10 Ways to Soften New Boots ASAP

Are you on the lookout for new leather boots?

Heading out to your local shoe store to get a new pair of boots can be quite exciting. Retail therapy is therapeutic, after all.

If this is your very first time getting leather boots, you may need to be a bit cautious. Leather shoes are quite notorious for causing blisters. It might discourage you later on when you feel that tinge as you wear them.

But don’t worry. Like in most footwear, whether leather shoes or slip-on sandals, everything will be fine after the break in period. That is, if you got the right leather boots for your size.

This article will tell you some pretty simple hacks on making the break in process easy and fast. They don’t require rocket science, nor will you need to exert too much effort.

In no time, your new boots will be so comfy; you will love wearing them all day.

Understanding Your Leather Boots

thursday captain terracotta
The Thursday Captain boot

Before we go any further with the breaking in process, you must first understand your boots.  

Leather boots have become an essential part of a man’s wardrobe, especially during winter or fall. More than just for fashion, it has become a necessity because these leather shoes can protect feet during these rather cold seasons.

Boots are made of tough, sturdy materials and need to fit your feet perfectly to avoid getting annoying burns. 

However, even if you feel like you got the right size when you bought your leather boots, it takes a while for everything to adjust to the point of being comfortable because of the nature of the material.

Therefore, you must know how to choose the right size of leather boots. Ensure that you give allowances so that when you are done with the break in, all will be perfectly well.


Hacks to Soften Leather Boots

Now, let us get started with the process of softening your leather shoes. As earlier stated, these are simple procedures that you can do to complete the break in as soon as possible.

Hack #1: Walk Around In Your New Boots

oliver cabell sb1 boot walking
I know, I know. You might think that this is a joke. Why include this on the list of how to break in leather boots?

The truth is, it is the most elementary thing to do. You’re the one who will wear it anyway, so you might as well let your feet adjust to it sooner.

As you continue to wear your new leather boots, the material will start molding according to how your foot fills it in. It may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but wearing thick socks could help cushion you from the tough leather.

Although you may want to complete the process as soon as possible, avoid wearing your new boots for the whole day. Just do so for half a day, every other day, to let your feet rest between wears.

The skip is to allow the new pair to dry out completely before you wear them on again.

[Related: The 3 Best Boot Socks On the Market]

Hack #2 Apply Leather Oil To Your New Boots

Oils are among the most popular remedies used to soften leather boots. Leather is skin, after all, and moisturizing it can help to make it more supple.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Clean up your boots – clean one shoe at a time using a damp cloth ensuring all dirt has been removed. Once you have wiped off the entire surface, use a dry cloth to eliminate excess moisture. The pair must be dry before you apply the oil.
  • Step 2: Decide on which oil to use – there are various oils to choose from to complete this task. Mink oil is common, but check out our favorite boot conditioning oils to find one that suits you.
  • Step 3: Oil application – apply one or two coats of leather oils to your pair of boots. Use a cotton ball or a rag to apply. Let the oil seep through the leather fibers until dry. It might take hours or a day for the boots to dry; leave them in a well ventilated area.
  • Step 4: Once done, you may check if the shoes have softened by trying to bend them to see if they have become soft and loose.
[Review: When You Should and Shouldn’t Use Huberd’s Shoe Grease]

Hack #3: Use Vaseline

When you need to make very dry skin softer, I’m quite sure that Vaseline is one of the first things you would grab. Leather shoes are made of skin, so it is not surprising that you can use them to soften your shoes too.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Clean up the boots to eliminate any debris.
  • Step 2: Use a small brush or a soft-bristled, old toothbrush to apply Vaseline. Only a thin layer is necessary to do this method.
  • Step 3: Let the Vaseline stay on the new boots for a few hours, half day, or overnight.
  • Step 4: Wipe off the excess Vaseline using a clean cloth.
  • Step 5: Repeat the procedure if you are not yet content about the softness of the leather boots. Otherwise, you are good to go and start wearing your leather shoes.

Hack #4 Freeze to Soften Leather Boots

It may sound weird, but many who tried to break in new leather boots swear by this method. Just check it out. You will never know until you try.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Fill a ziplock bag with water. Since you are doing this for a pair of leather boots, do step 1 twice.
  • Step 2: Ensure that the bags are properly sealed, then put them inside each boot.
  • Step 3: Put them inside the freezer. Position them in such a way that they are not cramped. Leave them there until the next day.
  • Step 4: Take the shoes out of the freezer. You will notice that they have become softer, and the frozen water has acted as shoe stretchers.

Hack #5 Use Alcohol Spray

You might think that the sprays they use to soften leather boots are fancy, but you can make one at home. Without even having to go to the store, you can already come up with a concoction.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Rummage through your medicine cabinet for Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol.
  • Step 2: Look for a clean and empty spray bottle.
  • Step 3: Fill the spray bottle with equal amounts of water and alcohol.
  • Step 4: Generously spray the interior and exterior of the leather boots.
  • Step 5: Let the solution seep through the leather fabric for about thirty minutes.
  • Step 6: Wipe each shoe off of excess alcohol with a dry cloth.

