Leather is a popular material for clothing, shoes, and other accessories due to its durability and luxurious feel. However, over time leather can become stiff and brittle due to age, wear and tear, or exposure to the elements. If you own a leather item that has become stiff and uncomfortable to wear, there are some simple and easy ways to soften it. Here are 10 ways to soften old leather so you can enjoy it for many years to come.
10 Best Way to Soften Old Leather
1. Breathe Life Into Old Leather with Beeswax
Breathing new life into old leather is an easy process with the help of beeswax. Beeswax helps to keep leather soft and supple, while also providing a protective layer against the elements. To use beeswax on your leather, start by melting the beeswax in a double boiler. Once melted, pour the wax onto your leather in a thin layer and use a cloth to rub it in. Once you’ve evenly distributed the wax, allow it to dry for about an hour before buffing it out with a cloth. Doing this regularly will help keep your leather soft and protected.
2. Apply a Leather Conditioner with Lanolin
Leather conditioners are the best way to soften leather. Lanolin is a great choice because it contains natural emollients that penetrate deep into the leather, moisturizing and softening it. Here’s how to use lanolin to soften old leather:
1. Measure ingredients using a ratio of [ 1/2 part butter: 1/2 part beeswax: 2 parts oil] to start.
2. Combine beeswax, cocoa butter, and sweet almond oil in a saucepan, using a 1-1-2 ratio, you might also use lanolin alone. In case you don’t have those ingredients.
3. Heat the mixture over low heat until the beeswax and cocoa butter have melted.
4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lanolin until it has melted into the mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and let it cool until thickened but still pliable.
6. Apply the mixture to the old leather item with a soft cloth, rubbing it in until all of the leather is saturated.
7. Allow the mixture to sit on the leather for about 20 minutes, then buff with a dry cloth to remove excess lanolin.
8. Allow the leather item to dry overnight before using or wearing it again.
9. Repeat these steps as needed to maintain the softness of your leather item.
With proper maintenance, your leather item will be as soft as new!
3. Use a Leather Softening Spray
Using a leather softening spray is an easy and convenient way to soften leather. First, make sure the leather item is clean and free of dirt or dust. Then, spray the leather softening spray from a distance of 10-15 inches, covering the entire surface evenly.
Let the spray sit for at least 10 minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth or paper towel. The spray works best when applied multiple times over a few days or weeks. For best results, use a quality leather softening spray formulated specifically for use on leather.
4. Use Saddle Soap and Neatsfoot Oil
Saddle soap and neatsfoot oil are two of the oldest and most reliable ways to soften old leather. Saddle soap is a traditional leather cleaner that uses harsh alkaline substances to get rid of dirt and grime. Neatsfoot oil is a natural oil that is effective in softening and preserving leather. Here’s how to use them:
1. Brush off all dust and dirt from your leather with a rag.
2. Fill the top of your saddle soap tin with warm water.
3. Wet a dauber (or other soft cloth) and rub it over the saddle soap until it forms a lather.
4. Dip the lather-covered dauber into the warm water, then rub the lather onto the leather boots or other items.
5. Allow the lather to stay on the leather for about 10 minutes before wiping it down with a damp rag.
6. Once you’ve cleaned your leather, you can apply neatsfoot oil to soften it up. Simply take a small amount of neatsfoot oil onto your hands and massage it into the leather until it is completely absorbed.
7. Leave the leather item in the sun for 10 minutes or use a hair dryer to heat its surface to help the oil penetrate deeper into the leather fibers.
8. Buff off any excess oil with a clean cloth or brush.
9. Repeat this process as needed to keep your leather soft and supple.
10. Finally, make sure to use a leather conditioner or wax regularly to help preserve your leather items and keep them looking their best!
Alcohol is a great option for softening old leather. Take a cotton swab or ball and coat it generously with rubbing alcohol. Rub the alcohol-coated cotton ball on the leather that you want to soften.
It may take some time for the alcohol to penetrate the leather, but it’s worth the wait. Once it does, you will be able to work the leather into its original form. Make sure to condition and waterproof the leather when you’re done, as alcohol can damage it if not cared for properly.
6. Water and Oil
Water and Oil is one of the most popular methods for softening old leather. All you need is a basin, lukewarm water (not hot & not cold), and a natural oil such as coconut, jojoba, avocado, or olive.
First, fill the basin with lukewarm water and add a few drops of natural oil. Soak the leather item in the mixture for about 10 minutes. After that take out the item and let it air dry. Once the leather is dry, it should be noticeably softer.
