How To Soften Leather: 4 Tips For Flexible Leather!


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The wearing or usage of leather causes a change in its permanent appearance. In addition, it can create friction if your skin comes into contact with the leather. Thus leather can often crack, dent, dry out, or deteriorate over the weeks. If you want to learn how to soften leather and make leather more flexible, just keep reading. 

How To Soften Leather: Alcohol, Coconut Oil, Mink Oil, and Conditioner! 

When it comes to softening old leather, it’s always good to find a good quality leather softener.

Why Does Leather Get Stiff?

Before revealing the stages of softening old leather, we will first discuss what makes leather stiff. 

Old leather can become stiff when stored improperly. We think most people are guilty of throwing their coats, leather jackets, shirts, and other clothes in the closet. Regardless of environmental conditions and how they will affect them! Indeed, even if the environment in which your clothes are may seem comfortable, it can contain a significant amount of water vapor, to which certain clothes, such as those made of old leather, can be saturated to the point of suffering irreversible damage. 

It’s not just high humidity that can damage leather, low humidity can also make it stiff. This is especially true when dealing with old leather, as the dry air literally sucks the moisture content out of the leather, making it hard and stiff. 

These are just a few of the possible causes of stiffness in old leather. Whether it’s leather shoes, jacket, dress, leather skirt, or leather belt, there are some steps you can take to soften up old leather. 

4 Methods For How To Soften Leather

  1. Rubbing alcohol and Vaseline: 

Take a cotton ball and dab it on the surface of your old leather for a little while. When it’s dried up, take some petroleum jelly and apply it on top. You can apply a few coats if necessary. Then let it dry overnight. 

  1. Coconut oil:

Leave the old leather item in the sun for 10 minutes or use a hairdryer to warm it up. Then take some coconut oil and rub it all in. But remember that the oil will darken the leather (a shade or two darker than you originally had). 

  1. Leather conditioner:

I initially got a leather conditioner to keep my leather corset from cracking. I was young so I ordered one from the car shop. Now as I have gotten older, I realized it’s better to use a leather care product (lanolin-based product). If your old leather is very stiff, apply it several times.

  1. Mink oil:

Mink oil can be used for old leather jackets, boots, bags, or other accessories. Use a dry cloth. Soak it in oil and apply up to 3 coats rubbing the surface in circular motions. Give it additional absorption time (2 to 3 days is enough).

Other FAQs Regarding Leather Softening:

Can I soften leather without the use of leather softener products?

To obtain a quick and economical result, use heat. If you have a dryer, you can use it to soften old leather. This is one of the best methods to use if you don’t want to buy products to soften your old leather. If you want to know how to soften new leather that is also quite hard, this same solution in that case as well. 

Why does the dryer work so well? With constant spinning of the drum and exposure to heat, the leather gets a long-lasting rewarding experience. If you opt for this method, remember to turn your old leather jacket inside out and zip it up or put any other accessories in the protective wash bag.

However, keep the following points in mind when using a blow dryer:

  • You should use medium heat; anything that exceeds or could have a negative impact on leather. 
  • Timing for the blow dryer is also important. To soften rigid leather, 10 to 15 minutes are enough.
  • Too long in the blow dryer can ruin the structure of the leather or even burn it!
  • Do not use the blow dryer on wet leather.
  • Leather conditioner or mink oil or coconut oil can be applied after drying. 

Why should we use leather conditioners to soften leather?

If you want to soften old leather – or even new leather – you should consider buying a good quality Leather Conditioner. They help to give old leather some form of lubrication that it previously lacked. This allows the leather to continue to move and blend into your body. Even if the old leather is already showing signs of wear, you can still use a leather softener.

To decide which conditioner is best for old leather, go for Lanolin. Lanolin is an ingredient to look for in many leather conditioners or creams. Many people who work with leather believe those spray conditioners are the worst option because they are made from cheaper oils and cut with water.

If you have some time and like to do things on your own, try making your own hair conditioner by heating and mixing healthy natural oils with natural beeswax. This is the only way to know what the mixture is made of. Wax-based leather conditioner applies more evenly than oil and does not blacken as much.

But beware of products that contain too much wax, as they do not penetrate the old leather, but create an impermeable layer that does not allow the leather to breathe. 

How to soften new leather shoes? How to relax shoes that are too tight? 

Rubbing alcohol

Take a cotton ball and place it on the old leather surface for a while. When done, take some petroleum jelly and apply it on top. You can apply a few coats if needed. Let dry overnight.

Water vapor, a natural leather plasticizer

To soften leather shoes that are too rigid, water vapor works wonders! You can simply heat some water in a pot or kettle and put your shoes on it so the steam can seep in.

Hot and cold

Using a hair dryer’s heat is a good helper to make leather shoes softer. Blow heat on areas where your feet are very tight for up to 20 seconds to soften your leather shoes without damaging them. Warning: Be cautious while using the dryer so as to not burn your shoes.

To enlarge new leather shoes: fill two freezer bags with water, put them in your shoes, wrap everything in a large bag, and put it in the freezer overnight. The cold will transform the water into ice which will solidify and exert pressure. Remove the bag the next day and dry the shoes with a paper towel.

Heat and cold make the leather softer and therefore more comfortable. You can put a freezer bag filled with water in each shoe and leave it overnight in the freezer. Let the ice melt the next day and dry the shoes with a clean cloth.

Glycerin nourishes and softens the skin of the leather so apply this as a moisturizer and let it dry for about eight hours, before buffing it with a soft cloth. Thus, the leather will regain all its suppleness and shine.

How to soften dry shoe polish?

To soften shoe polish in a metal tin, heat the tin for a few minutes in a heated bath. It is also possible to add a few drops of warm milk or vinegar to the shoe packet.


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