How to Care for Oiled Leather Shoes

The lines and wrinkles on oiled leather are distinct characteristics of the material rather than flaws. But what exactly is oiled leather and how is it different from other types of leather?

Oiled leather, alternatively called waxed or greased leather, is typically robust leather that has had an oily, waxy or greasy finish applied. The finish makes the leather soft and very durable. For this reason, oiled leather is a beloved material for making belts, bags and furniture – and shoes, of course.

Oiled leather is an especially popular choice for outdoor shoes and hiking boots. It is also used for making dog collars and leads as it is both stable and soft. Riding saddles are likewise made of this material, which is sometimes called saddle leather.

Pull-Up Leather and Porous Oiled Leather

Oiled leather is related to so-called pull-up leather. The latter refers to nubuck or suede that has been finished with an oily coating. There are many different types of oiled leather, including those with thick or thin, smooth or coarse, matt or glossy and coloured or transparent finishes.

So how can you tell if leather belongs to this category? It’s easy. Simply scratch your fingernail across the surface. If your nail leaves a notable mark, you’re dealing with oiled leather.

Notable mark

The great thing about oiled leather is that it is relatively easy to care for. Some types are porous – all nubuck and suede varieties plus some smooth varieties – which means moisture can easily enter the material.

You can find out if the leather is porous by dropping water onto the surface and seeing whether the material turns dark. If it does, you’d be wise to waterproof the leather.

Waterproof and Clean Oiled Leather

It’s best to choose a waterproofing spray that is specially geared toward sturdy leathers. This will help preserve the finish. Our OUTDOOR BIWAX spray contains nourishing waxes and the RUSTICAL CLASSIC waterproofing spray is specially developed to maintain the typical rustic look of oiled leathers.

If your shoes are waterproofed, they’ll likely only require a dry clean. Any large, caked mud can be removed with a CLEANING BRUSH. Use caution, however, as applying too much pressure can scratch the oiled leather. Small spots can be removed using the NUBUK BOX.

Oiled Leather Shoe Care – Vintage vs. Neglected

We recommend using our RUSTICAL product line to keep oiled leather feeling smooth. The RUSTICAL cream and the RUSTICAL special lotion are suitable for both rough and smooth oiled leathers.