5 Ways to Stretch Your Shoes at Home | Fashion How To

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How to Stretch New Shoes

Two Parts:

Now you've done it! You saw that pair of shoes you always wanted, and before you knew what happened, you purchased them. Now that you have them, you realize they're awfully tight. If you could just stretch them, they'd be perfect, right? Fortunately, there are quite a few ingenious ways to gently stretch your shoes, and send you out in style.


Stretching Your Shoes

  1. Wear your shoes at home.This is the easiest option: if your shoes are not so tight as to be completely unwearable, simply put them on and wear them around the house, until they have adjusted to your feet. This might take a couple days, but it's so natural, it's practically organic!

Sock stretching

  1. Wear thick socks and add heat.Put on the thickest socks you have, and squeeze your feet into the shoes (leather only). Heat the tight area of the shoes using a hairdryer and bend your feet back and forth as much as you can for 20 to 30 seconds.
    • Remove the heat source but leave the shoes on until they have cooled. Try the shoes on with your normal socks or stockings.
    • Repeat until the shoes have stretched enough. Once stretched, apply leather shoe conditioner to restore the moisture that might have been depleted by the heat.
    • Note: heating shoes could weaken glue bonds—use with caution on vintage shoes.

Sock ball stretching

  1. Gather a few socks for each shoe.
  2. Roll the socks into small balls.
  3. Gently stuff each sock deep into the shoe until the shoe is full.
    • Repeat on the other shoe.
  4. Wait overnight.Next day you will see a difference.

Freezer stretching

  1. Freeze the shoes with a bag of water.Fill a hole-free resealable sandwich bag, thick balloon, or similar plastic bag about one third to halfway with water and seal tightly, one bag for each of your shoes.
    • Place a bag inside each shoe and push into place so that it fills your entire shoe. Place your shoes in the freezer, and let them sit until the water freezes, or overnight. As the water freezes, it will expand into your shoes, gently stretching the leather.
    • Remove from the freezer and let them thaw for about 20 minutes before trying to remove the bags. Try the shoes on again to see how the shoes fit and repeat if needed.
    • It's recommended that you don't use this method on expensive shoes.

Newspaper stretching

  1. Stuff your shoes with wet newspaper.Scrunch up wet newspaper, and stuff it into your shoes. Stuff in as much as the shoe will fit, but be careful not to distort the shoe shape when using this method; if the shoe appears distorted, remove newspaper and re-stuff until the shoe shape looks right.
    • Let the shoes dry. Remove the newspaper and try on the shoes. There should be more give.
    • Note that this method can also include freezing the shoes for added expansion. Wet socks can be substituted for newspaper.

Using oats to stretch shoes

  1. Fill the shoes with oats.Try this old cowboy trick for leather boots: fill your boots with oats, or any grain that swells up when wet.
    • Pour in enough water to cover the grain. The grain will swell overnight.
    • Clean out the oatmeal. It's probably not a good idea to make breakfast with the leftovers.
    • Wear them for a few days as they dry and adjust to your feet.

Rubbing alcohol spray for stretching

  1. Use a rubbing alcohol spray.Fill a spray bottle with 50 percent rubbing alcohol and 50 percent water. Spray the inside of each shoe and wear for about 20 minutes.
    • Alternatively, simply rub alcohol directly onto the parts of the shoe requiring stretching.
    • Quickly put the shoe or boot on while still wet, as the alcohol will dry quickly.
    • Another variation is to take a pair of cotton socks, soak them in rubbing alcohol and squeeze out the excess. Put on the socks and wear with the shoes until the alcohol dries. Repeat several times if necessary.

Potato stretching

  1. Do the "mashed potato".Peel a spud (a big russet is best), and push it into the shoe overnight. Make sure it is large enough to create a small bulge in the shoe.
    • Potatoes do not smell bad (they actually trap odor), and any potato residue left over will easily wipe off with a damp cloth.

Shoe stretcher

  1. Use a shoe-stretcher on leather shoes.A shoe stretcher is shaped the same as a foot and is usually made from wood, such as cedar or maple, with screws and adjustments that help to stretch the shoe.
    • Look in the closet-organizer section of your local hardware or organizational stores, or check out garage sales and thrift stores.
    • A shoe stretcher can adjust width or length (check its ability when purchasing) and will fit in either the left or right shoe.
    • Known as "dry stretching," a shoe-stretcher can take several days for it to have an effect; check the fit every now and then.
    • Some shoe stretchers include little buttons you can insert into holes for localized stretching, for example to fit over an area with a bunion or corn.
    • Use a shoe-stretching spray or oil in conjunction with the shoe-stretcher. You'll find the spray or oil at shoe stores, shoe repair shops, or from wherever you purchased the shoe-stretcher. The spray or oil will help to make the shoe material a little more supple, helping it to stretch evenly and speeds up the process.

