How to Soften Leather Boots : Step By Step Guide in Details

Knowing how to soften leather boots is necessary to keep them in good condition. There are few materials as durable as leather, but softening helps prolong their lifespan, not to mention make them more comfortable to wear for extended periods. Whether you have new or old boots, this guide will help you keep your footwear in pristine condition.

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You should soften your leather shoes as soon as possible as new leather shoes and boots can be a tight fit and downright uncomfortable. If you know want to soften leather shoes and boots you’ll realize just how more comfortable these boots are going to be with the right approach. While it’s best to soften new boots, you can do it to old boots and shoes as well.

What Type of Boot Needs Softeners?

Softening leather boots is necessary compared to any other type. Boots made from other materials may not need as much softening, but it’s still better if you have a leather softener for shoes just in case. The best way to find out is to wear the boots and if it feels tight, some softening is in order.

Best Ways of Softening Boots

If you want to soften tight leather boots, one of the things you’ll quickly learn is there are a lot of options.

Oils and Conditioners

They’re the most widely used and can be purchased easily online.  


  • Widely available
  • Can be used on old and new boots


  • Takes time to work

Vaseline and Alcohol

Combining alcohol and Vaseline can be used to stretch shoes and boots.


  • Inexpensive
  • Works on most leather


  • Not as effective as leather oil cleaners

Shoe Stretcher

These devices have a knob which you turn to soften your shoes or boots.


  • Affordable
  • Works great for leather and other types of shoes and boots


  • Poorly made shoe stretchers could damage the shoes

Other Ways to Soften Shoes and Boots

Using Natural Oil

Just apply natural oil on the shoes. Let the shoes absorb the oil under the sun for 10 minutes. Coconut oil is a good option as well as almond oil, jojoba and avocado oil.

Add a Little Moisture

Too much moisture isn’t good for leather, but a little of it can soften and loosen the leather. Get some clean water and dampen the boots a little. Again, the word is dampen, not soak your boots. Stuff newspaper in the boots and allow them to dry naturally.

​Use only conditioners

That can go into deep into the leather. Some of these conditioners are only for light work and won’t be able to soften your boots.

There are indeed many ways to learn softening boots, but which is the most ideal? We’ll try to answer that in the following section.

Best way of Softening?

We have listed above the many ways to make leather boots and shoes softer. However, most of these boots recommend you to use specific softeners for the best results.

If the boots don’t recommend any cleaning products and you know how to use leather softener for boots, buy a leather conditioner that’s capable of piercing through leather fiber and keep the lubrication in. There are a lot of these available, but the best conditioners have animal oils and fats.

Do not use petroleum blends and other greasy materials as it leads to leather deterioration. Also avoid lubricants and softeners with mineral oils, castor oil or pine tar as they’re potentially toxic for leather.

Use Leather Conditioner or Softener

Leather conditioner, leather restorer and leather therapy all refer to the same thing. You can also use products that polish, soften and clean shoes. Provided they’re for leather, these cleaning solutions should fortify the leather and make them more comfortable to wear.

Soften your boots on a regular basis to maintain its good condition. The number of times required to soften leather depends on the leather quality, how often you use it, the weather and where you use it.

Leather Boot Softener Step by Step

These steps are for new leather boots.

  1. Wipe your boots with a clean, damp cloth to remove dirt. Replace the cloth when it gets dirty and let the boots dry.
  2. Apply the oil. You can use mink oil, foot oil, coconut oil and saddle soap, as they’re all capable of softening leather.
  3. Follow the directions on the oil conditioner label. Usually you have to pour the oil in a container. Get a piece of clean cloth, wrap two fingers around it and dip into the oil.
  4. Allow the oil to drip in the container. Now place the cloth on the surface of the boot or shoe. Wipe in a smooth, circular motion.
  5. Once you’ve wiped the boot, let the boot soak the solution.
  6. Depending on the conditioner, a single coat may be all that’s necessary. If you want to apply another coating, you may have to wait for up to 24 hours before applying it. If the boots feels greasy it means the conditioner hasn’t been fully absorbed yet.
  7. Once the boot has absorbed the material, assess its softness level. Apply another layer of coating if it’s not soft enough.

Soften Tight Shoes

softening stiff leather boots is the same way as new leather boots. If you know to soften new leather boots, you’ll have no problem loosening them up. Aside from the steps above, you can use the following to speed up the process.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Oil conditioner
  • Alcohol spray
  • Clean piece of cloth
  • Dish to pour the conditioner
  • Socks
  • Shoe stretcher


The easiest way to soften those shoes is to follow the steps for softening leather shoes and boots. If it’s not enough, try the following.

  • Walk in the boots at home. Wear the boots and walk indoors and outdoors. The more you wear the shoes, the more easily it’s going to loosen.
  • Get several pairs of socks and roll them into balls. Put as many as you can inside each shoe. Leave the socks for several hours or overnight. You may also use newspapers instead of socks.
  • Spray the shoes with alcohol. Do this only as a last resort if the other methods don’t work.

Also keep in mind that some shoes take longer than others to stretch. You just need to be patient and just wear the shoes every day even if you’re not going out.

Soften Vintage Leather Boots

Old leather footwear needs special care and maintenance. If you’ve got some vintage shoes that you’d like to wear, follow these steps for better result.

  1. If the shoes haven’t been used in a while, get a clean cloth and clear the surface. Remove as much dirt as possible and if necessary, wipe repeatedly with a damp cloth.
  2. Once the shoes are clean and dry, apply leather cleaner on the cloth and wipe it on the shoes. Apply a thin layer only, do not oversaturate the shoes.
  3. Wait half an hour for the shoes to absorb the material or whatever is indicated in the product guide. Get another piece of cloth and wipe the excess cleaner off.
  4. Apply a bit of extra conditioner on the stiff parts of the shoes. Let the shoes rest overnight so they can soak the conditioner in.
  5. Get another piece of cloth and wipe off the conditioner. Wipe in circles and look for signs of excess conditioner.
  6. Use a shoe spray on the shoe’s exterior and stretcher on the interior. Put the shoe stretcher in the shoe and turn until it’s no longer possible. Again you have to be careful especially if you’re dealing with old shoes. Remove the shoe stretcher and try the shoe on.

How Often is Boot Softening Necessary?

There are no hard and fast rules on this one. With some leather boots and shoes it just takes a single session. Others may require repeated application. For maintenance purposes, you should soften boots and shoes every few weeks. If you live in a cold climate, soften the boots once a week. If you live in a dry climate, use a leather boot softener once a week.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Question: ​Are all these methods safe for my boots?

​Answer: ​Yes, each of these techniques is specifically for boots.

Question: ​Will these softening techniques work on leather shoes too?

Answer​Yes, each method should work fine.

Question: ​How soon can I use the boots after it’s softened up?

Answer​It depends on the materials you use and the leather. Usually though you have to wait 24 hours before you can use the shoes.

Question: How to loose hard leather boots?

Answer​Same methods as those described above.


Knowing the best way to softening leather boots serves two purposes: it makes shoes more comfortable, and second, softening helps prolong the leather’s lifespan. Do keep in mind that some leather boots and shoes have specific instructions on about softening the material applicable to them. If there is information provided, follow it.