5 Things That Happen To Leather When It Freezes (Plus Fix!)

What Happens To Leather When It Freezes?

Leather as a material is a staple in many different industries. It’s used in fashion, furniture, and even automotive manufacturing. Leather is durable and can last a long time if it’s cared for properly. One of the biggest concerns with leather is what happens to it when the temperature drops.

To summarize, when leather freezes, it can lose its essential oil and become dry and brittle. This is because the fibers in the leather contract when they’re exposed to extremely cold temperatures for long periods.

The good news is that this stiffness is only temporary, as in most cases, the leather will return to normal once it warms up again and is conditioned.

To learn more about what happens to leather when it freezes, continue reading this article.

Things That Happen To Leather When It Freezes–The Details

Here’s a list and explanation of what can happen to leather when it freezes;

1. The Shape of The Leather Item Can Change

One of the first things that are bound to happen when leather freezes is that its shape will change. This is due to the fact that when water freezes, it expands, and this causes the fibers in leather to contract.

This can result in the leather becoming warped, especially for bags, boots, shoes, etc.–and is one of the reasons why it’s recommended that you store leather items in temperature-regulated environments.

The general recommended temperature for leather storage is between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 27 degrees Celsius.

This is not to say leather will not be able to withstand extreme cold or hot temperatures but know that prolonged exposure alters its shape.

It is also important to add that there is a very safe and effective way to freeze your leather goods. This is especially useful if you have a pair of leather shoes or boots your want to stretch out, so it fits comfortably.

The process is rather simple: all you need is a plastic bag, some water, and your freezer.

  • First, fill the plastic bag with water, then place the plastic bag filled with water inside the leather bag, shoes, or boots you want to stretch out.
  • Make sure the bag is big enough that it can accommodate the item without causing too much bulging.
  • Put your leather goods in a much bigger plastic bag so that the leather item does not become wet.
  • Then put it in the freezer overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  • The water will freeze, expand, and stretch out the leather item so that when it returns to room temperature, it will be more comfortable to wear.

2. The Leather Becomes Dry

Another thing that can happen when leather freezes is that it can become dry and brittle. This is because the essential oils that keep leather supple and soft get removed as leather is frozen over a long period of time.

This can lead to the leather becoming cracked and damaged, especially if it’s not properly conditioned afterward.

If your leather has frozen, it’s important to condition it as soon as possible to restore these essential oils and keep the leather from becoming too dry.

There are a variety of different leather conditioners on the market, so be sure to choose one that’s right for your particular type of leather.

Applying a leather conditioner is relatively simple–just follow the instructions on the bottle.

Generally, you’ll want to apply a small amount of conditioner to a clean, soft cloth and then rub it into the leather in a circular motion.

Be sure to pay special attention to any areas that seem particularly dry or cracked.

Once you’ve conditioned your leather, you may want to buff it with a soft, clean cloth to give it a nice shine.

And that’s it! By taking these steps, you can help ensure your leather lasts for years to come.

3. Fatty Spew May Appear On The Leather Surface

In some cases, it is very normal to see a white, waxy substance appear on the surface of the leather when it freezes.

This is called “fatty spew” and is nothing to worry about–it’s simply a reaction that happens when certain oils in the leather freeze.

Fatty spew is harmless and will disappear once the leather thaws out and returns to room temperature.

So, if you see this happen to your leather goods, don’t panic–it’s perfectly normal.

  • Just be sure to wipe away any excess fatty spew before storing your leather goods again.
  • If the spew is tough to remove, you can use saddle soap or any good leather cleaner to remove it.
  • Saddle soaps and leather cleaners are gentle, effective cleaning agents that are specifically designed for use on leather.

To use saddle soap;

  • simply wet a clean, soft cloth with water and then add a small amount of saddle soap to the cloth.
  • Gently rub the soapy cloth over the affected area until the fatty spew disappears.

If you’re using a leather cleaner;

  • Simply follow the instructions on the bottle.
  • Most leather cleaners can be sprayed directly onto the surface of the leather and then wiped away with a clean, soft cloth.
  • And once all of this is done, apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to restore all the lost

4. The Color May Look Faded

Last but not least, another thing that can happen to leather when it freezes is that the color may start to look faded.

This is because the freezing temperatures can cause some of the dye in the leather to bleed out, resulting in a duller, less vibrant color.

While the best way to quickly restore the leather back to its original color is to bring it inside and let it thaw out and dry, you can also try using a leather conditioner or dye to help mask the discoloration.

5. The Leather May Develop Crease

When leather freezes, it can also develop crease lines. This will usually occur if the leather is left frozen for an extended period of time.

The way this happens is when leather freezes, the fibers contract. Once the leather thaws, these fibers try to return to their original state but are unable to do so, resulting in crease lines.

To prevent this from happening, be sure to store your leather goods in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing them to extreme changes in temperature.

Final Thoughts

There you have it–four things that can happen to leather when it freezes.

While some of these effects may seem harmful, they’re actually quite normal and can be easily remedied with a little bit of care and attention.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where your leather goods have frozen, don’t panic–just follow the tips above, and you’ll be able to restore them back to their original condition in no time.

Do you have any experience with leather freezing? Let me know!


Q: Will freezing leather damage it?

A: There is certainly some damage that can occur when leather freezes. For example, the leather could become dry, cracked, wrinkled, or discolored. However, as long as you take proper care of the leather once it has thawed out, it should be restored back to its original condition.

Q: Can I prevent my leather from freezing?

A: Yes–one way to help prevent your leather goods from freezing is to store them in a cool, dry place. You can also apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to the surface of the leather, which will help create a barrier against the cold.

Q: What should I do if my leather goods have frozen?

A: If your leather goods have frozen, the best thing to do is bring them inside and let them thaw out slowly and evenly. Once they have thawed, inspect them for any damage and then take the necessary steps to repair them. You can also condition the leather with a leather conditioner to help protect the leather from future freezing.

Q: Can you repair frozen leather?

A: Yes, in most cases, you can repair frozen leather. However, it’s important to note that some damage may be irreversible, so it’s always best to take preventative measures to help avoid freezing in the first place. If your leather goods have already frozen, be sure to thaw them out slowly and evenly to help minimize any damage. Once they’ve thawed, condition the leather, and leather it air-dry.

Q: Is it okay to put leather shoes in the freezer?

A: You can put your leather shoes in the freezer to help stretch them out, but it’s important to note that this could damage the leather. If you choose to freeze your shoes, wrap them in a protective layer first, such as a plastic bag.

Q: Does leather get stiff in the cold?

A: Yes, leather can become stiff in the cold. This is because the freezing temperatures cause the water in the leather to expand, which can make the leather hard and brittle.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

Recent Posts