We have all experienced the pain and discomfort of a new pair of boots before they’ve properly been worn in. No matter how thick the socks or how perfect the fit, wearing new footwear almost always results in rubbing and, eventually, blisters. Rather than grinning and bearing the pain of new shoes, try our easy top tips for how to soften leather boots so that you can wear them in complete comfort.
A good pair of leather boots is an essential for any ladies or gent’s footwear collection, especially as the weather starts to get colder. However, while leather gains its popularity from its durability and hard-wearing properties, this toughness also means that they need to be broken in before they can be comfortably worn for regular and prolonged use.
So, how do you soften leather boots properly? Many opt for the tried and tested method of just wearing them and dealing with the uncomfortable consequences until the leather ultimately softens. However, while it can be difficult to abstain from wearing your shiny new boots, there are a few tips that are worth trying beforehand. Below, we have outlined some helpful and handy pain-free tricks for softening your leather boots.
How to Soften Leather Boots the Right Way
Pick the Right Size
First, you must ensure that you have the right sized boots. Most of the time, your usual footwear size is the obvious choice to go for, no matter what sort of footwear you are purchasing. However, where you are buying your leather boots from, could determine what size you get - and that half-size up or down can make all the difference when breaking in your boots.
The best way to guarantee you’re buying the right size for you, is by contacting the manufacturer directly. The manufacturer will have the most accurate information regarding sizing information as it all depends on how the leather has been made and treated. As a rule of thumb, leather can expand out to the sides much more easily than it can lengthways. So, if your leather boots seem a little narrow, this should be okay. However, if your boots are too short, you should definitely consider sizing up.
So, the first step in softening your leather boots occurs before you even buy them - contact the manufacturer and let them guide you to the correct size.
Condition Your Boots
Once you have purchased your new leather boots, you want to ensure that you take proper care of them. As soon as your boots arrive, apply some leather conditioner or oil to help soften the hard leather. You should continue to apply the conditioner weekly until the boots are broken in, and then continue to apply monthly as part of your leather care routine.
Wear Them Around the House
Now your leather boots have started the softening process, you can start wearing them - but only around the house. Before you set foot outside or wear your boots for a full day at work, try wearing your boots with a pair of thick socks around the house for 1-2 weeks. It is likely that your boots will feel a little tight and probably slightly uncomfortable but there are a number of benefits to employing this leather softening method.
One advantage of softening your leather boots while still in the house is that you can easily give your feet a rest from standing or walking around if they start to hurt. You can reduce the risk of blisters and rubbing. Additionally, although wearing a pair of super thick socks might not be ideal for going out in public, you don’t have to worry about looking silly at home. Wearing thick socks with your boots produces a gentle pressure that is ideal for gradually stretching the leather. This gradual pressure is much healthier for the material than other methods. At the same time, your thick heavy socks will help produce friction and warmth to help mould the leather into the perfect shape for your feet.
Use a Boot Stretcher
If, after hours of wear in the house, your leather boots still aren’t comfortable for prolonged wear, you may need to resort to using a boot stretcher. Boot stretchers have a mechanism that expands while inside the shoe so that it gently and gradually stretches the material. They are incredibly easy to use: simply insert the stretcher into your boots and twist the knob that widens the toe area - just enough until you feel some slight resistance and hear the leather creaking a little, then leave it while it does its job.
You want to make sure that you don’t stretch your boots too much at first - start with a slight bit of resistance, and then add some more successively over a few nights until they are just right. To take extra precaution when using a boot stretcher, you can use your conditioner to soften the leather for stretching and protect it against any potential cracking.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a boot stretcher on hand, why not try using a spoon to stretch your leather boots? You can use any large wooden or metal spoon to gently lever and loosen any areas of your boots that are feeling too tight. Heels are a common place to cause friction, and a spoon is the ideal shape to slide in and stretch.
Provide Some Extra Heat
To give your boots some extra flexibility when stretching them, you could even turn to the hairdryer. Give your boots a quick blast with the hairdryer to stretch them without damaging the leather. The combination of a boot stretcher or a thick pair of socks and some extra warmth from the hairdryer will soon have your boots fitting perfectly. Keep stretching your boots until the leather is cool to touch, so that they are more likely to keep their shape and fit to the contours of your feet for ultimate comfort.
Use Screwed Up Newspaper
Another alternative to a shoe stretcher is newspaper. Grab any old newspapers or magazines and slightly dampen them with water. Screw up the pages and pack them tightly into each boot. Leave them until the screwed up balls of paper have dried and then remove them. Be very careful not to wet the newspaper too much as the water could cause damage to your new leather boots, including water marks.
Use a Stretching Spray
As a final resort, if you find that all the above methods have not worked, you could try using a stretching spray. While the leather of your boots is certain to stretch eventually, no matter what methods you use, a stretching spray can drastically speed up the process, saving you time and effort. Shoe sprays can be extremely effective, with most being alcohol-based to allow for quick drying and so avoiding the risk of watermarks. You can use your spray before wearing your shoes around the house, or before using a shoe stretcher in order to make your boots stretch quicker.
While this may seem like a lot of effort to go to for a pair of boots, once you have succeeded in breaking them in, they will be set for life, and there is nothing better than a good quality pair of boots that perfectly fit the contours of your feet. Go ahead and browse our extensive collection of men’s ankle boots and women’s leather boots and find the ideal pair to suit you - we have a huge range of different styles and colours available to choose from. Use our size guide to help you pick the correct size and use our tips on how to soften leather boots to ensure they fit your feet perfectly.