How To Break In Work Boots

Having a new pair of work boots can be exciting as you are replacing an old pair and ready to start anew with new boots. But, new boots, steel-toe boots or not, should not be worn right away to work as they can cause blisters and can be uncomfortable to wear.

Breaking in new boots is the best way to keep your feet happy and blister-free.

To break in work boots, you can wear them with thick socks around the house to expand the material. You can also physically bend the boots or insert a shoe stretcher to help the break-in process.

As someone who wears specialized shoes for work, I know a thing or two about breaking in footwear to make them comfortable. This article is a detailed guide on how to break in new work boots to keep your feet happy as you go about your work day!

How To Break In Work Boots

Steps On How To Break In Work Boots

Breaking in new work boots is essential if you want to have pain-free feet as you go about your day. New boots usually feel tight and stiff when worn even if you’ve fit them perfectly as they have not molded to the feet yet.

Wearing new work boots without breaking them in can be uncomfortable and painful. There are proper ways to break in new work boots without destroying them.

Here are several ways to break in work boots:

  1. Getting The Correct Work Boot Size

The most important thing to do before you even think about breaking in new work boots is to get them in the correct size. Getting the wrong boot size will not make them comfortable no matter how much you break them in.

Boots that are too small will cause your feet to cramp and there will be intense pressure on the sides of the feet. This can cause foot problems such as bunions or hammer toes. Boots that are too large will not offer much support and will be unstable to wear which can cause injuries.

Boots come in different sizes in length but you also want to consider the width of the boots. Some boots come in narrow, wide, or extra wide and are represented by letters: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE, and EEE). AAA is the narrowest shoe while EEE is the widest width. You will also come across an M size which means medium – the standard width size of a shoe.

  1. Wear Thick Socks With Your Boots

Once you’ve got a new pair of boots in the correct size, don’t go around wearing them to work immediately.

Wearing thick socks with your boots will expand the material and the boots will conform to your feet better. If you have new leather work boots, wearing thick socks will stretch the leather outwards making the boots more comfortable. You can wear thick socks with your boots for a few hours and see where the pressure from the boots hit the most. This is where the blisters will most likely form.

  1. Walk Around In Your Boots

Work boots are usually made from leather making them stiffer than other kinds of footwear. This means that they might need to break in longer as well.

Walking around the house while wearing your boots (and thick socks) will make the material more flexible and conform to your foot shape. If you’ve already worn the boots with socks before but not walked around in them, you might already get a feel of where the blisters will form. You can put plasters, band-aids, or adhesive bandages on the area where you feel the most pressure from the boots before walking in them. These areas are usually the toes, the sides of the ball of your feet, and the Achilles heel. This will protect those areas and prevent blisters from forming. If you already have blisters in those areas, protecting them will also keep the pain at bay.

Aside from walking inside your house, you can also walk outside your house while wearing your boots. You can break in a new pair of boots by wearing them while you take out the trash or by getting some mail.

Of course, you do not have to do this all day. It is likely that your feet will be painful if you walk around in your new boots all day. A couple of hours a day is fine and when your feet start to feel uncomfortable, it’s time to give them a rest.

  1. Use A Shoe Stretcher

Using a shoe or boot stretcher can break in your shoes without having to wear them. They may not be as effective as when you wear the boots yourself but, shoe stretchers can definitely help in the breaking-in process.

Boot stretchers can be inserted in the boots and you turn a knob to expand the shoe stretcher until you feel resistance from the boots. Once the shoe stretcher is expanded fully, you can leave the shoe stretcher in the boots for up to 8 hours. The boots will feel less tight after the shoe stretcher has been removed. Wear the boots after you use the shoe stretcher to make the boots conform to your feet more.

You can repeat the process as needed but make sure not to leave the shoe stretcher inside the boots for too long as the boots can become too loose.

  1. Stuff The Boots

If you do not have a shoe stretcher or a shoe horn, you can stuff the boots with rolled-up thick socks to stretch the boots. Leave the socks in the boots for a couple of hours and wear the boots after to continue the process of breaking them in.

  1. Bend The Boots

Physically bending the boots using your hands can also help break in your new boots. Bending the boots back and forth around the midsole and the ball of the boots can help the materials flex and stretch a little bit more.  You can also bend the heels and the shaft of the boots so that they move along with your feet better as you walk.

  1. Use Leather Conditioner To Moisturize The Boots

A leather conditioner does not only keep your leather boots in good condition. It also helps keep the leather soft and pliable which will help break in your boots easier.

Make sure to use conditioners sparingly as over-conditioned leather can make the leather fibers of the boots too soft or floppy. Just use enough conditioner and use your hands to bend the boots as you see fit.

What To Avoid When Breaking In Work Boots

When you get a new pair of boots, you might get impatient with the break-in process. But, it is important to not rush the process to ensure that your boots are broken in properly.

When breaking in your new work boots, do not exaggerate bending the boots back and forth as the sole might break. Also, make sure to give your feet a rest as breaking in brand-new pair of boots for long periods can cause blisters.

Avoid submerging your new boots in hot or cold water as doing so can destroy your boots. Not all boots are waterproof and boots have a chance of being destroyed if they are put in water for e period of time. You do not want to be replacing the boots that you just recently purchased.

Just keep wearing your shoes every day for a couple of hours and they will be broken in properly. Buy a new pair in advance so you can still have a decent pair of work boots while you start the process of breaking in your new pair.


Some boots break in easily while some can take a while. Wearing new pair of boots for a couple of hours daily can help break them in. Whether you have steel-toe work boots or composite toes, breaking in new work boots is essential. There are other ways to break in a new pair of boots and we have covered them in this article.

Hopefully, this article helped you learn how to break in new work boots. If you have any questions, let us know and we’ll get back to you soon!