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Footwear Guide

16 Effective Tips on How to Soften the Back of New Shoes



You’ve just bought a new pair of shoes and have noticed the back is a little hard. We are all familiar with the painful experience of wearing a shoe with a stiff back. That’s why we decided to come up with several tips on how to soften the back of new shoes.


How to Soften the Back of New Shoes – Step By Step Guide

Use these useful hacks to soften the back of your new shoes. We hope they will be useful for you. 

1. Oils

Using oil is a proven way to help stretch out your shoes. This helps in maintaining it for a longer time. If you’ve got a pair of new shoes especially leather ones, oil could be of great help. Apply a small amount of oil to the shoes by rubbing it onto the surfaces. Let it soak into the leather for some minutes to make it soft. Doing this improves stretching when you put them on after purchasing. Applying a coat of oil in leather shoes makes them more comfortable to wear as well.

2. Thick Padded Socks

Wearing thickly padded shoes makes your feet feel comfortable without having to feel the bottom of the shoe. They create room for better ventilation since they are thicker than normal socks. The next time you put on the shoes without the padded socks, the shoe will feel spacious and without any sore feet. You should, however, not wear the ones that are too thick or thin for effective results. 

3. Try a Hairdryer

Shoes will increase in size when they get exposed to heat. This method is suitable for use with leather shoes mostly. Once you put on the shoes, apply some heat over them using the dryer on all the sides. Allow it to cool and then remove your feet. Try them on again and feel as if it is easy enough to walk without any discomfort. Repeat the process several times until you achieve the comfort you need. You need to use the hairdryer while on low heat. High heat can bring great damage to your favorite pair of shoes.

4. Insoles

Insoles can make your feet feel comfortable with less irritation whenever you put on hard shoes. It also keeps the back of the shoe softer as it makes it widen a little. The shoes do not become soft immediately but with frequent wear. When choosing insoles, ensure it is the right size and the dimensions should fit perfectly onto the shoe. If they don’t tightly fit, you can try them with some socks for a roomier and more spacious shoe. You can get customized to your liking. Insoles work by preventing friction between your feet and the back of new shoes.

5. Wooden Inserts

Wood inserts are traditional yet very helpful methods that have been used with many people. Inserting wood in the shoes creates more room as it makes it a bit wider. You can get wooden inserts locally available for purchase. Since they are firm, they make the shoe stay stretched for as long as to want. They not only work for the back of the shoes but for other parts that irritate your feet as well. The inserts bring more ventilation to shoemaking them quite easy to wear.

6. Use Moleskins

This sticky fabric can help relieve the condition when placed on the skin directly or on the new shoe. Cut enough pieces to fit the area you want to place it. Mark the area you want to stick it with a pen. You can cut it in any shape as long as it fits and then peels off the backing. Stick it to the skin or the shoe. For a more effective result, clean the skin or the shoe before sticking the moleskin.

7. Shoe Sprays

Shoe spray helps stretch leather shoes without necessarily making them wet. Spray onto the shoe and then wear them with some socks too. The more you continue walking thereafter, the softer they will become after spraying.

8. Alcohol

Use rubbing alcohol instead of regular alcohol. Regular alcohol won’t make your shoes feel smelly. Spray the exterior of the shoes with alcohol after wearing them with some socks. It will soften the inside parts of the shoes to make them comfortable for your feet. Another alternative is to spray it on thick padded socks and then wear the shoes. You can also spray rubbing alcohol after wearing the shoes. Doing this from the outside will expand the shoe from the outside.

9. Soap

Other than being a cleaning agent, soap can also be used as a shoe softener. Solid soap is better than using liquid one. Take a small piece of soap and insert it at the back of the shoes on the inside part. Gently rub it in the area for a few minutes while flexing the material a little. Test the shoes by putting them on and walking in them. To make them softer, you can add potatoes for a while to make them stretch.

10. Newspapers

Dampen old newspapers by sprinkling with a little water. Roll up the damp newspapers to form a small ball. Stuff them on both shoes and then allow them to dry. The shoe will get softer with the moisture released from the newspaper. You can also apply a shoe conditioner before stuffing it in the newspapers.

11. Use Ice

Ice helps soften the back of shoes that looks very stiff. Take two Ziplock bags and fill each with water until it’s halfway. Place each bag with water on each shoe and then place the shoe in a freezer. The bag of water should not be leaking otherwise it will cause damage. Ensure the bag is more concentrated on the backside of the shoe before freezing it. Let it stay in the freezer for up to 7 or 8 hours depending on the freezing speed. Water molecules increases in ice and this will expand the back of the shoe. When you remove the ice, you will remain with soft and easy-to-walk-on shoes.

12. Vinegar and Kerosene

Kerosene and vinegar are useful household items that help in this situation. Put an amount of vinegar on the new shoes and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Add a coating of kerosene to make it softer. When you are done, you can choose to wear them to keep them wide or leave them to widen on their own at their own pace. It depends on how soon you want to put them on after they’ve become soft.

13. Shoe Conditioner

Get a shoe conditioner and apply to the shoe and then leave it overnight to soften. Use a shoe conditioner only on suede or leather shoes. Rubber shoes and other materials will change color.

14. Stretch the Shoes

There are more ways you can stretch new shoes. One way is to use a shoe tree to stretch the length and the width to widen it. Insert the tree on both shoes and leave them inside whenever you are not planning to wear the shoes. Take them off if you need to wear them but insert them again after removing the shoes. The second method is to use a shoe stretcher. Use a shoe spray before and then insert the stretchers. Adjust the length and the width using the knobs and then leave it for about 8 hours before removing the stretcher. The shoes will no longer feel tight and will feel safe for your heels. Using a 2-way shoe stretcher could be the best idea.

15. Moisture 

Take a damp cloth and wet the interior of the shoe at the back. Put on your shoes after that and walk. An alternative method is to use a wet towel or rag and wrap it on the box containing the new shoe. You can also take a sizeable container and fill it with hot water and place the shoes inside. The steam helps to widen the back. This method is however not good for shoes that can get damaged with water like leather shoes.

16. Get Professional Help

If all these methods do not work effectively for you, some professionals offer services to help soften new shoes. They have the needed knowledge and do not work on trial and error. Getting professional help will soften them faster since they have the appropriate machines and materials.



New shoes can be painful to have on when you do not know how to soften them. Shoes that are not so soft at the back are a major cause of skin irritation and blisters. The shoes need not be tight and that’s why you should use these methods to widen them. When you wear shoes that are not soft, there will be friction caused anytime your feet rub in with the shoe. It makes walking more comfortable. We’ve looked at the ways on how to soften the back of new shoes. If one method doesn’t work effectively, incorporating two or more methods will widen new shoes faster and make the back soft.


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