How to Care For Your Soccer Cleats: Tips to Make Them Last


A good pair of soccer cleats are not cheap. Because they cost as much as they do, you really want to take care of them. In this article, I will show you everything you need to know about caring for your cleats to ensure they give you outstanding performance on the soccer field.

To care for your cleats, you want to ensure that you buy the correct size and that they are tight-fitting. Loose cleats are more prone to wear and tear. Also, make sure that you clean the cleats after each use, and when you dry them, you do it properly. Finally, try to use the correct type of cleats for the surface you will be playing on.

Taking care of your soccer cleats can be tricky and time-consuming. You’ll want to avoid unnecessary maintenance and only focus on what is essential. 

In this article I’ll show you:

  • Two ways of stretching your new cleats to fit
  • How to break in your cleats
  • How to clean your cleats in 9 easy steps
  • How to dry your cleats
  • How to stop them from smelling
  • And how to make them last longer

For everything you need to know about maintaining the integrity of your soccer cleats, keep reading!

How to care for your cleats post title

New Soccer Cleats: How to Stretch Them to Fit

Caring for your soccer cleats starts before you even buy them.

By ensuring that you get the correct size, you avoid potential unnecessary wear and tear. However, getting the right size is not at all as easy as one might think. 

Check out my article – How to Choose the Perfect Soccer Cleats (in 4 Simple Steps) – for a helpful guide.

So, what do you do if you need to stretch your soccer cleats to make them fit properly?

Firstly, it is important to remember that stretching your cleats is easier than shrinking them.

Personally, I never recommend shrinking the cleats as you might damage them in the process. Also, stuffing your cleats to make them fit is ultimately going to impact your performance negatively.

There are two methods that you can use to stretch out your cleats. The first of these involves soaking them in warm water. Alternatively, you could use ice to expand the cleats. 

Let’s get into detail about both of these methods and teach you how to do each one.

Stretch Your Cleats Using Warm Water

For this process, we are going to be using warm water.

If the water is too cold, it won’t work. Also, if it is too hot, you can damage the cleats.

You will have to use your judgment, but on a scale from 1 to 10, you want the water to be about a 6 or 7.

soccer cleats being stretched in warm water

To stretch your cleats to fit:

  1. Get a bowl large enough to fit both cleats in.
  2. Fill the bowl with warm water.
  3. Place your cleats in the water. Do not fully submerge the cleats; you don’t want the water to get inside.
  4. Let the cleats sit there for 10 minutes.
  5. Put your socks on so long.
  6. Take the cleats out of the water.
  7. Put your cleats on.
  8. Walk around with the cleats for 20 minutes.
  9. Dry your cleats.

This process is different but similar to breaking in the cleats.

If your cleats fit and you need to break them in, I recommend jumping to the next section that will give you a tried and tested way to break in your cleats.

Stretch Your Cleats Using Ice

Using the ice method is my favorite method. However, it is a tricky one to get right.

The reason it works is that when water freezes, it expands. The trick is to use just enough water to ensure that the cleat does not expand too much or not enough.

stretch your cleats using ice
  1. Tie the laces of your cleats, not too tight, though.
  2. Get a zip-lock bag. Test the bag to make sure there are no holes.
  3. Place a plastic zip-lock bag into the cleats with the opening outside the cleats.
  4. Carefully fill the bag with water. Use your judgment, and do not let the water spill out the opening.
  5. Close the bag.
  6. Place the cleats inside a freezer. Remember, first wipe the cleats down to remove excess water.
  7. Once the water has frozen, remove the cleats.
  8. Wait a while and remove the bag of ice.
  9. Wipe the cleats down.
  10. Let the cleats dry out.

Again, this is just stretching the cleats. It isn’t going to break them in because breaking your cleats in is more about breaking in the sole and the upper so the shoe becomes comfortable and not so stiff.

So let’s look at breaking in your cleats next.

How to Break in New Soccer Cleats: 7 Easy Steps

7 steps to break in your soccer cleats
7 steps to break in your soccer cleats

Breaking in your new cleats is slightly different from stretching them because you want to mold them to your feet, not just stretch them.

This will soften the inner sole of the shoe to be more comfortable.

So, while it may seem similar to stretching your cleats, there are different steps that you need to take when breaking in your shoes. 

