Leather has been used for making human clothing and footwear for thousands of years. Even before sneakers or stiletto heels were invented, leather shoes were being used by everyone. With time the style and material used for making shoes have been changing and advancing but classic leather shoes still remain trendy and will continue to be so.
It has been estimated that 52% of the world’s total leather is used for footwear production. But just like any other footwear, leather boots might cause discomfort and blisters if they are not properly softened. This article provides multiple solutions to those wondering “How to soften leather boots?”
- Methods To Soften Hardened Leather Boots
- How To Soften The Back Of New Leather Shoes?
- How To Loosen Leather Shoes?
- Best Leather Softener For Boots
Methods To Soften Hardened Leather Boots
Method 1: Wear & Walk In Boots
The easiest and surest method of softening leather boots is to wear them for short periods but often. As many short outings are made wearing them, the more the feet would get used to them. The initial discomfort of the leather boots can be avoided if one wears thick socks along with them.
New leather shoes become pliable with every use but it is never recommended to wear them all day long since that would make the feet hurt. Initially, they are to be worn only for a few hours. With a few times of use as they get more comfortable one can slowly increase the amount of time, they wear those boots.
The breaking in period varies from shoe to shoe. So one has to be patient if the shoes are taking a bit of time to get comfortable. In the case of leather with needlework and stitches, it might take longer than thinner leather. If not outside, they can also be worn inside the house along with a pair or two of thick socks.
Method 2: Use Oil To Soften Leather Boots
In the same way, as oil is used to moisturize the skin, it can also be used to soften or moisturize leather boots. The first thing to do before oiling the boots is to wipe them with a slightly wet cloth to get rid of the dirt.
This step would be followed by wiping them again but this time with a dry rag to soak up any moisture on them. The oils which can be used to reduce the stiffness of the boots are foot oil, mink oil, coconut oil, and saddle soap.
The leather oil should be chosen with much care as the wrong one can even decompose the leather in the boots. It is best to use a rag or cotton ball to apply the oil in one or two layers and then set them aside to let the oil seep in and the boots dry.
They should be left all day if necessary in a well ventilated place. If one is still not satisfied after checking then they can repeat the process.
Method 3: Use a Boot Stretcher
The name of this mechanical tool, boot stretcher, explains its purpose very clearly. They are mainly used on leather shoes and boots and are readily available in most boot stores. The mechanism allows it to expand the boot from the inside by slowly and gently stretching the leather.
It has to be inserted into the boots and then widened by twisting its nob until there is some resistance and the leather creaks. The boots should be left that way overnight with the stretcher inside them. If the shoes feel comfortable afterward then it’s a success.
If they still are a bit tight then one can simply repeat the process until they are satisfied with the result. But before using a shoe stretcher the instructions must be read thoroughly as incorrect use might damage the boots.
When the stretching is properly done the boots will be comfortable for daily use and fit the foot size perfectly. As an extra precautionary measure, a conditioner can also be used to soften the leather and prevent any potential cracking.
Method 4: How To Soften Leather Shoes Using Vaseline
Petroleum jelly or Vaseline is used by everyone to moisturize their dry or cracked skin. In a similar fashion, it can also be used for making leather shoes soft. Not only would it make the boots waterproof and remove scratches but also increase their durability by enhancing their color. One can also use rubbing alcohol before it to soften boots. The steps of the process of softening leather boots using Vaseline are as follows:
- Take a clean cloth or rag and clean the boots by removing any dust or debris.
- Apply a thin layer of Vaseline over the boots. Use a soft-bristled old toothbrush for the application. It should be applied more in the areas with wrinkles or creases than in the rest.
- Set the boots aside for a few hours to overnight away from any kind of heat source.
- Take a clean cloth and wipe off any extra Vaseline left on the boots.
- Check the boots to see if it is satisfactory. If it is still not soft enough repeat the process.
Method 5: Using Freezer to Softer Leather
Just as leather boots can be stretched using heat, the same can also be done with ice. All one needs is a couple of sandwich or zip lock bags and water. They should be strong so as to not break or rip inside the boots.
Excess water can damage leather so this should be done very carefully. The amount of water to be filled in the bags depends on which part of the boot needs to be stretched. The bags should be sealed properly so they do not open up when the water freezes.
Then the boots are to be left inside a freezer for about 6 to 8 hours till the water freezes into ice. After taking the boots out of the freezer set them aside for about half an hour before removing the bags.
This is to allow the ice to thaw before being taken out. Afterward, the boots should be checked properly to see if they have softened and stretched properly before use.
