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How To Soften Leather? An In-Depth Guide 

how to soften leather

One of the most luxurious textiles, leather is produced in Italy and is regarded as a high-end fashion statement. It is used to make leather jackets, footwear, furniture, and accessories. The one thing about leather is that it requires maintenance and care; if it gets exposed to sunlight, heat, or water, it can develop stains, cracks, or start peeling. With time and due to the loss of flexibility, leather can even become hard; wrinkles and folds can make the quality of leather poor. So what can one do about it? Well, there are some ways you can soften the leather. Continue reading to find out more. 

Stiffness of Different Types of Leather 

Stiffness of Different Types of Leather 

Cowhide leather is one of the most popular types of leather known for its strength and ruggedness. It is mostly used for furniture due to the rigidity it comes with. Deerskin is relatively softer than cowhide, having the ability to offer warmth in cold weather and a breezy feel during summer. Lambskin is the softest leather that has a supple and buttery texture. It is soft-grained and has a silky finish. Because it is so soft, it is also susceptible to abrasions. 

When it comes to grades of leather, full-grain leather is deemed the hardest because it is almost untouched and free from the use of excessive chemical agents. In comparison, top-grain leather is buffed and sanded – making the texture soft and supple. 

What Are The Main Causes of Leather Stiffness?

Here are some of the main causes of leather stiffness. 


Whenever leather is not stored properly – either placed in an environment that is exposed to intense heat or where the moisture content is high, the leather can become stiff. 


Heat can cause cracks in leather due to which it can lose its softness and flexibility. 


With time and exposure, leather does lose its elasticity. Thus, aging does make the leather harder.

Methods to Soften Leather 

Leather softening is necessary and a crucial part of leather jacket repair. Here are some ways you can soften the leather.

Leather Conditioner

If you want to renew the leather or make it softer in texture and feel, leather conditioning is the most effective method. Leather conditioners are essentially oil-based formulas that make the leather softer with their application. The material becomes extremely soft and supple because of these conditioners. You can find leather conditioners in the home-care section of departmental stores. 

Wet Cloth

Take a spray and fill it with distilled water. You will then lightly spray this water on the leather product. And use a microfibre cloth to wipe it off after a few minutes. The one tip you must be mindful of is to only use distilled water – tap water can cause stains because of deposited minerals. 

Natural Oils

Olive oils and coconut oil are natural oils that can also make leather soft. But there is a technique to ensure this method works – place your leather product near the window because sun exposure can open up its pores. Make sure you put it there for not more than 10 minutes. Now dip your finger in the oil and lather it on the surface of the leather product. Put multiple and even coatings. After the leather is leathered with oil, you will let it dry out on its own. 

How To Soften Leather Boots?

How To Soften Leather Boots?

If you want to soften your leather boots, you can do so with the application of a hair dryer – the heat will open the pores and stretch the leather particles. Make sure you apply heat for 5 minutes only. Also, do apply leather conditioner once the heat application is done and let it dry out on its own.

How To Soften Leather Shoes?

How To Soften Leather Shoes?

To soften leather shoes, you can use a leather conditioner. It will make the shoes look brand new and clean but also feel soft. 

How To Soften A Leather Jacket?

How To Soften A Leather Jacket?

Leather jackets are expensive and so it can be frustrating when they get stiff with time.  But you don’t have to worry about that. Custom leather jackets can be softened with the use of leather conditioner. First, wipe off the leather surface with a microfibre cloth and clean it of dirt and other impurities. Now let it dry and apply leather conditioner and let it sit for some time. 


Does Vaseline Make Leather Soft?

Yes, vaseline can be used to soften the leather. However, it is advisable to refrain from using such DIY hacks. Instead, make use of leather conditioner or seek professional advice.

Does Warm Water Soften Leather?

Yes, light sprays of distilled and warm water can soften the leather. 

What Chemicals Are Used To Soften Leather?

The leather undergoes a tanning process during its production which makes it supremely soft and supple. However, if you want to soften leather yourself, you can use leather conditioner or natural oils. Furthermore, a mixture of Vaseline and alcohol. It is best to avoid using this mixture as leather can get stains or lose durability and strength over time.  


Leather is an important textile and quite luxurious at that. Full-grain leather is durable and strong, but it is top-grain leather that has been sanded and buffed to become soft and supple. With time, leather tends to age – become rugged and stiff. To soften leather, you can condition it or apply controlled amounts of heat and wet cloth. Softening leather is essential for its quality and use and leather conditioner will remain the best way to soften leather. 

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