Leather has made its way into popular usage, and you will find it in many clothes, bags, and footwear. One of the qualities that make leather appealing is its soft feel.
But sometimes leather can lose its soft feel and become stiff; this causes a lot of discomfort. Rugged leather looks stiff and worn out, and its stiffness can make the user uncomfortable and cause the leather to crack easily. Fortunately, you can use the methods in this article to soften tough leather.
Softening Leather With a Leather Conditioner
One of the most efficient means to soften leather is by applying a leather conditioner. Leather conditioners contain oils that move through the pores in leather fabric and lubricate it.
Generally, getting a leather conditioner specifically made to soften leather is the best move. If you cannot access a customized leather fabric, petroleum jelly will get the job done, and Petroleum Jelly works on real and faux leather.
Be careful of supposed alternatives like olive oil and coconut oil. These oils soften leather but often lead to discoloration in the long run because they are easily absorbed.
You can apply conditioner to your leather product in two steps.
Step One: Apply the Conditioner to a Piece of a Cloth
Put an appropriate amount of conditioner on a piece of cloth. Ensure that you fold the cloth so the top of the cloth collects the conditioner. It’s always better to apply conditioners in small quantities.
Step Two: Spread the Conditioner Across the Leather
Rub the cloth across the leather product in broad or circular strokes. Strokes should also be smooth. Ideally, only one coating of the conditioner should give it a slight sheen. Repeat the two steps above until you have covered every fabric area.
Points to Note When Using Conditioners
- Avoid applying too much conditioner. It’s pointless to apply multiple coatings as it would not do much.
- Avoid applying conditioner directly on leather. Always use a clean cloth of softer fabric.
- Condition your leather products regularly to keep them soft. However, conditioning depends on texture and climate.
- Focus on the places on the product that is prone to abrasion. These places require more conditioning.
Using Water to Soften Leather
Soaking leather in too much water is generally bad for it. But slightly dampening it can do wonders for its texture. Use the steps below to do this correctly:
Step One: Spray Water on The Leather Surface
Add some distilled water to a spray bottle. You can also use tap or bottled water if distilled water isn’t available. Spray the leather from top to bottom until it’s slightly moist. The water will form beads at first, but they will slowly slip into the pores of the leather. Allow it to stand for some minutes.
Step Two: Strengthen the Fabric
Flap the product to straighten it. If the product is wearable, put it on for several minutes. Once the fabric you have sufficiently stretched the fabric, proceed to the third step.
Step Three: Wipe Off Excess Water
Use a clean microfiber cloth to remove excess water from the leather surface. Ensure to pat down the leather thoroughly as excessive moisture will cause cracking. Allow the leather product to dry naturally in a cool, dry place.
Points to Note When Using Water
- Dry off every metal component on your leather product to avoid rusting.
- Thoroughly dry off standing water to avoid cracking leather.
- Use a quality leather conditioner afterward. Conditioners will give the leather a protective covering.
Note: If the product is waterproof, this method will not work.
Using Heat to Soften Leather
Generally, too much heat is bad for leather as it causes it to shrink. But a little heat can tenderize the leather product. You can do this in three ways:
Throw the Leather Product in a Dryer
This method is best if the leather is new or you want to soften the leather quickly. The heat and the spinning of the dryer will soften the leather. Set the dryer to medium heat, and allow it to run for 10-15 minutes.
The leather should be dry or moderately damp when you put it in the dryer. Also, add a few tennis balls for additional friction to the leather.
Place in a Warm, Humid Environment
You can use indirect heat to soften your leather fabric. Place the fabric behind your windscreen so the hot glass can warm it. You can also hang it in your bathroom while taking a hot shower and let the steam from the bath will moisten it. Just don’t expose leather to heat for too long.
Blast Leather With a Hair Dryer
Using a hair dryer will have the same effect as using a dryer. This method has the advantage of allowing targeted drying. Areas that tend to be stiffer, such as folds and hems, can receive extra attention. Ensure you use a low heat setting and keep the dryer at a safe distance.
Points to Note When Using Heat
- Don’t expose leather to heat for too long; else, it would shrink or fade.
- Follow up heat treatment by treating the leather with a conditioner.
- Don’t apply heat to wet weather, so it doesn’t crack or fade.
Manually Softening Leather
This method involves the application of physical pressure to the leather fabric. You can apply this method to any leather, whether old or new. There are three ways of doing this:
Using a Blunt, Heavy Instrument
You can use baseball bats, mallet hammers, or any similar object. Pound the fabric evenly with moderate force. Ensure you cover every area of the leather. Over time, the leather will soften.
Kneading With Your Hands
You can pick a part of the leather and squeeze it like bread dough. Vary your movement and area of concentration, so the product is stretched across all directions. You can also try rolling it into a tight ball. The Kneading method takes time.
Breaking it In Naturally
If you don’t have the heart or need the hassle of pounding the leather, you can break it in naturally. All you have to do is wear or use your leather fabric as much as possible.
Things to Note When Using Manual Method
- Don’t pound the leather too hard, so you don’t destroy it.
- Avoid whacking vulnerable places like seams, zippers, pockets, and buttons.
- Be patient when working on your leather manually. If possible, distract yourself with TV or other passive activity.