How To Break In Doc Martens in 14 simple steps

Looking to break in your brand new Doc Martens? Getting your hands on a pair is exciting, but don’t rush to wear them immediately! As someone who’s owned multiple pairs for years, I know the importance of breaking them in properly. In this post, I’ll show you how to do just that so you can become best friends with your new Docs!

But first, let’s talk about why breaking them in is necessary. If you’ve ever put on a fresh pair right out of the box, you know the pain that comes with it. Blisters, bloody heels, sore toes, and aching feet are just a few of the issues that can arise. But don’t give up hope! With a little patience and planning ahead, you can make your Docs the most comfortable shoes you’ve ever owned.

how to break in doc martens . doc marten boot on its side

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Discover the Magic of Doc Martens!

Looking to add some flair to your wardrobe? Look no further than Doc Martens! These iconic boots bring an edgy vibe to any outfit for a bold and unforgettable look.

The options are endless with Doc Martens. Whether you’re into florals or hot pink, flats or heels, or even styles for kids, a pair of Dr. Martens will perfectly match your unique taste.

But don’t think that style comes at the expense of quality. Doc Martens are designed to last. These durable and stylish boots make them the perfect investment piece for any fashion-conscious individual.

And best of all, there are no rules for rocking Doc Martens! Pair them with a dress, a tutu, or jeans, the choice is yours.

Suffering from Dr. Martens Pain?

As an avid Dr. Martens lover, I know the struggle of breaking in a new pair. I’ve tried ever doc marten from patent to red, mary jane shoes to Chelsea boots, and even high heels. But with each new addition to my collection comes painful blisters, bloody heels, sore toes, and aching feet. Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re in luck! Keep reading for tips on how to ease the pain and enjoy your Docs to the fullest.

New to Doc Martens? Here’s why breaking them in is crucial.

Walking around with fresh-out-of-the-box Docs can be a painful experience. I learned this the hard way – on a quick 15-minute stroll, I had blisters and scratches all over my feet and could barely hobble home.

But don’t despair! Once you break in your Docs, they’ll quickly become your most comfortable shoes. So, before giving up on your new boots, follow these simple steps to ensure the perfect fit.

Want to break in your new Doc Martens like a pro?

The secret is simple: patience and planning! Treat these amazing boots with respect; they’ll last you a lifetime. To do it right, take your time and plan ahead. If you’re gearing up for a weekend at Glastonbury, start breaking in your boots months in advance. Fail to prepare, and your feet will pay the price!

So, gear up and get ready to show off your stylish and comfortable Doc Martens. With a little patience and planning, you’ll be strutting your stuff in no time!

How to break in Doc Martens

Follow these tried and tested tips to break in your doc martens quickly.

  1. Wear your Doc Martens boots for short periods around the house.

    Before venturing outside, wear your boots indoors for just ten minutes at a time, then take them off and rest your feet. Do this two to three times a day if possible, and stop immediately if you feel discomfort.
    This technique will help avoid blisters and get your leather boots in shape. Gradually increase wear time by ten-minute intervals until your boots feel more comfortable.
    But don’t just sit there! Stay active while you’re breaking them in – walk around instead of sitting in front of your computer. This will help soften and smooth the leather and speed up the process. The more you move, the quicker your Doc Martens will be broken in so get on your feet, but before you start wearing your docs around the house, don’t miss the essential tips below!

  2. Wear thick socks

    Grab some extra-thick woolly socks. Not only will wearing thick socks protect your feet from rubbing, but they’ll also stretch out any tight spots in the leather. Be sure to choose the thickest, woolliest socks you have, and make sure they cover your ankles to prevent any discomfort. And hey, if you want to make things even easier, check out Doc Marten’s own line of breaking-in socks. Your feet will thank you!

  3. Wear two pairs of socks.

    Try wearing two pairs of socks instead of one thick pair. By layering socks, the fabric rubs against each other instead of rubbing directly on your skin, making your doc marten boots or shoes easier to break in.

  4. Give your feet a rest!

    Try breaking in Dr Martens on alternate days to give your feet time to recover and reduce the risk of blisters!

