Easy Maintenance of Oily Leather Shoes

oily leather shoes

The longevity of oily leather shoes depends on maintenance. Use this guide to help you

Below is an easy Leather Shoes Care guide to help you look after your oily leather shoes.

A look at Oily leather shoes

Oily leather is particularly robust leather. Due to its properties, it is often used for work, walking, hiking or mountain shoes. In short, it is particularly suitable for difficult conditions of use. 

How is oily leather manufactured?

Oily leather is made by injecting fat into the leather during the during the wringing of the skin.


What is the point of this step?

It’s very simple. By adding fat you:

  • soften the leather
  • prevent oxidation of surface tannins (which improves the color of the leather)
  • increase the lending of the skin
  • avoid cracking of the flower.
  • make the leather more resistant to traction. 

You should bear in mind that the leather naturally contains fat, but that they are eliminated during cleaning process. 

If deprived of its fatty substances, the leather hardens after tanning and tends to crack.

Therefore the fibers of the leather are lubricated with fat to restore its flexibility and prevent the fibers from cracking. 

What makes oily leather different?

Again it is very simple: the percentage of fat. 

To be said to be oily, leather must have more than 10% of its weight in fat.

With such a quantity of fat, the characteristics mentioned above will therefore be exacerbated on oily leather. It will be flexible and particularly resistant (but it can also be very heavy). 

This is why oily leather is used on shoes that will be subjected to severe testing.

The best oily leather shoes care requirements

Here is the material you will need for the maintenance of your pair of oily leather shoes:

  • Raw wood shoe trees  (for more information read our complete guide to the shoe tree )
  • Scraper
  • Shine brush  for smooth leather / crepe brush for nubuck
  • Palot brush  (optional)
  • Cleaning milk  for smooth leather / suede cleaner for nubuck
  • Pure cotton chamois
  • Grease pot  for smooth leather / aerosol oil for nubuck

Depending on the construction of your pair of shoes you will also need:

  • A welt brush  (or an old toothbrush)
  • Fat in pot

Oily Leather maintenance frequency

It depends on how often and under what conditions you wear your pair of shoes.

NOTE: Grease is a very nourishing product which, if applied too often, can soften leather and loosen your shoes. 

It is therefore advised that you apply grease once or twice a year to your oily leather shoes. 

How to properly care for oily leather shoes

1. Preparation

oily leather
  • Remove the laces so as not to dirty them and to avoid soiling the eyelets.
  • Thread the shoe trees into your pair of shoes to tighten the leather, especially in areas sensitive to folds of wear.

2. Dustoff

This step is a must!

Rub vigorously with the scraper to remove all the dirt to avoid trapping them in the leather afterwards. 

Note: the scraper is only used to remove dust. Do not use it to shine your shoes!

3. Cleaning

oily leather

Follow the following steps:

  • clean your shoes 
  • remove the old grease 
  • bare the leather

This process helps to prevent the oily leather from cracking over time.

  • Insist, in the direction of the shoe, at the level of the folds of wear to iron them and thus attenuate them.  
  • Twist the cotton chamois around your index finger.
  • Take a little cleansing milk then apply it to the leather in a circular and energetic gesture to make it penetrate.
  • Think about the smooth (edge) of the sole and heel. 

4. Feed the welt thread (optional)

oily leather

NOTE: Follow this part if your oily leather shoes have a real welt and not just one assembled for aesthetics

Lubricate the welt thread here because a thread that is too dry is more brittle and you risk ending up with a sole detached from the top of the shoe!

To do this:

  • Pick up some grease with the welt brush  (or an old toothbrush).
  • Then slide it all around the shoe to lubricate the thread.
  • Focus on the front of the shoe, which is the part most exposed to impact.  

5. Nourish the oily leather

For this part you have two options:

  • use the grease pot (the same as for the wire)
  • use an oil spray

The grease is applied using a palot brush (or the chamois twisted around your fingers) while for the oil you will simply have to spray the leather.

Be careful with the quantities: if you use too much, these products will make the leather soft and you risk degrading the hold of the shoe.

After this step you must let your pair of shoes dry for approximately 1 hour. 

6. Achieving a satin look

After greasing your leather you will see that it has taken on a shiny appearance, whereas oily leathers are naturally matt.

Using a polishing brush, in a quick and light gesture, you will distribute the grease and reduce the shine. 

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