it gets soaked into the boots.

What I’ve shown are easy and simple methods. There’s a whole different article on this. If you’re interested, you can learn more about how you can apply mink oil to boots.

But I do like this guy’s method. Also, it’s a video so you don’t have to read it. And I can’t deny that his method’s a bit more effective. Check it out for yourself-

Does Mink Oil Go Bad?

Mink oil won’t go bad for at least 2 years if you store it away from heat and in a cool space. While mink oil is full of unsaturated fats, it doesn’t react that much to oxygen like vegetable oil or any other oil. Because of this oxidative stability, mink oil will stay as good as new for 2 years or even more if you store it properly.

The only time it will go bad is when you keep the lid open. But let’s get real. Who on earth would do it? Just don’t keep it near an oven and keep the lid closed, it’ll last for years.

Does Mink Oil Rot Stitching?

Mink oil won’t rot the stitching of your boots. The reason why mink oil got this reputation was that back in time boots were made using cotton threads instead of the present-day nylon threads. Naturally, cotton threads are not as strong and durable as nylon. As a result, the stitching started to rot when applied with mink oil.

Nowadays, you can apply as much mink oil as you want(but please don’t) to a pair of boots. And guess what? The stitching won’t rot even a little bit.

Final Thoughts

Well, that was a long journey. I’ve tried to cover pretty much. If you’ve found a new and effective way to fix mink oil-ruined boots, do share it in the comment section. I’d love to have some new insights.

Anyway, whether it’s you or the new guy at your local store that’s ‘ruined’ your boots, don’t stress over it. You can pretty much back them to their original condition with a little effort.

Just remember what I’ve said, never overuse mink oil. Less is always better.

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? 

Leave a Reply