Will Your Nubuck/Suede Work Boots Be Ruined By Applying Mink Oil? (Tested)

So you have a pair of nubuck or suede leather work boots and you’re wondering if you should apply mink oil to them or not?! And IF you oil them, will they get damaged?

these are a few different types of mink oil products that have been used on my suede/nubuck leather work boots.

To help answer this question, I’ve used my own Caterpillar nubuck leather work boots to test this since most articles you’ll read online have no evidence of whether what they’re saying is true or not.

I did this so you don’t have to find out on your own work boots.


Can you use mink oil on your suede and nubuck leather work boots?

If you’re here for a quick answer, let me tell you that mink oil WILL ruin your nubuck/suede work boots DEPENDING on which solution you’re hoping to use.

I’ll explain a bit more below.

Mink oil solutions I’ve used for this test

I always have some kind of leather conditioner at home since I need it to oil my construction safety work boots. So I didn’t buy anything new for this but used what I had at home:

What were the results?

Here’s what happened to my work boots using each one of the above-mentioned mink oil solutions.

Mink oil paste

my suede/nubuck leather work boots after applying mink oil paste to condition the leater.

This is the mink oil product you should avoid if you don’t want to damage your suede/nubuck work boots. This is quite a thick product and when applied to the leather it will form something like an additional layer on top of the leather.

This paste will cover all the suede and nubuck fibers and will ruin the esthetics of the leather by creating a shiny layer on top of the leather, more like a wax.

Now, this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what’s your goal.

If you’re like me and you have to work many times in the rain or wet conditions, using this paste will make the boot very watertight, almost waterproof for a few weeks.

But if you care about the aspect of the boot, this is the worse product you can use to oil your nubuck/suede work boots.

Mink oil liquid

a bottle of mink oil I've used to oil and condition my suede/nubuck leather work boots.

This solution is a bit better than the mink oil paste. If you’re careful when it comes to applying the oil to the leather, this will work just fine. Don’t soak the leather in mink oil though.

It won’t damage the leather since the oil acts as a conditioner but you won’t achieve what you’re looking for.

Mink oil spray

using a mink oil spray solution to condition my nubuck/suede leather work boots.

In my experience, this is the best solution for oiling nubuck and suede leather work boots.

The oil is spread out much better than if it was applied with a sponge, as you’ll do with the liquid mink oil, and in a much more controlled manner.

This avoids soaking the leather in mink oil and thus maintaining the nice patterns of your suede/nubuck leather.

Also as you can see from the image above, the oil is almost invisible as opposed to the other two solutions. The leather received and absorbed the oil much faster and it dries very fast leaving no signs as is getting dry.

Pros of cons of oiling your nubuck leather work boots

As you can see depending on which mink oil solution you’re going to use you’re going to achieve different results.

Some are better than others depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Here are a couple of good reasons you’d like to apply mink oil to your work boots.

Resistant to water

walking with my suede/nubuck leather work boots through water after applying mink oil.

The leather becomes water repellent (not waterproof). But it will repel water if you’re working in the rain, wet grass, or wet environment in general.

This should keep your feet dry for a few hours whilst you’re doing your work.

Avoid cracks

With time leather becomes dry and when it is dry it becomes prone to cracks. This is one of the reasons most people have to replace their work boots prematurely. Using mink oil to moisturize and condition the leather will expand the life of your work boots and last longer.

On the other hand, consider the following before using mink oil on suede/nubuck leather.

Ruin the leather pattern

What makes suede and nubuck leather different than other types of leather (at least esthetically speaking) is the smoothness and the patterns that you can see on the leather as you slide your hand on it.

Well, once you apply mink oil, that smoothness might be gone depending on what mink oil solution you use and how much you apply as we’ve seen above.

So be careful and do more research before you apply mink oil to your boots.

the before and after results of applying mink oil to suede and nubuck leather work boots.

When should you oil your nubuck/suede work boots?

Personally, I oil my work boots every month, especially in the rainy season. That’s because I want my nubuck leather work boots to remain waterproof or at least water-resistant during those wet rainy days.

Also, don’t wait for cracks to show before you apply a little mink oil to your boots.

That usually means it’s too late. The leather has been damaged and you’ll have to visit a work boots store for a new pair. To avoid that, simply create a little routine where you can dedicate 1 hour per month to oil your work boots.

I know many of us don’t have for this but doing this will allow your boot to protect you better for longer. And save some money too by not throwing your work boots prematurely.

How often should you apply oil to your suede/nubuck work boots?

It’s up to you really and it largely depends on how much use and abuse you give to your boots and what’s the purpose of oiling them.

If you work in a warehouse or a retail store you might be ok to oil the boots every 3 months or so but if you’re in construction or similar you should look into doing it more often than that.

I am a construction worker and I oil my boots once per month just for pure maintenance. Once every 2-3 months or so I apply mink oil paste because makes the boots water-resistant and I like to work with my feet dry.

Watch the YouTube video if you prefer

The takeaway

The main thing to take away from this article is that depending on what you want to achieve by applying mink oil to your suede or nubuck work boots, you’ll have to choose one or the other.

Using the wrong product for the wrong purpose WILL RUIN your nubuck/ suede work boots.

  • Do you want to restore your suede/nubuck leather on your work boots?

Then use the SPRAY MINK OIL.

  • Do you want to make your nubuck/suede work boots water resistant?

In that case, go for the PASTE MINK OIL.

There are leather treatment solutions out there and if you want to learn more you can check out, for example, this mink oil versus boots/shoes oil article in which again, I’ve used my own work boots to test these products.

Team Members Working On This Page

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, taking care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!

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