  5. Gradually go for short walks outside.

    Hold off on taking them out for a long walk until you’ve worn them for an hour indoors with no discomfort.
    Once they are comfortable indoors, you can pop them on for a few minutes at a time while running errands or doing tasks around the house. This way, you’ll be able to detect any spots that might rub and cause blisters. Once you’re ready to hit the great outdoors, you’ll be good to go in your trusty Docs!

  6. Pad any places which may rub.

    Breaking in new Docs can be a painful process if you don’t take proper precautions. If you feel any tightness or discomfort, don’t ignore it! An untreated rub can become a blister, leaving you stuck on the sidelines. Don’t let that happen! Instead, place a small plaster or moleskin on the affected area for instant relief. This way the sore will not get worse.

    bandaid on blister

  7. Increase the amount of time you wear your Dr Martens boots outside.

    You’re almost there. You’ve almost broken in your new boots! Gradually increase the amount of time you wear your boots outside until you are fully confident that they are comfortable.

  8. Take a spare pair of comfortable shoes with you.

    Ensure you have some comfy shoes to change into when you first venture outside for extended periods, just in case!

  9. Remove the inner sole.

    I would only advise this as a last resort if your Docs are too uncomfortable after stretching. There is an inner sole that you can remove to give you slightly more room around the top of your foot.

  10. Add an insole.

    Dr Marten sells a special insole to prevent slippage if you feel your docs are slightly too big. You can buy a pair here.

  11. Bend the heel.

    Manipulate the heel to soften the leather before you wear your docs. This will help make the leather supple in a particularly painful area of the boot or shoe.

  12. Watch out for blisters.

    If you end up with a blister, look after your feet until the blisters go. Try soaking your feet in a foot bath and wearing shoes that don’t rub until the blisters have cleared up, then start breaking in your Doc Martens when your feet have recovered.

  13. Soften the leather with a hammer.

    Softening your Doc Martens with a hammer is not a method I would recommend, but I have included a tutorial for those of you who are brave enough to give it a go. At your own risk, of course!

  14. Don’t tie up the laces too tight.

    This will help you be more comfortable and help your feet breathe better, which helps keep them healthy.

How To Break In Doc Martens With A Hammer.

Attention Doc lovers! Are you curious about a controversial way to break in your Doc Martens? While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, let me show you how to do it – just be warned, this method is not for the faint of heart! If you decide to take the plunge, know that you do so at your own risk. Don’t forget to check out the disclaimer in my privacy policy before starting. Happy experimenting!

  1. Apply the Doc Martens wonder balm to the outside of your boots and let it sit overnight.
  2. Remove any excess wonder balm.
  3. Push an old towel into each boot.
  4. Cover the boot you are softening with another towel for protection.
  5. Gently hit the covered boot with the hammer avoiding the toe area.
  6. Continue to do this for a minute or two until you notice the leather softens.
  7. Repeat with the other boot.

How To Soften Doc Marten Leather Boots.

Using a leather conditioner on your Dr Martens shoes or boots will help to soften the leather. Dr Martens provides a special wonder balsam, a mixture of lanolin, coconut oil, and beeswax; this protects from water, liquid, and salt marks and hydrates the leather.

Apply to your DMs and leave to soak in for about five minutes or overnight. There is no need to polish. Your boots are now ready to wear!

Wonder balsam is especially helpful if this is your first pair of Docs and will help you with your initial Dr Martens break-in!

 how to break in doc martens  with Dr Martens wonder balsam
Buy here!

You can read all about how to use the Doc Martens wonder balsam shoe care in this post!

How To Break In Doc Martens With A Hair Dryer

This is not something I would personally recommend when you’re trying to break in Doc Martens; however, it is something I’m asked quite often, so I’ll cover it here!

  1. Wear thick socks as described above.
  2. Pull-on your Docs
  3. Heat the tight areas of your boots by blasting them with a hairdryer about 15cm away from your boot.
  4. Wear your boots until they have thoroughly cooled down. Try to flex your feet and toes as much as possible during this process.
  5. Do not use this method on patent Doc Martens as this will crack the leather, discolor the patent and remove the shine.

