How To Soften Leather Shoes Without Ruining Them


Getting new leather boat shoes can be exciting since they look very elegant and can bring your boat experience to a whole new level. However, you may notice that your recently bought shoes are causing blisters as well as other foot-related problems.  

If so, you’re probably wondering how to soften leather shoes. There’s no need to worry because we have all been there. Leather shoes tend to be a bit difficult to a break-in, but there are numerous ways you can make them more comfortable. Keep on reading to find out how to soften hard leather shoes without damaging the leather. 

How to Soften Leather Shoes Easily

1. Slowly Start Wearing Them

One of the best ways to soften leather shoes is to wear them. If you repeatedly wear your shoes, the leather will become softer and thus more comfortable on your feet. But, you should be aware of the fact that wearing new shoes all day can seriously hurt. To minimize the chance of getting blisters, you can start wearing your shoes for half a day. Make sure you swap them for a comfortable pair of shoes, such as sneakers. 

Change your shoes whenever your feet start hurting, no matter if you haven’t worn them for half a day. Wear them again two days after that. Continue wearing them for half a day every other day. By doing this, you are giving your shoes enough time to properly dry out. When the shoes start to feel softer, try to keep them on for a whole day. 

2. Using a Hairdryer

Heat may be of great help when trying to soften the leather. In case you are wondering how to soften hard leather shoes, start by putting on multiple pairs of socks. Slowly put on your shoes, and then turn on the hairdryer. 

Direct the heat at the problematic spots which are too tight for around a minute. Make sure you are moving or flexing your feet while you are using the hairdryer. To finish off this method, you need to let your shoes cool while they are still on your feet. This will help stretch the shoes and will make them more comfortable. 

3. Using Shoe Stretchers

If you’re wondering how to soften leather shoes without any heat, using shoe stretchers may be the right solution for you. They are easy to apply and require no extra effort. You can either use wooden or metal shoe stretchers to achieve great results.

Some shoe stretchers come with special shoe stretching sprays that can further facilitate the process of making your shoes more comfortable. Put the stretchers in the shoes and let them sit according to the package instructions. Your shoes should feel less tight after this method. 

4. Stretching with a Spoon

Walking in tight leather shoes can cause blisters. Besides, your feet may start hurting. If you’d like to fix this problem without much effort and in an affordable way, you should head straight to the kitchen. It may sound a bit silly, but using a spoon to soften your new shoes can work wonders.

Get a spoon and start stretching the problematic areas, making sure you are applying enough pressure. However, don’t be too hard on the leather. This way, you will be imitating the effect your feet have on the shoe without being at risk of developing foot pain and blisters. 

5. Stuffing the Shoes with Newspaper

We have all wondered how to soften hard leather shoes at some point. Sometimes the easiest and the most affordable solutions are the best. That’s why you should give the newspaper method a try. Get an old newspaper and crumple it, making sure you have enough material to fill the whole shoe.

Fill a bowl with water, and then slightly wet the crumpled newspaper. Bear in mind that it should not be fully soaked because doing this may damage the insoles. Stuff the shoes and let them air dry completely. Remove the newspaper before wearing the shoes.

6. Stretching with Oil

Oil can be of great help when dealing with leather shoes that are too tight. Make sure your shoes are nice and clean before you apply them. The oil softens and nourishes the shoes, which means they will be less stiff if you decide to go with this method. You can use saddle soap, mink oil, foot oil, or coconut oil. 

Carefully read the label, making sure you avoid oil that contains castor oil, pine tar, as well as other toxic chemicals. Such ingredients might decompose or harm the leather. Use a clean cloth, wrap it around two of your fingers, and then dab it in the oil. Rub the shoes using small, circular motions. 

7. Using Rubbing Alcohol & Vaseline

Get some rubbing alcohol at a supermarket or a drug store. Never use regular alcohol to soften your leather shoes. Dip a cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol and spread it all over your shoes. If you’d like to know how to soften leather shoes properly, remove the laces to apply the alcohol to the leather around them.

Let your shoes dry for thirty minutes. Follow by applying Vaseline on the same spots. You could use an old toothbrush or a small brush to do this. Let it sit overnight and then wipe the shoes with a dry cloth. In case your shoes are not soft enough after one application, feel free to repeat the process.

8. Getting Professional Help

Sometimes none of the above-mentioned methods are efficient enough. You’re probably wondering how to soften hard leather shoes in this case. Going to a professional shoe repair specialist can do the trick. Professionals are equipped with machines and sprays that will fix this problem in no time.

Getting this service is affordable, and you can get your shoes fixed for around $15-$25. Bear in mind that you should go to a trusted professional, especially if your shoes are made from high-quality leather. 



Q: How Do You Break in Leather Shoes?


There are many ways you can break in your leather shoes. For example, you can slowly start wearing them – every other day for half a day. In addition, you can put on a few pairs of socks and direct the hairdryer at the problematic spots. 

Q: What is the Best Way to Soften Leather?


The best way to soften leather is by using quality leather conditioners. Make sure your leather shoes are clean before you apply anything to them. Get a clean cloth and dab it into the conditioner. Apply the conditioner to your shoes using wide strokes. 

Q: How Do You Soften Leather Boots Quickly?


For example, you can rub the problematic areas with some rubbing alcohol. Make sure your leather boots are clean before you apply anything. Let the boots dry for around 30 minutes, and then apply some Vaseline in the same areas. Let it dry overnight and remove the excess with a clean cloth.

Q: How Do You Loosen Tight Leather Shoes?


In order to loosen tight leather shoes, you should slowly start wearing them until they become softer and more comfortable. Start by wearing them every other day for half a day, making sure you swap them for more comfortable shoes. 

Q: How Can I Stretch Leather Shoes Fast?


You can put on multiple pairs of socks and then put on your leather shoes. Direct the heat from the hairdryer to the problematic tight spots for around a minute. Make sure you let your shoes cool while you are still wearing them. 

Q: Will Leather Shoes Stretch?


Yes, leather shoes will naturally stretch when you start wearing them. You can also use different methods to make them soft as more quickly. For example, you can use a hairdryer, a spoon, a shoe stretcher, or a leather shoe conditioner. 

Q: How Do You Soften Leather Shoes with Olive Oil?


Get a clean cloth and dip it into olive oil. Gently rub the problematic areas on your leather shoes using circular motions. Let the oil dry before you start wearing the shoes. You can repeat the process if they are not soft enough.

Q: How Long Do Leather Shoes Take to Break in?


Leather shoes can take anywhere from one to four weeks to break in. This depends on the way they are manufactured and on how hard the leather is. Slowly start wearing them for half a day until they become softer. 

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New leather shoes can look fantastic but it can be very painful to break them in. Luckily, there are certain methods you can try to speed up this process. For example, you can start wearing your shoes for half a day. 

Besides, you can stuff them with damp newspaper, use a hairdryer, shoe stretchers, spoons, etc. If none of these methods seem to work, you can always ask a professional for help. Good luck!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!