Take Care of Your Boots: Oiling

My first pair of Redwings were these 875 Moc-toes. It was one of the first items I bought that I knew I’d have for a long time, so I did my research on how to take good care of them to make that happen. Keeping the leather in good condition is the most important aspect of taking care of your boots. The soles can be replaced over & over again, the stitching can be redone on the welt, but if the uppers get dry and crack, that’s extremely difficult to repair. I’ve been wearing these for about a year and a half, and have been oiling them with of Obenauf’s Leather Protector(LP) since day one.

I’ve had a few people ask me about leather conditioners and how to use them on a pair of work boots, so I’ll tell you how I do it. First off, I know that no one uses LP as frequently as I do on leather goods. So I’ll say this: If you do not want your leathers to darken – I would avoid using the LP and just use a leather oil – as they will not darken near as much as LP. It’s extremely simple.

Stuff you’ll need: Obenauf’s LP, your hands.

  1. Clean the surface of your boots; remove any dirt/salt on them. You can use a shoe brush for this, or your bare hands. You can use a damp rag to remove any surface stains.
  2. Remove the laces. Oiling the tongue of the boots creates those neat lace marks you see on mine.
  3. Apply the LP all over the boots using your bare hands. Your body heat lets the LP soak into the leather deeper.
  4. Place your boots outside in the sunlight for thirty-minutes. This really allows the oil to sink in and the boots to take on a darker hue in color.
  5. Take a clean cloth and wipe off any excess oil.
  6. Lace them back up and wear ’em.

See, super easy. It really is important to keep your leather uppers well hydrated and protected from the elements. Leather dries out, and you don’t want to let that happen to a good ol’ pair of Redwings. This stuff is really cheap (that tub will last you ALONG time) compared to the price of a new pair of boots. Oh, and it’s made in the USA.


Filed under Leather Goods, Made in USA, Red Wing Boots

39 responses to “Take Care of Your Boots: Oiling

  1. Justin

    I have been using Pecards. Do you think there is much o a difference? How do your shoes hold up in the rain?

    • Justin,

      I apologize for the delayed response. I would say that they are pretty similar. Obenauf’s LP is just a heavy duty conditioner, used to fight the elements and keep leather hydrated properly. Reading the description for Pecards, it does the exact same! I guess it just comes down to preference.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Gerard

    Alternatively, I use Red Wing’s proprietary boot oil. Wondering if you see a difference, if you’ve used it.

    • Gerard,

      Most people will say to use a heavy application of a leather conditioner, and then oil monthly. The oil is much lighter than Obenauf’s LP. The LP comes out of the jar almost likes beeswax, where as Redwing oil is more liquid. The benefits from a leather conditioner over oil are really just more coverage from the elements. I just like the darkening effect LP has, so I rarely use just an oil. If that doesn’t answer your question (I ramble a lot) – shoot me an e-mail. Ryan@simplethreads.co

      • Gerard

        Thanks for your input. I used to oil monthly, especially in the winter months when the boots take a worst beating obviously, but my boots now feel over-oiled so I’ve changed over to oiling every 2-3 months.


      • The Florida heat tends to dry leather out quickly, so whatever works for you!

  3. Looks like hair cream. Also looks like I want to put it on my boots. I’ve reached a fork in the road…

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  5. Brian

    posts like this make me realize more and more that purchasing a nice pair of boots isn’t a question of if, it’s when it will happen for me….thanks for this!!

    By the way – my pair first pair of nice denim (tellason x acl) came today. can’t wait to try it!!!

  6. Jeff D.

    I usually warm the Red Wings up in the oven on the warm setting, apply the LP and place them back in the oven for a final warm down.. Works Great!

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  8. Phil

    Picked up my first pair of Iron Rangers at my local shop today. How soon would you suggest I work in some Obenauf’s?

    • Phil,

      If you’re living in a region where snow is a norm – you can Obeanuf them right away and get them prepared for that. Otherwise, you can wait two months or so – it’s all preference. It will darken them up slightly, but not that drastic.

  9. Sometimes if the boots are pretty mucked up with motor oil soaked into them I use denatured alcohol blotted onto the spots to dry/clean it out of the leather. Fiebings Deglazer is basically denatured alcohol I believe, but I’m using industrial stuff in a metal can. I’ve had the best luck bringing back boots that are beat up using saddle soap (Feibings saddle soap is what I use) to clean all of the grime such as oil and dirt out of the leather with a lot of elbow grease and multiple passes over with a towel. Saddle soap softens the leather while it’s cleaning it, so you’re left with a pretty supple feeling leather afterwards if you’ve gotten after the boots thoroughly. Almost feels like Chromexcel when it’s brand new because it’s saturated in waxes and oils at this point. Anyway, after the saddle soap finish sort of dries, then I’d get after them as the final step with the leather conditioner of your choice.. Something as simple as pure neatsfoot oil or the products mentioned above. Saddle soap will almost dry up completely in a couple days if you just stop at that point.

  10. ^I should mention if people use deglazer (alcohol) on boots be aware it’s normal use is to strip color from boots for re-dying. So don’t get crazy or you will start to lose color where you’re using it. I’m using it sparingly to dry up parts of my boots where motor oil has stained them.

  11. Jac

    Hi, I’m using mink oil to oil my red wing
    Boots 1907 boots now. I wonder will the color changes till it looks like a 875? And also, how long do I require to oil it once again?

  12. Adam

    I warm the LP in a small sauce pan then apply it to my 607’s. Works great.

  13. BenR

    Another alternative to the oven/leaving in the sun is to use a blowdryer to heat up the wax after you’ve applied it to the shoes. Just make sure you keep the dryer moving over the surface of the leather so the heat is distributed evenly.

  14. I just oiled up my Frye’s using the Obenauf’s LP. That’s some manly ass shit.

  15. schaefe

    How often do you treat your boots?

  16. I just bought a veg tan calfskin leather jacket (comes white and you tan it to become an amazing dark tan/amber color) which is extremely stiff…To soften the leather and help with the tanning, I was told to use either 100% pure neatsfoot oil (Fiebing) or Obenauf’s leather oil (Brian from Obenauf’s told me I needed to heat the leather with a hair dryer after the oil soaks and absorbs to help soften and warm the vegetable tanning in the leather).

    I was wondering if someone could give me some insight as to the differences between the two products, the effects they might have on the leather or any other useful information such as how much the leather will darken after an application of either products.

    Thanks to all in advance!

  17. jeo324evenchen

    I just bought a veg tan calfskin leather jacket (comes white and you tan it to become an amazing dark tan/amber color) which is extremely stiff. I’ve been told in order to soften the leather and help with the tanning process I should use either 100% pure neatsfoot oil (Fiebing) or Obenauf’s Leather Oil (Brian from Obenauf’s told me I needed to heat the leather with a hair dryer after it soaks and absorbs to help soften and warm the vegetable tanning in the leather)

    I was hoping someone could give some insight as to the differences between the products and the different effects both these products may have on the leather (darkening the leather, applications etc…)

    I thank you all in advance!

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  19. Full Head of Hair

    Hi. Great article man. I check the blog regularly – Always makes for interesting reading. I’ve got a pair of light tan RW 875’s that are in need of a bit of TLC. I’m in the UK and picked up tin of RW Mink Oil but since getting it i’ve read few things online saying it will change the colour of the leather. I like the colour of the leather as it is so was wondering can you give a few pointers of what to use to care for leather without notable changing leather colour. Thanks.

  20. angus morrison

    clean the white outside edge of boot using fine sand paper

  21. They are so shiny!!!!!!!!

  22. Excellent seems like I like new boots back.Great tips

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