How To Soften Leather

Do you plan to wear leather jackets, belts, boots, or gloves at an event, but they feel stiff as a board, and you wish to know softening leather methods? Have you ever been curious what is the best approach to producing a soft and sensitive leather item from an initially stiff and rough one? Hang tight! It's time to explore the leather-softening magic, which is really thrilling, right? Think about how your leather will evolve from being as stiff as an ancient scroll to becoming soft and comfy like a fluffy teddy bear. 

Changing that hard leather into a soft one might be tougher than you think, you know? So, we are about to demonstrate absolutely how useful those items at home that you can find simply there, everywhere, are. So, grab your curiosity and let us discover the secrets of How To Soften Leather! They work to make your leather clothing softer, no matter the type of leather.

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How to Remove Leather Stiffness - Best Ways To Soften Leather

The best way to soften leather boots, jackets, gloves, and even watch straps is by using a good quality leather conditioner to make your leather soft. You can also use natural oils or heating to make the leather supple. However, not using the correct leather softer or applying the proper technique for heating can destroy the material rather than soften it.

Besides, not every softening method works for all kinds of leather. For instance, you’ll have to take a different approach to soften the watch strap compared to leather boots. This is because both might be made from different types of leather.

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Various Leather Forms

There are many forms of leather, like deerskin leather, taken from the animal hide. Some of them are:

1- Calfskin

First up, there’s calfskin. It’s a gentle and soft leather, and people like using it for gloves and watch straps. Calfskin is not super tough, though, so while it can work for boots and jackets, it might not last as long as a tougher leather like cowhide.

2- Cowhide

Cowhide is another type of leather that is a thick, durable, and versatile material, and great for many leather goods such as boots and jackets. People occasionally use it for watch straps and belts, but it’s not as soft as calfskin.

3- Lambskin

Lambskin leather is the ultimate in softness with a silky, fine-grained texture. It comes from young animals, which gives it that buttery goodness. Lambskin leather jackets are commonly in use.

4- Goatskin

Goatskin is a rugged yet light leather. It's the go-to for crafting sandals and belts since it's sturdy without weighing you down. Sometimes, you’ll spot it in jackets and gloves, too.

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5- Nubuck

It is a type of leather with a brushed look, like suede. Nubuck is popular for making boots and jackets, but you might also see it in watch straps and belts.

6- Suede

This leather type boasts a velvety touch through some sanding. People love using it for leather shoes and jackets. You will also find it in watch straps and belts.

7- Crocodile

Crocodile leather is all the rage for crafting high-end luxury bags and shoes. While it's not the usual choice for watch straps or belts, you may spot it on top-shelf items.

8- Alligator

Alligator leather is another favorite for creating high-end luxury bags and shoes. While it’s not the usual pick for watch straps or belts, you might still find it on some seriously fancy pieces.

Now that you know about different leather types, let’s dive into learning how to soften hardened leather.

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How To Soften Leather Jacket?

Using a leather conditioner is a really effective method for making your leather jacket soft. It works by giving the leather a good dose of moisture and returning its natural oils.

You’ve got many options when it comes to these leather conditioners, so make sure to pick one that's made for the type of leather your jacket is using.

For cowhide leather, go for a conditioner like Leather Honey, packed with the best leather oils. When dealing with lambskin leather, opt for a conditioner like Famaco, which is specifically meant for it. Once you pick a conditioner, follow the steps below to soften your leather jacket:

Step 1: Dab The Conditioner On A Clean Cloth

Put a wee bit of conditioner on a lint-free cloth and apply it gently to a discreet corner of the leather jacket for patch testing.

When using the conditioner on the jacket, don’t go overboard – just a small amount is enough. Avoid pouring the conditioner directly onto the leather because it can damage the material. Use a lint-free cloth.

Step 2: Smooth The Conditioner On The Leather Surface

Use circular or wide strokes to put the conditioner on your leather jacket. A thin layer is the aim, giving a subtle shine. Pay extra attention to areas that see more action, like boot toes or jacket elbows. But don’t slather it on. Too much conditioner will make your leather look soaked.

