Leather Conditioner VS Mink Oil: Which Is Better?

Leather has properties that mean when treated right, it won’t just last decades or centuries, but thousands of years.

In fact, the oldest surviving leather found on the planet is over 5000 years old.

Now, we know you won’t be using your couch or other leather items for quite that amount of time, but we’re sure you want to get a lifetime of use from the leather products you buy.

This article looks at ways of maintaining leather. Specifically, we’re looking at leather conditioner vs mink oil.

What Is Leather Conditioner?

Your leather requires nourishment to maintain the natural properties that ensure it keeps that flexibility and feel we all love about the material.

Leather conditioners have been created to work quickly and easily with leather. Most formulas are absorbed effortlessly by the leather fibers, restoring them as close to 100% as is humanly possible.

Without a combination of moisture and natural oils, leather will stiffen and begin to crack. Using a leather conditioner prevents this damage from occurring.

There are three types of leather conditioner. These are:

  1. Conditioning Cream – These provide nourishment to leather and keep the material as flexible as possible. Additionally, you will get a degree of surface protection for your leather product. A benefit of conditioning cream is that the color of the leather should not be impacted to any great level.
  • Conditioning Oil – A conditioning oil can be difficult to use. While oils such a neatsfoot and lanolin have been used throughout the years to treat leather and maintain its soft feel, it can be very easy to overoil the leather. Over oiling, leather can result in rotting.
  • Wax Conditioner – A wax conditioner will not get as deep into the leather as a conditioning cream. Therefore the same level of fiber nourishment will not occur. However, was is the best substance for surface protection. You will get less damage from liquid when using it.

Use Of Leather Conditioner

How often you use leather conditioners depends on a few factors and the type of conditioner you are using.

Ordinarily, leather will need a bi-annual treatment. However, if the leather in question is often exposed to sunlight, a quarter-year treatment would be preferable.

Whichever type of conditioner you use, it is best to apply it with a lint-free cloth. Applying leather conditioner directly to any leather is not advised.

Once the conditioner is on the cloth, you can apply the cloth to the leather and use a circular motion as you rub the conditioner in.

Finally, you can take another clean, dry cloth and use that to buff the leather.

What Is Mink Oil?

Mink are animals very similar to weasels. Their oil comes from the layer of fat beneath their skins and is known to have many benefits when used with leather.

Benefits include:

  • Giving greater flexibility to leather boots.
  • Helping leather boots remain soft.
  • Ensuring leather maintains its shine.
  • Helping add a waterproof layer to leather.
  • Ensuring that moisture is not lost from leather products.

However, mink oil does have some downsides.

The downsides include:

  • Overuse of mink oil, over the long term, can make leather hard.
  • The leather can change color and darken.
  • You will not get a shiny look to your leather.

Use Of Mink Oil

Unlike a leather conditioner which can be used every few months, you will want to use mink oil every few weeks. Just leave at least two weeks between each use.

As with a leather conditioner, you will need a lint-free cloth to use mink oil.

Other items required are a sponge and a hairdryer.

To Use Mink Oil, Use The Following Steps:

  1. Ensure any dirt or grime is removed from the leather before you apply any mink oil.
  • Using the hairdryer or a source that will provide similar heat, warm the mink oil until it becomes liquid.
  • With a sponge, apply the mink oil to your leather product. If the product has seams, ensure that these are covered by the mink oil and any other hard surfaces.
  • Use the hairdryer over the oiled-up leather product. This addition of heat will cause the mink oil to melt further and allow it deeper into the leather pores.
  • Let the leather rest with the mink oil for thirty minutes. This time allows the mink oil to penetrate and get deep into the leather fully.
  • Use your soft, lint-free cloth to remove and absorb any extra oil that remains on the leather. It is best to do this using small circular motions.
  • Keep repeating step 6 until the excess oil is fully removed.

Comparison Table For Leather Conditioner And Mink Oil

Leather conditioners can be made from a range of substances, including beeswax, oil, and grease.Mink oil is extracted from the fatty layer from under a mink skin
Leather conditioner is best suited to treating a small amount of damage to leather productsMink oil can be used to rectify heavy damage done to leather, including leather that has worn or become dry.
Leather conditioners will stay on leather for less time than mink oil.Mink oil will stay on leather more time than leather conditioners.
Leather conditioners have a low level of unsaturated fat.Mink oils have high levels of unsaturated fat.
Leather conditioners provide minimal waterproof protection, if any at all.Mink oils provide great waterproof protection for leather.
Leather conditioners do not improve the leather’s overall resistance to weather.Mink oil improves the weather-resistant properties of leather.
Leather conditioners should leave the pores of leather unclogged.Mink oil can clog leather pores.
Leather conditioners are good for leaving a shiny finish.Mink oil will not leave a shiny finish on the leather.
Leather conditioners should not darken leather.Mink oil has been known to darken leather.
Leather conditioners are unlikely to increase the life of leather products.Mink oil can add plenty of extra years to a leather product.

Is Conditioning Oil The Same As Mink Oil?

Conditioners and mink oil are not the same thing. While you may be using both to achieve the same outcome – protecting your leather – they have different properties, which means they cannot be used in the same way.

Mink oil is literally the processed oil taken from the fat of a mink, while a leather conditioner will contain a range of ingredients such as oil (that may include mink oil), fat, and beeswax.

Leather conditioner Is better for treating leather that has been lightly damaged or has gentle fading due to dirt or weather elements.

By contrast, mink oil is usedfor leather that has faced significant wear and tear, adding extra protection to the weather and water.

If you want to use leather conditioner, you should be using it to:

  1. Give leather protection from grime and dirt.
  2. Bring some shine to lightly faded leather
  3. Add lubrication and moisture to drying fibers
  4. Create friction reduction
  5. Soften leather when it is starting to harden.

If you want to use mink oil, you should be using it to:

  1. Add weather resistance to the leather.
  2. Return flexibility and softness to hardened leather.
  3. Protect leather from more extreme conditions and harsh treatment.
  4. Make leather darker


Protecting your leather is necessary to ensure its longevity.

Today, we have shown you the difference between using a leather conditioner and mink oil.

Leather conditioners should be used for lighter protection of leather products, while mink oil is used for protecting leather items (for example, boots) that take a lot of punishment in a short space of time.

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