Hack #6 Use A Hair Dryer

Blow drying is another effective way of helping break in new leather boots. Controlled heat gradually stretches the fabric to aid in the softening process.

You have to be careful with this method of breaking in, as overheating can damage the material.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Turn on your blow dryer and direct it towards your leather boots. Allow a distance of around a foot or so to avoid extreme heat.
  • Step 2: Blow-dry each boot continuously for about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Step 3: Leave the new boots there for about 2 to 3 hours.
  • Step 4: Check if the process successfully worked as boot stretchers. Do not go beyond the time limit for this method, or should you repeat the process.

[Related: How to Dry Leather Boots Fast]

Hack #7 Apply Leather Conditioner

Due to the need for a quick and comfortable leather boot break in, conditioners were invented to help in the process. Imagine how conditioners work on your hair. It makes it softer, right?

That is also what the ones made for shoes do. They help soften and break in new boots.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Using a cloth, wipe the boot to eliminate dirt or tiny debris.
  • Step 2: Gently apply the conditioner in a circular motion on that cleaned surface. Begin at the toe until you reach the heel and make sure that it is evenly applied.
  • Step 3: Check if the material of the boot. Work boots made of heavy materials may require a second coat.
  • Step 4: Let the leather conditioner soak in; wait until it is fully dried. Wipe excess conditioner if needed.

Hack #8 Fill Them Up With Towels

The use of towels as boot stretchers is perhaps the most popular and loved method of break in for a new leather shoe. If you have owned boots before, you probably did this already. It is also the most advisable way to break in new boots.

Steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Stuff each boot with a towel. You may also use a torn-up t-shirt or even those you still wear since the process will not ruin them.
  • Step 2: Roll them, then put them inside each shoe. Make sure that you stuff them such that gentle pressure is applied to the leather.
  • Step 3: Leave them there overnight. In the morning, check how the softened boots feel on your feet.

What I love most about this method is that you see great results without dealing with oily spots, toxic chemicals, and the like. Your boots will not be subjected to anything that could ruin them in any way.

Hack #9 Stuff Them With Newspapers

Using newspapers is an alternative to the towel or cloth method. If you are not comfortable using your towel to break in your boots, get some old newspapers and stuff each boot with them.

Like the previous hack, it also helps eliminate the excess oil that makes a boot hard and damp. Just do the same step as above, only this time, use crumpled newspapers. The process will soak the oil in, which will leave the boots softer and more comfortable to your feet.

Hack #10 Use A Boot Stretcher

Shoe stretchers can help make the break in process for a new pair of boots more quickly. It is a mechanical tool used to adjust the boots fit to your feet until they become comfortable.

The steps are simple once you already have the stretcher. All you need to do is insert it inside the boot you are adjusting, then carefully pull the stick to apply gentle impact on the leather fabric.

Once done, wear the shoes on to see if they settle comfortably. If not, you may repeat the process until it becomes comfortable to wear the shoes.

[How To: The Right and Wrong Ways to Stretch Calves of Leather Boots]

Softening Leather Boots Is a Must

If you do not want to end with blisters and limps, you must take time to break in your work boots. Although they will eventually adjust with usage, and a band aid is a quick fix if you can be comfortable early on, why choose to suffer?

Many things can be done to help make this possible such as the ones mentioned above. Applying oils such as mink oil and coconut oil; spraying your work boots with rubbing alcohol, stuffing with papers or towels, etc. Many easy and safe ways are already in place to provide extra protection for your feet.

Some suggest that wearing wet socks can also help make softer shoes. However, it may be a problematic suggestion as wet socks worn for some time inside any shoe can cause bacterial growth and even lead to your feet becoming smelly.

We already outlined several ways to break in your work boots and I believe you have more than enough options to choose from.

Everything will improve once the work boots have softened, so stick to what fits and allow the process to make the pair fit your feet comfortably. Once it is done, wearing the boots for a few hours, or even the whole day, will seem natural.

The Final Word on Softening New Leather Boots

Buying a pair of leather boots is just the first part of the fun. Being able to wear your work boots at all times without fear of pain is what will complete the experience.

I do hope that we were able to provide you with a handful of options that you can try to soften your pair of boots.

If you only have one pair that needs to be broken in, just pick the one you feel most comfortable with. If you have several boots, then you can try the other options and see which worked best.

So, come on! Get started shopping for the pair of boots you would love to wear. Now that you know how to make your shoes comfy quickly, nothing should stop you.

The following two tabs change content below.

Mel Compo

Mel Compo is a writer, editor, and general word-geek from Brooklyn, New York. When they’re not writing about the finer side of men’s footwear they can be found lurking around the streets, trains, and museums of NYC, ostensibly doing something urgent but actually just looking around for menswear style inspiration.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.