Last Updated April 04, 2018

Learning how to soften leather boots is a skill that has been taught for generations. The material of leather is used in a lot of articles of clothing and is particularly durable when used for footwear.

Nobody likes to wear boots though that are hardened and challenging to walk in (think-Wood clogs, ouch!). Here are ten tips on how to soften leather boots.

#1. Try applying a natural oil.

The first things you want to do before attempting to apply a natural oil to your leather boots is to let them sit outside in the sun for at least ten minutes.

What this does is it opens the pores allowing for the oil to soak in.

While this is happening, you can gather the needed materials. As for the type of oil you use, you can try coconut oil, olive oil, or even avocado oil- any natural oil that could be additionally used as a skin softening oil. 

The leather is made out of the treated skin of a cow that has been dried, so the maintenance of it is similar to that of your skin. Avoid using hydrogenated oils like everyday vegetable, corn, or canola oils. And primarily don’t use motor oil!

Next, rub the oil into the boots.

Dip your fingers into the oil and rub it on the surface of the leather. To get a softening effect, add some layers of oil.

The more oil you use, the softer the leather will be. There’s no need to worry that you’re using too much oil because nearly all natural oils do not damage leather. Allow the oil to dry into the leather.

It’s possible for the oil to darken the leather slightly, but it makes leather smooth and wearable. If your leather boots aren’t soft enough after one treatment, then keep repeating the oil treatment until you reach the desired softness.

The darkening effect may change the leather’s look so make sure you apply the oils evenly to prevent any mismatched lighter spots.

#2. Try adding moisture to the boots!

A little bit of moisture can aid in softening leather and even stretching it. Too much moisture can damage leather products, so use this method with caution. To try this, make the boots damp with some clean water to soak into the material but not to make it wet. 

Tightly pack some newspaper into the boots and let them sit in a dry place.

It’s best to allow them to dry gradually by indirect heat.

Don’t use a hair dryer or any other drying tool as it can damage the leather by causing cracks. Allow the leather to dry for a day at least.

#3. Apply a leather conditioner.

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This product is often called “restore” or “leather therapy” at most stores. It’s also possible to use leather treatment items made for cleaning, softening, and

polishing leather footwear. Most of them will strengthen the leather. Try to find products that penetrate the leather and lubricate fats the same way animal-based oils would. Don’t use greasy mixtures or items with petroleum since they can sometimes weaken leather.

Leather treatment items usually cost more than natural oils.

Pick one of these items if you have the money to spend. After using the leather treatment, make sure to let it dry before wearing it.

If you’ve already worn the items, you want to treat then make sure to get rid of dirt by using a damp cloth before conditioning them. It’s good to condition old or thinner leather boots more often since they deteriorate faster.

#4. Put shaving cream on your leather boots.

Another great tip on how to soften leather boots is to spray a bit of shaving cream on a soft and damp piece of cloth. 

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Make sure that the fabric is only a little wet as too damp can damage the leather surface. All you need to do is rub the shaving cream on the leather products. Use the back-and-forth motion and be sure to follow the leather’s grain.

#5. Lanolin.

Try moisturizing your leather products with lanolin. It can usually be found at drug stores or sometimes on online beauty websites.

 Lanolin has a natural wax found in the skin of sheep and is used to moisturize the skin but can also be used to soften leather.

Apply a dime-size amount of lanolin to a dry, soft cloth and rub it into the leather. The waxy composition sometimes leaves a residue, so buff the residue-effected area with a clean cloth.

Using linear and horizontal strokes is essential. If you use a circular method, it can create visible marks that are very difficult to get rid of.

#6. Apply mink oil.

Another great tip on how to soften leather boots is to use mink oil. Rub the mink oil on the leather items.

Mink oil has a natural acid that can be used as a softening agent. This item is standard and can be purchased at most leather or sporting goods stores.

Apply the oil as instructed and buff dry with a clean  piece of cloth.

Just like with natural oils, mink oil can sometimes darken leather. So before trying to oil the entire leather boot, maybe use some mink oil on a conspicuous section of the leather boot just to test if and how much it darkens the leather.

#7. Breaking in your boots to soften them.

An effective way to soften the leather boots merely is to wear them. Wearing leather boots over and over again will over time make them more pliable.

If you have new leather boots and you walk in them all day, you may experience pain in your feet. You can decrease this pain by wearing them for only half a day and then put on more comfortable shoes for the rest of the day.

To expedite the process, try adding some water (but not too much!) to the leather and walk around until the boots are dry.

Wear the leather boots and walk around in them as often as you can to maximize softening and pliability.

#8. Try using heat to soften your boots.

This method can be useful in softening your boots. However, it should be noted that you must use caution since direct heat will likely damage your leather boots.

Don’t use this trick on old leather since it can easily crack under heat.

To use this method, put on a pair of thick socks then put on your leather boots. Sit and heat each boot individually by using a hair dryer for twenty to thirty seconds at a time. When you stop the heating, keep your boots on your feet.

Next, repeat the same steps but while wearing thinner socks.

If you can’t see a difference, then repeat the method. After warming up your boots, you can also try applying a skin care cream. This will rehydrate your leather boots after they warm up.

When picking out your leather boots, go for unfinished over treated leather so you’ll get a softer feel that is more natural. Always make sure that your boots fit correctly.

If they’re too small or significant, they’ll feel uncomfortable on your feet.

Keeping ointment and bandages on hand for the first few days of wearing the leather boots is a good idea. This will help ease the pain of blisters. 

Finally, never soak your leather boots in water.

This will shrink and harden the boots and make them virtually unwearable. Leather boots are stylish and can be very comfortable. To stay that way, make sure you know how to soften leather boots.

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