Taking care of your cleats

Bryan Byrne October 25, 2008 13

Old Soccer cleatsYou have just bought a new pair of soccer cleats, and its time to break them in. So, what should you do to break them in the right way and ensure that you get a long life out of them? Let’s look at some of the steps you can take to ensure that you get the most from your cleats.

Breaking them in:
It is important that new cleats are ready for their first 90 minutes. In order for them to be ready, you need to get them loose and comfortable on your feet. The ‘shower technique’ is one that many pro players use to get their leather cleats ready. Chris Loftus, Neil Jones, Andy Dorman and David McGill have all talked about this technique in their articles. The hot water helps the leather expand/loosen a little, giving you some breathing room for when you use them.

Another important step is to wear them jogging or during warm-up rather than wearing them for the first time in a game. The more you can do to loosen up your cleats and get them snug on your feet, the better they will be for that first game. I usually wear a pair for 2-3 jogging sessions and then into a training session. A lot of professional players have several pairs of cleats at one time so that they can break pairs in over time.

Avoiding Blisters:
Breaking cleats in properly will help reduce the possibility of blistering. You definitely want to avoid blisters! If you wear your boots and notice you are feeling the onset of blisters, it is very handy to have some Vaseline around. Just smear it on or around the areas you are feeling the blisters. The Vaseline will help your foot move a little more smoothly against you cleat reducing the friction that occurs.

After the game:
There are certain steps to follow when the game is finished. First, it is important to air dry your cleats. One of the worst things that about 60% of soccer players do is leave their cleats in their bag until the next practice! It is very important to take them out of your bag so they can dry naturally. One tip that the pros do to help dry out cleats is to stuff newspaper inside. This helps soak up any of the dampness that is inside. Where you leave the cleats to dry is also important. Don’t leave them in direct sunlight or somewhere that is very hot. This will only dry them out and cause them to crack. In order to keep you cleats soft and supple, you need to ‘moisturize’ them.

Keeping them soft:
The best solution for this is leather food. A majority of professional soccer players use leather food. I know when I came to the US from Ireland, I would have to fight guys off after practice from using all of mine! My preferred brand is Chelsea Leather Food. It has nothing to do with the Premier league team, so it’s ok to buy if you are a Man Utd fan!! In Danny Kennedy’s review he talks about how he cleans and leather food’s his cleats the day before any game.

Using polish:
Polish is something I used on my boots all the time as a kid. I always had to have the shiniest boots! It never hurts to polish your boots. The most professional players will grab a brush and shine those bad boys up. It is important to make sure that you use a brush to clean off any excess dirt beforehand. Boots like Copas and Puma Kings are definitely shoes you will want to polish up. A few hours after polishing, use some leather food to keep them feeling soft.

So, recapping, it is important to break your cleats in slowly, dry them naturally after games, and keep them supple by using leather food. If you fancy, stuff some newspaper in them for drying, and some shoe polish for that professional player look!

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Bryan Byrne

Expert Boot Reviewer

The mastermind behind the revolution that is SoccerCleats101. Bryan started this website back in 2008 and has been testing boots on a daily basis ever since.

Check out our About Page for more details on Bryan and the website.


  1. Nick April 25, 2011 at 4:17 am - Reply

    what is the best leather food that there is? I have seen adidas ones and the ones you mentioned above?

  2. Farrell April 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    I have the gold adizeros that I never worn yet and I've been hearing a few problems players have had with them. I'm thinking of selling my adizeros and replacing them with mercurials because they might be more durable. Any advice?

    • soccercleats101 April 27, 2011 at 12:55 am - Reply

      Personally, I prefer the adiZero over the Mercurial range – i say test them out. Durability with the studs has been an issue, but not for every player!

  3. yousef July 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    what type of cleats are in those pics the old black Adidas ones

  4. Hyunbae August 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    For breaking in, does shower technique work for synthetic cleats? And, should I soak it or just slightly dampen them?

    • soccercleats101 August 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      No – not for synthetic! It works for leather only, where the material is designed to stretch.

  5. James Gauthier August 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Could Baby oil or vaseline be used instead of leather food

  6. Marc August 18, 2011 at 12:02 am - Reply

    I just got the white/gold/black T90's off ebay, and I'm wondering if there is any way to tell for sure whether or not they're leather or synthetic.
    In most cleets I've had in the two and a half years I've played, I could tell the difference easy, but these ones… Well, the white just looks too perfect 'o.O
    The store said they were made with K leather, but it's ebay, sooooo….

    Any advice would be useful =S

    • tyler December 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      you can tell by the the texture

  7. Nick October 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    What is the difference between leather conditioner and leather food?

  8. seif March 4, 2013 at 4:58 am - Reply

    leather food?????/?

  9. YungNeymar July 5, 2014 at 9:03 am - Reply

    I bought some new soccer cleats and they're Mercurial Victory FG 4s Blue And Green , and the material is Thin-Thick Synthetic and I've been walking around with them during the house to slowly break them in , and I wanna try out the shower Trick but I wanna know if I can do it while it being Synthetic ? Please Help

    • soccercleats101 July 8, 2014 at 4:07 am - Reply

      The shower trick helps loosen stitching, so it is only really useful if there is stitching through the upper!

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