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 things 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?
Here's What to Expect
- 1 Mink Oil Ruined My Boots: Here’s What Actually Happened
- 2 How to Remove Mink Oil from Leather Boots?
- 3 How to Apply Mink Oil to Leather Boots: The Proper Way
- 4 Does Mink Oil Go Bad?
- 5 Does Mink Oil Rot Stitching?
- 6 Mink Oil vs Leather Conditioner: Which is Better for Your Boots? (Leather cream)
- 7 Final Thoughts
Mink Oil Ruined My Boots: Here’s What Actually Happened
Mink oil provides boots with an extra layer of protection. But what people don’t understand is that mink oil is more of a protector than a conditioner. It’s more of a protector to keep out dryness. Depending on what type of mink oil you use, your boot’s color will get darker to some extent.
Use mink oil on leather and it’ll darken. It’s as simple as that.
You see there’s a reason why mink oil is a controversial product. Other than animal rights, people misunderstand something about it. Mink oil IS NOT the ideal product to maintain your original boot color.
Protection from water, dirt, or dust should be the only reason for using mink oil. Although if you like a darker color, go ahead and use all you want.
In most cases, boots go through a lot, meaning they get a darker color without even doing anything. 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.
Anyway, excessive mink oil can darken the leather too much, leaving black smudges all over the boots. The ideal way is to use small portions and let them sink for a while. You can apply again if you think it’s not enough. But never go all out on the first try, you might not like the outcome.
Before you hand your favorite pair of boots to your local store for maintenance. It’s better to find out about their process. Not many local branches carry the heritage of original boot manufacturers. In fact, some of the staff don’t even know what they’re doing.
If that’s the case, do the maintenance on your own. Applying mink oil isn’t that hard, trust me. I’ll be covering a different section on how to apply mink to leather boots later on. And
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: Dish Soap and Brass Bristle Brush
The dish soap and brass bristle brush method might have more steps. But the end result is quite satisfying.
Step 1: Mix Dawn Dish Soap in a Cup of Water
Grab a bottle of Dawn Dish Soap and mix it in a cup of water. There’s no exact ratio, just use what feels right.
A lot of people might suggest using saddle soap. But Dawn Dish Soap works better IMO. The saddle soap won’t go as the Dawn Dish Soap.
Step 2: Gently Scrub with a Brass Bristle Brush
Now, take a brass bristle brush and start scrubbing gently. Don’t go too hard on the boots as it might damage the surface.
If you don’t have one, I’d suggest you get the Simple Shine Shoe Cleaning Kit. Along with a brass bristle brush, it’s also got a suede eraser. You’ll need that too in a minute.
Step 3: Let the Boots Dry Completely
You might want to get it over with. But don’t. It’s absolutely necessary that you wait till the boots dry out completely. Whether it takes 3 hours 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.
Use the suede eraser you got from the Simple Shine Shoe Cleaning Kit. Or you can just get a separate one. These are the tough stains. So, take your time. You probably won’t get them out on the first try.
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.
However, in this case, I’d suggest you use the Venetian Shoe Cream. A shoe cream like Venetian will replenish the moisture it’s lost also while giving it an extra layer of protection.
How to Remove Mink Oil from Leather?
Method 2: Leather Degreaser, or Talcum Powder and Hairspray
It’s hard to mess up this method. But consider that, it has a much longer waiting period.
Step 1: Apply the Degreaser or Talcum Powder
The choice is up to you. Whether you choose a degreaser or a talcum spray, the outcome will be more or less the same.
It’s just that using the degreaser makes your job a bit easier and a lot less messy. I mean it’s talcum powder, it WILL get messy.
Apply the degreaser all over your boots. If you ask me, my suggestion would be to use the Leather Master Degreaser.
The same goes for talcum powder. If you don’t have talcum powder at home, baking powder also works.
Step 2: Let It Sit for A Minimum of 6-8 Hours
Now that the boots are covered in degreaser or 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 Degreaser/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.
And if you went with the degreaser, use a dry cloth to remove any excess degreaser. You can also skip to Step 6.
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.
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-
- Wipe with a damp cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Give it a few scrubs and it should be okay.
- 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.
Mink Oil vs Leather Conditioner: Which is Better for Your Boots? (Leather cream)
Before I give out the answer, you should know each of these products will do your boots-
Mink Oil- Who Is It for?
Mink oil will no doubt darken your boots 2 to 3 shades. This happens because mink oil gets deep into the leather and somewhat clogs the pores, resulting in a water-resistant layer.
It’s for people who couldn’t care less about the patina and luster of the boots(not that it doesn’t work for this purpose or not). Hardcore protection is what they need. That’s why you see military soldiers and workers opting to mink oil.
However, just because the leather is darkened doesn’t mean it’s damaged. As I’ve already said, mink oil is one of the best products you can use if you don’t mind the darkening.
Leather Conditioner- Who Is It for?
Leather conditioners won’t darken your boots as much. But it will darken to some extent. You might not be bothered by that. But remember, it’s not going to give you the protection you’ll get from mink oil.
So, What’s the Best Solution to Maintain the Color of Boots?
Red Wing’s Leather Cream. That’s the product you want. The primary ingredient here is neatsfoot which is made from the shin and feet bones of cattle.
It will moisturize and condition the leather, making it last longer. But you won’t have to deal with any darkening. The color will stay completely intact.
However, you should keep in mind that it won’t penetrate as deeply as mink oil or leather conditioners. So, you have to use it more frequently.
But hey, at least you’ve found a product that won’t mess up the color of your boots. That’s a good enough reason to stick with this product.
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 is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. It’s not like he dedicated his entire life towards boots but he did work at multiple footwear stores for over 7 years. Anything that’s posted here is double-checked by him. So, don’t worry about getting the wrong info off the internet.