How to Soften the Back of New Shoes | 13 Best Tips


Are your shoes too tight for you? Are they uncomfortable to wear? I bet you’re here because you want to know how to soften the back of new shoes. Give it a stretch a bit to make it fit perfectly. Well, after reading our 13 best tips below, you’ll know!

Shoes are an important part of our wardrobe. We have a wide variety of shoes which we wear daily. Different designs, heels, and heights of heels, and laces or no laces. The most common problem that all shoe-lovers face is softening the back of new shoes.

Instant Answer: 13 Proven Methods to Soften New Shoes for Optimal Comfort and Fit

To effectively soften the back of your new shoes, consider using a hairdryer for leather and suede, freezing ziplock bags filled with water to gradually stretch the material, or investing in a reliable 2-way shoe stretcher for an overall improved fit.

Alternatively, wearing thick padded socks, inserting wooden shoe stretchers, or using dampened newspaper can also aid in breaking in and softening your shoes over time. For specific materials like patent leather or suede, a quality shoe stretch spray may be effective.

Additionally, rubbing a wet bar of soap, applying rubbing alcohol, or using oils such as glycerin or castor oil can contribute to making your shoes more pliable. For a unique approach, a few drops of kerosene, preceded by a vinegar and water mixture, can soften tight shoes.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is another option, applied generously and worn for a few hours, with the option to reapply for additional stretching.

If all else fails, seeking professional assistance from a cobbler ensures a tailored solution to soften your shoes without causing damage.


So here’s a list of methods you can try to soften the back of your new shoes. But first, check out the things you’ll need.

How to Soften the Back of New Shoes

Now that you’ve purchased your new shoes, you’ll have to break them in. Breaking in new shoes is important, as your feet will change shape and size over the course of their lifetime; you want to make sure your shoes fit perfectly.

So how to soften the back of new shoes properly? There are a lot of methods you can follow, here are 13 of them:

1. Use Hairdryer

how to soften the back of new shoes

Using a hairdryer is our first method on how to soften the back of new shoes.

This method is only appropriate for your new leather and suede fabric shoes. Heating the back or heel of the shoe with a hairdryer will help you soften the material. Then mold it to your feet, making it expand and more comfortable.

Remember not to use a hair dryer on other kinds of shoes since it may damage its materials when you are trying to break them in.

2. Use Ziplock Bags

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3 Ways to Stretch Your Shoes at Home by Lauren Messiah (YouTube)

Here’s a simple method on how to soften the back of new shoes. Fill ziplock bags with water, freeze, then place these bags on your shoes to stretch and expand the leather. 

The ice helps stretch your shoes little by little thus making the back of your shoes softer. It’s trouble-free to do this trick at home; simply buy a bunch of zip lock bags online and use them with your freezer.

3. Use a 2-Way Shoe Stretcher

One of the easiest ways to stretch out a shoe is by using a high-quality 2-way shoe stretcher. With its metal and rubber construction, this shoe stretcher allows you to expand your shoes in both directions, essential when you need to break in a new pair. 

It ensures it’s not just the toe that can fit better into your shoes, but also the heel while softening the back of your shoes too. 

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You could use the FootFitter Premium Professional 2-way to do this. It is the most reliable and well-built product in its category. Its patented, durable design allows for easy insertion of shoes while softening the rear of your shoes. The device is easy to use, guarantees results and will help you to break in a new pair of shoes without getting a blister.

You can stretch shoes by up to 0.5 inches, both in width and length. This is a feature unique to leather shoes. This is how to soften the back of new shoes if it’s leather shoes.

Unfortunately, you can’t do this method with canvas shoes as they are prone to tearing.

4. Wear Thick Padded Socks

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Yes, a simple yet effective way to soften the back of your shoes is to wear your shoes with a pair of socks. Just put on a thick sock before wearing new shoes, and your footwear will stretch out over time.

Now, walk in your shoes with your padded socks for a few days, it’s an efficient way to break in shoes without getting a blister. This will soften the back and if your new shoes feel slightly tight on your heels they will eventually break-in.

So get your thickest socks and try this trick on how to soften the back of new shoes!

5. Put Wooden Inserts

This method of how to soften the back of new shoes is comparable to Method 3. However, the way to do it is slightly different. 

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In this method, instead of trying to stretch the shoes manually, you automatically do it.

Get a dependable shoe insert and place it in your new shoes for two days. After two days, you will see that the insert has stretched your shoes just a bit. 

Then wear the shoes for 1-2 hours a day for one week to break them in, wearing them around the house can also be helpful. After one week, the back of your new shoes should be perfectly softened and comfortable to wear.

6. Use Damped Newspaper

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Here’s also how to soften the back of new shoes — Newspapers!

You can also use some wet newspaper to widen the back or heel side of your footwear. Newspaper is a very inexpensive and accessible material that you can try at home.

Damp the newspaper in water and stuff it into your new shoe. You can squeeze out the water first and repeat until the shoe is full. It’s best to wait at least 24 hours before wearing your new shoes after doing this method. 

By repeating this method a few times a week, you will be able to break in your pair of brand-new shoes over time.

7. Use Shoe Stretch Spray

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Many people have confirmed that using the spray has helped them get the back of their new shoes softer. Purchasing a quality shoe stretch spray is extremely important to ensure the best results.

You can try using FootMatters Shoe Stretch Spray for stretching your new shoes. With a few sprays, it will not just help you stretch the back of your new shoes quickly and easily but softens it as well. 

This is how to soften the back of new shoes the safe way. It works on all types of materials — patent leather, suede, nubuck, and more.

