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How to Soften Leather Work Gloves?

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

Primarily made of animal skin, leather is a common material used in work gloves built to be smooth and flexible by getting rid of the hair from its skin then subsequently tanning it. The problem with this is that it might become hard if not regularly lubricated.

The material might also crack or break if it remains hard. Because of that, it is advisable to learn a thing or two about how to soften leather work gloves if you have one. What is good about softening leather gloves using the right methods and techniques is that it can ensure that they will continue to be in their perfect shape for a long time.

how to soften leather work gloves

Note that despite the guaranteed durability of leather, you still need to soften it to ensure that protect it from severe weather damage. It is because when the natural oils present in this material dry out, it might lead to its brittleness and the formation of cracks.

Here are some of the most common and easy to use solutions in softening work gloves made of leather and how you can take advantage of each one.

How to Soften Leather Work Gloves

#1 – Natural Oils

Some of the natural oils that you can use in softening the leather used in work gloves are coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. Before using the oil, make sure to put the leather gloves outdoors, preferably when it is a sunny day. Leave it there for around ten minutes. This is important in opening the material’s pores.

Prepare the materials, like the natural oils mentioned above. Note that your choices are not limited to the ones mentioned. You can actually use any natural oil designed to work as a skin softener. If possible, choose the oil with a smell that you like so you will enjoy the resulting smell.

solutions in softening work gloves made of leather

However, stay away from oils that are chemically hydrogenated, like corn and commercial vegetable oils. Once you have made your choice, rub it into the leather gloves. You can do that by dipping your fingers into it first then rubbing it gently into the surface.

Add several layers of the oil, so you can enjoy better-softening effects. Note that applying more oils also result in the leather getting softer. Rest assured that the oils will not damage the material no matter how much you applied. After the application, allow the oil to dry.

Keep in mind that this process will cause the leather material to darken a bit. Despite that, it can remove the stiffness from the leather gloves. It will smoothen the material and make it more comfortable to wear. If you are still unsatisfied, meaning it does not get the level of softness you like, repeat the process of applying the oil.

Do not forget to apply the oil evenly to prevent the color of your gloves from becoming uneven. If you do this correctly, you will instantly notice your leather gloves softening, making it much easier and more convenient to wear in the workplace.

#2 – Dedicated Leather Conditioner

One of the things that the dedicated leather conditioner can do is that it strengthens the leather material used for your work gloves. It also provides a lasting solution. It would be best to look for a dedicated leather conditioner, which has the ability to penetrate the leather material on a deeper level.

It should also be capable of locking in lubricating fats, such as oil conditioners based on an animal. Avoid using greasy conditioners. You should also stay away from mixtures or solutions containing petroleum. It is because they tend to weaken the leather material. To use, check the specialized instructions indicated in the tub or bottle.

Apply the leather conditioner by spraying, rubbing, or spreading it into the gloves. Allow it to soak. You should then allow the material to dry prior to wearing it. Once you have worn the leather gloves, use a damp cloth in washing away dirt prior to conditioning them.

softening leather work gloves

Frequent conditioning works in softening the leather work gloves. Just make sure that you also observe the effects of the environment on the structure of the leather material. It is because various kinds of leather also vary in terms of how it reacts to chemicals as well as its strength and water resistance.

If you are staying in a dry location and planning to use the gloves in that place, you should consider treating the material every two weeks using this conditioner. If you often wear the gloves in cold and snowy environments then a treatment once every week is enough.

Avoid conditioning thin and old leather work gloves more frequently than what is recommended as this might result in them breaking down faster than usual.

#3 – Shaving Cream

It is also possible for you to soften your leather work gloves with the help of shaving cream. Get a damp and soft cloth then spray some shaving cream over it. The cloth should only be slightly damp. It should not be too damp as this might cause damage to the leather’s surface.

Just rub the cloth with the shaving cream into your cloves. Do this using a back-and-forth movement and follow the leather material’s grain. It will start softening the gloves once the cream is fully absorbed by them. If necessary, apply the cream once more.

Do not spray the cream directly into the material. If possible, just apply a quarter-size of it. This is just enough to make the gloves soft without harming it.

#4 – Lanolin

Softening your leather work gloves is also possible by moisturizing it with lanolin. You can find it at several online beauty sites and drugstores. One thing to know about lanolin is that it has a natural wax, which is helpful in softening leather. It even acts as an effective skin moisturizer.

improves the softness of the leather work gloves

Put on a bit of lanolin into a soft and dry cloth. Rub this into the leather’s surface. Note that this product comes with a bit of a waxy composition, causing it to leave some residue.

If this happens, use a clean cloth to buff the affected area using horizontal and linear strokes. Avoid applying it using a circular motion as it might cause visible marks to form. These marks are quite difficult to clear or remove.

Also, check this guide to find the proper way to clean leather work gloves.

#5 – Vaseline and Rubbing Alcohol

You also have a better chance of softening your leather work gloves by using Vaseline and rubbing alcohol. What you have to do is to get a cotton ball then prepare the rubbing alcohol. Coat the cotton ball with the alcohol generously. Rub this into the leather gloves you intend to soften.

Once you applied it, you will notice the material beginning to loosen. Do the steps again until the leather material completely absorbs more than enough alcohol. The next thing that you should do is to make use of the Vaseline. Just apply it into the leather material using your fingers.

What is good about Vaseline is that it improves the softness of the leather within just a single application. What is even better about this solution is that it does not have a major impact on the color and quality of the leather material.


Mentioned are just some highly effective ways on how to soften leather work gloves. Aside from the remedies mentioned here, you can also access a lot of commercial products available for the job. Among your choices are leather softeners and conditioners designed to make the leather gloves supple and soft.

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