Best Leather Conditioner for Your Shoes and Boots in 2020

Photo by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash

(Photo by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash)

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.

Best Leather Conditioner for Shoes and Boots Reviewed

Best leather conditioner for shoes and boots

Best leather conditioner

Saphir Medaille d’Or Mink Oil Polish – Natural Smooth Leather Conditioner

A Shoe Conditioner to Preserve and Revive the Leather

A Shoe Conditioner to Preserve and Revive the Leather

Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative

chamberlains leather milk conditioner

A natural leather conditioner for shoes

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk

Leather conditioner and waterproofer

Leather conditioner and waterproofer at the same time

Huberd’s Shoe Grease

Maybe the Best Leather Shoe Cleaner and Conditioner Kit

Conditioner and cleaner kit

Lexol Conditioner Kit

Best leather conditioner for boots

Best leather conditioner for boots

Griffin premium leather shoe conditioner

All product image credits: Amazon

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.

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

Best leather conditioner for shoes and boots

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

A Shoe Conditioner to Preserve and Revive the Leather

Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Conditioner

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 Care for Shoes and Boots

chamberlains leather milk conditioner

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Treatment

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

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.

Maybe the Best Leather Shoe Cleaner and Conditioner Kit

Maybe the Best Leather Shoe Cleaner and Conditioner Kit

Lexol Conditioner Cleaner 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.

Leather Boot Conditioner With Tradition

Best leather conditioner for boots

Griffin premium leather boot 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!

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

There are different tanning techniques:

  • Vegetable tanning.
  • Using mineral salts.
  • Boiling.
  • Tanning with animal fat and fish oil.
  • Rawhide.

Here’s a video showing how leather is tanned:

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.

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.

How to Use Leather Shoe Products

When buying a leather product, you must decide on how you’re going to use the material. The most common type used for clothes and shoes are cow hides. You could basically use the skin of any animal when making shoes and clothes. But choosing cow hide has its stylish reasons. When it comes to the crocodile skin, or ostrich, or any other exotic skin, they are often just too exotic. And today it isn’t totally accepted wearing skins from endangered species. Thank God for that!

Some products, or more specific some buyers, require a specific leather. I’ve seen snake boots. They do look cool, but I can’t really get over the feeling that there’s a snake nearby.

Patricia Merken

Patricia Merken

Neat freak and shoe lover. American expat in Switzerland.
Blogger and mom. Blogs mainly at Footweardrobe.

Leather Conditioner Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Which Are the Best Shoe and Boot Conditioners?

    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

  • How to best take care of your leather shoes?

    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[ best 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.

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