Best Leather Conditioner for Shoes and Boots [2023 Reviews]
Are your leather shoes and boots looking a little worse for wear? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But before you start Googling “best places to donate gently used footwear,” consider giving them a little TLC first. Enter: leather conditioner. This magical elixir can help revive tired leather and give your favourite pairs a new lease on life.
After 32 hours of research evaluating 46 top products on Amazon, we consider Saphir Medaille d’Or Mink Oil Polish to be the best leather conditioner for shoes.
In this article, we’ll show you why leather conditioner is essential for maintaining your leather footwear, how to choose the best product for the job, and how to apply it like a pro. So put down the donation bag and grab that bottle of leather conditioner – your shoes (and feet) will thank you.
Why You Need to Use a Leather Conditioner for Your Boots and Shoes
When you buy a new pair of boots or shoes, often they haven’t been treated properly. Leather breathes. And it needs that moisture from the oils in a good conditioner. Otherwise it will dry up, harden and after a while crack. Just like your own skin. A good conditioner is like a skin lotion.
Good leather footwear costs a lot of money. But it is a sound investment. Often you can enjoy your shoes for years and years. But that depends on how you treat them. Taking care of your leather shoes will increase their lifespan. And it is easy to do it right. Doesn’t cost very much either. Further down in this article, you can learn exactly how you take care of your leather shoes or leather boots.
Best Leather Conditioner for Shoes and Boots Reviewed
In this article you will find a guide on how to choose a conditioner for leather shoes and leather boots. You will also find out which products we tested. And which conditioner is the best on the market. Here’s the rundown.
All product image credits: Amazon
Shoe Conditioner In-Depth Reviews
There’s a lot to say about this list of the best leather conditioner for shoes. So let’s dig deeper. After all, shoe conditioners are an essential part of your shoe care regiment. Keep reading to learn more.
The Best Leather Shoe Conditioner
Saphir Medaille d’Or Mink Oil Polish – Natural Smooth Leather Conditioner
Review of Saphir Medaille d’Or Mink Oil Polish
Let me just say: Tradition! If something has worked for almost 100 years, it’s probably good. Saphir Medaille d’Or is really the high-end pick when it comes to almost all shoe care products you’ll need. The company got the Medaille d’Or, meaning gold medal, in Paris in 1925. And now it’s in the very name of the product. When I read up upon the ingredients, they are all natural.
It works best with smooth leathers. Afterwards it is kind of dry. No greasy or oily leftovers like from some of the chemical or cheaper products out there.
It is easy to use. But remember cleaning your shoes or boots before applying the conditioner. Use a brush. Then apply the oil with a cloth. Let the leather absorb it. And you’re done.
Well, the only thing we don’t love about this product is the mink oil. Sure, mink oil is great for softening and rejuvenating leather. But it still comes from minks. It is actually their fat. Anyhow, of you don’t have a problem with that, this is a great product.
A Shoe Conditioner to Preserve and Revive the Leather
Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative
Review of Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Conditioner
Use this product to condition your heavy duty boots. They will then withstand rain, mud, snow – bad weather and harsh environments basically. If you use it on more fancy shoes or boots, you will fairly quickly notice the drawbacks. Obernauf’s leather conditioner will darken the leather. And the process is a bit longer when using this product than others. It leaves a bit of grease behind. You’ll have to brush the residue off afterwards, and maybe put some shoe shine on.
This product is for heavy duty boots and shoes only. Use the Obernauf’s leather oil for your dress boots or nicer leather shoes.
But this is a great product if you want to revive some of your old leather boots.
The Non-Toxic and Natural Leather Conditioner for Shoes and Boots
Chamberlain’s Leather Milk
Review of Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Treatment
This formula is mainly used for furnitures. We tested it on heavy-duty boots. And the results were great. Included in the package is a reusable applicator pad. It’s easy to apply the conditioner and work it in into the leather.
The Chamberlain product is trusted by saddleback makers, the ads say. That sounds cool for us. Right away pictures of the wild west pop up in our heads. The leather milk product is actually used in Chamberlain’s line of Saddleback Leather products. So there might be some truth to it.
What we like about the conditioner is that the formula is non-toxic. It contains natural oils. This will go a long way when picking a product.
However, although you can use it on shoes and boots, it is mainly made for furnitures. They do not have to withstand more than the decay from time itself. Shoes and boots must be taken care of on an everyday basis. Just like clothes need washing. We tried the product on shoes made of harder leather and it worked fine. But we suspect it wouldn’t be the best choice for softer leathers or suede shoes.
And another thing: might it just be coconut oil after all? Well, there’s a lot of coconut oil in the formula, but there are probably some ingredients we don’t know about. And the formula works, that’s the important part.
