Boot Care: Saddle Soap vs Mink Oil - What's the difference?

In this guide we will do doing a saddle soap vs mink oil comparison and explaining the differences between the two leather products. We often see some confusion with the use of saddle soap and mink oil with the two products being used interchangeably. The truth is saddle soap and mink oil serve two different purposes.

This short guide has leather boots and shoes in mind but also applies to other leather goods that need to be routinely cleaned and conditioned.

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Saddle Soap vs Mink Oil

Saddle Soap is primarily a leather cleaner that lightly conditions leather while mink oil is a leather conditioner with waterproofing properties that does not clean leather.

Saddle Soap

  • Cleans leather by lifting dirt and grime
  • Softens leather by lubricating the fibers

Mink Oil

  • Waterproofs leather by creating a protective barrier
  • Conditions and softens leather by restoring moisture and flexibility
  • Protects leather from further damage from water, salt and other elements
 Leather Boot Care Cycle

Leather Boot Care Cycle

Saddle Soap is usually the first step in the leather cleaning and conditioning process as it’s primary purpose is one of a cleaner or “soap”. As a stand-alone conditioner it's not enough to fully condition your leather and prevent it from future harm. 

Only using Mink Oil without first cleaning your leather can have disastrous results such as uneven darkening or streaking from dirt being trapped under the layer of applied mink oil. If you want all of the details of when and when not to use mink oil please check out our What is Mink Oil? guide.

The suggested course is to clean your leather with saddle soap and then condition them with mink oil. Both products together do a great job at cleaning, hydrating and adding life back into your leathers. We recommend pairing Feibing's Saddle Soap and Mink Oil. But just about any pair will do as long as it's a high quality product.

What to avoid When Using Saddle Soap and Mink Oil

  • Saddle Soap and Mink oil are for smooth leathers only. Avoid use on suede, nubuck or rough out leathers.
  • Avoid over application of either product as this can cause more harm than good
  • Do not use mink oil on fine leather that needs to buffed to a shine or polished
  • Saddle soap and mink oil are best used with hardwearing leathers such as those in work boots, hiking boots, and winter boots.