Note that this method is not suitable for delicate leather items and should only be used on thick leather items such as belts and purses. If you have a delicate leather item, use the other methods mentioned in this guide instead.
7. Use a Leather Softening Balm
Using a leather softening balm is an easy and effective way to soften your leather items. All you have to do is apply a generous amount of the balm on the surface of the item and rub it in using your hands. The balm will penetrate deeply and work its magic to make the leather soft, supple, and smooth. Make sure that you cover each area evenly and be sure to not use too much balm as it can cause the leather item to become too soft.
8. Using Heat
Using heat is an effective way to soften the leather. To use this method safely, make sure to set the dryer to medium heat, and allow it to run for a few minutes. This will help to warm up the leather and make it soft and supple. If you don’t have a dryer, you can also use a warm car or steamy shower room to gently heat the leather and make it more pliable.
Hang your leather item in the sun for 10 minutes or use a hair dryer to heat its surface. Make sure not to keep the dryer running for too long as it can damage the leather.
9. Alum stone or Vaseline
Alum stone/Vaseline is an effective way to soften any old leather and make it more durable. This method is most commonly used for leather saddles, straps, and other items that require a high level of durability. To begin, you’ll need to purchase an alum stone or Vaseline.
To apply the alum stone, first use a cloth to rub it onto the leather in a circular motion. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the leather evenly. Once done, allow the leather to sit for about 10 minutes before wiping off any excess alum stone with a damp cloth.
Vaseline is a petroleum jelly that can be used to soften leather as well. Simply apply a generous portion of Vaseline to a cotton pad and then gently dab it onto the leather’s surface. After applying Vaseline, it’s best to let it sit overnight before wiping off any excess with a damp cloth.
By using either alum stone or Vaseline, you can effectively soften old leather and make it more durable. Make sure to pay attention when applying these materials so that you achieve the desired results.
10. Try Old Fashioned Way
Old fashioned way is the most natural way to soften leather. It requires a few household items such as a spoonful of coconut oil, a soft cloth and a hair dryer. Firstly, leave the leather item in the sun for 10 minutes or use a hair dryer to heat its surface. Secondly, take a spoonful of coconut oil and rub it into the leather item with the soft cloth.
Make sure to cover every area of the leather item with the oil. Lastly, leave the oil on the leather item for at least an hour before wiping off any excess oil with a clean cloth. This method of softening leather will give your item a natural shine as well as making it softer than before.
Taking care of old leather can be a bit of a challenge, but there are many ways to soften and restore it. With these 10 tips, you can make old leather look like new again!
Frequently asked questions
What Is the Best Way to Soften Old Leather?
The safest, most efficient way to soften hard leather old or new is to use a good quality leather conditioner. You can also try using natural oils, waxes, and heat to soften the leather as mentioned above.
Does Leather Get Softer Over Time?
Yes, leather will generally become softer with extended use.
Can Vaseline Soften Leather?
Yes, Vaseline can be used to soften leather. It contains various mineral oils and moisturizers which act as emollients and can help to soften the stratum corneum. You can scroll up to read more on how to make use of it.
Should I oil the inside of a leather holster?
Generally, no. Leather holsters should not be oiled on the inside. Oiling the inside can cause the leather to become soft and can actually reduce the holster’s durability.
Additionally, the oils used on the outside of the holster can be transferred to the inside, which can cause premature wear and tear. Instead, you should use a leather conditioner to keep the outside of the holster soft and supple.
Is it possible to wash a leather holster?
Yes, you can wash a leather holster, however it is important to understand the best way to clean it. Generally speaking, you should avoid using soaps and detergents as these may damage the delicate leather. Instead, use a slightly damp cloth to wipe away any dirt or debris from your holster.
It is not recommended to submerge the holster in water or put it in the washing machine as this could ruin the leather.
Is mink oil good for leather holsters?
Yes, it’s a good idea. Mink oil is a popular treatment for leather holsters due to its ability to soften leather and provide waterproofing.
What sort of oil should I use on a leather holster?
The best type of oil to use is boiled linseed oil, as it will not go rancid like raw linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil or neatsfoot oil is easily available in most hardware stores and online.
Should I make use of saddle soap for leather holster?
Yes, you can use saddle soap on a leather holster. Saddle soap is a type of soap specifically designed to clean, condition, and protect leather products like saddles, boots, and holsters.
Can you stretch a leather holster?
Yes, you can stretch a leather holster.