Making Leather (shoes, Etc) Supple




Posted in CraftLeather

Introduction: Making Leather (shoes, Etc) Supple

About: I like working with my hands and making stuff, and I like being efficient because I'm basically very lazy.

Disclaimer: do not use If You Have A Nut Allergy

This is the best way I know to care for leather and soften it up. It's good for the leather,easy to do, smells good and is non toxic. You can cook with the leftover oil.

The answer is peanut oil.

I've done cowboy boots, oxfords, clogs, bags and jackets. They have all turned out well, nicely conditioned, soft and supple with rich color. The woman who taught me this is a horsewoman of long standing and uses it on her saddles and other tack.

Step 1: Color Changes Vs Soft

If you have leather that needs to be softer, tack, shoes, bags, whatever this will work. It will darker the leather. Dark colors will get richer, and tans will get that dark like '40's work boots.

Step 2: Set Up

Set up:
Buy some peanut oil, at your grocery or organic store and pour some in a small bowl. Work over newspaper, with a clean small size brush, like for doing trim, or basting a bird, use a q-tip,clean make up brush, or similar to test.

Step 3: Application Methods

Dip your brush in the oil and paint it on in a thick even coat. Make sure you get down by the sole and do the whole tongue. It should absorb quickly, but it will be quicker on less highly polished leather. Do several coats. As soon as the oil is absorbed, do another coat. You should be able to feel a difference after the first coat or two. The more coats the softer and more supple it will get.

For light leathers the color change will happen immediately, and evens out as you put on more coats.

You can use a rag or cotton balls or similar to apply the oil if you don't have a paint brush.
Clean up by washing the bowl and brush with dish soap, throw out the newspaper and cotton swab.



    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Microcontroller Contest

      Microcontroller Contest
    • Space Challenge

      Space Challenge

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Is there a limit to the number of coatings of oil? I have applied about four coatings, but although the leather has darkened, it does not seem to be getting softer. Also, the oil seems to be absorbed into the inside of the shoe. Is that supposed to happen?

    1 reply

    There is no real limit to the number of coats, I often apply a fresh coat in lieu of polishing, or before going out on a rainy day.
    You may need to work the leather a bit with your hands to get softer, if it was super stiff to start with. Not sure what you mean by absorbed into the inside of shoe, it should certainly saturate the leather, not just sit on the top of it. I will often "paint" the inside with the oil as well to speed the process, and maybe wear the shoes around the house a while to work the oil through.

    Doesn't the peanut oil go rancid after being on the leather for a while?

    1 reply

    I've never had a problem with that. Nor do I know of anyone else who uses peanut oil to have that be an issue.

    I was always taught to use Morphy's oil soap to condition leather boots. I am not saying peanut oil is in anyway bad, but the mental image of a person with a peanut allergy having their feet swell up inside their shoes made me laugh.

    1 reply

    Murphy's can make the leather sticky, and in the long run it isn't as good for the leather. It also takes longer to make it supple, and you have to work it in hard.