The Secret Of How To Break In Doc Martens.

Woohoo! It’s an exciting time when you buy brand new Doc Martens, Whether you’re a first-time buyer or whether like me you’ve had several pairs for years, you will know that Doc Martens need a lot of breaking in. In this post, I’ll show you how to break in Doc Martens so you can become best friends with your brand new docs!

Why I love my Doc Martens!

  • They are edgy, they give an edge to any outfit you are wearing.
  • They come in endless styles from floral to hot pink, flats, heels, sandals, or kids there’s a Dr Marten for everyone!
  • They last forever, they are durable and stylish, what more could you ask for?
  • Wear them with anything, from a dress to a tutu, rock it your way!

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Are Your Dr Martens Painful?

I’m a self-confessed DMs addict, every year I head off to the Dr Martens sales at my nearest factory outlet and see what’s on offer. I’ve patent pairs, bright red pairs, shoes, boots and high Dr Martens heels. I’ve broken them all in, and know first hand how much my Dr Martens hurt me if I try to rush breaking them in.

Are you having problems with blisters, bloody heels, sore toes or aching feet? Are your Doc Martens to painful to wear? Read on for the answer to your problems!

Even though I buy my Docs in vegan leather, the tips that follow are for use on leather Dr Martens only!

Why do we need to break in Doc Martens?

Anyone who has ever unpacked their brand new docs from the box put them straight onto their feet and walked about for hours will know the pain that comes with a new pair Dr Martens boots.

I made the mistake of wearing my first DMs without breaking them in and ended up a bloodied mess barely able to walk back home and I’d only popped out for 15 minutes! The blisters were like none I’d ever felt and I was ready to chuck those bad boys in the bin!

After breaking in my new boots they soon became the most comfortable shoes I’d ever worn so don’t give up!

What is the secret to breaking in Doc Martens?

It’s patience and planning ahead!

Take your time and give these amazing boots the respect they deserve, treat them well and they’ll be kind to you for a very long time! Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail!

Plan ahead! If you are intending to wear your Docs at Glastonbury for a few days, make sure you spend a few months prior to the festival breaking in your new boots at every opportunity.

If you’re planning on wearing brand new Docs to school in the new school year, spend the holidays wearing them as often as you can and avoid the pain later on!

How to make Dr Martens Comfortable.

  1. Wear thick socks.

    If this is your first pair of Doc Martens it’s important that you follow these steps when breaking in your Doc Martens. Firstly put on a very thick pair of socks. Thick woolly socks will not only protect your feet from rubbing but will also help to stretch the leather where it is tight. The socks need to be very thick like the woolly ones you wear for winter, so get the woolliest socks out of your drawer and put them on. Make sure the socks cover your ankles to prevent any rubbing from the leather.
    Doc Marten socks are perfect to break in Doc Martens so it’s worth checking them out.

  2. Wear two pairs of socks.

    If you prefer, you can wear two pairs of socks instead of one thick pair. Wearing two pairs of socks to break in your Doc Martens allows the socks to rub on each other rather than on your skin.

  3. Wear your Doc Martens boots for short periods of time around the house.

    When breaking in Dr Martins for the first time, wear them around the house rather than outside.
    I would say the first time you wear your new boots, only wear them for ten minutes at a time, then take them off and give your feet a rest. Do this two to three times a day if you can.
    If you feel your feet hurt before then ten minutes is up, take your boots off immediately.

    This will allow you to break in your Doc Martens without causing a blister.
    Gradually increase the amount of time you wear them around the house by approx ten minutes until they feel more comfortable.
    Make sure you are active whilst you wear them around the house rather than sitting in front of a computer! This will help to soften the leather.
    The more you move, the quicker they will break in so get on your feet!

  4. Give your feet a rest!

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

  5. Gradually go for short walks outside.

    Once you are able to wear your Dr Martens for over an hour indoors without any discomfort you are now ready to venture into the great outdoors!
    Don’t wear your new pair of Doc Marten shoes or boots outside when you are going to be walking for long distances.
    Pop them on for a few minutes when nipping to the shops. This way you will be able to tell if there are any places that may cause a blister.

  6. Pad any places which may rub.

    Constant rubbing from new shoes or boots will cause a painful blister, so this needs to be taken care of immediately. If you feel any rubbing at all, tightness or discomfort, pad the area with a plaster or moleskin. This will help to prevent any unpleasant blisters and will allow you to continue with your Doc Martens breaking in session!

    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 that you have some comfy shoes with you to change into when you first venture outside for longer periods of time, 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 which can be removed 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 to make the leather supple in a particularly uncomfortable area of the boot or shoe.

  12. Watch out for blisters.

    If you do end up with a blister look after your feet until the blisters go. Try soaking your feet in a foot bath and wear shoes which don’t rub until the blisters have cleared up.

  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!

How To Soften Doc Marten Leather

Using a leather conditioner on your Dr Martens shoes or boots will help to soften the leather. Dr Martens provides a special wonder balsam which is a mixture of lanolin, coconut oil, and beeswax this provides protection against water, liquid, and salt marks and also 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!

Dr Martens wonder balsam
Buy here!

You can read all about how to use the wonder balsam 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. Put on your thick socks as described above.
  2. Pull-on your Docs
  3. Heat the tight areas of your boots by blasting them with a hairdryer which is held about 15cm away from your boot.
  4. Wear your boots until they have fully cooled down, try to flex your feet and toes as much as possible during this process.

How To Break In Doc Martens With A Hammer.

OK disclaimer here! I would not advise this way of breaking in your Doc Martens, however many people ask me about this method, so I thought I’d include a very quick tutorial by way of a video, to show you how to do it if you’re brave enough! If you do decide to give it a go its entirely at your own risk! Check out my disclaimer in my privacy policy here

  1. Apply the Doc Martens wonder balm to the outside of your boots and allow to 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 Dr Martens Quickly

I hate to break it to you but there is no real magic solution to how to break in Doc Martens fast! You could try stuffing your boots with newspaper or try the hairdryer method as described above but even though I’ve got several pairs of DMs I’m not entirely sure myself how to break in Doc Martens overnight I’m afraid!


How tight should Doc Martens be?

When purchasing Doc Martens for the first time make sure 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. I have however 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?

Ok, the simple answer to this question is to buy your Docs just 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 absolutely sure you’ve broken them in properly or you’ll be blistered and in agony all day!

How to break in Dr Martens heel?

Assuming we are talking about the heel of the DMs rather than Doc Martens heels, I would advise any of the above methods to soften the heel.
Doc Marten heels can be very uncomfortable at first and are 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 to break in Doc Martens sandals.

I would say there is not much difference to breaking in sandals as there is to break in boots or shoes. Get your socks on and break them in exactly as described above, by 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, just 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 like taking driving lessons before you can drive a car. Once you’ve done it it will be worth all the time you’ve invested!

How can you tell if Dr Martens have broken in?

When you can wear you Docs around the house, whilst being active for over an hour, with no discomfort, then 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 they are still uncomfortable, it may be that you 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 wear in Doc Martens in one day.

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 obviously depends on how often you wear them, but Doc Martens are built to last and will last for many 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 then most socks should be suitable to wear with them. I always wear socks even when I’m wearing tights as I feel that there is less wear at the back of my heel and more cushion from the socks.
Whilst breaking in your Docs I’d advise wearing specially padded walking socks.

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Dr Martens wall art

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

Well, I hope you have lots of success breaking in your Doc Martens and have many happy days together!

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17 thoughts on “The Secret Of How To Break In Doc Martens.

    • 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.

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