8. Do Some Soap Rubbing

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How to soften the back of new shoes with another method? Try rubbing a wet bar of soap on your shoes when they start to pinch especially when new can help stretch them out. 

It’s important to rub the soap on the sides and particularly the part behind the bump. Within minutes you should feel the tightness go down. In just a little while longer the back of your new shoes is softer and should be more comfortable than ever!

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Begin wearing your new shoes immediately after rubbing soap and drying them in. As the shoe stretches out, walk for longer and longer periods to help your heel fill the space inside the shoe while softening the backside.

9. Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another easy way to break in and soften the back of your new shoes. Spray it on the back of your shoes or any tight areas, and your feet will be free to move inside the shoe with comfort. 

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How To Stretch Your Leather Shoes by Frugal Foot (YouTube)

You can buy rubbing alcohol from any pharmacy or grocery store with ease. Check out the video on ‘How to Stretch Your Leather Shoes’ by Frugal Foot to learn how to soften the back of new shoes using rubbing alcohol.


Rubbing alcohol is flammable, so avoid getting it on open flames or other heat sources.

10. Use Oil

Using oil to stretch out shoes for a longer period is something that many shoe owners do. Works great in softening the back of your shoes too. 

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The best oils to use are glycerin and castor oil. They contain fat, which is perfect to make shoes more pliable and comfortable.

To start with, you’ll need a few drops of oil and some soft cloth or a newspaper. It’s advisable to use special leather oil for this purpose. 

Start by applying the oil onto the leather using your fingers, making sure that it penetrates the leather well. Focuse more on the backside of the shoes. 

The texture of the oil should not be too thick or watery. It should be liquid enough to flow through the pores and reach deep inside.

This is how to soften the back of new shoes using oil. It makes your new shoes last longer too aside from making them softer and comfortable to wear.

11. Use Kerosene

If you don’t know how to break in new shoes, put a little kerosene in them and you can solve the problem right away. 

Whether it’s a new pair of shoes that are too tight or the backs of your shoes that are uncomfortable, a few drops of kerosene can soften them. Simply put a few drops into each shoe, let them sit overnight, then pour out the kerosene the next morning. That easy!

Before using kerosene, dip your new shoes into a mixture of vinegar and water. Let them dry thoroughly before applying kerosene to their inner lining. 

You can repeat the process for a couple of days. The results will be amazingly soft new shoes that you can wear without socks.

12. Use Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Yes, putting Vaseline on the back of your new shoes will keep them soft. 

How To Fix Leather With Petroleum Jelly Tutorial by Digital Friend (YouTube)

After you’ve cleaned the shoes with a damp cloth, take one more and apply Vaseline Petroleum Jelly on it generously. Rub it onto the back of your new shoe until it’s completely absorbed by the material. Do it until you can no longer notice any oil. 

Now wear it again for a few hours. If you feel that your shoe is still too tight in the back, re-apply some jelly to give it some more stretching.

For additional results, apply some heat over the softened jelly to widen the back part of your shoe.

How to Soften Back of New Tennis Shoes

To make sure you’re able to wear your new pair of tennis shoes immediately, there is a little preparation you need to do before hitting the courts. To make sure that they fit perfectly and are very comfortable to play in. Follow these simple steps on how to soften the back of New Tennis Shoes:

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Leather Tennis Shoes

Using Mink Oil, it softens conserves, and makes your favorite new leather tennis shoes water-resistant. You can try Jobsite Mink Oil. Not recommended for other types of shoes like canvas though.


Rub a generous amount of mink oil into the shoes and then wipe off any excess using a clean cloth. Let the shoes absorb the oil for at least 15 minutes before wearing them.

Place your shoes in direct sunlight for a minimum of 6 hours. For optimal results, leave them in the sun for about 12 hours a day.

After wiping off the excess mink oil, leave your shoes on and rub the remaining oil into your shoes to help keep them in good shape.

Put them on, feel the difference. Your tennis shoes are now so soft you can wear them immediately. The stiffest of tennis shoes are instantly wearable after the mink oil treatment.

Canvas Tennis Shoes

Before you put a new canvas tennis shoe on, bend the toe end back and forth a little. Bending the toe box gives the shoe a more comfortable fit. Stretching the back of the new canvas shoes as well. Repeat with the other shoe.

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Put newspaper or some other paper in them and leave them in for a few hours. The paper will start to stretch the shoes out. Making the back of the shoes softer too.

Be careful, though: newspaper ink might stain your canvas shoes. You can also wrap butcher’s paper or some other plain wrapping paper around some tennis balls and use those instead.

Try to break in your canvas tennis shoes around the house. If that’s not possible, wear them with thick socks for maximum comfort as you stretch them out to make the back softer too.

Wear the new pair of canvas tennis shoes to practice. This way you can break them in while softening the back of the shoes and making them more comfortable. 

After you’re done, you can put on your old pair and give your feet a rest. Then, you’re ready to wear the new pair with softer back to your next game.

13. Ask a Professional


If none of the methods on how to soften the back of new shoes worked for you, you might want to visit a cobbler to ask for help on how to soften the back of new shoes.

The right shoe repairman will have the knowledge and technology to soften your shoes without damaging them.



I can’t wait for you to try the several ways and methods we’ve listed above. Knowing how to soften up the stiff backs of your shoes will ease pain and make wearing your new shoes a much more enjoyable experience.

Walking with the softened back of new shoes is more comfortable than you can imagine. It’s not just about comfort, but also about confidence. You know that you can face the day with a positive attitude because your feet will feel relaxed.

Leave us a comment if you think our methods have been helpful to you and your friends.

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