How to Stretch New Shoes
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
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!
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
Gather a few socks for each shoe.
Roll the socks into small balls.
Gently stuff each sock deep into the shoe until the shoe is full.
- Repeat on the other shoe.
Wait overnight.Next day you will see a difference.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
QuestionWhat kind of oil do I use while stretching the shoe? Is there a brand name?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNeatsfoot Oil is great if they are leather. It's a type of leather conditioning/treating oil, not a brand name.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stretch shoes that are not leather?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can do this by using the freezer stretching technique in the article above.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use wet tissues or toilet paper to loosen shoes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo because it will leave a staining residue and your shoes will just contain too much moistureThanks!
QuestionHow do I stretch leather size 9 medium width shoes to a wider width?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsing a shoe tree would be your best option. The pinewood will help stretch the balm of the shoe.Thanks!
QuestionHow long do I need to leave the newspaper in the shoes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLeave the newspaper in the shoe overnight. If you feel overnight didn’t do the job, leave it in longer for better results.Thanks!
QuestionDoes Play-dough work?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. It will conform to the shape of the shoe, as opposed to stretching it. It also may leave staining residue.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stretch out the straps on shoes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTake 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.Thanks!
QuestionCan you use this for Chuck Taylor All Star Converse? Mine are low tops.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWear 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.Thanks!
QuestionI 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 ContributorCommunity AnswerGet a refund! If they are different sizes, return them for a refund! If your daughter has differently sized feet, that's a different challenge.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stretch a shoe that has a very low toe box?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStuff 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.Thanks!
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?
||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
Sources and Citations
- Sian Berry, How to stretch tight shoes,
- The Stretching Institute, Choosing the right shoes,
- The Stretching Institute, Choosing the right shoes,
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