Step 3: Store Your Jacket

Leave your jacket for a minimum of two hours before storing it. Use a wooden padded hanger. Or, if you want to keep it in a box, wrap the jacket in a breathable material like a cotton bag and store it in a wooden box.

Step 4: Regular Leather Conditioning

Regularly condition your jacket once or twice a year. As time goes on, the leather gets softer and more flexible. If you live in a place with dry weather, give your jacket a conditioning touch-up once a month to maintain that softness.

Ways to Soften Leather Jacket

Steps Description 
Patch Test with Minimal Conditioner Application Perform a small application of conditioner on a lint-free cloth, rubbing it into a separate corner to avoid overuse and potential damage. 
Gentle Application for Subtle Shine Apply conditioner selectively in circular or wandering directions, ensuring a thin layer for a subtle shine without overuse and a drenched appearance. 
Proper Jacket Storage Allow the jacket to sit for a minimum of two hours; use a wooden padded hanger or store it in an air-covering material if boxed to maintain proper storage conditions. 
Periodic Leather Maintenance Soften and loosen the jacket once or twice a year seasonally, with additional touches during dry months for optimal leather care and maintenance. 
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How To Soften Leather Belt?

If you only have leather belts to soften, you may not want to spend money on a leather conditioner.

Heating is also not a solution, especially if the accessory is made of nubuck or suede leather. In such a case, you can use natural oils to make them supple. Go for oils like coconut, jojoba, or olive oil to get that perfect softness. Here’s how to apply the oil to your leather belts:

Step 1: Prepare The Leather Surface

Before you slather on any of those natural oils, it’s a good idea to let the belts soak in some sunlight for 10-15 minutes, especially in the summer. This helps the pores open up and makes the absorption process smoother. If you feel the sunlight is harsh, use a hair dryer to heat the leather surface.

Step 2: Apply The Natural Oil

Dab a clean cloth in the oil and patch test first before softly massaging it into the leather belts. To hit the mark, layer on the oil a few times, letting each layer dry before slapping on the next one. This not only makes the belts softer but also amps up the leather’s color.

Also, if the first go doesn’t satisfy you, give it another shot. Just make sure the oil goes on evenly to dodge any weird color blotches.

Don't use natural oil if your leather belts are made of suede or nubuck. It can clog the pores, making the material dull and lifeless. Opt for a Care & Cool Suede and Nubuck Conditioner.

You can directly spray it on the material, as using it with a cloth will remove the waterproofing layer it provides. If you want to know how to soften a leather watch strap, use this exact technique.  

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How To Soften Leather Gloves?

You can use a heating method to soften your leather gloves only if they are made of cowhide or lambskin. Use this method also for jackets made of the same leather type if you don’t have a conditioner. But be careful with heat when you’re trying to soften leather gear.

Skip the heat treatment, especially for new leather gloves or jackets, because it could remove moisture from the material.

Also, heating is not recommended for accessories or clothing made of suede, alligator, or crocodile leather. It can damage the nap of suede, while crocodile and alligator leather are delicate, so heat can make them brittle.

Before you reach for the heat, gently rub a bit of moisturizer onto the material. Then follow the instructions below to soften leather gloves:

Step 1: Use Hair Dryer Or Quick Dryer

Get your hair dryer going at a medium heat level. After you’ve applied some moisturizer on the leather, gently run the hair dryer about 10-15 cm away from the item. Keep it moving back and forth – don’t let it sit in one spot too long. This method helps brighten up and soften the leather, but remember, high heat can harm it.

If you’re in a hurry, pop your leather gloves in the dryer. Use the medium temperature setting and let it go for 10-15 minutes.

Watch out for super high temps, as they can scorch or shrink the leather if you’re not careful. Make sure the leather is completely dry before you do this.

Step 2: Hang The Gloves In A Humid Environment

Hang the gloves in a moisture-laden space like your bathroom while taking a steaming shower. Keep it there for a while.

