How to Break in a New Pair of Shoes Fast

by Grace Riley
Wear bandages to protect your feet while you break in new shoes.

Wear bandages to protect your feet while you break in new shoes.

The process of breaking in new shoes can range from being mildly unpleasant to excruciatingly painful. People from all walks of life come to dread the experience -- Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II dislikes the task so much that she actually employs someone to break in new shoes for her. Sadly, not all of us can have an employee dedicated to the sole task of breaking in our footwear -- but by following the steps below you can alleviate the new-shoe black and blues all on your own.

Apply shoe-stretching solution or leather moisturizer to the interior of the shoes, wherever the shoes rub against your feet. Follow the product manufacturer’s instructions for application. Then put the shoes on while damp and wear them until they are dry. The moisture will soften the shoes, allowing them to mold to your feet more readily than dry shoes will. Repeat the process if necessary.

Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and rub it inside the shoes. Put the shoes on while damp and wear them until they are dry. Again, let the moisture do the work and soften your shoes up.

Put on the shoes and step into a bucket or basin of water, if you can safely saturate the material. Step out of the bucket, keep the shoes on and wear them until they are dry. Walking as much as you can while you are wearing them will further soften and shape the material.

Dampen the shoes in any of the aforementioned ways and step into the shoes while wearing a pair of thick socks. The added bulk of the socks will help to stretch the shoes more effectively and will also protect your feet from getting blisters. Wear the socks while in the shoes until the shoes are broken in.

Items you will need

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Shoe-stretching solution, leather moisturizer or rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton ball
  • Bucket or basin
  • Water
  • Thick socks
  • Foot friction block


  • Affix adhesive bandages to the parts of each foot that new shoes tend to rub the most, such as the back of your heel or the base of your big toe. This will protect your feet as you break in the shoes.
  • Rub a foot friction block on your feet in lieu of applying bandages or wearing socks. Although the thin layer of balm doesn’t seem like a reasonable barrier against the friction that new shoes cause, the product actually prevents the shoes from causing blisters or pain. Carry the product with you until the shoes are sufficiently broken in so that you can reapply the product as needed. You can foot friction blocks in the first aid section of many pharmacies and in most camping supply stores.
  • You can purchase shoe-stretching spray or leather moisturizer at most leather goods shops and shoe stores.


  • Before you dampen your shoes in any way, read the care instructions on the shoebox or consult a shoe professional to ensure that you can get the shoes wet without damaging them. For example, in most cases, you should avoid saturating suede.

About the Author

Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images