How to Soften Old Dried Out Leather

Cracked and brittle leather

Fatliquoring is one of the last wet processes involved in the tanning of leather. It is this process which grants leather its softness and elasticity. However, if kept in direct sunlight, near sources of heat, or just given enough time, the fatliquors can evaporate from the leather causing it to dry out and become hard, stiff and even distorted. Very old leather in classic cars for example, may be so dried out that it could be brittle and snap under the stress of being flexed or pinched.

Leather Revive – Used to soften leather

It is possible to soften and restore the leather by using Leather Revive. Leather Revive is a water-based oil emulsified conditioner that works to soften leather by replenishing the fatliquors. When applied to leather, the product penetrates the surface, coating each individual fibre with a balanced application of natural oils making the leather much softer.

Most leather is finished and so this painted/lacquered coating can act as a barrier stopping the Revive from working as well. You can test this by seeing if your leather will absorb a drop of water – if it does, it will also absorb the Leather Revive, if it doesn’t, you’ll need to remove the old coating first.

The product therefore works best after the leather has been correctly prepared by removing the original coatings. Leather Revive will also perform very well if these coatings are worn and cracked, as it can be absorbed through these areas.

It takes a long time for the fatliquors to escape the leather, and so the process of replenishing them is best achieved over a period of time too. The best way to soften leather is to apply the Leather Revive over the course of a few days to a week, allowing the product to penetrate deep into the fibres of the leather.

Softening leather - The process

Step 1

Apply a generous coating of Leather Revive to the leather and massage in using your hands. It is important to thoroughly flex and scrunch the leather to work the Leather Revive through all the fibres. Manipulating the leather like this works the Leather Revive right the way through the leather, providing equal coverage to all fibres.


If the leather is so dried out that it is snapping when it is flexed, do not flex and scrunch the leather for the first application as you can cause more damage. Just rub it in and move onto the next step. As this process may need several applications, you can proceed with flexing and scrunching the leather after the first application as this will soften and lubricate the fibres enough so that they do not break.

Step 2

After doing this, apply another generous coating of Leather Revive to the leather with a cloth and cover in cling film or a bin liner; this stops the Revive from evaporating and allows it to penetrate deeper into the leather. Allow to dry for 24 hours for best results. This coat will slowly penetrate the leather softening it further.

Step 3

Dampen a cloth with Alcohol Cleaner and thoroughly wash any excess Leather Revive off the surface of the leather. Buff with a dry cloth to further remove any residues.

Allow the leather to dry naturally over another 24-hour period. It is important to give it this time for the Alcohol Cleaner to thoroughly dry and the Leather Revive to migrate and settle into the fibres. 

If the leather stills feel hard at this stage, keep repeating the above procedure but put more effort into massaging the Revive into the leather as this helps is coat the fibres more effectively.


It is entirely acceptable that if you can gain access to the flesh side (the back of leather or the suede side) of the leather, the Leather Revive can be applied directly to this as well as the grain side of the leather, this will speed up the whole process of softening the leather.   

Where to buy Leather Revive

You can buy our Leather Revive on our website or by calling us on 01207 279 960. If you need any help or technical advice, please feel free to call or email us – [email protected]