We try our best to purchase footwear that is comfortable from the get-go. But sometimes even comfortable footwear can rub, especially in hot weather, or after we haven’t worn them for a long time. With some pairs of boots, ballet flats, and loafers, I need to walk them in a bit again after not wearing them for more than a few months. Most of the time, I’ve found that I can prevent shoes from rubbing with a combination of the strategies below. 

1. Wear Them in a Little

Sometimes it’s a case of wearing the shoes multiple times with a bit of rubbing. Your feet get used to them, and after a while they no longer rub. Hopefully you won’t get blisters and sores, and the shoes become comfy. Wear them for short periods at a time while you are wearing them in.

2. Apply Moleskin

Shoes that begin to rub after a while might need the addition of moleskin. Apply a patch of moleskin to the inside areas of the shoes where your skin is prone to rubbing. The moleskin is soft, breathable and stretchy, and does a good job of minimizing the friction.

3. Use Anti-Chafing Balm

Generously apply anti-chafing balms like BodyGlide to the areas of the feet that are prone to rubbing before putting on your shoes. For me that’s my pinky toes, and the sides of my big toes. It REALLY works. You can get these types of balms at running stores, some drug stores, or online. Don’t apply the balm to the underside of your feet because you will slip and fall.

4. Wet Your Feet

This is a trick my late mother taught me. Wet your feet and slide them into shoes that do not require socks. Walk around in the shoes with wet feet, and yes, they dry quite quickly. Do this multiple times over the course of a week and ignore the squelching sound. You’ll stretch the shoes to fit your feet better, which can prevent rubbing. I recently did this with a new pair of white loafers that I sized down in because they were a little snug all over. Walking around in them with wet feet created a better fit, and now they don’t rub.

5. Have Shoes Stretched

Sometimes you need to stretch shoes in the areas where they rub to create more space. You can have this done professionally at a cobbler, or get an at-home stretching kit. Typically, my clients who have wider feet and need extra room in the toe box have their shoes stretched.

6. Wear Footies or Knee-Highs

If you can find footies or no-show socks that stay on your feet, that’s great because they effectively prevent rubbing and make footwear more comfortable. There isn’t a footie that stays on my feet, so I often wear nude-for-me knee-highs because they always fit. That said, it has to be mild or cool, and not warm or hot weather for knee-highs.

7. Add Cushioning Insoles

When shoes rub on the underside of your feet, try adding soft cushioning insoles that you can get at the drugstore for a couple of dollars. It effectively creates a more comfortable shoe. It does however take up shoe space, so bear that in mind. It only works for closed shoes.

These tips aren’t a slam dunk, but they can absolutely help and are worth a try. They might not prevent rubbing completely, but will certainly reduce it. Apart from shoe stretching, I successfully use all of the tips. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section below.