How to Soften Leather Boots: 3 Fool-Proof Methods

I remember my first pair of genuine leather boots. I had been eyeing them in the shop window across the street from my workplace. The price was a bit hefty for me, so It took me a couple of months to save up.

When I finally got my new boots, I was a bit disappointed because they seemed tight, yet I had gotten the right size. This is a common issue with leather shoes. Thankfully I found ways to soften them, which  I will share what I found helpful with you. 

In this article, we take a look at how to soften leather boots. We will look at a list of things you will need for this and walk you through a step-by-step process and how long it will take for them to soften up properly. Let’s dive in, shall we?

List of things that you may need to use:

  • Mink oil or any leather conditioner.
  • A heat source
  • A Rag or sponge to apply the mink oil.
  • Another rag to work the mink oil in
  • Some rubbing alcohol
  • A toothbrush
  • Vaseline/ petroleum jelly

Step By Step Process.

You can use different methods to soften boots, and certain things may seem to make sense, but maybe a bad idea for your leather. Let us first take a look at how you can use mink oil. This oil is extracted when a mink is skinned, as it sits just under the fur. It is fatty and is a combination of lanolin, vitamin E oils, and silicone. 

Method 1 – mink oil

  1. Start by making sure the boots are clean. You can wipe them down with a dry cloth.
  2. Since the oil is often in a waxy form, you may need to melt it to apply it easier. You want it to be liquid.
  3. Then dab the rag into the oil, and begin rubbing it onto the boots. Target areas that are most likely to be tight or give you issues
  4. Rub the oil in using the rag, making sure to cover the boot entirely. 
  5. Allow the boots the soak in the oil for about 24hours.
  6. Then use the clean rag to work in the oil. You can work in small circles, ensuring that it is nicely absorbed. Some use a heat source like a hairdryer to do this, but I am not a fan of that method because it can cause a lot of damage the leather. Once you are satisfied that it is all been worked in, you can polish the leather. 

For this method, you can use any reputable leather conditioner. If you are buying the leather softener in a bottle, follow the instructions to mess up your boots. 

Method 2 – coconut oil

  1. Prepare your boots by cleaning them and also perhaps placing them in the sun for about 10 minutes. This way, they are ready to accept the coconut oil when you apply it. 
  2. Using coconut oil, gently rub it into the leather. Work the oil in circles. Patience counts a lot here.
  3. Make sure the entire shoe is covered in the oil. 

Method 3 – rubbing alcohol

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into a small dish,
  2. Use the sponge or rag for dipping into the dish.
  3. Rub it all over the shoes
  4. Let them sit for about 30 minutes.
  5. Use a toothbrush to work Vaseline into the leather over the parts where you would have applied the alcohol. 
  6. Repeat the process until the leather is as soft as you need it to be. 

How Long it will take

It may take about 24 hours to complete the entire process. This is especially true when using mink oil, which requires time to set in the leather. If you are using rubbing alcohol, the process should take about 30 minutes. 

Expected Results

You can expect the leather to be softer and more comfortable to wear after you have softened them. It is also essential to follow instructions if you are using a store-bought product such as a leather conditioner. The method that you choose will determine the result. 

Things to look out for

Be careful not to use methods that may damage the leather. For example, water or moisture may stretch the leather out, but this doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. It can damage the leather in the process. Heat also has the same effect. You may find yourself having to replace a previously perfect good shoe because you tried to cut corners. It’s always best to go with certified products that also have a track record. 

If you have to use heat, such as a blow dryer, make sure you don’t focus on one area for too long. When using coconut oil, watch out for the darkening of the leather. With any method you choose, you must test it out first on an inconspicuous part of the leather so that there are no surprises. 


Breaking in a new pair of leather boots can be tough and may even cause you to regret spending money on them. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can simply use one of the methods we discussed here, but the key thing in all of it is to be patient and ensure that you don’t damage the leather in a bid to soften it.

I found using a leather conditioner to be a safer bet, and as such, I used it on mine. However, the choice is up to you, as long as you come out on the other end with softer boots and enjoy them the way they were meant to be. 

The truth is, if your boots are genuine leather, then they probably will not bend too quickly. Either way, before applying a product or using a method, check how it reacts with your leather.  Take care of your footwear, and it will take care of you. We hope this article has helped you gain some insight into how to soften your new leather boots. Happy softening!

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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