How to Break in Work Boots Fast : 14 Effective Hacks

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When you go to work, you should not just wear your favorite jeans and a T-shirt. You need to put on a comfortable pair of work boots or shoes too.

The adjective ‘comfortable’ with work boots has a great impact on your work efficiency and output. If you don’t feel comfortable, that’d be a total mess at the workplace.

So mate, if you decide to put on your favorite new pair of footwear at the workplace, make sure it is comfortable enough as most work boots may cause you irritation and pain initially.

And here comes ‘breaking in work boots’!

Now, how about we tell you there are some easy ways through which you will be able to break in your new boots without hurting yourself?

I will provide you with 14 effective ways to break in work boots fast without breaking your feet. Let us take a look at how these methods can be helpful for you.

How to break in work boots

How Important It Is to Break Your Work New Boots?

If you are working with heavy-duty work boots, then you will need to break them in. There is no way to do this without exerting a lot of effort and your feet feeling pain. The more quickly your new boots are broken in, the better it is for you. This, in turn, makes your work boots most durable.

For many people, the most common problem associated with wearing uncomfortable work boots is that they are unable to walk properly or stand for long hours doing their job. They often complain how they have sore feet after wearing new work boots all day at home or even on their first day at work. If there was not so much friction between your footwear and your foot, things would be different altogether.

How to Break In Boots Real Fast

To solve this issue, you can use some of the following 14 effective ways to break work boots fast without breaking your feet. Especially if they are made from leather, it is a good idea to do this as soon as possible. Leather is porous and will absorb water faster than other materials. However, you need not worry about how to do this without getting your new boots wet or making them damp inside.

You will be able to adjust how tight or loose your shoes should fit by choosing one of these methods to break in work boots naturally. Let us take a look at what these methods to break in work boots fast are all about:

Hack#1 – Wear Thick Socks

Wear Thick Socks

This is perhaps one of the most common ways to break in work boots without pain or breaking feet. You will need a thick pair of socks to separate the leather from your skin. It is important that thin socks should be avoided because they can make you feel all sweaty inside work boots. If your shoes are damp, it makes it even harder to break them in naturally and fast.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Easy

Hack#2 – Stretch Out Your Boots

Stretch your boots by shoe stretching spray

Before wearing them, you need to stretch out your new work boots. An excellent way to stretch out your boots is by using shoe stretch spray. You can buy some spray-on liquids online or at the local stores. They come in different colors such as yellow, white, and blue.

They are specially formulated to stretch out the leather work boots that have been dried by water or snow. You just need to apply a few simple sprays of these solvents on the back of your shoe where it hurts most after wearing them a few times. Let the spray dry and then wear thick socks over them.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Nubuck, leather, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 30 minutes
  • Effort level : Easy

Hack#3 – Wear for a Few Minutes Every Day

Wear Boots Home everyday

Wear your shoes little by little each day until they completely fit the shape of your feet. This will reduce the number of times you need to put on thick socks. It would only take about 15 minutes each day before wearing new work boots full-time as desired.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Easy

Hack#4 – Use An Insert

Use Insole

You can buy some high-quality insoles that provide comfort and prevent foot fatigue. These insoles will help you to keep your feet comfortable even after taking off your boots at the end of a long day. These insoles could be worn over and over again every day if you need to make work boots break in faster.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 3 days
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#5 – Use Warm Water

Use Warm Water

Soak your new footwear in hot water for about 20 minutes. After this, try them on without wearing thick socks. Since they are warm inside, it will stretch out the leather making work boots easier for their shape to mold with your feet. This is another great way to wear shoes quickly when you have lots of jobs that need to be completed in a limited amount of time.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck boots
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#6 – Use A Shoe Horn

Use Shoe Horn

A shoe horn can help you to slip your feet into the front of work boots without having them press against the sides of your feet. This will prevent you from getting blisters and sore feet after wearing new shoes for breaking in boots that are too tight.

A shoehorn is a curved piece of flat metal or plastic with a handle on one end and a spoon-like tip on another end. It was originally used by people to make their footwear easier to wear especially women’s black dress boots.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Easy

Hack#7 – Use The Hair Dryer or Kitchen Oven

Use hair dryer or oven

This method works great for those who want to know how to stretch out tight dress boots faster at home. It helps you soften the leather inside stitched footwear easily. Do not microwave or use an oven as it can become very hot which many people may be unaware of until they get burned. Don’t use your oven’s broiler for this method to stretch out new boots.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#8 – Use A Boot Stretcher

Use Shoe Stretcher

You can hire a boot stretcher at any local shoe repair shop, or it may be the only available option for making dress boots more comfortable after they have been dried by water or snow. This is similar to using spray-on liquid solvents except you will be using a mechanical device that stretches out your footwear slowly rather than just spraying on liquids directly into the leather inside of shoes without stretching them first.

