6 ways of how to Break in Work Boots

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how to break in work boots

Leather boots are generally robust footwear that can serve you for a long time. It’s a highly durable investment that keeps you safe on your feet at work. Work boots protect you and keep you comfortable for long hours.

But just like you take a bit of time to adjust when you move into a new house, it takes time to become comfortable in a new pair of work boots. It is known as the ‘breaking in’ period. This is when your new pair of work boots take to become soft and comfortable and adjust to your feet. Till then, the boots may feel tight, stiff, and uncomfortable around the feet. Once the break-in period is over, your boots become your feet’ best friend for years to come. 

Breaking in new work boots takes some time and patience. You need to pick the right size of boots and apply the proper techniques to break in quickly. But, people often make mistakes and use improper means like submerging in water or applying direct heat and end up damaging the boots. Therefore, the question that troubles everyone is how to soften work boots, and how to break in work boots

Is your work boot killing you? Do you wanna know how to stop your new steel-toe leather boots from hurting? Great! But first, you need to know…

…Why It’s Important to Break In Steel Toe Work Boots?

Ans: Because if you don’t, you may lose your wife!

Here is why!

You don’t break in your boots before wearing them and go to work, you are gonna experience a hell of a lot of pain on your feet. You are gonna have blisters and pain in your muscle tender. And blisters in your feet get infected and you get stinky feet for nothing! Total damage to your feet. And there’s the saying goes “Sound mind, sound body”, vise versa, “Sound body, sound mind.” Once you lose your sound feet your mind goes crazy. A crazy mind at work can’t don’t do well. You mess up at the workspace.

Boss becomes fed up with you. Colleagues avoid you. You don’t like it. You go even crazier. You get back home in a mad mood. Look, you can be a gangsta at the workplace but at home, you can’t mess with the queen. Queen becomes the crazy and hot head for you. You sleep on the couch. Your kids get confused. Your wife starts getting counseling from the neighbor bachelor[or a married one, doesn’t even matter! Focus on the point!]. You know what happens when wives start taking counsel from a man other than husbands!

So eventually you lose your wife! -_-

Don’t wanna lose your wife[I’m talking about the lovely one, not the nagging one!]…Then continue reading. Knowledge is power. Knowledge saves a marriage.

Additional Comfort Enhancing Techniques

When it comes to work boots, breaking them in can be a painful and frustrating process. But there are additional techniques that you can use to enhance the comfort of your work boots.

Using Insoles For Extra Cushioning And Foot Support

Insoles are a simple and affordable way to add extra cushioning and foot support to your work boots. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Choose the right type of insole for your needs. There are different types of insoles available, including gel, foam, and custom orthotics. Consider your work environment and the type of support your feet need when choosing insoles.
  • Make sure the insoles fit your boots properly. Trim them if necessary to ensure a snug fit. Insoles that move around can cause discomfort and blisters.
  • Replace your insoles regularly. Over time, the cushioning and support in insoles can break down, reducing their effectiveness.

How To Choose And Apply Appropriate Foot Powders And Balms

Foot powders and balms can help prevent blisters, control odor, and keep your feet comfortable during long workdays. Here are some tips for choosing and applying these products:

  • Look for powders and balms that are specifically designed for work boots. These products are formulated to provide long-lasting protection and comfort.
  • Choose a product based on your needs. If you’re prone to blisters, look for a powder or balm that reduces friction. If you have sweaty feet, choose a product that controls odor and moisture.
  • Apply foot powder or balm before putting on your socks. This helps the product adhere to your skin and provides the best protection. Be sure to apply the product to all areas of your feet that are prone to friction or discomfort.

Do You Know How To Break in Work Boots Fast?

This article shall discuss the most well-known and proven solutions regarding how to break in new leather work boots. Understand the methods and the dos and don’ts carefully to break in your leather boots without compromising their quality.

Let us look at these simple, homely methods that will teach you how to break in work boots and how do you soften hard work boots easily without feeling distressed. 

1. Ariat says: “Start with the right size.”

Interested in Ariat boots? Read this article on Best Ariat Work Boots.


2. Wear Your Boots For A Few Days

The simplest solution how to breaking in work boots quickly is to wear them around. When we say that wearing your boots for a few days will help to break them in, it doesn’t imply that you wear them to work. That would be a terrible thing for your feet. Remember that your new leather boots are still stiff and uncomfortable. Your feet cannot endure the hardness for long hours, and they will invariably pain badly. 

Thus, give your boots some time after unboxing them. Wear them in the house or around the house for a week. By the end of a week or so, the leather stretches well, and your boots are ready for the workplace.  

Wear thick socks or multiple socks when you try these new boots and walk around the house. It helps to stretch out the leather from the inside. They also provide adequate cushioning and save your feet from getting hurt. The added warmth from the feet due to the socks helps to stretch the leather faster. Hiking socks are the best in this case as they are thick enough and come with a heel pad.