Method 6: Apply Leather Conditioner
Just like how conditioner is used on the hair, leather also needs to be conditioned. Leather conditioners not only soften the leather of the boots but also soften them making them more flexible.
But the most important thing would be to choose the right and good quality conditioner for the boots. Unlike cheap spray conditioners that have water mixed in them, the conditioner should have oils for lubrication that would allow the leather to bend and flex easily.
For the application method, they are not to be poured directly on the boots since that would result in leather cracking. A small amount of conditioner is to be poured on a clean cloth or rag. Then it should be applied to the boots by a broad or circular motion in a thin layer.
Leather should be conditioned at least two to three times a year to make them last longer. For those living in arid places, they are to condition their boots more often.
Method 7: Use A Hair Dryer
Leather boots can also be stretched by applying controlled heat. A hairdryer can be used to for a quick blast of heat to make the boots flexible without damaging the leather. One must be careful as overheating very easily damage the material of the boots.
The blow dryer should be at least held at a distance of a foot. The duration should be no more than 20 to 30 seconds and then the dryer should be turned off. Some suggest the boots can be left for a while to cool down.
But the best way would be to wear two pairs or one super thick pair of socks and slip in the boots. The socks along with the heat from the hair dryer will make the boots fit the feet.
Once the boots are back to normal temperature they will provide the most comfort by being stretched to the shape of the feet. If the boots are still a bit uncomfortable the process can be repeated.
How To Soften The Back Of New Leather Shoes?
There are various methods that can be used to soften the back of brand new leather shoes to avoid discomfort and blisters. Some such methods are as follows:
- Method 1 – A hairdryer can be used to blow short blasts of heat.
- Method 2 – Shoe stretching sprays can be used that are available in any boot store.
- Method 3 – Rubbing alcohol from any nearest drugstore can be sprayed.
- Method 4 – Ziploc bags filled with water can be inserted into the boots and frozen in a freezer.
- Method 5 – Customized insoles can help make the feet elevated and comfy.
- Method 6 – Oils can be rubbed over the back of the boots to soften them.
- Method 7 – Two pairs or one thick pair of socks can be worn to break in the boots.
- Method 8 – Vinegar and kerosene coating on the back of the boots can help make them softer.
- Method 9 – Wooden inserts can be inserted in the heel area at the back of the boots to soften them before use.
- Method 10 – Visit a cobbler who is a professional shoe repairman who has all the knowledge and experience with leather boots.
How To Loosen Leather Shoes?
Leather shoes, just like leather boots need to be softened or loosened before they can be worn. The methods to loosen leather shoes are quite similar to that of boots. Some of them are as follows:
- Wear and walk – The best method of loosening leather shoes is to wear them around the house for short periods of time. After doing so a few times the shoes will be loose enough to be worn outdoors.
- Stretching spray – To get a custom stretch, sprays for stretching leather are available in all shoe stores.
- Freeze – Insert a zip lock backfilled halfway with water in the shoes and leave them in the freezer overnight.
- Blow dryer – Blow-dry for half a minute on the shoes after wearing thick socks and put them on.
- Shoe stretcher – Use a wooden or plastic shoe stretcher by inserting them into the shoes, twisting the handle to stretch, and leaving them overnight.
- Professional help – Consult a professional and leave the task of loosening leather shoes to the experienced.
Best Leather Softener For Boots
- Leather Honey Leather Conditioner
- Coconix Vinyl and Leather Repair Kit
- Huberd’s Shoe Grease, 7.5oz: Waterproofs, Softens, Conditions Leather
- Care & Cool Leather Protector, Preservative and Conditioner
- How can I soften leather boots quickly?
There are various methods that can be applied to leather boots to soften or stretch them. One can ask for professional help but if they wish for a quick DIY method they can apply heat, freeze, use stretching spray, wear socks, etc. before wearing them.
- Can I apply coconut oil to soften my leather boots?
To help soften the leather boots coconut oil can be used as a conditioner. It will smooth out cracks and give the leather a glossy appearance.
- How can I revive my old and worn-out leather boots?
When old boots are not used and kept in the shoe rack for a while they tend to shrink. They need to be revived or stretched again to fit. One can use heat or wear them to stretch them and to give them new polish oil can be applied on the leather.
Classic leather boots never seem to go out of trend no matter how advanced their technology or style gets. They are popular all over the world be it in the east or the west.
They can be used in all types of climates given they are properly cared for. Leather does require some occasional conditioning but they last for many years. They also go well with any type of clothing for any type of occasion.
This article is to help those who are unaware of the various methods on “How to soften leather boots?” Be it a home DIY method or by using a commercial product like spray or oils or simply through professional help, leather boots can be stretched to get the desired comfort.