How to Soften Leather Shoes?

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Anything made of leather is popular among people because of its stylish appearance. Indeed, they are not only stylish but also gives the wearer a sophisticated look. But, purchasing a new pair of leather shoes can be tight and rigid to your feet. In any case, you should learn how to soften leather shoes in order to make them more comfy.

Why Soften Leather?

New leather comes stiff right out of the box. Worn leather shoes can also become stiff with regular use. What you must note is that not all leather are made equal. Some are higher in grade than others depending on the animal hide or the process used to make it. Of course, the highest quality of leather, thefull-grain leather, is the softest.

On another note, leather can become rigid if improperly storedin your shoe closet and even in shops. Humidity can change the leather for the worse as low humidity sucks out the moisture from the leather. Dried leather easily cracks and breaks down. Moreover, high humidity can cause leather to become saturated which exposes it to damage.

If it’s necessary for you to put new leather shoes on, you may have difficulty in moving at first. They can be uncomfortable and you are most likely to have blisters. Indeed, you must soften the leather material as soon as possible before wearing them on for several hours.

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Treatment Methods in Softening Leather Shoes

There are many approaches in which you can soften your new leather shoes. You can pick whether you want to use commercial products or some products already available inside your home. The approach you will follow should match your preference, time, and quality of leather you are treating.

  • Pre-cleaning

Cleaning your shoes is a standard operating procedure not only in shoes but also on other things that will require thorough attention. Do this by wiping off the dirt from the surface with a damp cloth or scrubbing with a soft brush. Afterwards, wipe the outer layer with a dry cloth. Before starting any of the methods that will be discussed later, it’s important to make the shoes completely clean and dry.

  • Use a leather conditioner

This is the method we mentioned earlier that you may opt in lieu of home resources. There is no problem with buying a conditioner especially for leather material if you have the money. Other names for leather conditions are leather softener, leather therapy, and leather restorer.

In applying this commercial product, the frequency depends on the how often you use the shoes, quality of the leather, the weather, etc. It’s imperative that you do this time to time to keep the leather in good condition. Take it like this: the leather is originally an animal’s skin and you are just giving nourishment to it. Just like our skin, the leather also needs care and protection from pollutants, environment, and damage.

To apply leather conditioner, first, read the label on its container carefully. The solution usually comes in wax form so you may use a separate rag to apply it. Rub the conditioner plentifully, applying no less than two coats for first time softening. Let the shoes sit for about ten minutes. Then, remove the excess conditioner by wiping gently with another rag. You may repeat this process depending on the humidity in your area. For instance, if it’s dry or summer, apply every two weeks. If it’s winter or cold, apply every week.

Leather conditioners aren’t only used for new leather shoes but also in older shoes spanning several years in age. The leather of these shoes can be protected from cracking and losing its flexibility by applying this wonderful productregularly.

  • Apply natural oils

Natural oils also help in softening leather. They may be readily available inside you homes which is a plus. They do not damage leather in any way so they are relatively worry-free. Example of natural oils are coconut oil, olive oil, mink oil, etc.

Choose a natural oil that has a nice smell. It’s another advantage of this treatment over others. Just avoid using commercialized oils like corn oil and vegetable oils.

Drying the shoes under the sun is the first step in prepping the leather shoes before the application of oil. This helps in opening the pores of the leather. Leave them out for about ten minutes. With a plentiful amount on your fingers, rub the oil onto the surface expertly. In fact, you can repeat and add more layers of oil onto the leather shoes. Don’t worry, natural oils don’t damage leather and more layers soften the leather skin more.

Next, let the shoes completely dry out. Just be aware that some of natural oils like coconut oil can darken the leather. Just be fair and apply the same amount of oil onto the shoes to achieve the desired color.

  • Use rubbing alcohol and Vaseline petroleum jelly

This is another method in softening leather and cheaper. You only need rubbing alcohol and Vaseline gel to do the job. Plus, they are readily available in medicine kits.

The first step is to swab the leather surface generously with alcohol. Putting the alcohol onto a cotton ball should suffice. Rubbing alcohol softens the leather by opening its pores. Next step is to follow up with the Vaseline. You can use your hands to spread the product onto the leather shoes efficiently. Just like in other approaches, let the solution soak into the leather before wiping the excess with a rag. Remember that you don’t need to apply many coats. A thin coat will result in the same, desired effect.

  • Use newspaper

This approach doesn’t have any money involved. You can try this method though this takes longer than the other treatments mentioned above. To start off, wet the leather shoes on the surface. It may not look like it, but the water can stretch and soften leather albeit not much. Use a moistened cloth to dampen the leather. Don’t overdo it or you might wreck the quality of the leather! After that, stuff the shoes with newspaper until they seem tight and let dry. Check them out the next day.


Now that you’ve known how to soften leather shoes, it now looks rather easy to do, right? Indeed, you can select whether you have to take out your wallet or not with the methods above. But one result remains: you will get more comfortable with your softened shoes!

Pamela Couch

I am a designer, shoe-obsessed lifestyle expert, and founder of, a shoe boutique located in Downtown Atlanta. I love shoes and I love being able to share my passion for them with others.