How to Soften Leather Vest?

How to Soften Leather Vest?

Leather is one of Earth's most durable, adaptable, and chic materials.

If you don’t take proper care of it, it becomes stiff and inflexible over time.

It becomes uncomfortable to wear when this ensues and more susceptible to cracking.

Being created from animal skin, it holds certain qualities not present in other materials.

Genuine leather vests are smooth, flexible, and soft. Besides, they have a natural grain that boosts the wearer’s look. It is common for certain kinds of leather to become hard.

Motorcycle leather vests don’t become stiff overnight; months or even years of use make the material stiff and less comfortable to wear.

Read on to learn how to soften a motorcycle leather vest.

Different Leather Types and their Stiffness

Leather is acquired from animals like cows, pigs, buffalos, deer, goats, lambs, sheep, etc.

Its coarse texture makes it appropriate as a shielding substance, such as biker vests.

Each leather type has its own stiffness, softness, and texture. Cowhide is the sturdiest, and lambskin is the softest leather.

Here are the most common kinds of leather and how soft they are:


Deerskin is very robust but is softer than cowhide leather. Its flexible nature makes it ideal for making leather gloves.

Deerskin leather can also keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.    


Cowhide is one of the most prevalent types of leather. It is one of the toughest, sturdiest, and strongest leather kinds; therefore, it is generally utilized for furniture.

Due to its heaviness, stiffness, and tough texture, it is not much used in the fashion world.


Sheepskin leather is supremely supple and comfortable. It is adaptable and lightweight leather that functions admirably for hot and cool weather.

Moreover, it is warm, breathable, and waterproof and has a smooth, non-greasy texture. It is an awesome choice for leather vests, jackets, gloves, and furniture.


Goatskin is somewhat softer but is as durable as cowhide leather. It is affordable, tough, thin, and has a fine, soft texture.

Furthermore, it is abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, and flexible.

It is warm and breathable, so it is popularly used for making leather vests, jackets, shoes, and furniture. 


Bovine leather is one of the strongest and sturdiest types of leather.

It can come from several animals, including bison, buffalos, cows, bulls, and calves. It is treated in a way that makes it stronger.

Bovine leather is commonly used for furniture, jackets, and shoes.


Lambskin leather is one of the supplest types of leather. It has a smooth, fine grain and a buttery-soft texture that is softer to the touch.

Nevertheless, it is not as robust as other kinds of leather and is more disposed to wear and tear. It can last as long as other kinds of leather vests with great care. 

Why Do Leather Vests Become Stiff?

There are numerous causes why leather outerwear becomes stiff. It is critical to treat and condition them the identical way you would treat and condition your skin.  

Certain leathers are crafted better and with higher artistry, which makes them smoother. These are the most common reasons why leather vests become stiff with time.

Leather Grade

Buying a leather vest is a huge task, especially when you are purchasing it for the first time.

If you want it to be long-lasting and suppler, look into the leather grade.

Superior quality leather vests are often made from full-grain leather, which is softer and sturdier.

Check the vest’s surface to know if it is full-grain or not. Full-grain leather comes with all distinctive patterns and flaws intact, which are sandpapered in top-grain leather.

Wearing a Smaller Size Vest

Picking a tighter leather vest for your size ruins your leather vest ensemble’s overall aesthetic and is also not good in the long run.

Remember that leather outerwear is prone to experience stretching when they are tighter.

The stretching can make the vest less flexible and lose its softness.

On the other hand, you should also not get a larger vest as the original leather loosens up with regular usage.

Utilizing a Dryer

A high-quality leather vest is costly, so you don’t want to waste your investment by tumble drying it.

It does not matter how damp your vest is; you should never dry it in a tumble dryer.

The fast rotation and heat of the dryer can dry out the vest and make it stiff and uncomfortable.

Additionally, the vest will also develop permanent creases and wrinkles.

It is best to place it in a cool, dry area and let it air dry before storing it in your cupboard.

How to Soften Leather Vest?

A motorcycle leather vest is an evergreen accessory that you can wear throughout the year and with almost everything.

Sadly, it becomes stiff with time, especially if you don’t put it on frequently.

Luckily, there are various effective methods that you can use to soften your outerwear.

1. Use Heat

Leather vests are manufactured from animal hide, which has identical characteristics to human skin.

When your skin becomes dry, you use moisturizer to make it soft again. You should do the same thing with your vest.

You can use heat in various ways to soften your leather garments, but you must be careful.

Also, you should never heat newer products to soften the leather.

If the vest is old, the heat can vaporize moisture, which could further damage the product.

Before using heat to smoothen your leather outerwear, use a moisturizer and spread it by rubbing it lightly.

Put it in the Dryer

You can put the vest in the tumble dryer if you need it hastily. After putting it in the dryer, set the temperature to medium and allow it to run for 15 minutes.

If you expose it to enormously high temperatures or leave it in the dryer for a prolonged period, it may shrink.

The leather outerwear should either be slightly wet or wholly dry in this case. You should not wash it in the washer.

Use a Hairdryer

The heat from a hairdryer is the best way to soften the leather vest.

Turn on your unit on medium heat and run it over the vest after applying lotion to the vest. Avoid using high heat as it will damage the leather.

The distance between the vest and the hairdryer should be at least 15 cm. Also, don’t keep it in one area for a long time.

2. Get the Vest Wet

Another effective way how to soften a motorcycle leather vest is to apply water.

You can apply water to the vest using a spray bottle. Avoid applying too much water.

Spray the outerwear enough to where it becomes slightly wet.

Bear in mind that if you have applied waterproofing products to your leather item, this will not work as the dampness will roll off of the material.

You can also wear the cloth and move your arms in diverse directions to help stretch it out a bit. Then, hang it on a hanger and permit it to dry. 

3. Use Mink Oil

Using mink oil is also one of the best techniques to soften a motorcycle leather vest.

Apply it to your leather vest using a cloth. We recommend applying up to three layers of this oil onto your outerwear using circular motions. 

Don’t apply the oil directly to the vest because it may stain it. It will take 2 to 3 days to absorb completely and make your vest soft.

4. Use Olive Oil

If you don’t have mink oil, you can utilize olive oil as a substitute.

Apply the olive oil using the same method as the mink oil. Gently rub it into the leather surface until it is no longer perceptible.

After its application, the leather should feel less stiff and smooth.

Some people also use coconut and avocado oil to soften their leather apparel.

If you want to use it on an expensive vest, it is better to stick to either extra-virgin olive oil or leather conditioner.


While it is definitely better to inhibit your motorcycle leather vest from becoming hard by conditioning and storing it correctly.

However, you don’t need to panic even if it becomes stiff. You can restore your favorite leather attire to its former magnificence utilizing any of the techniques mentioned above.

Also, recite and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to care for your vest.

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