What are the easiest doc martens to break in?

Doc Martens 1460s Pisa leather are the easiest to break in as they come pre-softened. They don’t require any extra stretching or breaking in time. However, other Doc Martens styles may require additional effort and time to break in properly before they become comfortable.

Can you soften Dr. Martens quickly?

Breaking in Doc Martens fast is challenging, and there’s no easy fix. While you may have heard about stuffing your boots with newspaper or using a hairdryer method, these may not work for everyone. After owning multiple pairs of DMs myself, I’m still searching for the secret to breaking them in overnight.


How tight should Doc Martens be?

When purchasing Doc Martens for the first time, ensure you get the correct size. The fittings are true to size, so I wouldn’t be tempted to go up or down a size, as this may cause severe discomfort. However, I have spoken to a few people who have gone down a size and used the hairdryer method when breaking in Doc Martens and have had great success with it.

How to break in Doc Martens Mary Janes for school?

The simple answer to this question is to buy your Docs before the school holidays and spend the whole holiday breaking them in. There’s no use trying to wear Docs to school unless you are sure you’ve broken them in well or you’ll be blistered and in agony all day!

How do you break in a Dr Martens heel?

I would advise any of the above methods to soften the heel.
Doc Marten heels can be very uncomfortable and often the first place to give you a blister. Wearing two pairs of socks with your shoes or boots will help soften the heel area as well as any other area which may be tight cause prevent blisters.

How do you break in Doc Martens sandals?

There is not much difference between breaking in sandals and breaking in boots or shoes. Get your socks on and break them in exactly as described above, and start wearing them around the house.
You could always be quirky and wear your socks with your sandals the first few times you wear them outside to be sure they are comfortable, especially if you are going on a night out where you are standing all evening!

Are Doc Martens comfortable?

Being a Dr Martens addict, this is a question I get asked all the time, and the answer is yes, once you’ve broken them in!
If you don’t break them in before wearing them, they can be the most uncomfortable things you’ve ever had on your feet!

Do you have to break in Doc Martens?

You’d be a fool not to! It’s a few weeks of inconvenience for a lifetime of comfort! Think of it as taking driving lessons before you can drive a car. Once you’ve done it, it will be worth all your invested time!

How can you tell if Dr Martens have broken in?

When you can wear your Docs around the house while being active for over an hour with no discomfort, you’ve broken in your Docs, my friend, and you are ready to venture out into the world!

Why won’t my Dr martens break in?

Sometimes no matter how hard you’ve tried to break in your Docs, they are still uncomfortable. If you’ve tried all the above methods and are still uncomfortable, you may have either picked the wrong size or style for your feet. I would advise going to a Dr Martens retailer for their expert advice.

I need to know how to break in Doc Martens quickly.

I don’t have the answer to that, I’m afraid! I can only suggest wearing your docs around the house the day before you need them with thick socks.
If you are going to risk wearing them without fully breaking them in, take a spare pair of comfortable shoes with you!

How long do Doc Martens last?

This depends on how often you wear them, but Doc Martens are built to last and will last for many years if looked after properly by applying the wonder balsam.

What are the best socks to use for Doc Martens?

Once you’ve broken in your docs, most socks should be suitable to wear. I always wear socks even when I’m wearing tights as I feel there is less wear at the back of my heel and more cushion from the socks.
While breaking in your Docs, I’d advise wearing specially padded walking socks.

You can read more about Doc Martens here on their blog.

I hope you have great success breaking in your Doc Martens and have many happy days together!

18 thoughts on “How To Break In Doc Martens in 14 simple steps

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi Anna, The process for stretching out vegan leather Docs is pretty much the same as the leather boot. I usually cover the stitching on the inside of the heel with a little bit of tape as extra protection from rubbing then wear them with thick socks around the house until you feel they are comfortable. I would avoid using a hairdryer, just rely upon your own body heat to help them soften. You can apply once a month to keep the vegan leather softened and protected, however, due tothe balsam being made with beeswax it is not a vegan product. Hope this helps and I hope you enjoy your new boots!