Best Leather Conditioner and Waterproofer
Huberd’s Shoe Grease
Review of Huberd’s Shoe Grease
Might be more of a classical grease after all. But it sure satisfied our needs. It softened the shoes. Hardened old leather started to shine. It became soft and flexible. And since it’t more of a grease, it will keep your shoes waterproof. And what’s great is it will at the same time condition them. The leather will drink those oils and stay hydrated. No more dry leather.
Leather Boot Conditioner and Cleaner Kit With Tradition
Lexol Conditioner Kit
Review of Lexol Conditioner Cleaner Kit
This is a leather regimen kit you use in two steps. You’ll get a bottle of a deep cleaner formula and one with leather deep conditioner in it. You also get two sponges to use. In many reviewes it is announced as the best leather shoe cleaner and conditioner kit. I don’t know about that. It seems good, that’s why we included it in this review, but there are some really big drawbacks.
Many of us grew up with Lexol. I just loved the typical leather smell. That smell is long gone. Now the product smells like … I don’t know, chemicals? It seems like the company was sold a couple of years ago. And the new owners actually changed the formula. What’s in it nowadays, we will probably never know.
And another thing: We love it when you get a kit. The only issue is that with this Lexol kit, it could’ve been nicer packaged. We love a kit in something you would love to show off. Not in a carton you’ll have to dispose.
But the product does what is is supposed to. I guess that’s what’s most important.
Maybe the Best Leather Conditioner for Boots and Shoes
Griffin premium leather shoe conditioner
Review of Griffin premium leather boot conditioner
I just love the bottle! It might have looked exactly the same as when the product first started selling over 125 years ago. You can tell this is an old American brand. It got that western feeling and look. And it’s completely produced in the US as well.
The formula used in this product is totally wax free. What this means is that the pores in the leather won’t seal up. The leather will keep breathing and won’t get hardened. Also, you don’t have that residual grease or oil you’ll have to wipe off.
The main thing we love about this product, is how smooth it makes the leather. From being hardened and cracked, your leatherwares are suddenly so nice to touch and use. Great product!
Leather Boot Conditioner
In general, the same type of leather conditioner can be used for both boots and shoes. However, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a leather conditioner for your boots.
First, it’s important to consider the specific type of leather your boots are made of. Some leather conditioners are formulated specifically for certain types of leather, such as smooth leather, suede, or nubuck. It’s important to choose a conditioner that is suitable for the type of leather you are treating, as using the wrong type of conditioner can potentially damage the leather.
It’s also a good idea to consider the intended use of your boots. If you plan to wear them in wet or outdoor conditions, you may want to choose a conditioner that offers extra water resistance. There are also conditioners available that are specifically formulated for work boots or hiking boots, which may have additional features such as heat resistance or anti-microbial properties.
Overall, the most important thing is to choose a high-quality leather conditioner that is suitable for the type of leather and intended use of your boots. As long as you do that, you can use the same conditioner for both boots and shoes.
The Leather in Your Shoes
Back in the days leather could come from wild animals as well as from livestock and pigs. The fur or skin was salted to be preserved and then processed in a tannery. After that it could be used for clothes, boots, shoes, saddles and even armor. The leather was stronger and more durable than the fur. And since it was waterproof, it could also be used in roofings, as tents or pouches you could keep water in.
Today, tanning leather is an industrialized process. But we tan it in the same way as we did before.
Different Tanning Techniques
Tanning skin into leather is such an interesting science since it’s something we’ve done for thousands of years. Something we all should appreciate when we put on our shoes or boots in the morning.
There are different tanning techniques not many people know about. The way you tan it, creates different kinds of material.
- Veggie tanning the leather makes the products strong and flexible. Though it is very time-consuming, it makes for outstanding materials. And it is also good for the environment. On the other hand it isn’t completely waterproof. Water can make it get stained.
- The method of using mineral salts is also called chrome tanning. It makes the outcome water resistent. It is a quick way of tanning. You can also use this method to give the material different colors, or tones.
- When the skin or the fur are boiled, it makes the leather hard. Therefore this method isn’t used for clothes and such. Instead it is mainly used for binding books or for interior design details.
- When tanning with fish oil and animal fat the material often gets a bit softer.
- Rawhide tanning isn’t exactly tanning. It is more about taming the skin. Not making it into leather, per se. It is a process where you take the animal skin, scrape the flesh from the skin, and put the skin in tannin-rich water (like from bark tea). Or you can let it soak in a lime solution. After that you soften it with oil. Rawhide is often used when making shoes and laces.
