Leather Ankle boots are a great type of footwear, especially in the colder months of the year but they have one small problem when they are new and that is they can rub your ankle and cause shoe bites and blisters. Knowing how to soften leather boots around the ankle can save you from the pain of breaking them in and keep your ankles blister-free.
So how do you soften your leather boots and protect your feet? Well here are some tips that we have found to work the best when it comes to dealing with ankle boot friction, pinch points, or tightness.
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How Do You Break in Ankle Boots?
Breaking in ankle boots works exactly the same as any other boot apart from in the area that hits your ankle.
Paying particular attention to softening the leather around the ankle area of the boot will prevent your footwear from rubbing or causing marks and blisters. You really need to make sure that the leather starts to form the perfect shape around your ankle area and is soft enough that it doesn’t hurt your skin.
This can be done by using methods such as:
- Heating boots with a hairdryer
- Wearing thick socks
- Using leather Oil
- Placing your boots in stretchers
- Using Vaseline
- Applying leather conditioners
- Using a stretching spray
- Applying mink oil
- Using castor oil
- Applying rubbing alcohol
Let’s talk about each of the methods and their pros and cons when it comes to softening leather boots around the ankle area.
How Can I Make My Ankle Boots More Comfortable? Use a Hairdryer
The first thing that you can try if you have new leather boots is to get your hairdryer out to start the softening process.
So how do you soften leather boots with a hairdryer? Well, start by getting your new leather boots and determine the exact areas that are causing you the problem. Usually, this will be at the upper back of the boot but we know sometimes the sides can hurt as well.
Turn on your hairdryer to a medium setting and start to run the hot air over the sections which are rubbing or hurting. You only need to do this for a short time.
Now put on your boots and start walking around the house in them whilst they are still warm. Make sure you have socks on to prevent the heat from marking your skin. If you still have the problem repeat the process until the leather is softer and more malleable in the ankle area.
Hairdryers are a cheap and easy way of stretching boots as most people have one in their house but you need to be careful not to use a heat that is too high as this can cause cracking to the leather.
Dealing With Hard Leather Boots By Wearing Thick Socks
Knowing how to soften leather boots around the ankle doesn’t have to involve difficult methods. For example, the thick socks method is a firm favorite of ours as it stretches the leather and helps the boots to form the perfect shape around the ankle.
All you need to do is put on one or even two pairs of thick socks and then start walking around your home in the new pair of boots. The thick socks help to protect your skin from touching the hard leather boot and can help to address the problem of friction.
When you wear two pairs of socks they also magically prevent blisters so thicker socks can make give you extra protection when you are wearing new footwear. This is why the double sock method is one that is loved by hikers or ramblers as it saves their ankles from shoe bites.
How Can I Stretch My Leather Boots Around My Ankle?
If wearing thick socks or using a hairdryer doesn’t do the trick the next thing you could think about to stretch leather boots around the ankle is a stretching spray.
Using a stretching spray is an easy way to soften the leather material around the problem areas without staining or ruining the leather. Just get the spray bottle with the product in it and spritz the areas where the leather feels too tight. You will usually need to spray the inside and the outside of the shoe.
Now walk around in the shoes or boots in the house and they should start to shape to your feet and ankles so that you don’t experience any discomfort. Stretching boots this way is a really simple DIY solution that you can do at home and costs relatively little to do.
Softening New Leather Shoes and Boots With Leather Oil
If you want to know how to soften leather boots around the ankle then you might need to learn a little more about leather oil.
Leather oil is great to use on new shoes and boots because it can help to soften and condition the leather thereby reducing the stiffness.
When you soften your leather and make it more pliable it becomes easier to start wearing your new pair of boots without suffering from pain.
To use the oil just put a small amount of a dry cloth and rub it into your boot using gentle pressure. Allow the product to be absorbed into the leather so that the boots feel softer.
Just beware that some leather oils can impact the color of your leather so test in an inconspicuous area first. If you love the color of your boots and don’t want to take any risks use some of our other methods first.
How to Soften Boots Using Rubbing Alcohol
If you want to soften leather boots using home remedies then the next product you can try is rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is a great product to help with everything from mold removal on leather to killing bacteria.
All you need to do if you want to use it for softening leather is get a cotton ball and dip it into the rubbing alcohol. Rub this cotton ball all over the area of the leather boots that has the problem. In order for this solution to work, you will need to saturate the ankle area of your boot so the leather has soaked into the entire area that needs softening.
