Have your leather jackets, shoes, or belts gotten stiff, and you are looking for how to soften old leather? If yes, then keep reading as in this article we will tell you about some efficient ways to soften old leather.
If you do not take proper care of leather products at your home, then within a certain period, it becomes stiff and dry. Because of the dryness, the leather loses its original color and look. It becomes uncomfortable and loses its beauty.
Indeed it is the most versatile and stylish fabric on earth, which is made from animal hide. This is smooth, supple, and has more natural grain as compared to other materials.
Stiffening of leather does not occur overnight; instead, it takes months and years. If you are searching for how to soften old leather, then keep reading.
What is Soften Old Leather
To soften old leather, you can follow these steps:
Clean the leather: Start by removing any dirt or debris from the leather surface. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently wipe away any loose particles. If there are stains, use a mild leather cleaner specifically designed for cleaning leather.
Apply a leather conditioner: Leather conditioners help to moisturize and soften the leather, restoring its flexibility and suppleness. Choose a high-quality leather conditioner or leather oil that is suitable for your type of leather. Test the conditioner on a small, inconspicuous area of the leather to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.
Apply the conditioner: Use a clean, soft cloth or sponge to apply the leather conditioner to the entire surface of the leather item. Gently massage the conditioner into the leather using circular motions. Pay extra attention to any areas that feel particularly dry or stiff.
Let it absorb: Allow the conditioner to penetrate the leather for the recommended time stated on the product instructions. This usually ranges from a few minutes to a few hours. During this time, the leather will absorb the conditioner, helping to restore moisture and softness.
Remove excess conditioner: After the recommended absorption time has passed, use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess conditioner from the leather. Make sure to remove all the residue to avoid a sticky or greasy feel.
Repeat if necessary: If the leather still feels stiff or dry after the first application, you can repeat the process of applying the conditioner and allowing it to absorb. However, avoid over-conditioning, as it can lead to a greasy appearance and may not be beneficial for the leather’s longevity.
How to Soften Old Leather
To soften old leather, you can try the following methods:
Use a leather conditioner specifically designed to soften and rejuvenate old leather. Apply a small amount of conditioner to a clean, soft cloth and gently rub it into the leather in circular motions. Allow it to penetrate the leather for a few hours or overnight, and then wipe off any excess conditioner with a clean cloth.
Leather oils, such as neatsfoot oil or mink oil, can help soften and restore old leather. Apply a small amount of oil to a clean cloth and rub it into the leather, focusing on the areas that are particularly dry or stiff. Allow the oil to soak in for a few hours or overnight, and then wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth.
Leather balms are another option for softening old leather. Apply a small amount of balm to a clean cloth and work it into the leather using circular motions. Pay extra attention to any areas that are stiff or cracking. Allow the balm to absorb into the leather, and then buff it with a clean cloth to remove any excess.
Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly
Apply a thin layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly to the leather using a clean cloth. Gently massage it into the leather and leave it overnight. The next day, wipe off any remaining residue with a soft cloth.
Dampen a clean cloth with warm water and gently wipe down the leather to remove any surface dirt or grime. Be careful not to saturate the leather, as excessive moisture can damage it. After cleaning, allow the leather to air dry naturally. Once dry, you can apply a leather conditioner or oil to soften it further.
It’s important to note that different leather types may respond differently to these methods, so it’s a good idea to test any product or technique on a small, inconspicuous area of the leather first.
Additionally, if the leather is severely damaged, cracked, or brittle, it may be best to consult a professional leather restorer for appropriate treatment.
Causes of Leather Shrinkage
Before discussing tips about how to soften old leather, let’s first review what factors contribute to leather stuffing. Let’s discuss the causes in detail: The quality of leather has a significant effect on the stiffing of leather.
Not every product is made from the same variety of lather, and Materials made from full-grain leather are the best in quality.
In contrast, products in which corrected grain and stiff leather are used have low quality. In brief, we know that what we get for what you pay. Leather, which has quality, is more resistant to damage and has a greater life span.
Environmental conditions in which you store the leather products have a significant effect on leather longevity or damage. High or extreme low humidity is not good. Dry air absorbs the moisture from leather leading towards its stiffness.
Body grease and sweat or oils penetrate the leather surface due to regular contact within a more significant period. As a result of this oil penetration and PH factor, the fiber in leather loses structure and becomes stiff.
High temperature and direct exposure to the sun are dangerous for leather. It causes cracked and damages in leather products within a specific period. Keep the item at room temperature, away from sunlight.
Softening Stiff Leather
Leather is obtained from animal skin. If we do not lubricate the leather regularly with stain repellents and lather lubricants, it becomes stiff after some time.
As a result, this leather begins to crack or break with time if you do not take action to soften it. Indeed throwing away goods made from leather is not a good option as they are expensive.
In this case, the best thing you can do is to soften it with home remedies or commercial products.
The methods we are going to mention are simple, and you can apply them without worrying about the quality of leather. But before using these methods, first clean and try the leather with a cleaner or soft brush.
Softening it Manually
You can manually soften leather with strikes and a moderate amount of force by compression. Use a baseball mat or rubber mallet for tenderizing the stiff piece of leather.
Take care of the sensitive areas of products like buttons, straps, and pockets. Because you may damage them by applying brutal force instead of softening.
Any leather can be softened with hands treatment irrespective of size, shape, and texture. You can also knead the leather for decompressing it. Pull and twist a piece of leather in a fist. Through this way, the product will be stretched and become less stiff.
Additionally, you can roll it like a ball for softening a belt, and then releasing it will have a softening effect. Some leather products become soft by themselves by regular use.
