Should You Put Mink Oil Inside Your Boots?

Mink oil is as popular as it is because it works — for years, it has been the go-to elixir for dried up work boots. As a refresher for those of us who are not familiar with this conditioner, mink oil is basically fat extracted from a mink’s abdominal tissue. This unusually stable fat conditions leather by by saturating it with oil that may have been lost during hard wear. 

Typically, you would apply mink oil on the outside of your boots, but are there instances that warrant you to condition the interior? Yes! In fact, I believe applying mink oil inside your boots can prolong its lifespan if done in moderation and correctly.

[Learn everything about it in our ultimate guide to mink oil!]

Advantages of Applying Mink Oil Inside Your Boots

Here are some quick, undeniable, very attractive reasons to consider putting the insides of a carnivorous mammal under your feet.

Mink Oil Conditions the Footbed

One of the most important components of a pair of boots is the leather footbed. This is the part of the boot that molds to your feet and keeps you comfortable. However, it is also the part that takes in the most moisture. 

Over time, as salty sweat and vapor evaporates from the footbed, the leather can start to curl from dryness. Adding mink oil keeps the leather hydrated and thus prevents the footbed from curling at the toes.

But be warned! Mink oil, like all oils, is hydrophobic. This means that it will repel but also lock in whatever moisture that is already in the leather. Knowing this, make sure to dry your boots for a few days before applying any mink oil.

[Related: Mink Oil vs Saddle Soap: Which to Use When]

Mink Oil Prevents Cracks and Leather Damage

Additionally, mink oil will also help sooth out and prevent cracks in your footbed. A cracking footbed is a sign that the leather is too dry. If you don’t take care of this as soon as possible, you might end up with a very uncomfortable shoe. Plus, many brands will not give you a factory resole if your footbed is too damaged.

To prevent this from happening to your favorite boots, rest your shoes in between wears. Mink oil can remedy the dryness but the most important thing to do is  give your boots ample time to air out after every wear, ideally with a cedar shoe tree.

red wing mink oil

Mink Oil Smooths Out Torn/Broken Liners

The break in process for a new pair of boots can be dreadful. If your boots are brand new and you want to ease up this process, then feel free to massage the liner with a tiny bit of mink oil. Saturating the liner with mink oil will make the leather more flexible and pliable to your foot shape.

What I like to do is to warm up my boots using a blowdryer or a boot warmer beforehand. Heat loosens up the fibers in the leather making it easier to absorb the oil. 

[Related: The 5 Best Boot Conditioners] 

Disadvantages of Applying Mink Oil Inside Your Boots

Too much of anything isn’t good.

Please be aware that mink oil is a hydrophobic product! This means the condition will trap moisture in your boots if your boots are not properly dried before application. Too much moisture in the footbed will cause hyper deterioration from mold and bacteria build up.

Only apply a light coat once you are sure your boots have been dried.

sof sole mink oil consistency

How To Apply Mink Oil Inside Your Boots

  1. Ensure the boots haven’t been worn for a couple of days and have been able to dry on the inside.
  2. When moisturizing the insides of your boot, take a tiny dab of mink oil and massage it evenly into the leather. 
  3. Do this until the entire surface area is evenly coated. If you are conditioning a cracked footbed, feel free to apply a little mink oil on the crack in repeating up and down motion. This will flatten some of the unevenness on the cracking leather.
  4. Allow boots to dry out  for a day or so.
  5. Try them on and see how much they’ve improved! (And repeat the process if needed.)

There are numerous tutorials on the internet about how you should take care of your boot’s upper. But the most important part of the boot is almost never spoken about. In my opinion, learning how to maintain the footbed is just as important.  It is a crucial part of a boot and how to take care of it will ensure that it will take care of you down the road.

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Humphrey Tsui

Humphrey is a native Brooklynite who loves clothing! He is a teacher by day and a total shoe geek by night.Follow him on Instagram.

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