How to soften leather jackets

Who doesn’t love a leather jacket? They’re effortlessly slick, cool and stylish and can go with pretty much any outfit that you give them. If you have a new (or old) leather jacket that’s a little stiff, you might often find yourself casting the stiff leather jacket aside in frustration.

But that need not be the case! There are plenty of ways for you to soften leather, making your stiff leather jacket much easier to wear and much more comfortable.

What makes leather stiff?

Leather jackets might be stiff for a number of reasons. Regardless of if the leather jacket is old or new, stiff leather can be caused by:

  • The quality: a quality leather garment is less likely to be stiff, whereas a cheaper leather jacket or one that is much lower quality, will likely be a touch stiffer. Full-grain leather is likely to make a high-quality leather garment because the material has not been buffed, sanded, or snuffed.
  • The way it’s stored: leather is often affected by the way that it’s stored. A leather jacket that has been stored in a moist environment may lead to stiff leather, as will a leather jacket that’s been stored somewhere that has too low a humidity. Low humidity will suck all the moisture out of the leather, causing it to go dry and stiff. Dry leather is more likely to be damaged.
  • The size of it: leather jackets need to fit you very well. If you’re wearing a leather jacket that’s the wrong size, you will stretch the leather jacket out. This will lead to the jacket losing its flexibility and softness.
  • Tumble drying: if your leather jacket has been out in the rain, there is still no reason to be putting it in the tumble dryer! Putting a leather jacket in the tumble dryer will dry the jacket out and cause it to lose its supple texture.
  • Poor care: a leather jacket will need constant care taken with it. You must be using leather conditioners on a regular basis in order to soften the leather. Leather conditioners help to soothe the leather surface, as does coconut oil, olive oil and leather oil. Do not use mink oil.
  • The type of leather: different types of leather have a different level of softness. Cowhide leather, for example, the most common leather, is quite tough. Deerskin leather is much softer, and can trap air so is reasonably light. Lambskin leather is the absolute softest leather.

How to soften a leather jacket (or other leather products)

There are a few ways to soften leather jackets, depending on what type of leather jacket you have and what tools you have on hand.

Using leather conditioner on stiff leather

Rubbing a leather conditioner on your jacket is a great way to soften your leather jacket. You should be using leather conditioner on your jacket once every few months, and should help you to maintain the moisture in the leather jacket.

You can use coconut oil on a leather jacket, or olive oil, but they’re not really recommended. You’d be better off purchasing a proper leather conditioner that is water-based to soften leather.

Alcohol and vaseline softens leather

Some people swear by using rubbing alcohol and vaseline to soften leather. Softening leather using alcohol and vaseline involves rubbing a leather surface on a cotton pad and, when it’s dry, applying vaseline. You should then let the vaseline soften the leather overnight.

Coconut oil will soften leather

Coconut oil will soften the leather jacket. You should use a small amount and apply the coconut oil evenly, as it can darken the leather so applying it unevenly can be detrimental to the appearance of your leather garment, even if it’s top grain leather.

To avoid darkening, use specially designed leather conditioners that are made for leather products. This will help to maintain your leather, and prevent the leather from becoming stiff, even if it’s full grain leather.

Tips for stopping your leather from becoming stiff

Softening leather garments is all well and good, but it’s always best to try and protect your leather products from getting stiff in the first place! Here are some tips to stop your leather garments from becoming too stiff:

  • Choose high quality leather, preferably lambskin leather if you can. This will last longer and be much more comfortable for you.
  • Don’t leave your leather jacket sitting in the sun for too long, as this can cause it to fade, to dry out, and even to crack. It’s important to store your leather garments inside and in a medium humidity area.
  • Do not ever tumble dry your leather, as this will dry it out entirely.
  • Using leather conditioners, keep good care of your leather.
  • Read the care label of your leather jacket to be sure you know what you need to be doing to keep it soft and in decent condition.
  • If you notice your leather becoming stiff, cracking, or damaged in any way at all, apply some olive oil, vaseline or leather conditioner to the jacket.

It is worth noting that for faux leather products, suede and other different types of leather jacket, these tips are not necessarily the best way to soften stiff leather. For suede, you are better off cleaning it with a suede brush.

For a faux leather jacket, you can use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto the stiff “leather”.

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