Here’s a video showing how leather is tanned:
Taking Better Care of Your Leather Shoes and Boots
Your leather shoes and boots are an investment, and just like any other investment, it’s important to take good care of them to get the most out of them. And it is also for your own well being: Leather shoes and boots that are in good condition are more comfortable to wear. If the leather is dry and cracking, it can be stiff and uncomfortable, and it can also cause blisters and other foot problems. Proper care, including conditioning, can help to keep the leather soft and supple, which can make your footwear more comfortable to wear.
Overall, taking good care of your leather shoes and boots is essential for protecting your investment, maintaining their appearance, and keeping your feet happy and comfortable. So show your leather footwear some love and give it the TLC it deserves.
Interior design blogger
Neat freak and shoe lover. American expat in Switzerland.
Blogger and mom. Blogs mainly at Footweardrobe.
Leather Conditioner Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The amount of time that you should leave leather conditioner on your boots depends on the specific product you are using and the condition of the leather. Here are a few general guidelines to follow:
1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: The first step is to read the instructions on the bottle of leather conditioner you are using. Many conditioners will have specific instructions on how long to leave the product on the leather before wiping it off.
2. Consider the condition of the leather: If the leather on your boots is very dry and damaged, you may need to leave the conditioner on for a longer period of time in order to allow it to fully penetrate and nourish the leather. On the other hand, if the leather is in relatively good condition, you may not need to leave the conditioner on for as long.
3. Wipe off excess conditioner: After you have applied the conditioner and allowed it to penetrate the leather for the recommended amount of time, be sure to wipe off any excess conditioner. Leaving excess conditioner on the leather can lead to a build-up of the product, which can cause the leather to become greasy and may also attract dirt and debris.
In general, it’s a good idea to start with a small amount of conditioner and gradually increase the amount as needed. This will allow you to find the right balance between nourishing the leather and avoiding a build-up of the product.
1. A good start is to not only have one pair of shoes. Have at least two pairs. That way you can rotate which one you uses.
2. When you’re resting one pair, put cedar shoe trees in them. The cedar will draw the moisture out of the shoes and keep the shape of them.
3. Daily care is important. Keep them clean. Use a brush. And use natural products. It is important to let the leather breathe.
4. Use a leather conditioner to keep the shoe or boot leather flexible and soft. It also prevents cracks.
5. Put som waterproofer on the shoes. Often you can find a conditioner that is also waterproofing. Beeswax is a good ingredient for that.
6. Tend to the stitchings as well. Use Tea Tree oil or Eucalyptus oil. Take care of the inside of the shoe to avoid mold and mildew.
7. Don’t use regular leather shoe care products for shoes made of suede or really soft leather. They need special products.
8. If you need to fix the shoe, do it when you first discover the damage. It is cheaper than buying new shoes or new boots.
1. Saphir Medaille d’Or Mink Oil Polish (WINNER)
2. Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative
3. Chamberlain’s Leather Milk
4. Huberd’s Shoe Grease
5. Lexol Conditioner Kit
6. Griffin premium leather shoe conditioner
It is not recommended to use hair conditioner on leather boots. While hair conditioner can be effective at nourishing and moisturizing hair, it is not formulated for use on leather and may not be suitable for this purpose.
Leather is a porous material that requires specific care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. Leather conditioner is specifically formulated to nourish and moisturize leather, and it contains ingredients that are designed to penetrate the pores of the leather and condition it from the inside out. Hair conditioner, on the other hand, is designed for use on hair, which is a non-porous material. It may not be able to effectively penetrate the pores of the leather and may leave a greasy or sticky residue on the surface.
In addition, hair conditioner may contain ingredients that are not suitable for use on leather, such as alcohol or harsh chemicals. These ingredients can potentially damage the leather and may cause it to become dry and brittle.
Overall, it is best to use a leather conditioner specifically formulated for use on leather to care for your leather boots. This will ensure that they are properly nourished and protected and will help to keep them looking their best.
The frequency with which you should use leather conditioner on your shoes depends on several factors, including the type of leather, the condition of the leather, and the amount of wear and tear the shoes receive. Here are a few general guidelines to follow:
1. Consider the type of leather: Different types of leather may require different levels of care. For example, smooth leather shoes may require more frequent conditioning than suede shoes, which are more resistant to moisture and stains.
2. Evaluate the condition of the leather: If the leather on your shoes is dry and damaged, you may need to condition them more frequently to help restore the leather and prevent further damage. If the leather is in good condition, you may be able to go longer between conditioning sessions.
3. Factor in the amount of wear and tear: If you wear your shoes frequently and expose them to harsh conditions, such as rain or snow, you may need to condition them more often to help protect the leather and keep it looking its best.
In general, it is a good idea to condition your leather shoes every few months or so, depending on the factors mentioned above. If you are unsure of how often to condition your leather shoes, it is always a good idea to consult a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
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