You do not have to wear the boots for long hours at home. A few hours every day for a week would be enough. On days when you are too busy, you can simply wear them while having dinner for half an hour.

Flex the feet inside the boot to stretch the tight areas and make it comfortable. Bend the toes, the arch, and the heels to expand the space inside. While you are watching a game on the TV, bend the midsole of the boots with your hands to stretch the area effectively. You can also place the midsole on a staircase or any elevated surface and rock the foot back and forth. The more you do it, the more the leather takes the shape of the feet.

If you have space around the house, such as a garden or patio, or yard, walk around those areas wearing your new boots. Walking on different surfaces helps to break the boots faster. Climb up and down the stairs in your new work boots. While it keeps you fit, your boots stretch well.


  • Wear them around for a week around the house. 
  • Wear layers of socks. 
  • Bend the toes, arch, and heel. 


  • Wear them for long hours. 
  • Wear them to work or a long distance. 

3. Use Moisturizers And Conditioners

Leather conditioners can soften the stiff new leather and are one of the best ways to shorten the break-in period. Get hold of some good leather moisturizers, oils, or conditioners for breaking in. Check the products compatible with the specific model of work boots you have purchased. Some kinds of leather boots need particular types of leather conditioners only. 

Here you will find some good products on Amazon:

best leather conditioners for leather boots

Use generous amounts of leather conditioners every day on the upper body when you buy new leather work boots. It helps them to soften and take the shape of the feet faster. Leave in the conditioner for a few hours before rubbing off the excess with a damp cloth. 

Let your boots dry well before you wear them to walk around again. It is best to let them dry naturally. Even after breaking in, you will need the leather oils and conditioners to moisturize the boot every four to six months. It helps to keep the leather soft and comfortable, extend its life, and prevent cracks. 

You may also apply mink oil on the upper body of the work boots. But mink oil can darken the leather color. Therefore, use only a minimal quantity with a cotton ball. Leave in the mink oil on the leather for a few hours or overnight to soften it. Wipe off the excess oil and let the boots dry. Wear them and walk around to help the leather take the shape of your feet. 

Some people may advise rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based sprays to soften the leather. While it helps to achieve the purpose, it also damages most types of leather. Therefore, it would be best to avoid alcohol, depending on the type of leather of your work boots. 

Types Of Conditioner To Use For Different Types Of Leather

Leather conditioners come in different types, and the type you choose will depend on the type of leather your work boots are made of. Here are some of the most common types of conditioners and the types of leather they are recommended for:

  • Oil-based conditioners: These are best for full-grain leather, which is thicker and more durable than other types of leather. Oil-based conditioners penetrate the leather and help to keep it soft and supple over time.
  • Wax-based conditioners: These are better suited for leather that is already treated, such as suede or nubuck. They help to restore the leather’s natural oils and keep it looking like new.
  • Beeswax conditioners: These are ideal for leather that is frequently exposed to the elements, such as work boots that are used outside. Beeswax conditioners help to repel water and keep the leather protected.

How To Properly Condition Work Boots And How Often To Do It

Now that you have an idea of why conditioning is essential and the different types of conditioners available let’s look at how to condition work boots properly. Here are the steps:

  • Clean the boots – before conditioning, ensure that boots are clean and free from debris and dust.
  • Apply the conditioner – using a soft cloth or sponge, apply conditioner to the leather in a circular motion, taking care not to apply too much at once.
  • Let it dry – leave the conditioner to soak in for at least 15 minutes or as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Buff the boots- using a clean dry cloth, buff the work boots briskly to remove any excess conditioner and to restore the shine.

It’s essential to know how frequently you should condition your work boots. Many experts recommend conditioning your work boots every two to three months or as frequently as you wear them. However, depending on usage, condition them frequently.

By following these steps and using a suitable conditioner for the type of leather used in your work boots, you will be on your way to breaking in your work boots comfortably.


  • Apply generous amounts of leather conditioner on the leather body. 
  • Leave the conditioner overnight. 
  • Let the boots dry before you wear them. 


  • Use cheap leather oils and conditioners. 
  • Avoid rubbing alcohol directly on leather.

4. Breaking In Leather Boots With Water

One of the most popular ways is breaking in leather boots with water. Most websites and easy breaking in tips will tell you to soak the boots in a bucket containing warm water for an hour to loosen the leather. If you apply this method, you must take out the shoes from the water after an hour, let the excess water drip, and then wear them with socks. It helps to let the stretched leather fibers take the shape of the feet. Then use a hairdryer to dry the boots. 

But, think well before you consider breaking in leather boots with water. Submerging your boots in hot water is a popular idea but a terrible one. It deteriorates the quality of the leather more than you can imagine. Your investment will go down the drains when the hot water damages the leather and quickly destroys your shoes. We would suggest you not try this popular method for all reasons. 

If you must use water to break in your boots, use it differently. There are two ways to let you do it without damaging the leather. 

