How to Soften Hard Leather: 100% Working 8 Effective Tips

Do you remember that episode of Friends when Ross couldn’t stand being on his leather pants? Well, leather outfits are sure stylish, but they can be a nightmare if you don’t soften them up before wearing.

Also, leather can become dry and stiff over time. The stiffness will eventually degrade the quality and take away the natural suppleness of the leather. You need to take proper care of all your leather clothes, accessories, furniture, and other leather goods (tool belt, tool bag etc) to keep them in tip-top shape.  There are many different ways to soften up hard leather. Not all of them are convenient or easy to conduct. We have come up with some simple and easy ways to make the leather good as new.

Processes how to Soften Hard Leather

You can easily soften hard leather following some simple tips and tricks. We will be talking about different methods so that you can choose the one that’s most convenient for you. Try to condition the leather after every few months to retain its texture and quality.

How to Soften Hard Leather

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Did you know that you can soften up the stiff leather using some simple household items? Extra-virgin olive oil is a common kitchen item. So, if you don’t want to spend money on a leather conditioner or if you can’t find one in your nearest shop then we recommend you to use olive oil.

The application process similar to a leather conditioner. Gently rub the olive oil throughout the leather item’s surface. You can also use a spray bottle to spray it around evenly.

Leather Conditioner

Leather Conditioner

This one is the most common and highly advised method by the professionals. Buy a high-quality leather conditioner to follow this procedure. Put a dollop of the conditioner on a clean cloth and gently rub it throughout the surface of the leather.

Don’t go overboard with the amount of the conditioner. In this case, less is more so act accordingly. Make sure that you cover up the whole surface with a consistent distribution of the conditioner across the leather.

Rub the conditioner with soft gentle strokes. Don’t rub too vigorously as that will deteriorate the quality of the leather. Leather conditioners are suitable for the entire exterior surface of the item. However, you should focus more on the places that seem to be too stiff.

Don’t bother layering up the conditioner as that will only gather up on the surface. This may eventually cause more harm than good. Follow this procedure at least once every four months to keep the leather good as new for years.

Coconut Oil

coconut oil

Along with helping you achieve luscious locks and supple skin, coconut oil will also help you up to make the hard leather soft. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to soften up the leather items.

Before starting the procedure, keep the product under the sun for 10 minutes. This will prepare the leather to absorb the oil and speed up the procedure easily. Now, gently rub a small amount of coconut oil on the surface of the leather. Keep on repeating the process until the leather absorbs all the oil and it has softened up.



This one may strike you by surprise, but water does work quite well in making the leather soft. This one is an excellent option if you don’t prefer using harsh chemicals on the leather product. You can spray the water over the item making sure that there are no dry patches left. However, this method will not work on waterproof items.

Once the product is well-soaked with water, let it air dry. This will ensure that the good isn’t over-saturated as that may degrade the quality. However, if the softness isn’t according to your liking, then you may use a small amount of mild conditioner to enhance the level of softness.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Many users use this method, and it works extremely well on quality leather items. Take a cotton ball and soak it with some rubbing alcohol. Now gently move the cotton ball over the places that you want to soften up.

Make sure that you don’t overdo it and let the alcohol evaporate naturally. After the alcohol has completely dried down, take a generous amount of petroleum jelly and spread it evenly over the target places. Keep the petroleum jelly for a while, and then take it off gently with a soft cotton cloth.

Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly

This one is an oldie but a goodie. Vaseline is a staple in most households, and it’s almost available anywhere. Vaseline is made with petroleum jelly, which is an excellent agent for softening up the stiff leather. They are quite gentle, so the quality of the product will remain safe as before too.



This one may seem a little out of the box, but it does work like a charm. This method is a convenient one for those who don’t have enough time to follow the other methods. A quick tumble on medium temperature will expand its molecules and help it to soften up.

The spinning motion of the dryer will give the leather a feel of being worn. This will help to soften up the material as well. However, don’t keep in the dryer for too long as it may shrink or degrade the quality of leather. A 10-15 minute tumble on medium heat will do the work in just the right way.

Hang in Warm Place

Hang in Warm Place

This method is similar to the heating method. When you keep the leather in a warm or humid place, the moisture from the atmosphere will work as a natural conditioner. This will help to smoothen up the leather.

You can keep the leather near the steam bath or the windshield of the car to boost up the process. However, make sure that you leave it on for just the optimum amount of time. If you let it sit for too long, then the leather will eliminate its moisture and dry out.

Final Thoughts

Fresh leather from the factory can be very satisfying to look at. However, you need to soften them up properly before using them. We have come up with some of the most convenient and straightforward ways to soften up hard leather easily.  

All the ways that we mentioned will help to attain your desired result with little effort. Do try them out and let us know which method worked the best for you.


My name is Michael M. Militello, and I want to help you find the right tools and the best products for your next project! As a professional tool expert here in Houston, TX, With my vast tool experience, I can help you choose the right brand, model, and size for the job. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. You can reach me here on my blog and also on Facebook, Twitter , and Pinterest. I look forward to hearing from you!

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