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How to Soften Hard Leather Shoes

Hard leather shoes can cause blisters and other maladies of the foot. You can soften them up and save yourself some pain and anguish by following a few basic rules about softening hard leather shoes. This is a simple guide intended to bring sanity to the storm of information out there about how to soften hard leather shoes.

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  1. After purchasing your leather shoes, get to work softening them right away. Slather them in saddle soap, making sure to cover the entire shoe both inside and out, and then wipe away the excess. This will begin soften your hard leather shoes.

  2. After applying saddle soap, stuff them with a bunch of newspapers and let stand for a night or two.

  3. Once your leather shoes have been softened with saddle soap, put on two pairs of thick socks and walk around the house in the shoes. This will break the shoes in while they are still soft, forming to your foot and saving you future discomfort.

  4. If the shoe is hard only in certain places, you can daub rubbing alcohol on the problem spots to "spot soften" them. Do not do this all over the shoe, as it will damage it slightly.

  5. If necessary you can apply a leather conditioner instead of the saddle soap. Then cover the shoe in wax to waterproof it. Finally, as a finishing touch, add polish.

  6. Tip

    Leather shoes that become waterlogged can harden up. Wipe your leather shoes out after each use, if possible. Sweat is bad for them.


    Do not cover your leather shoe in rubbing alcohol. This will warp it beyond recognition. Only apply in problem spots as needed, and only as a last resort.

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Things You'll Need

  • Saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • Cotton cloths or rags
  • Newspapers
  • Thick socks
  • Rubbing alcohol

About the Author

Will Conley's writing has appeared in print and online since 1999. Publication venues include,, National Journal, Art New England, Pulse of the Twin Cities, Minnesota Daily and Will studied journalism at the University of Minnesota. He is working on four fiction and nonfiction books.

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