How to Soften the Back of New Shoes that Hurt: 9 Best Methods

Soften the Back of New Shoes

The thrill of getting new shoes can quickly disappear amidst the pain of breaking them in. A high ranking culprit in this is the back of your shoes, an area that is generally a hard patch of material that gives one nasty, uncomfortable, and downright painful blisters on the heels.

How to soften the back of new shoes? To avoid the blisters, one might opt to toss the shoes in the wardrobe, but after spending all that money on them, you have to be able to show them off. So, we are here to point you to things you can do and steps you can take that would help you wear your new shoes comfortably without them hurting you. 

How to Soften New Hard Leather Shoes

The following methods are the tried and tested methods that you can use to soften your hard leather shoes. We have saved you the stress of finding out those that work and those that don’t, and our curate list will give you options on which one to use.

1. Use Soap to Soften Your Leather Shoes

Soap is not just for bathing or washing, it turns out it can also be used to soften your new leather shoes, especially the back of the new shoes. All you have to do is use a portion of soap, generally a small one, on the inside of the back of your shoes.

Rub it in gently and flex the material a bit. The advantage of doing this is twofold; it would prevent your skin from being blistered due to friction between your heels and the shoes, and it would also help soften the back of your shoes for maximum comfort and ease of wearing.

After rubbing the shoes with the soap, walk around in them for a while or stuff a potato or some sock balls into it so that the material would get even softer and stretch, allowing you to wear them easily.

2. Use Alcohol to Soften Your Shoes

Now, alcohol here doesn’t mean the regular alcohol that people drink. The alcohol you need here is rubbing alcohol, which you can get from your local drugstore. If you use the regular alcohol, all it would do to your shoes is to make it end up smelling like a drunk.

To use alcohol in softening your shoes, you either spray your thick socks with rubbing alcohol and wear them, or you wear your socks and spray the outside of your shoes with rubbing alcohol.

If you choose to wear socks that have been soaked in rubbing alcohol, it means your shoes will be softened from the inside molding to the shape and size of your feet.

If you choose to spray the outside of your shoes in rubbing alcohol, then it means your shoes will expand from the outside, softening them.

3. Use High-Fat Oils to Soften Your New Sneakers

This method works very well for leather shoes. All you have to do is rub the oil on the outside of your shoes very well. The oil would soak the shoes and make them softer.

In addition to that, it would also make your shoes look evergreen, so this is one of the best methods we have for you. An example of this type of oil is castor oil.

4. Use Ice to Soften the Back of Your New Shoes that Hurt

In this method, you will know to soften the back of stiff shoes. Water molecules expand when they are frozen, and this is a small tidbit of scientific fact that can be used to your advantage.

To use this method, all you have to do is fill up two small, sealable bags with water, about halfway. Put one water bag into each shoe, and make sure the bulk of the water bag is close to the inside of the back of your new shoes.

Put your shoes or sneakers in the freezer and leave them there for the next seven hours upwards. As the water bags freeze, they’ll get bigger, and so will the back of your shoes, making them softer and easier to wear.

Take the shoes out of the freezer and after allowing them to warm up, wear them to check if the expansion of the shoes has made the back of the new shoes as soft as you want it. If not, repeat the procedure until the back of your shoes are as soft as you want them to be.

A word of caution; it is crucial to the use of your shoes that you make sure the water bags are not dripping. Freezing doesn’t destroy your shoes, especially the leather ones, but excessive water will.

5. Use another temperature extreme, Heat to Soften the Back of Your Shoes

This is the second temperature extreme that is useful when it comes to matters of softening your new shoes. It is a known scientific fact that heat expands things. It can also make them soft.

An example of this is what heat does to plastic. But with your shoes, especially your leather shoes, you don’t need that degree of heat. All you need is a hairdryer and some thick socks, probably two pairs.

Put on the socks and wear your new shoes. They might be uncomfortable now, but don’t worry, a few moments with the dryer will soften them up.

Use the dryer on low heat and run it over the outside of your shoes, taking special care to make sure you don’t stay on one spot for too long. Flex your toes inside the shoes as the heat makes the material get softer and easily expandable.

When you’re done with the dryer, remove your socks, and wear your shoes to check if the softening is to your liking. If not, repeat the process and blast the back of your leather shoes to make the leather softer.

6. Use Shoe Stretch Sprays

These sprays are usually used for leather shoes and are a good bet if you want to soften up the leather material of your shoes. Simply spray them on the inside of your shoes and wear the shoes.

Walk around in them and use the flexing of your legs and the walking motion to soften the shoes and make them wearable to your liking.

These shoe sprays are cheap and can be bought in stores and shoe repair shops. Used well, they can increase the size of your shoes by almost half.

7. Use Insoles to Soften Your New Shoes

Insoles help to make the footing of your shoes softer, and this can also have a knock-on effect on the softening of the back of your shoes, as softening the insoles mean you can wear the shoes more easily and thus the back of your shoes will soften with use.

When you walk around with insoles in your shoes, your feet feel more comfortable and the inside of the back of your shoes don’t hurt as much. The insoles can also make your footing elevated and help you feel less pain when breaking in your shoes.

It is possible to get insoles that are customized exactly for you, insoles that fit your size and style very well. Using these alongside socks will make your shoes easier to wear, not to mention roomier and softer. Also, insoles improve your walking posture.

Insoles are made with cushy materials that adapt to the size and shape of your feet as you wear them, so getting some customized insoles when you buy your shoes will help you walk better and avoid the pain of having the back of your shoes hurt your legs.

8. Use Wooden inserts to Soften the Back of Your Shoes

Wooden inserts are incredibly old, but they are still a great way of making the back of your shoes softer. There are wooden inserts that adjust on the back end/heel of your shoes, though if you want to soften the other parts of the shoe, it’s possible to get wooden inserts for those too.

Wooden inserts are easy to use. Just insert them into your shoes and they will keep the leather material of your shoes stretched for a long time, softening the material and making sure it becomes more comfortable for you to wear your shoes.

Asides from even helping you soften the material of your shoes, wooden inserts also help ventilate your shoes when they are not in use as they keep the shoes stretched till you take them out. Excellent by-product you’ve got there.

9. Use a mixture of Vinegar and Kerosene to Make Your Hard Shoes Soften

We all know kerosene as a type of fuel, but it is also useful in other ways, especially when you want to make new, uncomfortable shoes become softer and easier to wear, not to mention more enjoyable.

However, before you use kerosene, the shoes should have been put into vinegar for a period of time, say 20-30 minutes beforehand. Alongside the vinegar on the shoe, the kerosene would serve as a coating and the combo will make the leather softer.

The shoes can then be worn so they would be wider, or the shoes can simply be left alone to widen by themselves, only that it would be slower than wearing them.

And don’t worry about your shoe smelling like vinegar, the air takes care of that.

Will these Methods Really Help to Soften My New Leather Shoes?

Definitely, our tips are very useful to soften your new shoes, all you have to do is pick the desired method and apply it, and you’ll be getting softer new canvas shoes in no time.

Kamal Chandel

Kamal Chandel, the founder of and wanted to share his knowledge with other people and that's why he launched Best Shoes Advisor to provide the updated information so that everyone makes more approachable and scalable who are looking for best shoes according to their choice and problems.

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