Professional stretching

  1. Hire a professional.Take your shoes to a professional cobbler for stretching. Some have machines that can gently apply pressure and heat to shoes to stretch them just the right amount.
    • The precision and ease of using this service can be well worth the effort and cost, especially for expensive or delicate shoes.
    • Expect the service to take around 24 hours.

Preventative Measures

  1. Choose shoes that fit.As much as possible, choose shoes that already fit and don't need stretching or don't need very much stretching. Ensure this by:
    • Having your feet measured whenever you buy shoes. Feet are three dimensional, and all measurements should account for not only length but width and depth as well.
    • Measure both feet. Most people's feet are identically sized, however some people have feet which are two different sizes, and some people even experience up to a whole size difference between feet.
    • Trying the next size up if a pair is a bit too tight, even if you think you normally wear a certain size. Proportions vary between manufacturers, and the only way you can tell is by trying on the shoes.
    • Checking the sizing standard for your shoes. That is, is it European, UK, or US? Is it men's or women's? Even if multiple size standards are listed, there's not a strict correspondence between US and European shoe sizes, so if you're used to one and not the other, try on the nearby sizes.
    • Asking about half sizes and multiple widths. Not all shoe stores carry them, but the good ones do.
    • Buying shoes in the second half of the day, when your feet are at their most swollen after walking and standing on them during the day.
  2. Choose stretchy shoes.As a rule, real leather is more conforming and has more give than synthetics such as plastic, PVC, etc.
    • If the shoe is synthetic, be sure to purchase it in the right size from the start as it's unlikely to have any give; indeed, the point of such materials is often that their molded shape has no give and endures.
    • Be careful with fabric shoes, as any stretching might weaken the fibers.
    • Shoes with an elastic gore will be stretchier. An elastic gore is an elastic fabric panel inserted into a shoe.
    • Different leather has different stretchability. Kangaroo leather is considered to have more stretch than cow leather, for example.
    • There's a limit to how far shoes can reasonably stretch. If you just need to loosen things up a little around the toes, you'll have better success than if the whole thing needs to get a lot bigger.
    • And some shoes should fit properly from the beginning, no matter what, such as walking shoes. If the shoe needs too much stretching, either don't purchase it, or purchase a pair a half to one size up, or switch to a better fitting style or brand.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What kind of oil do I use while stretching the shoe? Is there a brand name?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Neatsfoot Oil is great if they are leather. It's a type of leather conditioning/treating oil, not a brand name.
  • Question
    How do I stretch shoes that are not leather?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can do this by using the freezer stretching technique in the article above.
  • Question
    Can I use wet tissues or toilet paper to loosen shoes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No because it will leave a staining residue and your shoes will just contain too much moisture
  • Question
    How do I stretch leather size 9 medium width shoes to a wider width?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Using a shoe tree would be your best option. The pinewood will help stretch the balm of the shoe.
  • Question
    How long do I need to leave the newspaper in the shoes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Leave the newspaper in the shoe overnight. If you feel overnight didn’t do the job, leave it in longer for better results.
  • Question
    Does Play-dough work?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. It will conform to the shape of the shoe, as opposed to stretching it. It also may leave staining residue.
  • Question
    How do I stretch out the straps on shoes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Take some socks and press them into the shoes against the straps. Keep adding more socks until you can't add anymore. Heat the straps with a hairdryer for 30 seconds and do this again and again until the straps are stretched.
  • Question
    Can you use this for Chuck Taylor All Star Converse? Mine are low tops.
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Wear low socks. Going barefoot with converse makes them smell way worse, and can cause a lot of blisters. They should get more comfortable the longer you wear them.
  • Question
    I have just bought some boots for my daughter. One shoe fits but the other one doesn't. I brought them as she is going to a festival with some friends in two days. How can I get the other shoe to fit?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Get a refund! If they are different sizes, return them for a refund! If your daughter has differently sized feet, that's a different challenge.
  • Question
    How do I stretch a shoe that has a very low toe box?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Stuff newspapers and other stuff in the toe area and leave them in till you wear them. Then you can take them out to wear them, and put it back in when you are done wearing them.
Unanswered Questions
  • Can I stretch the toes of composite safety shoes?
  • Are the results of the methods in the article pemanent?
  • How can I stretch my new shoes if they have glitter on them that I don't want to come off?
  • How do I stretch pointed glitter shoes?
  • How do I stretch the lower part of boot material?
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This video demonstrates how to use the ice bag method.
  • Go slowly, and be patient. Stretch the shoes a little bit, then try them on, then stretch the shoes some more. The reality is that shoes, like clothes, are made to approximate general size and shape. It is still up to each individual to break in or mold the shoe to fit her or his particular foot shape, and provided the shoe isn't impossibly tight, wearing the shoe regularly and gradually for more and more time is the most effective method for stretching it.
  • Polish leather shoes and boots after using a stretching treatment, to ensure that the leather is softened and maintained. This is especially important if you've used a method that required the addition of water or heat.
  • Start by stretching a less-costly pair of shoes, while you get the feel for the process. That way, if you overdo it and ruin the shoes, it won't cost you as much.
  • Try on shoes when you are buying them to make sure they fit properly. You might also consider returning the shoes to the retailer and asking them if they can stretch the shoe; this is especially useful where the retailer made a promise that the shoe would stretch.
  • If a brand warns you that it won't stretch out, heed the warning and find your correct size, instead. It's not just manufacturer's pride but a reality!
  • Always purchase your shoes well in advance of when you need to wear them so that you have adequate time to break them in, especially for dances, proms, and weddings.


