New leather shoes can be very painful, causing blisters and other foot-related problems. Unless you soften them, they will stay that way. Fortunately, there are several was to soften the leather, making it more comfortable for your feet.
Method One of Three:
Using Oil to Soften Your ShoesEdit
1Clean your shoes before applying any additional substance. Oil should not be used until after cleaning your shoes. To clean your shoes, use a damp cloth and lightly wipe away any grime or grit attached to the surface. Wipe them again with a dry cloth to ensure they are dry and ready to get oiled.
2Select your oil. Applying oils to your leather shoes will restore and nourish them, leading to softer shoes. There are many oils which can soften your leather shoes and prevent or reduce stiffness. Mink oil, saddle soap, coconut oil, and foot oil are all useful for softening leather shoes.
- Seek the aid of a qualified shoe repair professional to help you decide which kind of oil might be best for your shoes.
- Olive oil has many adherents, but some report that it leaves oily spots behind and leads to deterioration of the leather.
3Read the label on your leather oil. Beware of leather oils which contain pine tar, castor oil, mineral oils, and other toxic chemicals. These ingredients might harm or cause the decomposition of your leather shoe. Carefully read the label before purchasing a particular leather oil.
- Consult the sales staff from whom you purchased your leather shoes as to which oil is best for your shoes.
4Apply the oil to your shoes. Pour a bit of oil into a small, clean dish. Wrap two fingers with a clean cloth or torn-up t-shirt. Dab the wrapped fingers lightly in the oil of your choice. After dipping your fingers, lift them out of the oil and allow the excess to drip off. Then, bring your hand to the cleaned surface of your leather shoes and rub the oil into the surface of shoe with gentle, circular motions.
- After applying one coat, let it absorb thoroughly into the shoe.
- Depending on your shoe, you might need to wait several hours or a full day before applying another coat. If you can see your shoes are still oily, or feel greasy to the touch, let them continue to sit until the oil has done its work.
- After the oil has been absorbed, evaluate the softness of the shoe. If you wish it to be softer, apply another coat in the same manner as the first and evaluate the softness again. Repeat as necessary.
Method Two of Three:
Softening the Shoes With Alcohol and VaselineEdit
1Obtain some rubbing alcohol. Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol is readily available at drug stores and supermarkets. Don’t try to use regular alcoholic beverages to soften your leather shoes; you’ll only end up making them smell like booze.
2Pour some alcohol into a small dish. The amount you’ll need depends on your shoe. If you have a tall shoe or boot, you’ll need more than if you have a shoe that only extends to your ankle. Dip a cotton ball in the alcohol and rub it all over your leather shoe wherever exposed leather is visible. Remove the laces, if present, to apply the alcohol to the exposed leather on the tongue and on the inside of the shoe. Let it sit and dry for about thirty minutes.
3Apply Vaseline to the shoe. Wherever you applied the alcohol, apply Vaseline. Use a small brush or an old toothbrush to work the Vaseline into the shoe. Apply the Vaseline in such a way that only a thin layer is left on the shoe. Let the shoes sit overnight. After allowing the shoes to sit and soften, wipe them down with a dry cloth to remove any excess Vaseline.
- If your shoes have not as soft as you’d like after a single coat, repeat the process again until your shoes are as soft as you want them to be. Sometimes you’ll need to apply several coats to reach the level of softness you want.
4Use a curling iron on your shoes. A variation of the above method involves skipping the alcohol altogether and going straight to the Vaseline-rubbing step. After doing so, instead of allowing the shoes to sit overnight, take a hot curling iron and move it slowly around inside the shoe. Start at the heal and work your way slowly down the sides of the shoe where you applied the Vaseline. The heat will help the pores of the leather open up and better absorb the thin layer of Vaseline you’ve applied.Advertisement
Method Three of Three:
Walking Around in Your Shoes to Soften ThemEdit
1Walk around in your shoes for half a day. One way to soften leather is to wear it. Repeatedly wearing leather shoes will help them become more pliable. However, if you walk around in new leather shoes all day, they might start to hurt. You can minimize that chance by wearing them for just half a day, then swapping them for some more comfortable shoes.
- If your feet start to hurt while wearing the shoes, take them off and swap them for another pair, even if you haven’t worn them the whole half-day.
2Wear the shoes again for just half a day two days later. And then wear them for another half day two days after that. Continue wearing the new shoes every other day in half-day increments. When they feel softer, try wearing them for a full day. Continue to wear them as regularly as you wish thereafter.
- Feet are sweaty. If you wear the shoes two days in a row when they’re new, they will not have time to adequately dry out, especially when they are new and still tight around your feet.
3Be patient. Breaking in a new shoe can take time. Leather often requires a long break-in period in order to become as soft as you may want it to be. Thinner leathers like calfskin will likely soften more easily, but if your shoes have a lot of stitches and needlework, they will take longer to break in. You can speed up the softening process by wearing a pair (or two) of socks when walking about.Advertisement
Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.Submit
- When picking out leather shoes, choose unfinished over treated leather for a naturally softer feel.
- If you continuously find shoes of a certain brand pinch your toes or heels, invest in another brand.
- Make sure your shoes fit you properly. If they are too big or too small, they'll feel wrong on your feet no matter what.
- Keep bandages and ointment on hand for the first week or two you're wearing your new leather shoes, as this will be when you have the most blisters.
- Do not soak your shoes in water. The leather will shrink and you’ll end up with shoes that are both hard and too small for your feet.
About This Article
Reader Success Stories
IB"I had no idea how to start to soften the leather on shoes so that I can wear them. A quick Google search brought up this article. I now feel confident that I can do the job. This article may have saved me from having to dispose of two almost-new pairs of shoes."..." more
ME"Love the different methods, and the information about the different types of oils that might and might not work. This gave me lots of options to try, using things I already had in the house rather than having to run out and get them."..." more
OP"I was searching for the methods of softening my shoes. I physically searched shops to shops, but did not find answers. On Google searching, I found the most practical and result-oriented reply on wikiHow. Long live wikiHow. "..." more
SD"I have some lovely white sandals but the leather really hurts just under my ankle bone. I never thought of treating the leather, but will now. Thanks."..." more
AK"Quite informative, using coconut oil to soften leather foot wear. I tried and succeeded. I strongly recommend the methodology shown in the video."..." more
A"I used the method on my gun holster. I took about a dozen applications before it softened a little, but it is a little softer. "..." more
JS"Some very good ideas as I had no idea how to soften the back of the shoe. Ideas were not too expensive either."
JV"Applying oil is a specific step to make my shoes become comfortable to wear all day long. Thank you very much."
AE"Very informative article! My Red Wings look and feel amazing! Thank you!"
A"The clear instructions and tips definitely help a lot."
BQ"The most useful information was on what not to use."
EM"A number of remedies to choose from was helpful."
LR"Took about a week, but it worked out very nice."
MC"Really good information, thank you."
GA"It helped with breaking them in. "
A"I'm using the tip on Vaseline."
Did this article help you?