The Complete Guide to Using Leather Softener

When you buy a beautiful new leather item, whether a couch, chair or handbag, your goal is to keep it as perfect as the day you brought it home. The best way to do that is by using the best leather softener possible, like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. Why is that? Because soft leather is happy leather. Leather is skin and it needs moisture to look its best and last a lifetime. Leather conditioner (aka leather softener) keeps leather soft. Let's take a look at the best way to soften leather.

Why leather softener is needed

As you know, leather is made from animal hide. Once that leather is taken from the animal, it stops receiving the natural oils it once did. In order for leather to remain soft and pliable, it must be moisturized. Think of how your skin would react with zero moisture — it would crack and break (and be pretty painful). Leather is the same way — without a leather conditioner it will deteriorate. If you don't soften your leather every so often it will still likely last for a few years. However, it will not look its best and fall apart much quicker than if you had used leather conditioner.


You might have read about a variety of ways to soften leather, from using a hand dryer to applying water or vaseline. These methods will all do more harm than good. If you heat your leather by using a hand dryer or a dryer machine, it will ruin it. It should go without saying, but applying high heat to an item that needs moisture is just a bad idea. The heat might make it more pliable in the short term, but eventually the leather will become excessively dried and break apart. The same goes for other DIY leather softener methods out there: They might make a difference right away, but you'll eventually ruin your leather.

How to soften leather in 5 steps

1. Get to know your leather

Knowing what type of leather you have and how it was processed can help you decide how to soften it. Check the manufacturer's information to see what leather you have before beginning the softening process. In general, cowhide leather tends to be stiffer and more durable than other animal leather. Exotic leathers like snakeskin and alligator are also known to be very stiff. On the other end of the spectrum, lambskin leather is often the softest leather you can buy, but it is very delicate and can be harder to maintain.

2. Clean the leather

Before you use a leather softener, we recommend that you clean your leather item. Depending on the state of your leather, this could be just a quick wipe down with a lint-free cloth or a more thorough cleaning. If your leather needs the latter, apply Leather Honey Leather Cleaner to a lint-free cloth and wipe down the entire product. Be sure to do a spot test with the cleaner first. If your leather is exposed to plenty of sunlight, we suggest using Leather Honey Leather Cleaner with UV Protectant. Give the leather time to completely dry before softening it.

3. Apply Leather Softener

Once your leather is cleaned and dry, it's time to apply the leather softener. First, do a spot test in a discreet area to make sure the leather conditioner doesn't adversely affect the item. If you are satisfied with the spot test, apply a thin, even coat of Leather Honey Leather Conditioner to the item. Pay special attention to crevices and creases. Once again, you should use a soft, lint-free cloth to apply the leather softener, as it won't scratch the leather surface. If leather is suede or nubuck, use Leather Honey Suede & Nubuck Cleaner

4. Allow Leather to Dry

After you've applied the leather softener to the entire item, give it time to dry. If you can, wait a full 24 hours. If there is any excess conditioner left on your leather, wipe it away with a dry lint-free cloth.

5. Reapply if Necessary

If your leather still seems stiff after one application of Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, go ahead and apply one more coat. We recommend conditioning your leather once every six months.


Some common questions people have about leather softener.

What is the best thing to soften leather with? 

The best thing to soften leather is a premade leather conditioner, like our Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. 

What can I use as a leather softener?

You only want to use a premade solution like Leather Honey to soften leather. 

Does olive oil soften leather? 

Just like alcohol, olive oil is not good to use on leather. The oil will do more harm than good.

For more info, check out our leather care guide for helpful hints on softening leather.

More about Leather Honey

Leather conditioner protects new leather and rejuvenates old leather. Leather conditioner makes the best leather softener. You can use Leather Honey to soften all leather items except suede, including furniture, auto interior, motorcycle leathers, jackets, boots and shoes, gloves, purses, saddles and tack, and much more.

What Our Customers Say

I bought this product to clean/protect my beloved snakeskin sneakers, which looked like their scales were drying out - they were starting to curl and seemed in danger of falling off.

At the first application of this product, the shoes breathed a deep sigh of relief, which developed into purring satisfaction with subsequent applications. I applied the Leather Honey about six times in all but somehow only used a small amount. The product soaked in to the leather and snakeskin without leaving a residue and the shoes are now smiling, relaxed and supple. In short, thoroughly recommended!

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