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How to Soften Hard Leather Shoes

We all know that leather shoes can be expensive, and when they are new, they feel like a dream. But the longer you wear them, the harder they get. This is because of sweat and oils on your feet reacting with the leather of your shoe to create an almost plastic-like coating over time. 

The Best Way How to Soften Hard Leather Shoes Is by Using One of Five Methods Outlined Below:

  1. Use Alcohol and Vaseline
  2. Use Water And Soap
  3. Use A Leather Conditioner
  4. Rub With Olive Oil Or Coconut Oil
  5. Place Them On A Fabric Softener Sheet
  6. Walking with the shoe for a while
  7. Patience is the key to overcome the leather break-in period

1. Use Alcohol and Vaseline

1. Use Alcohol and Vaseline

You can use alcohol and vaseline to make your leather shoe soft. Pour a little bit of alcohol on your leather shoe and cover it with vaseline. Use your finger to make a layer of vaseline.l Let the shoes sit for about 15 minutes before wiping off the excess liquid that was absorbed by the fabric


  1. Pour some Alcohol onto your shoe so there is enough to soak in 
  2. Cover top of foot area with Vaseline
  3. Lay a piece of fabric softener sheet over top and let it all sit for about 15 minutes, allowing the alcohol to penetrate the shoes. You can use an unused toothbrush to make sure the layer of the vaseline is thick.
  4. Use your fingers or a wiping cloth to remove excess liquid from the shoe. This will leave behind only what has been absorbed into the shoe’s leather material.

This method is not recommended for shoes that are already cracked or have been in contact with water.

2. Use Water And Soap


You can use water if you don’t want to use any chemical. Just fill-up the shoes with water and soap. Let it sit for a few hours before you take them out.

  • You need to keep in mind that saturation is not your goal. Your goal should have enough moisture in it.
  • Pour in just enough soap to cover the bottom of your shoe, about an inch deep or so
  • Rub into the leather using circular motions until all dirt has been removed from the shoe.

Don’t forget to wash your hands before you touch the leather again. Water and soap are not recommended for shoes that have already been submerged in water or damaged by chemicals like bleach, acetone, and ammonia or cracked before. These products can damage the shoe’s material beyond repair over time.”

3. Use A Leather Conditioner


Generally, We use Leather conditioner to nourish fiber and to make the leather flexible. Leather conditioners are another option to make the leather of the shoe soft. However, It is important to use the conditioner according to the instructions. Follow the steps below to soften your leather shoes.

  • Place a small amount of conditioner on the palm, then apply it all over the shoe in circular motions with pressure.
  • It is important that you do not use too much Leather Conditioner as this will make the Shoes look shiny and darken them considerably.
  • Allow the shoes to dry for an hour or two before putting them back on, if possible; otherwise let them air-dry overnight.”

4. Rub With Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

 4. Rub With Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

Another option to soften leather shoes is rubbing them with olive oil or coconut oil. Rub the shoe in a circular motion, using pressure so as not to miss any spots.

  • You can also use a small amount of dishwashing soap for this treatment and rub it into your hands before applying it onto the leather of the shoes.
  • Rubbing each panel on both sides; however be sure you don’t get too much inside because that will make your shoe wet.
  • Let it dry overnight. This usually works best on sneakers that are made out of canvas material but still have some parts that are made out of Leather (ie: The lace loops). It’s important to note that this may darken your shoes if it has any significant oil on the shoe.
  • If you’re looking for a way to soften leather shoes, this technique is an excellent option.

5. Place Them On A Fabric Softener Sheet

Place an old or new fabric softener sheet on top of the shoes and allow it to soak up excess moisture.

  • The best time to use this technique is during periods where you know your leather shoe will be subjected to a lot of wear; for example, if they’re rain boots that are sure to get wet often then placing them in a plastic bag with a few dryer sheets is imperative
  • You should also note that any type of liquid substance like alcohol can cause damage so try not putting too much inside your shoes. Be very careful about using this product because it has been known as one way people have damaged their footwear unintentionally by overusing.
  • Remove the softener sheet from the boot and place them into another container

6. Walking With The Shoe for a While

The shoe will start to conform and soften around your feet, which is a big key in making them more comfortable. Allow the shoes to air out for a few hours before adding any type of liquid into it because an overabundance can cause damage as well. It may take some time but walking with these types of footwear often will help greatly when you are trying to break in new leather ones. Remember that even if they’re not necessarily brand new anymore, this technique can still work wonders on them since leather stretches so much!

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7. Patience is the Key to Overcome the Leather Break-in Period

Patience is definitely the key when it comes to adjusting and getting used to wearing new, stiff leather footwear. It can take a while for them to stretch out and get soft enough that they feel like you could wear them all day long without any discomfort whatsoever. With this in mind, be patient with yourself or whoever needs these types of shoes adjusted accordingly because once they’re done, there’s no turning back!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Vaseline Soften Shoes?

Vaseline softens shoes by penetrating the fabric, making them easy to get on and off. It is recommended that you use a generous amount of Vaseline or other similar products when taking your shoes off at night.

Some people believe that Vaseline softens shoes by seeping into the fabric. This is not true as it cannot penetrate through materials like leather or suede.

Can You Use Hair Conditioner on Leather?

Yes, you can use a hair conditioner on leather. The best way to use it is by rubbing a small amount of conditioner into the leather and leaving it to soak in for about five minutes before using a clean cloth or towel to wipe off any excess product.

What Household Oil Is Good for Leather?

There are a few different types of oils that you can use to clean and condition your leather, but some oils work better than others. Coconut oil is an excellent choice because it is moisturizing and has a high lauric acid content, which helps make leather softer.

Is Coconut Oil Good for Softening Leather?

Coconut oil is not recommended for softening leather. It can cause a condition called “leather rot” that damages the leather fibers. Coconut oil can also cause discoloration, and it may darken or bleach lighter colors of leather.


In conclusion, we hope that this article has helped to shed a little light on the topic of how to soften hard leather shoes. If you’re looking for more information about breaking in new leather footwear and want tips or tricks for making it easier then be sure to check out our blog post which goes into detail with everything related to this subject. Happy shoe shopping!

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