  1. Ashley says:

    How often should I be applying the balsam when breaking them in? I’ve heard answers ranging from once a week to once a month. I just don’t want to over condition them

    • Clare Davison says:

      I usually apply the balsam weekly when breaking them in, then I reduce to roughly every month once they are fully broken in. As long as you don’t over-apply the balsam you should find that it helps to make the leather a lot softer. Just a light coating should do it!

      • liza potter says:

        Hi, im trying to break in my Dr Marten sandals and have bought dubbin to help soften the leather. Should i have bought wonder balm instead or will they do the same job?

        • Clare Davison says:

          Hi there, I’m sorry for the late response I’m on holiday with no internet! Yes, I think you should be ok with the dubbin, Dr marten does its own brand of dubbin which it says is great for waxed leather. It should give your Docs a water-resistant coat. I prefer the wonder balsam as it does tend to make them buttery soft! good luck, it’s worth it in the end! Clare x

    • Clare Davison says:

      Firstly I feel for you living with the pain of ingrowing toenails ? .
      As you probably already know, one of the causes of ingrowing toenails is ill-fitting shoes; therefore, I would stick with a more comfortable pair of shoes or boots in the meantime. Seek medical help, if you haven’t already, to check for any infection or underlying problems. If you are determined to go ahead with the breaking-in process, wear the thickest socks as possible and perhaps pad your toes well with moleskin or band-aids. I hope you get sorted soon and can soon enjoy your new Docs!

  2. Amelia says:

    I own soft leather docs (Pascal 1460 Iridescent Blue) and inside at the heels is my biggest problem as it cuts up the back of my ankles. Do the above steps also apply to these soft leather boots?

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi Amelia and happy new year. I own a pair of the soft leather boots and find that just wearing the thick socks for the first couple of times helps. I don’t think you need to manipulate the leather as it doesn’t need softening. If one pair of thick socks doesn’t help, try wearing two pair until they stop rubbing. Also check that they fit you properly as if they are too loose it may be the friction that is cutting you. be sure to give your cuts time to heal before you wear your boots again. ?

  3. Julli says:

    Hi! I need some help. I have very narrow thing feet with a high arch and high bone on the top of my foot. I have worn lace up docs forever and purchased a pair used that I fell in love with (sparkle galaxy!). I decided to get a pair of chelsea docs that I have been wanting for a while… but.. even though I purchased the same size as my other docs, they are a little large around my foot even though the length is correct. The left shoe broke in very comfortably with no problems. I just started wearing them to work and went for a walk, and left shoe.. great. Right shoe on the other hand is giving me a huge problem… there is a crease that has formed along the top right of the shoe which is digging in painfully to the top of my foot. Any suggestions? I really love them and don’t want to find them a new home (haha), but this right one is so painful I cannot walk long in them. =(

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi there, I’m not sure if I’ve read this correctly but I think you are trying to break in a used (second hand ) pair of Chelsea Docs that are slightly big on one foot? If they have been pre-owned they will have taken the shape of the previous owner’s foot and stretched slightly bigger than your own feet. You could try wearing an extra sock or an inner sole on the foot that you are finding uncomfortable until it molds better to the shape of your foot. Also try to soften the bit where the crease is by manipulating the leather and using the Doc Martens wonder balsam to make it softer.

  4. Dani says:

    Any advice for a pair of patent 1460’s? First pair and determined to break them in but am scared of cracking the shine too bad too quick.

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi there Dani, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to patent. Stay away from the hairdryer method as this will definitely crack the shine. just stick with the two pairs of socks and wear them around the home until they feel comfortable going out for short distances.

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi Chanelle, I think each individual is different, as is each style of Doc Martens. I found the shoe harder to break in than the boots. Some of my friends have sailed through the breaking-in process. If you are worried, you could always go for the softer leather style which doesn’t need breaking in at all and are comfortable from the get-go.

  5. Suzi says:

    I found putting on Blister plasters BEFORE wearing for the few few days, or even a week or two. Plus, blowing a hairdryer on the inside will loosen the seam across the instep. Also, using a softening cream before putting them on works well.

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