Ways To Soften Leather Gloves

Steps Description 
Use A Hair Dryer OR Quick Dryer Apply moderate heat from a hair dryer, moving it 10-15 cm away. After moisturizing, brighten and soften the leather, with caution against prolonged exposure to high heat. 
Hang Gloves In A Humid Environment Place leather gloves in a humid space, like a bathroom during a steaming shower, to encourage softening by utilizing the moisture in the air. 

How To Soften Leather Sandals?

Another way to soften your cowhide, lambskin, or goatskin sandals is through water spraying. But don’t use water if your sandals are made of alligator, crocodile, or suede leather. Here’s how to make leather sandals supple:

Step 1: Get A Spray Bottle Ready

Fill a spray bottle with distilled water and ensure the cap is secure to avoid spills.

Step 2: Spritz The Leather

Spray the water evenly over the leather sandals, starting from the top and working your way down. The moisture will seep in with time, making the leather less stiff. To speed things up, wear the sandals so it molds to your shape. But remember, don’t go overboard with moisture – too much dampness can harm the leather.

Step 3: Wipe Off Excess

Grab a lint-free clean cloth to wipe off any extra water gently. Let the sandals air dry in a cool, dry spot. The remaining moisture will evaporate gradually. Make sure any metal buckles on your sandals are dried to avoid tarnishing.

Ways To Soften Leather Sandals

Steps Instructions 
Get A Spray Bottle Ready Fill a spray bottle with distilled water for the leather treatment, ensuring a secure cap. 
Spritz The Leather Evenly spray distilled water on leather sandals, starting from the top. Wear them to expedite the molding process. Be cautious not to saturate the leather overly. 
Wipe Off Excess Use a lint-free cloth to gently wipe off any excess water. Ensure metal buckles are dried to prevent tarnishing. Allow the sandals to air dry in a cool, dry place. 
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How To Soften Old Leather Boots?

Over time, if you neglect your leather boots, they might end up stiff. But if you’re wondering how to soften hardened leather, saddle soap, coconut oil, or mink oil, like from salty fish is your answer. Plus, it’s not just about making them soft – mink oil can tackle other leather problems like mildew, cracks, scratches, and dimness.

Use the same technique to apply the oil on the old boots as used for leather belts. But in the case of old boots, clean them first and remove the laces. Apply the mink oil sparingly and leave the shoes to dry for the entire day. This is how to soften stiff leather shoes.

Don’t use oil for crocodile, alligator, or suede shoes. The same goes for accessories like bags and wallets made of these leather types. You can use Chamberlain Leather Milk for them.

If your leather boots are new, use a boot stretcher to make them less stiff. Apply the conditioner, insert the stretching tool, and leave the shoes overnight.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Soften Stiff Leather Fast?

To soften stiff leather fast, use natural oils like coconut or mink or a leather conditioner for that particular leather type. You can also lightly mist the leather with distilled water if it's waterproof.

How Do You Soften Dry Leather?

To soften dry leather, apply a leather conditioner or oil, massage it gently to help absorption, and allow it to sit and hydrate overnight. Next, flex and move the leather to restore suppleness.

How Do You Soften A Stiff Purse?

You can use a hair dryer to soften a stiff leather purse made of cowhide, lambskin, or goatskin. For a crocodile, alligator, or suede purse, use a conditioner made specifically for these types of leather.

Does Massaging Leather Soften It?

Yes, giving the leather a gentle massage works wonders. When you massage, you break up rigid fibers, making it more flexible. Massaging also spreads oils and moisture evenly through the leather.

Use your hands to massage in circles, or apply a leather conditioner if the leather scratches against your hands. Rub it in for a few minutes, then let it dry.


With our guide “How to soften leather,” you’re now armed with practical and effective solutions to make your leather apparel and accessories supple. However, it’s essential to remember that not every method is a one-size-fits-all solution for all types of leather. You can use top-grain leather as well, which is much softer than other leathers. The full-grain leather, on the other hand, is naturally harder than the top one.

The key lies in carefully selecting and applying the technique that aligns with the specific leather type. Your leather pieces deserve the best treatment, so read attentively and choose wisely!

Sophia William

An accomplished author with an impressive history of 6 years of contributions to renowned informational websites.

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