Doing this alone should be enough to make the leather more pliable however if you finish off the process by rubbing vaseline into the leather as well you should find it has a greater impact.
This particular tip is important as using this method doesn’t stain or mark your leather or change the color.
How to Soften Stiff Leather Boots Around The Ankle With Mink Oil
Mink oil is a great product that can help to condition, treat and soften all forms of leather. It is also a product that can repel water which makes it a good choice if you plan to wear your new boots in places where you might encounter excess moisture.
There are however a number of things that you need to know about mink oil that might make you want to think of a different alternative when it comes to softening your leather boots and shoes.
Firstly the name mink oil is not a cute term for this leather conditioner it is because the product is derived from the stomach fat of real minks. That obviously is a bit off-putting for some people who want to use it as a boot stretcher product.
Secondly, mink oil should be used sparingly. This is because it can weaken the leather fibers when used regularly which can impact the longevity of your boots and shoes. If you are using mink oil just put on only a thin layer in the area where you have a problem and then rub off the excess with a clean cloth.
Finally, beware as mink oil has a reputation for darkening the color of your leather. If that doesn’t bother you then fine but if you have new boots that are in a particular shade that you love this probably isn’t the best way to get softer shoes.
Softening Leather Boots With Vaseline
We’ve already talked about using vaseline in conjunction with rubbing alcohol but it can also be used on its own to soften problem areas around the ankle of new leather boots.
Generally, all you need to do to get it to work is take a small amount on your fingers and rub it into the stiff leather to allow it to soften. Wipe off any excess vaseline with a clean cloth.
If you are going to use this method do it once and if it doesn’t work try something else. This is because, like mink oil, vaseline can break down the leather fibers of your boots.
Take Your Stiff Ankle Boots To a Cobbler
If you want to know how to soften leather boots around the ankle then it makes sense to bring in the professionals. Ok so they are going to charge more than what you would spend on any home remedies but they are not going to ruin your boots and they have all the right equipment to stretch your leather footwear with ease.
A good local cobbler will have the right machines and tools to solve your problem and can often do the work during your lunch hour. Most cobblers will have a boot stretcher or tools to soften the leather around the ankle area of your boots.
A cobbler is usually a sensible choice when you are dealing with expensive boots and shoes that you don’t want to ruin. The investment can be well worth it if you know that you are going to get your boots back fitting perfectly and without any damage.
Stretch Your Boots Around the Ankle In The Freezer
Another domestic appliance that we recommend to help stretch leather boots is your freezer. Ok so it might not be the most obvious solution to soften leather but it works well if you don’t have any other products around to help you.
The idea is to get a freezer bag and fill it with water. Leave some empty space at the top of the bag to enable you to close it properly and remove the air. Then place another bag around the original bag to prevent water from leaking.
Now place this freezer bag into the section of the boot that feels too tight. Then place the boot inside a plastic bag so the leather isn’t directly against ice or any other products and pop it in your freezer compartment.
Leave the bag inside the leather boots or shoes for at least 24 hours. Whilst the bag is in the freezer the water contents will turn to ice and start to expand. This causes the leather to gently stretch.
After the time is up remove the boots from the bag and allow the ice to melt before removing the freezer bag and checking the fit of your leather boots.
Leather Conditioner Alternatives Include Castor Oil
Castor oil is another product that many people have lying around the house that can help to soften your leather items.
In order for castor oil to work well, it is always better to heat it first so that it is warm (not excessively hot) and then put some on a dry cloth and start rubbing it into the area of the boots that need softening.
When you have applied the castor oil put on a pair of thick socks and put on your boots and start wearing them around the house for a few hours so that the leather starts to take the shape of your legs and feet.
How to Soften Leather Boots Around the Ankle With Boot Stretchers
Finally, if you want to know how to soften leather boots around the ankle think about using a boot stretcher. You just need to find a boot stretcher that can help with the particular section of the boot that you are having issues with.
Generally, shoe and boot stretchers are used to increase the width or length of shoes however some can also help with the ankle area as well. Make sure that you are buying the right boot stretcher otherwise, you could end up with one that doesn’t work for the ankle area and only helps widen the toe area.
This boot stretcher is a great example of one that can work for toes and ankles so that you can gently stretch the leather to the size that you want it and get a comfortable fit.
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