The Easiest and Cheapest Way to Soften Leather Cowboy Boots

The Easiest and Cheapest Way to Soften Leather Cowboy Boots

Softening leather boots makes them more comfortable and improves their look.


Have you ever worn an uncomfortable pair of stiff leather boots? Whether you own a ranch or you just enjoy the aesthetic of cowboy boots, buying real leather is expensive. If not you're going to put your hard-earned money into a pair of leather cowboy boots, taking care of them is crucial.

I understand that most people have a very busy schedule. This is why I've come up with the easiest way to soften leather cowboy boots and I'd like to share them with you! These won't take too much time and the majority of them won't cost you anything.

Why is Softening Leather Important

If you've never owned leather boots before you may not understand why people soften their leather boots in the first place. Just like breaking in a new pair of shoes, leather will soften naturally over time.

You can speed up the process and actually prevent wear and tear by softening the leather yourself. Stiff leather can be uncomfortable and even causes blisters.

There's no reason not to take matters into your own hands and get your new leather cowboy boots softened in just minutes! It is important to note that the methods I've included below have detailed step-by-step instructions that should be followed thoroughly.

This will help prevent unwanted cracks, tears, or faded areas in leather. Be gentle with the leather and take your time to see the best results possible.

Preparing Your Boots Before Softening

Before you start reading all the different ways you can soften leather, it's crucial to get your boots prepared beforehand. It doesn't matter which one of the methods you choose to use, you have to prepare your boots. To do this you can simply condition them and rinse them off with water.

There are also boot cleaning products that you can purchase if you're interested in. After cleaning the boots, allow them to dry for at least 24 hours at room temperature before you begin the softening process.

How to Soften Leather Cowboy Boots

Below you will find some of the easiest and cost-efficient ways to soften leather cowboy boots. There are a few more methods out there if none of these fit your needs. After a lot of trial and error, the five methods below are what I found worked the best. Let's take a look at the many different ways!

Rubbing Alcohol and Saddle Soap

This is a classic method that is tried and true. It's hard to go wrong if you follow the directions correctly.

You will need:

# Cotton balls

# Rubbing alcohol

# Saddle soap

# Cloth or towel

# Petroleum jelly

# Mink oil (optional)


1. Get a cotton ball or cotton round and soak it with rubbing alcohol

2. Rub the cotton ball over the entire boot until it is completely wet

3. Take a wet cloth and pour saddle soap onto it

4. Lather up the soap in the towel before applying it to your boots

5. Using light pressure, use the soapy towel to penetrate the surface of the leather with the lather.

6. Wait for the boots to completely dry

7. With your fingers or cotton round, apply petroleum jelly over the surface of the exterior of your boots

8. You can either stop there or finish by applying mink oil

9. Be sure that there isn't any excess mink oil left on the boot

The Oil Method

If you plan on using oil, make sure it's leather-approved before following the set of instructions below. This is also one of the more long-lasting methods on this list.

You will need:

1. Oil

2. Cloth or towel

3. Bowl

4. Water


1. Wipe down your leather boots with a damp cloth so that the exterior is clean before applying oil

2. Make sure that the boots are completely dry

3. Pour a little oil into a bowl

4. Take a cloth or old t-shirt and wrap to fingers in it

5. Dab your fingers with the cloth into the bowl of oil

6. Let any excess oil drip off into the bowl before applying to your boots

7. With little to no pressure apply oil to your boots using a circular motion

8. Allow the first coat to absorb completely before moving forward (this can take up to three days)

9. Apply another laying of oil if the leather isn't soft enough to your liking

10. Allow boots to dry before wearing

Breaking in and Softening Method

If you're tight on money or want to soften boots as naturally as possible, check out this method.

You will need:

# Time

# Your feet

# An open space

# A pair of leather boots


1. This is by far the easiest method. Start out by wearing your leather boots around for an hour or two at a time.

2. It's important to avoid wearing them for several hours on end at first, as this can quickly become painful.

3. Work up to wearing them for half a day

4. Do this again every other day until they're softened to your liking

5. Don't wear them consecutive days in a row as the sweat can affect the boots

6. Wait for them to naturally soften from wearing them around

Shaving Cream and Water

This is an easy method that can be done using things that you already have at home.

You will need:

# Shaving cream

# Towel or cloth

# Water


1. Dip a towel or cloth in room temperature water and lighting rub in on the leather of your boots.

2. Take shaving cream and gently rub it into the leather

3. Make sure to do this in circular motions and go along with the leathers natural grain

4. Wipe off any excess or leftover shaving cream

5. Wait until they're fulling dry to wear

Spraying Water

You will need:

# A spray bottle

# Water

# Microfiber cloth


1. Fill a spray bottle with room temperature water.

2. Slowly spray down your leather boots.

3. Immediately stop spraying if water begins to bead.

4. Repeat step number two until you've covered the entire exterior of the boot.

5. Tap dry with a microfiber cloth

Softening Leather Product Do's and Don'ts

When I first started my research into softening leather I wasn't aware that there were products that you should and shouldn't use. There is a lot of mixed information out there on whether or not you should use certain products.

If you care about your leather boots and spent a lot of money on them, it's best to err on the side of caution. Doing this will help prevent cracks, tears, fading, and the possibility of completely ruining your new boots! I wanted to share with you a few popular products used for softening and what you should avoid.

Products to Use:

# Neatsfoot oil

# Leather milk

# Beeswax

# Leather-specific conditioner

# Saddle soap

# Petroleum jelly

# Rubbing alcohol

Products to Avoid:

# Olive oil

# Coconut oil

# Baby oil

# Hand soap

# Lubrication

# Shampoo

# Conditioner for hair

# Body lotion

# Aloe

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is Vaseline good for leather?

Yes. Any brand of petroleum jelly will help to soften the leather and protect it from future cracks. This should always be done with a lint-free towel or cloth. It is important to remember that vaseline and other petroleum jellies should never be sues on rawhide leather.

Q: Will the leather soften if I don't do anything at all?

This can actually be a bit complicated. Yes, leather will soften without you doing anything initially. Over time you will have to condition it to keep it soft and avoid cracking the leather. Treat leather the same way you would your own skin.

If you get exposed to the elements and don't apply lotion to your skin, it will likely become dry, rough, and cracked. Leather is animal skin and requires the same conditioning.

Q: Can I use leather boot softening methods on other leather goods?

Yes, you can. Some specific products may require certain instructions to maintain their quality. Overall, these methods work on all leather goods.

Q: What is the best leather softener?

One thing isn't necessarily better than another. If you're willing to spend a little bit of money it can be a good idea to purchase a commercial leather conditioner. It will have everything needed all in one bottle or tub to get the job done.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! You now know multiple methods for softening leather cowboy boots, how to prepare your boots beforehand, and why softening is important. Whether you use shaving cream, a leather approved oil, plain water, or saddle soap, you're one step closer to having soft cowboy boots! Hopefully, the frequently asked questions section answered any questions you had at the beginning of this article.

Leather cowboy boots are stylish and make working on the farm and riding horses much more pleasant. They can cost quite a bit of money and should be treated with the utmost care. Treat the leather boots the same way you'd treat your skin. Keep them conditioned, clean, and hydrated.

You don't need to buy expensive products or pay someone a lot of money to have your boots soften. Now you're fully capable of doing it yourself without spending any money! Be sure to let me know which method you tried and what you thought of it! Thanks for reading.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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