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How to soften leather shoes

Updated February 25, 2019

You may want to soften a new pair of leather shoes that you just bought or you may want to soften a pair that has been boxed away for a while. By softening leather shoes, they will feel more comfortable on your feet and they will last longer. Here are some steps to help you soften them.

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  1. Make sure that the shoes you wish to soften are dry and clean. Brush off any dirt with a gentle brush. If the shoes won't come clean by simply brushing, try using a special shoe cleaner made especially for leather shoes such as saddle soap or smooth leather shoe cleaner. You can buy shoe cleaners in a variety of forms: gels, sprays, foams, liquids, and creams. You can even buy shoe cleaning agents that comes in bottles with an applicator top for easy cleaning. After cleaning, wipe shoes with a soft gentle cloth. If you have a shoe polishing cloth on hand, this is ideal. If you do not have one, an old soft T-shirt will do. Allow the shoes to dry.

  2. Buy some special conditioning cream or wax made especially for leather shoes. A natural conditioner is the best kind. It actually absorbs into the shoes, making them more supple and softer, longer. The synthetic conditioners tend to lay more on top of the leather.

  3. Rub small amounts of the conditioner into the shoe. Make sure the entire shoe is covered. Allow the shoe to sit for a few minutes.

  4. Take another clean polishing cloth (or a piece of an old soft T-shirt) and gently wipe over the entire shoe. This will take off any of the excess wax.

  5. Repeat in about 6 months or when your shoes begin to feel dry again.

  6. Warning

    Your shoes will dry quicker if you try to dry them near heaters, but it might ruin them. Instead, allow them to air dry. You shouldn't allow your shoes to sit in the sun to dry. The sun's rays can also cause them to dry out quicker.

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Things You'll Need

  • Brush
  • Shoe cleaner (special for leather shoes)
  • 2 pieces of polishing cloth or old soft T-shirts
  • Shoe conditioner

About the Author

Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.

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