How to Soften Leather: Shoes, Gloves, Boots, and Other Accessories

Leather is made of animal skin, which is made smooth and flexible by initially removing hair and later tanning it. Therefore at times, the leather may become a little bit stiff, and you can notice it starting to break or having some cracks. This will give it an unpleasant look or make it hard and d uncomfortable to wear end up throwing it away. Any product made from leather is very expensive, and throwing it away is not a favorable option.

To avoid this, you need to soften it by keeping it lubricated regularly.  Having a supple and soft leather looks and makes you feel luxurious. Softening your leather product also gives it a distressed appearance, which is ideal for people who like vintage looks. This article will discuss various methods on how to soften leather products. We shall discuss both the commercial and home remedies one can use to soften the leather.

Method 1: Treating With Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioners are commercial products used to soften leather. One of the best things about using leather conditioners is that they just do not soften but also strengthen the leather materials. These are the steps to follow when using leather conditioners:

Step 1: Buy a Quality Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioners like Honey Leather Conditioner have some oils that lubricate the leather enabling it to flex and bend with your body easily. Unlike other types of oil, leather conditioners do not leave any greasy patina neither do they compromise the quality and durability of the material. These conditioners are available as a package that contains other products like leather milk, neatsfoot oil, and protective beeswax.

Step 2: Squeeze the Conditioner on a Clean Cloth

On a small section of a clean cloth, pour some leather conditioner, and apply to the leather product. Ensure that you don’t use too much of the conditioner on the leather since you only want to treat it. It is crucial to note that you should not pour the conditioner directly into the leather. It can become quite hard to spread it, which may cause some mess.

Step 4: Spread the Conditioner on the Leather Surface

Spread the leather conditioner in smooth circles or wide strokes. It is best when you only apply a single thin coating, thus giving the leather a faint sheen instead. When applying the conditioner, put your attention more on the parts of the clothing that needs it most like the ankle and toe area of a boot or elbows of a jacket. Again do not apply excess conditioner for it will make it look oversaturated and wet.

Step 5: Condition the Leather Products Regularly

To keep your leather products in good shape, it is advisable to condition them once every few months. Each time you treat the leather, the material becomes more and more supple. People in dry climates should condition their leather materials after every few weeks.

You May Like too Best Leather Work Gloves For You

Method 2: Softening Leather Using Heat

Leather products are made from animal skin, and thus, their reactions are much the same as that of our skin. Just like we moisturize our skins to make them softer, that is the same rule we should apply to our leather backpacks, bags, wallets, and jackets. There are many ways on how to soften leather gloves and other garments using heat, but you also need to be careful. Softening leather with heat should only be done for newer products. For old products, the heat can remove the moisture remaining in them, which may cause more damage. Before you use heat to soften your leather accessory, apply some moisturizer, and spread it by rubbing it softly.

1. Using Hair Dryer

A hairdryer is one common way of softening leather with heat. After applying a moisturizer on the leather accessory, turn on your hairdryer to medium heat and run it over the cloth. High temperatures could have a bad effect on the leather. The hair drier should be around 15 cm from the leather garment. Take it back and forth and avoid keeping it in a fixed position for a long time. This will make the leather brighter and softer.

2. Put It in a Dryer

Putting the leather garment in a dryer can work for you when in a hurry. Set the dryer on medium heat, put the garment, and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Putting very high temperatures or leaving the leather accessory in the heat for long may make it scorch or shrink. The leather, in this case, should be either slightly damp or dry. It is not advisable to wash leather clothing in a wash and dry machine.

3. Leave the Leather Accessory in a Humid, Warm Place

You can do this by hanging the leather garment in the bathroom as you take a hot shower or spreading it under your car’s windshield. Let it stay there for a while. Remember that direct heat can cause the leather to dry out or fade; that is why you should not leave it for a long period. Having the accessory in the shower will have a double benefit. The leather accessory will not only soften but also bathe with moisture.

Learn More: Best Ways to Clean a Leather Couch At Home

Method 3: Using Water to Soften Leather

If you want to soften your leather problem without using chemicals, then water is an easy option. The following are steps of softening leather with water:

Image Credit:

Step 1: Fill Water into a Spray Bottle

Infusing moisture in a leather accessory is a great way to soften it. Put water in a spray bottle and close the top tightly to prevent any mishaps. You can use distilled water since it causes less mineral build-up and spotting, which is caused by hard water. If you cannot access a spray bottle, you can wipe the surface with a damp cloth. The technique of softening leather with water is, however, not so effective on waterproof leather.

Step 2: Spray the Entire Leather Surface

Spray the leather item from top to bottom until the water starts to bead up. As the water sits, the moisture will get in the leather, thus breaking the stiffness of the leather. If it is something wearable like a jacket, wear it to help it stretch so that it can conform to your body. You can also wear a jacket and stand outside during a light drizzle. However, do not stand for long so that the leather does not become sopping wet. Do not have too much water on your leather accessory, but little water has a mild weathering effect without causing damages.