Rubbing Vaseline and Alcohol
Take cotton and apply alcohol to the leather surface. Alcohol evaporates, so it may take you several times to absorb if complete into leather. After completing this step, apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly with figures on the product.
Using Coconut Oil
You can use coconut oil for conditioning the leather products like your boots or any other item. Before starting the procedure, put the item in sunlight for some time. It will make the item absorb oil easily. Gently apply the oil layer with figures or brush on the leather surface.
Furthermore, complete the procedure by applying it to small areas and coated the item entirely. It is one of the best ways to soften leather but first, check it on a small part.
If you are happy with the final color of the testing patch, then continue this procedure for the whole product.
You can also soften the stiff leather without chemicals by using water spray. Take a spray bottle filled with water. Your goals are to give the leather a little moisture. Try not to wet the leather product with more water without saturation.
Remove excess liquid with cotton fabric from the item and allow the product to natural for drying. After this producer applies a quality conditioner, remember that this will not work on the waterproof product.
With The Help of Mink Oil
One of the best tips to soften leather goods is the use of mink oil. It is a soft thick waxy liquid. Using mink oil increase the life span and durability of the product. It is mostly used by manufacturing companies to increase product flexibility.
Take cotton or soft fabric and clean the dust or dirt from the surface of the product. Warm the leather a little bit by placing it in the sun or with the help of a hairdryer. Now heat the mink oil a bit, and with the help of cotton or sponge, rub the leather gently.
It will lubricate the stiff fibers in leather, and flexibility will increase. Mink oil replies water and moisture as they contribute to leather stiffing. The item becomes soft by getting the lost oils back. You can use this procedure for shoes, jackets, and furniture.
Using Commercial Products
Sometimes home remedies do not work for some leather items, so you need something stronger in this case. Buy appropriate commercial products from the store.
Before applying the product, read instructions and apply in accordance with recommendations. Follow the same procedure for some time to prevent the leather from cracking.
Prevention Tips after Softening
After achieving the desire softening level of leather, take few steps to keep the leather strong for a longer time. Keep the following points in mind:
1. Maintain suitable airflow and do not store the leather items in sealed plastic bags
2. Use a damp cloth to avoid leather staining
3. Before proper application, always test the commercial product on a small patch for testing
4. Do not put the item in direct sun exposure or high heat
Best Ways To Soften Leather
Softening leather can be done using various methods.
Here are some of the best ways to soften leather:
Applying a leather conditioner is one of the most effective ways to soften leather. Look for a high-quality leather conditioner or leather oil and follow the instructions provided. Conditioning helps moisturize the leather, making it more supple and flexible.
Leather Balm or Wax
Leather balms and waxes can also be used to soften leather. These products help condition the leather while providing a protective layer. Apply a small amount of the balm or wax to a soft cloth and rub it gently onto the leather surface.
Leather Softening Spray
There are specially formulated leather softening sprays available in the market. These sprays are designed to penetrate the leather and make it softer. Follow the instructions on the spray bottle and apply it evenly on the leather surface.
Moisturizing with Water
In some cases, you can soften leather by using water. Dampen a clean cloth with lukewarm water and gently rub it over the leather. Avoid using excessive water, as it can damage the leather. Afterward, let the leather air dry naturally away from direct heat sources.
Heat and Massage
Another technique to soften leather is by using heat and massage. Apply a hairdryer on low heat setting to warm the leather slightly, and then gently massage the leather with your hands. The heat will make the leather more pliable, and the massage helps to relax the fibers.
Wear and Use
One of the simplest ways to soften leather is to wear or use the leather item regularly. By using the leather, the natural body oils and movement will gradually soften the leather over time.
Remember, it’s important to test any leather softening method on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration. Additionally, different types of leather may require different techniques, so it’s always best to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or seek professional advice if you’re unsure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about leather:
How do I clean leather
To clean leather, start by removing any loose dirt or debris with a soft brush or cloth. Then, use a mild leather cleaner or a solution of mild soap and water to gently wipe down the leather. Avoid using excessive water or harsh cleaning agents that can damage the leather. After cleaning, allow the leather to air dry naturally and then apply a leather conditioner to keep it soft and moisturized.
How do I remove stains from leather?
The best approach for removing stains from leather depends on the type of stain. For water-based stains, like coffee or juice, blot the stain gently with a clean cloth and then clean the area with a mild soap and water solution. For oil-based stains, like grease or ink, try using a leather-specific stain remover or consult a professional leather cleaner for assistance. It’s always a good idea to test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first.
How do I prevent leather from cracking?
To prevent leather from cracking, it’s important to keep it properly conditioned and moisturized. Regularly apply a leather conditioner or oil to keep the leather supple and prevent it from drying out. Avoid exposing leather to excessive heat, direct sunlight, or extreme temperature changes, as these can also contribute to cracking. Proper storage in a cool, dry place can also help maintain the leather’s condition.
Can I use water to soften leather?
While water can be used to clean leather, excessive moisture can damage it and lead to shrinking or warping. It’s best to avoid soaking leather or using excessive water to soften it. Instead, use specialized leather conditioners, oils, or balms to soften and moisturize the leather effectively.
How do I remove a musty smell from leather?
To remove a musty smell from leather, start by thoroughly cleaning the leather to remove any surface dirt or mold spores. Use a mild soap and water solution or a leather cleaner to clean the leather. After cleaning, allow the leather to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Once dry, you can apply a leather conditioner or deodorizer specifically designed for eliminating odors.
We have discussed some best ways to soften leather so you can apply these ideas to soften old leather products. Leather products are the best choice whether you are buying an item for yourself or a gift for loved ones.
You can still restore it with the methods described above without throwing them.
Although, keep in mind that these procedures are not suitable for faux leather products. Follow the manufactures guidelines and precautions to take care of your leather garments and goods.