It’s not recommended to rely on these shoe stretcher machines regularly unless you wearing boots that are very tight and don’t fit well after several uses of the stretching spray.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Hard

Hack#9 – Insert Wet Towel or Newspaper

Insert Wet Towel or newspaper

Insert a wet towel or crumpled-up newspaper inside your new boots to stretch out shoes for men quickly. This is a great way to make boots fit better if you cannot afford to buy insoles.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#10 – Use a Tennis Ball Inside

Use a tennis ball

Use a tennis ball inside your tight shoes and then tie them with the laces as usual. Make sure it’s tightly secured in place by tying shoe laces. This is the best option when the soles of your feet are very sore after wearing shoes all day long or want your new red riding boots to feel tight. The balls will conform to the shape of your foot over time and give more space because of their softness.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck boots
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Easy

Hack#11 – Place Ice Bag or a Frozen Bag of Vegetables Inside

Use ice bag or Frozen Vegetable bag

This is one of the cool ways to stretch boots with ice. Place a bag of vegetables or iced water inside your new shoes. Tie them up tightly and leave them for several hours before wearing them. The cold compress will act as an extra cushion which makes it easy for you to put on tight shoes fast. You can then wear these boots after they are softened up with ice inside for several hours.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck boots
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#12 – Have A Friend Put Boots On For You

Have a friend put on your boots

This may sound funny, but another way is to have your partner or family member help you stretch out boots that are too tight.

Let them wear the gray dress boot around the house until it becomes loose enough to wear comfortably on their own feet. This is also a great option to avoid breaking in new shoes. It’s an effective way of making boots more comfortable after they have been dried by water or snow.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Personal effort level

Hack#13 – Use Mink Oil or Leather Conditioner

Use Mink oil or leather conditioner

Using a leather conditioner effectively helps to soften the leather fibers of shoes that have been dried out by weather or are just extremely stiff. You can use mink oil first for best results or any other type of leather cream for this method for leather fibers. This way, you know how to stretch boots without ruining them after getting wet and drying inside out.

Apply it throughout the entire length of your new shoes until they have absorbed the deep moisturizing ingredients inside fully before wearing them throughout the day. Leather products also work best when combined with any or all of these methods mentioned above like using hot water, shoe-horns, towels, insoles, shoe laces, etc.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather boots
  • Standard duration required : 1 day
  • Effort level : Moderate

Hack#14 – Take Your Work Boots To An Expert

Send boots to an expert

This is one way to break a new pair of leather boots in fast. It’s not recommended for those who want to know how quickly boots break-in at home because it will cost more money than just doing it on your own. If you have a job that has tight shoes that need to be broken into very easily then going to a shoe repair shop could be a good solution for you.

Hack Effectiveness Award

  • Suitable For : Leather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots
  • Standard duration required : 7 days
  • Effort level : Easy

A comparative table for the 14 hacks I mentioned above is given below:
Hack #MethodSuitable ForDuration RequiredEffort Level
1Wear Thick SocksLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots7 daysEasy
2Stretch Out Your BootsNubuck, leather, suede boots30 minutesEasy
3Wear for a Few Minutes Every DayLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots7 daysEasy
4Use An InsertLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots3 daysModerate
5Use Warm WaterLeather, nubuck boots1 dayModerate
6Use A Shoe HornLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots7 daysEasy
7Use Hair Dryer or Kitchen OvenLeather, nubuck boots7 daysModerate
8Use A Boot StretcherLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots1 dayHard
9Insert Wet Towel or NewspaperLeather, nubuck1 dayModerate
10Use a Tennis Ball InsideLeather, nubuck boots1 dayEasy
11Place Ice Bag or Frozen VeggiesLeather, nubuck boots1 dayModerate
12Have A Friend Put Boots OnLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots7 daysPersonal effort
13Use Mink Oil or Leather Cond.Leather boots1 dayModerate
14Take Boots To An ExpertLeather, nubuck, fabric, suede boots7 daysEasy
Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or prefer to leave it to the experts, there's a method for everyone. Just remember, patience is key, and don't sleep with new boots (unless you're really in love with them).

