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How to Break in Steel Toe Boots Properly in 11 Easy to Do Steps

Fact checked by A. Thompson

how to break in steel toe boots

Buying a new pair of steel toe work boots in your size does not necessarily mean that you’ll fit in them comfortably right away. There are some areas in the work boots that need some stretching to fit perfectly. And that’s why you need to break in your steel toe work boots.

There are different methods on how to break in steel toe boots properly, and one of the simplest ways to break in boots at home is using a boot stretcher. Everyone can do this at home to avoid dirtying their work boots.

How to Break in Work Shoes With Steel Toes?


First of all, you must ensure that the work boots you purchase are your size. Also, there must be enough room in the toe box so you can move your toes comfortably.

Step 1: Use boot stretcher spray.

Spray your steel toe work boot with a boot stretcher spray, this will help in making the stretching process easier. Drizzle the external and internal parts of your steel boots with enough solution and then proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Insert the steel boot stretcher.

Carefully thrust the boot stretcher inside your steel toe work boots and stretch it to the maximum level. Lock it and leave them overnight or at least for 8 hours. Leaving them for several hours will break in steel toe boots fast.

Step 3: Remove the boot stretcher.

Slowly remove the boot stretcher and try them on so you can check the fit of the steel toe boots.

Step 4: Wear your work/thick socks.

While trying on your steel boots, it is important that you wear your pair of work socks so you can reliably check the fit of your boots. Whatever type of socks you have is entirely up to you as long as they are comfortable.

The soft cushion of thicker socks will help stretch the footwear’s material. It is a great way to help break in your work boots properly without hurting your toes.

Step 5: Put on your steel toe work boot.

Slide your feet inside your steel toe work boots one at a time. You should not have any difficulty putting them on because they are your boot size and they have just been stretched using the boot stretcher.

Move your feet while inside and make some adjustments with how you are placing your feet. Allow your feet to feel and familiarize the space in your boots.

Step 6: Lace-up.

Properly lace your safety boots. Make sure that the tongue is in the proper place so you can tie the shoelaces correctly. Adjust the tightness according to your comfort level, but tight enough that they will keep your feet in place while you do the next step.

To have an idea on how to lace your work boots properly, this video can show you:

Step 7: Walk in the new shoes.

You should wear your newly stretched steel toe boots around the house for around 3 hours. This step is important to determine if the boots have been stretched according to your preference.

Do some hopping and jogging because this will also help the work boots stretch. If you have stairs at home, use them to rock your steel toe boots back and forth; doing this will stretch the fibers of your boots.

You can also break in your steel toe boots by walking outside your house. Just make sure to bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes or slippers so you can switch footwear once it becomes painful or put band-aids on the areas of your feet where you can feel the pain to avoid or minimize blisters while breaking in steel toe boots.

Step 8: Check for any discomfort.

Be mindful of any discomfort or pain that you might feel while wearing your safety boots. The pain or discomfort will tell you which part of the work boot needs special attention in breaking in.

NOTE: If the pain is unbearable, take the boots off and reassess because you might need to get another type or size of boots. Remember that not all brands of steel toe boots have the same size, so you need to be very mindful when choosing one.

Step 9: Use a blow dryer.

For stubborn, stiff areas of your work boots, you can try using a blow dryer to stretch the material. Make sure to use it carefully to avoid destroying the material.

Step 10: Apply leather conditioner.

Use a leather conditioner to soften the fibers of the shoes, especially those areas you identified to generate discomfort or pain. Applying a leather conditioner will help in stretching those areas during the break-in process.

Step 11: Apply rubbing alcohol.

To break in your steel toe boots faster, you can use rubbing alcohol. To stretch the fabric, spray a generous amount of rubbing alcohol in the external area of your boots until they are soaked. Let the boots dry while you are wearing them at home.

Why You Need to Break in Steel Toe Boots


The process of breaking in work boots could take around 1 to 3 weeks. You need to break in your steel toe boots for the following reasons:

  • To soften the boot materials (e.g. leather, suede, nubuck), thereby allowing it to stretch and provide an extra room for your feet.
  • To allow your feet to adjust to the shape of the boots.
  • To prevent foot injuries from developing, such as blisters, corns, or calluses.
  • So you can wear your boots comfortably.


Wearing steel-toe footwear is meant to protect your feet from the common types of workplace foot injuries that include electrocution, crushing, slips, or punctures. But for your work boots to fully protect you, you first need to learn how to break in steel toe boots properly so you can maximize their use without worry.

The steps to breaking in your new pair of steel toe work boots are easy and simple. What do you think about breaking in work boots? Let us know in the comment section and share this with your colleagues.

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