You may be a recent Doc Martens owner in a panic over unsightly creases on your new boots, and while it’s not unusual to be worried, creases on leather shoes such as these are normal and even expected. But how do you get the wrinkles out of your Doc Martens, and is there something you can do to prevent creasing in the first place?
A hot iron on a damp cotton cloth or a blow dryer can help warm the leather to remove creases from your Doc Martens. Massage with oil and stretch to minimize wrinkles, or use a rubbing alcohol and water mixture before applying a leather conditioner. Store them with a pair of shoe trees.
I am a long term fan of the Doc Martens brand and have owned several pairs over the last 15 years. In this guide I’ll be giving you my best tips and tricks to prevent them creasing AND get existing creases out.
So, what options are there for you if your favorite pair of Doc Martens suddenly shows creases? Do you need to find a professional, or are there treatment options at home? Let’s get into it.
Can You Get Creases Out Of Doc Martens?
The first thing to note is that creasing on leather products is not only normal, but it’s generally an expectation of shoes, once you start wearing them, to crease. This is due to your movement and the pliable leather shaping to your foot – as you move, the shoe will follow your foot’s form, so naturally, it will bend in certain places, leaving a crease. You can see this on my Docs pictured below:
But there’s no reason to panic. Creasing on Doc Martens is often considered desirable as it adds to the distressed or worn look the brand popularized over time. Not everyone likes this look, so you may be wondering what steps you can take to minimize creasing and make your shoes look less worn.
Before we discuss the most effective methods for removing creases on leather shoes like Doc Martens, it helps to understand why they crease in the first place.
Why Do Doc Martens Crease?
Leather is a natural product that is relatively supple, but when used to make shoes, it is molded and shaped into a specific look that is expected to maintain its shape as long as possible. But since it’s malleable, it will stretch, bend, and change shape the more it is worn. Simply put, if your shoes didn’t turn and twist, you’d be horribly uncomfortable wearing them!
Leather is often chosen as a material of choice for its ability to conform to your foot’s shape over time, and with this, you are bound to get creases in the leather where the shoe bends as you move. And since all people have different types of feet, in various shapes and sizes, and vastly different ways of walking, the way leather reacts to movement will also vary from person to person.
Now that we’ve got a better picture of why and how creasing happens, here are a few things to remember about leather shoes creasing as you wear them:
- Creasing doesn’t imply lousy quality – all shoes eventually crease, regardless of whether they are high quality. Lower quality craftsmanship may indeed prompt your shoes to crease quicker, however.
- Creasing is expected and normal; the only way a shoe won’t crease is if it is never worn. Due to the movement of your foot, the shoe will be forced to bend and twist and repeated bending and twisting leads to creases.
- Too much moisture on the leather can aggravate, speed up, or lead to severe creasing – remember to wipe down your shoes, especially if you’ve been out in wet weather.
- The wrong size shoes will crease quicker since there would be too much space between your foot and the shoe itself. Thus, it cannot hold its shape effectively and will tuck in odd places.
- Shoes made from one piece of leather will crease more heavily than those made with various components, so shoe design plays a vital role in the extent to which your shoe will crease.
- Managing your expectations is essential – you cannot expect your shoes not to crease at all, and if you’re prepared for this reality, you’re less likely to panic. The onus is on you to care for your shoes to prevent excessive creasing.
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How To Get Creases Out Of Doc Martens: Most Effective Methods
Now that you have a better understanding of why shoes crease and that it’s a regular occurrence, some things can be done to prevent creasing and to deal with it if it’s already happened. Firstly, here are the four most effective methods for removing creases from your Doc Martens:
1. Hot Iron
Stuff the shoe tightly with newspaper, so it keeps its shape. Layer a damp cotton towel or cloth over the crease. Carefully, without touching any of the leather directly with the hot iron, pass the iron over the crease directly onto the damp cloth using a bit of pressure. The heat and moisture work to soften the leather and reduce the crease.
Be careful with this method and check after every pass with the iron – it shouldn’t be too hot, nor should the cotton cloth be too wet. Make sure never to place the iron directly onto the leather. It may help to remove the laces first and be sure to air dry your shoes after you’re done.