The DON’Ts

  1. Do not wear them for more than 4 hours at first.
  2. Do not over-wear your new pair of boots during the break-in period; you can reduce break-in time if you give your boots a day or two of rest between each wear.
  3. Do not go barefoot, as this will stretch them out too quickly and also cause injury.
  4. Do not wear new boots on extremely hot days, unless they are made from genuine leather.
  5. Don’t try to accomplish everything in a few hours or in one day. Keep calm and continue breaking in.
  6. Don’t use heating appliances extensively, such as a boot dryer or hair dryer, which will not only fail to speed up the break-in process but cause the leather to dry out and crack prematurely.
  7. Don’t sleep with new boots! This will cause too much stretching too fast instead of the boot’s natural shape which could lead to cracks in their components, damage to the sole(usually coming off), and deforming of other components (heels, toes, etc.) along with foot problems like blisters or even permanent damage like stress fractures if you’re really unlucky!
  8. Avoid putting on new boots while still wearing your pajamas. This can damage them by stretching them out too quickly.​
  9. Do not worry about blisters during this period either, you will get some no matter what, so do not try to prevent them because you seem “uncomfortable”. The discomfort is actually your body telling you something is wrong! Usually, if the fit of boots is correct they tend not to be uncomfortable at all.
  10. Don’t worry about breaking in new boots too quickly as this could potentially ruin them! Give them proper rest between each wear. If you want to speed up the process it’s recommended to do so by not wearing them for more than 4 hours at first and you can gradually increase this period if they are starting to feel comfortable.

Have some time? Let us quickly watch an interesting video by Carl Murawski (all credits to this excellent reviewer) :

What Will Happen If You Do Not Break-in New Boots Properly?

When you do not break in your new work boots correctly bad things may happen such as:

  • Blisters on the soles of your feet, on your heels, and on your toes.
  • Aches and pains all over the body, especially in the lower back and shoulders.
  • Corns on the feet or toe joints​.
  • Curved-toed shoes with rounded insides that increase pain while wearing them.​
  • Muscles atrophying and weakening due to lack of use, among other things​.
  • Boots that fit too tightly across the top of your foot can cause you a great deal of discomfort from day one if they’re not broken in properly before they’re used for work. In fact, there’s little chance that they’ll ever be comfortable until the leather stretches over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to break in leather work boots fast at home?

Though we have discussed breaking in new work boots, there are few things to be taken care of for breaking in a new set of leather boots.

First, make sure they fit correctly and aren’t too tight. Then slip them on and walk around your house for about ten minutes.

Next, put on some thick wool socks and go for an hour-long walk with some brisk steps here and there—particularly up hills or stairs if you’re in the city or by the beach if you’re near water.

Finally, clean them with a soft cloth when they get dirty so that the leather doesn’t form any cracks prematurely.

Breaking in leather work boots is an important step in avoiding any future issues such as large scratches ruining their aesthetic.

How to break in Ariat Work Boots?

For special cases, to answer questions like – ‘How to break in Ariat work boots?’ or ‘How to break in Red Wing work boots?’, we recommend the following special steps which perform like magic :

  • Step 1: Put the boots on in front of a heater or in a warm spot to soften them up.
  • Step 2: Stuff socks into the boot.
  • Step 3: Make sure not to overstuff the foot part of the sock, they need air to form around them perfect fit, but want it good and comfortable with your heel when you walk in the boot!
  • Step 4: Leave the shoe off for about 20 minutes then lace up
  • Step 5: Remove sock from boot lace feet down run hands down laces to make tight
  • Step 6: Put on another pair of socks for this process
  • Step 7: Keep alternating between barefoot-putting on the second pair of socks repeat 3-7 for about one hour. Do it for 2-3 days to maximize the result.

How long does it take to break in a pair of cowboy boots?

It all depends on the tanning method and leather grade on new cowboy boots, but usually, the average time is about a few weeks. If you are wearing them every day for hours at a time, sometimes they can be broken-in faster, but this would depend on the individual. It all comes down to how much time off your feet you can afford, or rather how many hours per day you want/need to torture them!

What is the quickest way to break in new boots?

Break in boots fast by wearing them with thick socks and walking around your house with two pairs of socks on for a few days. After that, put on some thinner socks and take them out! You will probably want to avoid heavy loads or extreme situations until they’ve had a bit more time to break in.

How do you know when boots are broken in?

The only way to be sure that your new boots are broken in enough for work is to test them out by wearing them for a few days. When they feel nice and comfy, they’re broken in and ready for use! Just make sure to give the insoles a day or two on their own to fully form for extra comfort.

Should leather boots be snug at first? How tight should new boots be?

Leather Pairs of boots should never be worn when they are too tight as the leather will not stretch if it is too taut. They need to feel a little tight because of natural compression and movement, but there needs to be room for your feet to swell during the day due to heat and activity among other things.

Does breaking in boots hurt?

Yes, it can hurt. But It depends on the boot and how you break them in. You should always wear a pair of thick socks when breaking in boots. Also If you have a lot of padding, it won’t hurt as much.

Parting Words

It is possible to break in your new tough pair of boots fast so that they are ready for wear within a few hours or very short periods of time depending on how much your feet swell throughout the day due to activity, weather conditions, and if you already have naturally wider feet.

There are some who take longer because they seem to never stretch enough, but this happens with cheaper quality boots more often than not. If you buy better quality leathers then break-in will probably be easier for you! Try using a combination of all ten and you will be walking around comfortably with your new boots in no time!

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Lance 'LeatherMan' Hackney

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