Here are seven easy steps on how to break in your cleats:

  1. Get a bucket of warm water. On a scale of 1 to 10, the water should be no hotter than 7.
  2. Put your sports socks on. There is little difference between sports socks and casual socks, but use the former for the best result.
  3. Put your cleats on and tie the laces as tight as you normally would.
  4. Place both feet, with the cleats on, in the water. Sit there for around 15 minutes. Make sure that the water stays warm.
  5. Keep crunching your toes and releasing them throughout the process.
  6. Once you remove the cleats from the water, dry them effectively.
  7. Before setting them to dry, stuff the cleats with newspaper, paper towels, or brown paper bags.

This method of breaking in cleats will save you a lot of pain on the soccer field.

Until I discovered this method, I would spend the first few games after getting new cleats feeling really uncomfortable as my cleats molded to the shape of my foot.

Since using this method, the first game with new cleats feels as though I’ve been wearing the cleats for ages already!

Top Tip: Buying more expensive cleats is worth it as they don’t take as long to break in. If you have the budget, I recommend purchasing the best cleats you can afford.

How to Properly Lace up Your Soccer Cleats

All cleats are different, and so are people’s personal preferences. So, it is difficult to tell someone how to lace up their cleats.

However, there is one principle that everyone should apply: having a flat surface on top of your foot.

You don’t want a big ball of laces on the top of your cleats. Not only can this affect your performance and accuracy when passing or shooting, but it can also damage the top of your soccer cleats. So, keep that in mind. 

When tying your laces, you want to pull the cross to the lateral edge of the cleat. Make the end of the shoelace as small as possible, which will make the loops bigger.

You can then take these loops and tuck them into the side of your shoe.

Have a look at this video for some examples.

6 LACING HACKS - rating 6 ways to tie your boots

How to Clean Your Soccer Cleats: 9 Easy Steps

Cleaning your cleats is by far the most crucial aspect of maintaining them.

It might not seem important at first; After all, what’s a little dirt going to do to the cleat?!

The truth is that even little pieces of mud can have a devastating effect on the integrity of your cleats.

With leather cleats, if you had a piece of mud stuck to your cleats, as the mud dries, it will absorb all the moisture out of the materials of the cleats.

Once the mud has absorbed the moisture from the materials of the soccer cleat, the dry cleats may start to crack in the affected areas.

Even if your cleats aren’t leather, regularly cleaning them will pay off.

Here are my nine easy steps on how to clean the soccer cleats:

  1. Get a soft bristle brush. The bristles should resemble a toothbrush.
  2. Get a bucket of warm water. The water should not be too hot.
  3. Add some cleats cleaner to the water.
  4. If you have thick pieces of mud on the cleats, use a hard object to remove the mud gently.
  5. Dip the brush in the water.
  6. Place your hand in the cleat for stability.
  7. Start brushing the cleat gently.
  8. Use a circular motion while brushing.
  9. While going over joints or stitching, be extra gentle.

We will discuss the drying process in detail in a moment. First, however, before you clean your cleats, you want to make sure that you have the appropriate products for cleaning.

Personally, I would recommend Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit 8 Oz on Amazon as my cleat cleaning product of choice.

Using just soap and water is OK, but a dedicated product is far more effective and will give you more use from your cleats.

For more tips and information on this topic, check out my article – How to Clean (and Dry) Your Cleats: Without Damaging Them.

Steps to clean your soccer cleats
Steps to clean your soccer cleats

How to Dry Your Cleats

I need to start this section by saying that one of the worst things you can do to your soccer cleats is dry them with a hairdryer.

Exposing your soccer cleats to that kind of heat can weaken the materials, whether leather or synthetic. Also, you might damage any glue or stitching that the cleats have.

Don’t use a hairdryer to dry your cleats!

The best way to dry your soccer cleats is to wipe any excess water off them, stuff them with paper towels and then place the cleats outside in the shade. Replace the towels every hour until they are dry.

If you don’t have or prefer not to use paper towels, you can also use newspaper which requires replacing less often. 

And if you don’t have the option of placing your cleats outside in a shaded area, you can keep the cleats inside. In this situation, I find that putting them in front of a fan helps with circulation and speeds up the drying process.

