There’s nothing quite like a new leather item. Leather fresh from the maker is often stiff and sort of unyielding. It’s easy to turn any-tough hide buttery soft using a few simple distressing techniques. By rubbing the new leather with a specialty leather conditioner, reintroducing vital moisture, or getting hands-on with it, you can achieve that well-worn look and feel. These techniques require a fraction of the time it would take to break it in naturally.
Use a Leather conditioner
The oils in the conditioner will lubricate the leather, filling the pours and allowing it to flex and bend more ease.
DIY homemade oil treatments/conditioners can compromise the durability of the material or leave behind a greasy mess.
Complete leather maintenance or conditioning kits are also available. Typically they will include;
- Mink oil
- Leather milk
Which will extend the look and life of your leather items. Always work on. the smooth side of the leather, apply a little of the oil/conditioner, working it over the entire surface, les is more in this case. Do not oversaturate the leather.
Your aim is to end up with a single thin layer over the leather’s surface, working in broad strokes or circles to ensure even coverage.
How often should you apply oil or conditioner?
This depends on your climate, if in a very dry hot climate you may need to apply the conditioner every few weeks, her in New Brunswick, I recommend every couple of months on average, feel the leather if it feels hard and dry apply conditioner/oils.
We have all heard the old tales about leather boots, you buy a new pair of boots, take them to the water hose and soak them, the wear them until they are dry.
Does that work…. well yes, will your boots be soft after no. Using water will soften the leather, but it removes the oils left in the leather so when they dry the leather is often stiffer than before.
I recommend using a spray bottle on the item you want to soften, spray the water onto the item until it starts to bead, wipe off the excess water and let sit a couple of minutes to soak in. The leather will soften and become pliable and shapeable.
I use this method on our bush hats, they are ofter a snug fit when you recieve them, a quick spray of water on them and the leather will stretch and can be shaped to your liking, wear it until it dries, and reapply conditioning oils as noted above.
Remember heat will dry out and damage your leather, but alternatively, you can use it to soften or relax the leather.
Use a clothes dryer on medium heat, add some tennis balls and send your item for a tumble… 10-15 minutes should be more than enough, the gentle heat. and the beating from the balls will mimic years of wearing your leather.
Again reapply leather conditioner after removing from the dryer.
For me the best way to soften is to break it in with my hands, bending-folding but not creasing, twist, curl it, move the leather around, it will give in and become soft and have the feel you want.
When applying the oil or conditioners to your leather , let is sit and buff with a terry cloth towel, get some friction built up, your leather will shine and soften… this is a safe and easy way to break in your leather.
Use the above methods at your own risk, the use of oils will darken the leather over time.