  • Don't freeze or heat vintage shoes; it might be the last you see of the shoes!
  • If you use heat to stretch shoes, be aware that many of the adhesives used in constructing shoes are heat-based.
  • Don't heat plastic, PVC, etc., shoes. They are not meant to give and applying heat risks releasing toxic fumes.
  • If you use a shoe stretching spray with your feet, wear old socks because the fluid might make the dye in the shoes bleed a bit.
  • Take care of your feet first and your shoes second. Hurting feet are a sign that the shoes are not right for you.
  • Make sure your shoes won't be ruined if they get a little bit of water on the inside if you use the water in a bag method.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoe polish or conditioner to soften and protect shoes after stretching
  • Items as specified in article

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Sian Berry, How to stretch tight shoes,
  2. The Stretching Institute, Choosing the right shoes,
  3. The Stretching Institute, Choosing the right shoes,



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Quick Summary

To stretch new shoes, put a couple freezer bags filled with water into yourshoes and freeze them overnight, which will cause the water to expand and stretch your shoes. You can also try putting your shoes on over several pairs of thick socks and then heating them for 30 seconds with a blow dryer. If that doesn't help, spray some rubbing alcohol inside of your shoes and then wear them for 20 minutes. Also, you can put bags of dry oats in your shoes and then pour water into the bags, which will cause the oats to swell and stretch your shoes.

Success Stories

Nina Richards

Feb 13, 2019

"I am pleased to announce that not only one of these useful life hacks works, but almost the entire list. I wastrying to stretch my Nike shoe, and it worked. Now I can wear these outside the house."

Aquila Chrysaetos

Apr 5, 2019

"I did not know there were so many methods to stretch a pair of shoes. I bought a very expensive pair of shoes for asong, but they are snug. Nice to know that just wearing them will stretch them."

Lisa Fawson

Jul 6, 2019

"These techniques were wonderful. I did this first with my tennis shoes and then a pair of dress shoes. It worksreally good with my tennis shoes and okay with my dress shoes."

Roy John

Mar 1, 2019

"The concept. These suggestions I've not tried yet, but it is something I have to go toward doing, because of havinga few pairs that are uncomfortable!"

Joyce Popp

Mar 21, 2019

"Terrific Ideas! I tried the freezing method, it worked perfectly on a pair of leather loafers that I bought brandnew and couldn't wear."


Jun 11, 2019

"These steps for stretching your shoes/leather boots at home confirmed what friends had been telling me. Thank youfor the confirmation!"

Claire Furneaux

Nov 26, 2019

"It was very helpful, since it gave so many suggestions so =I could easily choose the one I felt most suitable formy particular shoes."

Barbara F Gillard

May 23, 2019

"Did not know that a shoe stretcher could stretch an instep in the shoe. Have to buy the correct one. "
Rated this article:

Tiffani Alexis

Oct 14, 2019

"The sandwich bags that you add to the shoes and freezes work very well, so happy I found this!"

Donald McCord

Oct 9, 2019

"Suggestion of having oil, spray extremely helpful, also calls for patience!"

Chrissy Daleid

Oct 5, 2019

"I wish I'd have had these great tips 40 years ago! Better late than never."

Sue Russell

Dec 23, 2019

"Will try the wet newspaper advice. Hopefully that will do the trick!"

Denise Bacher

Aug 27, 2019

"It gave quite a few options for stretching shoes. Very helpful!"

Angela York

Oct 30, 2019

"So many options to choose from, and most are inexpensive."

Alicia Johnson

Nov 18, 2019

"Learned ow to stretch all my shoes without ruining them."

Maureen Field

Apr 20, 2019

"Just all the information I wanted to know.

Video: 5 Minutes To Break Shoes In + NuMe

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