A common mistake that I see people make is to place the cleats in the sun.

Whether your cleats are synthetic or leather, this will weaken the structure of the shoes. The sun is especially devastating for leather shoes, where it takes out all the moisture from the leather and causes cracks.

Using a good quality leather balm is essential for leather cleats.

After the drying process, much of the moisture in the leather will have been absorbed. So, you want to replenish it, almost like using a cream on your elbows after a shower.

I find Cobblers Choice All-Natural Leather Cream on Amazon is an effective product for this process.

How to Get the Smell Out of Your Cleats

There are very few things worse than taking off your cleats and having them smell bad.

Also, it can be highly embarrassing if you have to take them off around your friends and family, so you might want to get rid of the smell as quickly as possible.

How to get the smell out of your cleats
How to get the smell out of your cleats

I recommend using FunkAway Aerospray, 13.5 oz, Extreme Odor Eliminator on Amazon. 

However, it is essential to do this after cleaning and drying your soccer cleats. Once you have sprayed the odor remover, you might want to dry your shoes out again, although it won’t take so long this time.

Once you have sprayed the odor remover and dried out your cleats, it is a good idea to place a foot powder in the cleats.

However, as we all know, prevention is better than cure. So if you can prevent your cleats from smelling in the first place, you’ll be ahead of the game!

How to Prevent Your Soccer Cleats From Smelling

Here are a few ways that you can prevent your soccer cleats from smelling so bad the next time you take them off.

  • Always wear socks.
  • Never use wet socks.
  • Make sure that your feet are dry before placing them in the cleats.
  • Use a good foot powder. It would be best if you used the powder before and after use.
  • Always allow your soccer cleats to dry properly before using them.
  • If you change from your shoes to your cleats, it would be best to ensure that your regular shoes do not smell.

The recurring theme here is to keep your cleats dry on the inside.

Also, good foot powders do an excellent job of removing moisture.

Get the Correct Cleats For The Correct Surface

Another way of taking care of your cleats is not exposing them to elements they were not built for.

Use the correct cleats for the correct surface
Use the correct cleats for the correct surface

For example, you should only use synthetic cleats when on AstroTurf.

You can use pretty much any type of cleats on natural grass, even ones with metal studs. However, when it comes to AstroTurf, it can have a devastating effect on cleats that the manufacturers did not intend for that type of surface.

The synthetic grass will eat away at the structural integrity of your cleats.

So, if you know that you mostly play or practice on AstroTurf, make sure you get the right cleats. Synthetic is what you are looking for, which means that the studs are synthetic as well.

How Often Should You Replace Your Soccer Cleats?

Soccer cleats are built to last. However, that does not mean that they last long. In fact, when you compare it with most other sports equipment, cleats can wear off pretty fast.

So, you want to make sure that you replace them when necessary, or else it can affect your performance.

Ideally, you should replace your soccer cleats every six months. 

It is around this time where the insole of the cleat becomes worn out. You also need to consider the upper part of the cleats, which become worn out and affect your shot power and overall accuracy.

You want to avoid looking at your studs for an indication as to whether or not your cleats need replacing.

Studs will still hold their structural integrity for at least a year or two. It is the insole and the upper that you should think about the most.

How To Make Your Soccer Cleats Last Longer

After discussing how long you should wait before replacing your soccer cleats, I think it is important to give you a few tips on making them last longer.

However, there will come a time when the upper parts of the cleat get so worn that they become less effective, and they start affecting your performance.

Here’s how you can make your cleats last longer.

● Clean your cleats after every game

● Dry the cleats properly

● Never use damp socks.

● Avoid getting water inside the shoes

● Use leather balm for leather cleats

● Never walk on the cement with cleats on

● Use the correct type of cleat on the right surface

● While not in use, stuff the cleats with newspaper to maintain structural integrity.

Final Thoughts 

If you can buy a new pair of cleats every three months, then maintaining your current ones might not be as important to you.

However, many people need to stretch the lifespan of their cleats for as long as possible.

Hopefully, after reading through this article, you’ll feel confident that you can give your cleats the maximum lifespan.

Having a good pair of soccer cleats is worth it as you can also use them for other sports. Check out one of my following articles to see what I mean.

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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