New leather is often stiff and difficult to move in. If wearers must put on new shoes for several hours, they often find them extremely uncomfortable and likely develop foot problems such as blisters. One of the best things to do in that situation is to soften up the leather before wearing the shoes so that they are less likely to damage feet. With a bit of ingenuity, it is easy to soften up those new leather shoes before wearing them for that big dinner party ahead.
Wear them in before wearing them out
Brand new leather shoes need a bit of breaking in before wearing them for hours at a time. One way to do this is to wear them around the house while doing every day, normal activities. Put on a pair of heavy wool socks to provide a nice buffer between feet and shoes when breaking them in. Wearers should only keep the shoes on for as long as they are comfortable. When the shoes become uncomfortable, they start rubbing against the feet causing blisters to form.
Clean them regularly
Another way to soften leather is to clean it regularly. Choose a good saddle soap, and dampen a soft cloth. Dab clean water onto the shoes without soaking them, and then work the saddle soap into the leather. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then buff it off with a clean, damp cloth. Remove any stains that you find while you are cleaning instead of leaving them for another time.
How often leather shoes need cleaning really depends on how often wearers choose to wear them out and about. If shoes are worn rarely, then cleaning them every six months or so is enough. For shoes worn more frequently, even weekly cleaning is advisable. When softening new leather shoes, weekly cleaning helps them to wear in faster.
Conditioning is an important step after cleaning leather. It replenishes moisture that the leather loses from both the cleaning process and from wearing the shoes. Leather that is not regularly conditioned becomes dry and brittle, and the leather can even crack. Ideally, every time owners clean their leather shoes, they should also condition them to keep the leather moist and supple.
The inside of a banana peel works very well to condition leather, and it is easy to come by. Simply peel a banana, and rub the inside of the peel directly onto the leather. Do not worry about any pieces of peel that stick to the leather. Try to get the inside of the peel in contact with as much of the leather as possible. Buff the leather with a soft cloth afterward.
Olive oil is another household item that is easy to locate and to use for leather conditioning. Put a few drops onto a soft cloth, and then rub the oil lightly into the leather. Buff the oiled area with a fresh soft cloth. Buff the shoe a final time with a clean soft cloth to ensure that there is no buildup of olive oil on the leather.
Stretch them slightly
Sometimes wearing alone is not enough to soften up leather shoes. If the shoes are not big enough, either in width or length, then the leather may resist softening, even after cleaning and conditioning. One way to stretch leather shoes is to dampen them slightly and then insert shoe stretchers into each shoe. Most stretchers have a knob that allows the stretcher to lengthen or shorten as needed.
Using shoe stretchers
Stretchers work slowly, so if a faster method is necessary, then wearers can try using heat. For this method, wearers use a hair dryer to apply heat to the leather while the shoes are on their feet. Keep the shoes on until they cool down to room temperature, wiggling toes and moving feet to help the leather stretch and soften. Test the shoes afterward, and try again another day if the shoes need additional softening.
How to buy items to soften leather shoes on eBay
Sellers on eBay offer a variety of items that help you to soften your leather shoes. Once you take stock of what you need to use for your particular situation, it is easy to perform a search. If you know that you need to find "soft cloths" to use during cleaning and conditioning, then search for that item specifically. To narrow down results further, include additional information, such as the type of fabric that you prefer. If you need shoe stretchers, look for "cedar" to find wooden ones of good quality.