Use wet towels

Apply some good leather conditioner or a boot stretching spray on the leather. Roll up wet towels and stuff them inside the boots to make them bulge. It helps to push the leather from the inside while you soften it from the outside using the conditioner. The wet towels also help the leather soak the conditioner better. It hastens the procedure of loosening the leather fibers and breaks in really fast. After the wet towels dry up inside the boots, take them out and let the boots dry completely. 

Freeze ice bags

Take an ice bag with molten ice and put it inside the boots. Place it in the toe box area if you feel it is tighter or the heel area if it feels stiffer. Take the new boots and put them in the freezer. While the water in the ice bag freezes, it will expand to take up more space and stretch the boots. The expanded ice will stretch out the leather and make the boots fit your feet well. Take out the boots and the ice bag, and leave them to dry before wearing them. 


  • Use wet towels along with leather conditioner spray. 
  • Freeze the boots with an ice bag inside them. 


  • Submerge your boots in hot water.

5. Use Boot Stretchers and Boot Trees

One of the fastest solutions regarding how to break in Ariat work boots is to stretch them safely using a boot stretcher. Invest in good boot trees or boot stretchers to expand your new work boots and make them comfortable. 

A boot tree or stretcher is a piece of wood shaped like a boot. You must insert it into the shoes to expand the room inside. It stretches apart the heel portion from the toe section using force. Stretch out to your desired size and lock the boot tree and keep them like that overnight. This is the fastest method to break in new work boots if you are short of time. A boot stretcher can even stretch out the stiffest parts of a new work boot. 

If the boots feel tight even after using a boot stretcher overnight, repeat the process till they feel comfortable. 


  • Use boot stretchers to achieve the desired size and leave them overnight.
  • Use leather conditioners and boot stretching sprays on the body.


  • Overdo the stretching. 

Here are some good boot stretchers:

how to stretch boots using boot stretcher
Break-In Work Boots using boot stretcher.


6. Using Heat 

Another well-known myth about stretching leather boots is using heat from a hairdryer. Any search result regarding how to break in new leather boots would suggest you use a hairdryer. But, think before you do it as we wouldn’t recommend it at all. 

Usually, it is said that heat loosens up the leather and softens it. It then takes the shape of your feet when you wear them. Therefore, many people use direct heat from a hairdryer to apply the leather from all sides. Wearing and walking around in the heated shoes help them mold into the shape of the feet because the leather fibers are softened. 

But, it is not a good idea to directly apply heat to the boots’ leather. People often apply this method in a hurry, especially when they need to break in the boots fast. However, hurrying can run you into trouble as well. Using direct heat from a hairdryer makes the leather dry and brittle, causing cracks. Do not complain about the leather quality or brand if you find the leather creasing, cracking, and wearing out soon. It may be a result of overheating the leather.

If you still wish to apply heat to soften the leather, lay some cotton cloth over the shoes and use the heat from above. It avoids exposing the leather to direct heat. Also, keep the mouth of the hairdryer away from the shoes. Do not go too near to prevent high heat from drying and damaging the boots. 

You must also always remember to let your boots dry naturally while applying the other methods. 

What Heat Method Works Best For Leather Work Boots

  • Blow dryer: This method uses a hairdryer to apply heat to the boots. It’s best for mild to moderate breaking in.
  • Oven: Placing the boots in the oven is a more intense method that should only be used for tougher leather.
  • Heat gun: A heat gun is another intense method and should only be used on the toughest of leather boots.

How To Properly Apply Heat Without Damaging The Boots

  • Start by applying a little bit of water to the leather to make it more pliable.
  • Turn on the method of heat you’ve chosen and apply it to the boots evenly, making sure not to focus on one spot for too long.
  • If using the oven method, preheat it to 200f and place the boots in for 5-10 minutes.
  • Check the boots regularly and stop applying heat once they start to feel more flexible.


  • Use low heat from a distance. 
  • Cover the shoes with a cloth before applying heat. 


  • Use too high heat from a hairdryer. 
  • Go very near the boots with the hairdryer. 
  • Use any other direct source of heat. 

Final Words

The only thing you need to remember about how to break in new work boots is that you must keep patience. When you become impatient, you may make grave mistakes like using direct heat from a hairdryer or submerging the boots and getting them wasted. 

The break-in period may last up to one to three weeks, depending on the methods you choose. If you wear the shoe around the house or outside and expect them to stretch naturally, it may take up to a few weeks. To ease the process and break in the boots faster, say within a week, combine a few more ways, along with wearing them around. Use copious amounts of leather stretcher oils, lotions, and sprays. Also, use boot stretches to reduce the break-in period. Be patient for a few days to enjoy safety and comfort for years down the line. 

How do I stop steel toe work boots from hurting?

Always pick the right size because most of the time it’s the imperfect size that causes the pain. And also before wearing them for work first do the ‘break-in’ means stretch them so that you don’t end up with sore feet.

How do I break in steel toe work boots fast?

Use a boot stretcher for faster results.

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