When softening leather shoes, it is important to know what type of leather you are working with. There are some leathers that cannot be cleaned with commercial products. Leather that has not been waterproofed goes hard in the rain, and is best kept dry at all times.
Leather needs to be brushed clean, then dried with a cloth. Some leather softeners, such as waxes, oils and alcohol, can make the material patchy by clogging the paws. These leathers require a generous coating of commercial leather conditioner to soften them. Some home methods for leather accessories use coconut oil, alcohol and waxes, such as Vaseline. These should be used sparingly as they can cause discoloring.