A new pair of work boots is not ready to wear straight out of the box. The leather of the new work boots is usually so stiff that it may bite into your feet and cause blisters on them.
So, you have to break in your work boots properly before wearing them. Breaking into the work boots is all about twisting and bending the leather gently to make it soft again.
Although you can not skip this step of breaking into work boots before wearing them yet you can speed this step up. I wrote this guide to help you exactly do that.
This guide will teach you how you can break in work boots in 3 days or less. For some pairs, you will be able to break into them overnight. Let’s start:
In This Article You'll Know
9 Techniques to Break in New Leather Work Boots
1. Start with the Right Size
I can not stress the importance of this step enough.
If you buy work boots that are too tight for your feet, no technique below will help you to break into them. Your only options left would be either to stretch them by a few sizes or replace them with new ones.
Before buying work boots, measure your foot size for length, width, and arch type. Follow my guide on how to measure your foot size at home to get a pair true to your size.
2. Natural Is The Best Way
Break in the new work boots naturally by wearing them for an hour or two every day. This is a sure-shot way to break in work boots without causing any damage to them.
To break into work boots naturally, prefer to wear them in the morning as your feet are of their smallest size then. That makes it easy for your feet to enter into the boots and shape the leather accordingly.
To make this process even easier, put on a pair of thick work socks. They will help you wear the boots for a little longer. Moreover, they will provide extra protection to your feet from getting blisters.
3. Gently Twist and Bend Your Work Boots
As the day advances, your feet swell up and get a bit bigger. So breaking into work boots by wearing them is not an option anymore by noon.
Instead, twist and bend your work boots gently for a few minutes in one area and then do the same in another area. It will loosen up the leather fibers making them soft quickly.
You do not have to apply pressure on the entire leather upper. Just observe where the boots pinch while wearing and twist & bend that area only.
4. Stock up on Some Band-Aids
Apply a few band-aids on your feet where the boots pinch. It will allow you to wear the new boots for an extended period of time.
Most people use band-aids only after the boots have caused blisters on their feet. But, a smart move would be to apply the band-aid on your feet before the leather has got a chance to cause blisters on them.
To stop any unwanted friction from happening, you may want to plaster a band-aid or two on feet. You can apply one inside the boots as well. This way, you will be able to break in work boots quickly without your feet feeling any burn.
Make sure that the band-aid you use comes with high-quality glue. If it keeps slipping off, you will have to say hello to blisters.
5. Use Leather Oil
If you find an area on your work boots that is too stubborn to break-in, use some leather oil on it. Leather oil is specially made to soften and condition the leather without making it go pulpy.
Apply a liberal amount of oil on the leather and let it air dry for a few hours. Once fully dry, you will find the leather is a lot softer than ever before.
One added benefit of this method is that you don’t necessarily have to wear your work boots. The use of leather oil for a couple of days will do the job for you.
6. Heat up Your Work Boots a Little
Moderate heat is very effective at loosening up the fiber bonds and making the leather soft. It is a very fast method to break in work boots.
Do not use any flame to heat up your leather boots. Instead, use hot air only. A blow dryer is best suited for the job. Keep your blow dryer at least 6 inches away from the boots and aim the hot air all over the boots.
Just be sure that you don’t apply heat to any area of your boots for a long time. Instead, keep moving your hands swiftly and hover the blow dryer all over the work boots.
Use this method on pure leather boots only because other leather such as faux ones may melt with this method.
7. Put the Work Boots on Ice
Water has a very interesting property. It expands when you freeze it to a solid state from a liquid state. We are going to take advantage of this characteristic of water. This method is even more useful if your boots are a bit too tight. Here’s the process:
- Take two plastic zip bags.
- Fill them halfway with some water to create a bulge.
- Seal the water inside the bags by tightly zipping them.
- Squeeze any excess air out of the bags.
- Add each bag into each boot.
- Place the boots inside a freezer overnight.
- In the morning, take out the boots and place them on a table.
- Wait for the frozen bags to meltdown before removing them.
- You will find your work boots have more space than before to accommodate your feet.
8. Use a Mix of Alcohol and Water
Rubbing alcohol is a very good remedy to soften up leather fibers.
Apply a few puffs of alcohol at night on the inner side of the boots. In the morning, you will find the leather is very pliable. Repeat this process for a couple of days and you will break in your work boots very well.
The alcohol may go a bit harsh on the leather. So, this is important that you first dilute the alcohol with some water. Here’s the exact process:
- Add two-thirds of water and one-third of alcohol into a mix.
- Pour the mix into a spray bottle.
- Spray the mix on the inner side of the leather work boots.
- Repeat the process for a couple of days to let it do its job.
9. Use Boot Stretchers
I kept this method at the end of the list. The reason being is that this method requires you to shell out some money to buy a set of boot stretchers.
Use this method only if all other ones mentioned above fail to help you break in work boots.
Even if using boot stretchers to break in your work boots comes at a cost, it is a safe method. Boot stretchers expand the boots while maintaining the shape of the pair. Moreover, you do not have to wear work boots at all until broken in.
How I Vetted the Break-In Techniques Shared in This Guide
We want to break in work boots as quickly as possible but we do not want any unpleasant fails on the way. All techniques mentioned in this guide are vetted around a set of criteria. Here is the detail:
1. No Damage to the Work Boots
Work boots are not cheap. No one would like to see them getting damaged even before wearing them.
I was very careful at selecting the techniques to suggest in this guide for breaking into work boots. You can rest assured that all techniques shared in this article are safe to apply to your work boots.
2. No Need for Expensive Supplies
I made it a priority that most items needed to use this guide for breaking into work boots are available at home. The supplies mentioned in this article such as oil, ice, alcohol, etc. are daily household items. You will not need to rush to a nearby store to buy them.
I also suggested some professional solutions in this guide to break in work boots. Such solutions may need you to buy some accessories such as a set of boots stretchers. But, use these techniques only if the free ones did not work.
3. Quick Break-In Period
You will always be able to break in any work boots within a couple of weeks of wearing them. The value of using this guide lies in that it reduces the break-in period to just 3 days or less.
I promptly excluded any techniques to break in work boots that take longer than 3 days to work.
Just take note that a few work boots, such as Red Wing Iron Ranger, are notoriously stubborn to break in. In such rare cases, it may take the technique up to 7 days to be effective.
4. Effective On All Types of Leather Boots
The techniques shared in this guide will help your break in any type of leather boots quickly.
I chose work boots to test these techniques on because they are the toughest type of leather boots. If a technique works well for breaking in work boots, it should work wonders on other leather boots too.
You may feel free to use the break-in techniques shared in this guide to apply to any type of leather boots. They will work equally well on dress shoes, hiking boots, cowboy boots, combat boots, etc.
The break-in techniques shared in this article are for boots made of 100% genuine leather only. Do not apply these techniques to boots made of suede, nubuck, or synthetic leather.
5. Effective On The Stiffest of the Leather Boots
I wanted to share techniques that will help my readers to break in leather boots of any stiffness level. For this, I choose Red Wing Iron Ranger work boots as my guinea pig.
Red Wing iron ranger work boots are notoriously hard to break in. It may take anywhere around 20-30 days to break into them naturally. The techniques suggested in this guide helped me to achieve results in less than a week only.
So far you have all the necessary knowledge to break in work boots without any blisters. Put the knowledge in action and make your pair ready to rock on the streets.
Next, take good care of your leather boots so that they last you a lot longer than your previous work boots. Hope it was helpful. Thanks!