Step 3: Wipe the Excess Water

Take a clean towel and wipe off excess water from the leather. After this, leave the accessory in a cool and dry place for it to dry naturally. The moisture that remains will evaporate. Do not leave a lot of water since too much water will make it fade and crack, giving the garment a coarse and dull appearance. Ensure that you have dried all the metal components to prevent them from lusting.

Step 4: Apply Leather Conditioner

After finishing the process, apply a quality leather conditioner on the surface. This will moisturize the leather and prevent it from drying and getting brittles.

Read More: Quick Ways on How to Remove Gum from Leather

Method 4: Using Natural Oils to Soften Leather

If you do not know how to soften leather gloves, then natural oils are the best option. Some of the best oils to use to soften leather products are jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Before you use any natural oil, ensure to put the leather outdoors, especially when it is sunny. Leave it for ten minutes to open the pores of the materials.

  1. Prepare any of the natural oils above. You can use the oils that have been designed as a skin softener. It is, however, advisable to choose an oil that is not chemically hydrogenated like commercial vegetable and corn oils.
  2. Rub the oil on your leather accessory. You can dip your finger in the oil and run it gently on the leather. You can rub several oil layers to get better softening effects. After applying the oil, allow them to dry, and this will make your leather softer and darker.
  3. In case you do not get satisfied with the results, repeat the process. Ensure that you have applied the oil evenly to prevent it from having uneven colors. If you follow the correct procedure, your leather garment will become softer, and this more convenient and more comfortable to wear.

If you are not sure of the effects of the oil on leather, try it out in a small inconspicuous place. Rub a small amount and leave it for a while. If it causes any discoloring on the part, then do not use it to soften the leather.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What Can You Put On Leather To Soften It?

The best thing to use on leather to soften it is leather conditioners. Put the conditioner on a clean cloth and run it evenly on the leather surface. You can also use water, and natural oils such as coconut oils, olive oil, or even Vaseline. However, I would advise you to get a good and high-quality leather conditioner. It works magic.

Q: Does Vaseline Soften Leather?

Petroleum jelly is able to soften the leather and also prevent it from cracking. This will work effectively on leather and patent leather bags, shoes, jackets, and other items. However, Vaseline should not be used on rawhide leather. Ensure that you apply it with a clean cloth free from lint. This is one incredible way on how to soften leather shoes when you do not have shoe polish. The Vaseline will both soften the leather and prevent it from cracking.

Q: What Is The Best Leather Softener?

There are several ways on how to soften the leather, and they all have their pros and cons. Apart from the natural forms, I can say that using commercial leather conditioners will make it easy for you. When choosing a leather conditioner, make sure that it is non-toxic. It should soften the leather, protect it, and keep it nourished for a long period.

Q: How Do You Soften Stiff Leather Shoes?

To soften still leather shoes, rub some saddle oil, mink oil or coconut oil using a clean cloth. Leave the shoe for some time to absorb the oil. You can reapply if the results you get fail to please you. You can also use alcohol and Vaseline to soften your leather shoes. Rub alcohol on your shoes and let it stay for around 30 minutes. You can later apply some polish or cover the shoe with a thin layer of petroleum jelly like Vaseline. Leave the shoes overnight and wipe it with a clean cloth the next morning.

Q: Is Coconut Oil Good For Leather?

One easy way you can use to maintain leather products is by replenishing them regularly with natural oils. Coconut oil is one of the oils you can use for conditioning leather. Rub it evenly on the leather surface and keep it in a cool and dry place. Before you apply the coconut oil, ensure that the leather surface is clean and dry. Mix some water or vinegar with coconut oil and rub the solution on the leather. You can mainly use this for leather furniture at home. Leave the product overnight to dry, and the next day, it will have an amazingly shiny finish.

How to Soften Old Leather YouTube Video

Final Words

Softening leather accessories prevents them from getting tears, cracks, and other aesthetic blemishes. The rule of thumb is to ensure that you treat and condition leather products just like you would do to your skin. The processes discussed above are some of the easiest ways to soften leather shoes, gloves, boots, and other accessories. There are a lot of commercial products which you can use to make leather accessories soft and supple.

Check on the online platform for reviews. It is also crucial to test them before you apply them to the entire garment. Not that you have learned how to soften leather, it is crucial to know how you should take care of it after softening. Always make sure that your leather garments have good airflow and also condition them regularly.


I am an Architect Engineer by profession with great interest in web and content creation. I have used leather products for a long time, which has increased my enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding of leather. I am here to shed light on the leather and guide you on choosing the best leather products.

Recent Posts