2. Leather Oil
This method is most effective if you start using it when your shoes are new, and the creases have only just started to appear. You will need a soft cloth and some quality leather oil; use a few drops of the oil on the wrinkles and gently massage it into the leather with your fingertips.
As you massage, stretch the leather as you work and give the crease time to absorb the oil entirely. Once it’s absorbed, use the soft cloth to clean off the extra oil and buff it to a nice shine. Let your Doc Martens dry before wearing them.
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3. Rubbing Alcohol
This method requires water, rubbing alcohol, a shoe stretching device, a spray bottle, and a leather conditioner from a reputable brand. The process is simple: First, add rubbing alcohol to the spray bottle to the halfway mark. Top up with water. Spray this directly onto the creases and gently rub the area to stretch it out.
Let your Doc Martens dry thoroughly, and then apply a layer of the leather conditioner – make sure not to use this if any moisture is left on the leather. Polish your Doc Martens, and use the stretching device to stretch your shoes out, so the creases set.
4. Blow Dryer
Much like the first method suggested with the iron, a blow dryer can also help to remove creases. The idea is to give enough heat to soften the leather and make it more pliable. Once again, you start by stuffing the shoe with newspaper to help it retain its shape.
Start by rubbing some leather oil into the shoe, then aim the hot air from the blow dryer onto the leather. Allow it to heat up, giving special attention to the toe area if there are creases there. Massage the areas again once the surface is warmed up – take your time and stretch the leather as you go to remove as much of the crease as possible.
Use a soft, lint-free cloth to remove excess oil and dry the shoes before stowing them away for the night – be sure to leave them in the open air.
How To Prevent Creasing Your Doc Martens:
Treating the creases is one thing, but helping to prolong the life of your Doc Martens and keep the leather in tip-top condition is the best way to delay creases, prevent ugly and severe wrinkles, and ensure they are not damaging the shoe over time. Here are some tips for how to avoid creases, to begin with:
1.Avoid excess moisture as far as possible. If you regularly wear your Doc Martens in adverse weather, ensure you use a waterproofing balm or spray before wearing them. This helps water run straight off and prevents marks. If you get your shoes very wet, stuff them with newspaper and dry them off as best you can – leave them to air overnight.
2. Wear the correct size. Shoes should be snug without pinching or squeezing with enough room for your feet to breathe – but there should be no gaps. Shoes that don’t fit well will crease quicker due to not being able to hold their shape well.
3. Use cedar shoe trees. These wick away moisture and sweat and will help to keep their shape. At the very least, store your shoes properly with a pair of shoe trees to help them keep their shape. If you don’t have these, consider stuffing them with newspaper, especially if they are likely to be stored for a while.
4. Invest in quality care products. Leather treatments, conditioners, and sealants are vital to maintaining the lifespan of the leather your Doc Martens are made from. Be sure to clean, dry, and treat the leather regularly, mainly if your shoes deal with rough terrain, sand or dust, and moisture.
5. Walk, crouch, and bend with cognizance. Be aware of how you move, when you bend down, or whether you’re scuffing the leather as you go. Naturally, shoes should not stop you from living your life, but there’s nothing wrong with being careful and cognizant of how you are affecting your boots.
6. Shoe horns are essential to help slip your shoes on without adding extra force or tension to the leather. Always take time to unlace your Doc Martens sufficiently to make putting them on easy without straining the leather.
7. Don’t toss them aside. Once you’re done wearing them, give them a quick wipe down and let them dry properly if they are exposed to moisture. Store them neatly and carefully, avoiding bumps and scuffs and being tossed into a corner. A treatment routine is a good plan after every occasion you wear your Doc Martens.
It’s normal for leather shoes to show signs of wearing, with creasing being the prime result. You can remove or mitigate severe creasing by using the hot iron or blow dryer method to soften the leather before massaging and stretching it. Treating the leather with oils and conditioners is the best way to deal with the situation and prevent creasing in the future.
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Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).