If you’re wondering how to stretch leather shoes at home, the first thing you should do is wear them indoors for a couple of hours, or stuff them with some newspaper and wait 24 hours. There are many ways to stretch shoes at home, from freezing and heating to dampening and spraying alcohol.
You can also invest your money to buy simple stretching tools, such as shoe stretchers and shoe trees, for a more reliable result. But, the easiest way is to make or buy a shoe-stretching liquid, spray it on the insoles and walk in your shoes until it dries—which should be about half an hour.
Follow these nine DIY tips to break in your shoes and bring comfort back to your feet.
Stretch Leather Shoes Without Professional Help
If you feel like your shoes are shredding your feet to pieces, but you’ve paid too much just to throw them away, here are our best hacks to make the fit more comfortably:
Try Them Indoors
The easiest way to stretch leather shoes wider is to wear them around the house.
You can put shoes on while vacuuming the carpet or for a stroll around the yard. The point is that you should have them on your feet for a couple of hours, making them more comfortable for an outdoor experience.
You can also wear one or two pairs of thick socks to speed up the process. This saves your feet from blisters and intensifies the pressure on either side, helping to stretch leather shoes wider.
Remember that you don’t have to wear the shoes for long the first time. Try walking in them for half an hour each day. Gradually, enhance the duration until they’re comfortable enough for a long day outside the house.
Stuff Them with Newspapers
- Roll some newspapers.
- Place them into your shoes.
- Press them into the toe box.
- Continue the process until the shoes are at maximum capacity.
For more stretch, dampen the newspapers before you stuff them into the shoes. Don’t pull them out until they’re fully dry, and preferably, let them rest for 24 hours.
If you don’t have newspapers or don’t want to waste paper, try to do the trick with sock balls. The purpose is to fill the shoes with wet objects and force a gentle stretch.
Soak Them in Water
Although it might be annoying to wear drenched shoes, and it can make your flooring messy, this method is especially helpful for loosening leather:
- Submerge your shoes in water.
- Put them on and walk around the house.
Blast Some Heat Using a Hair Blower
Heat tends to make leather expand, and different colors react differently to heat.
So, this method is especially effective when certain parts of the shoes are uncomfortable—toe, ankles and the upper portion.
- Set your hair blower on medium heat.
- Put your shoes on—don’t forget to wear thick socks.
- Place the nozzle on the tightest parts for about 30 seconds to create more room. Try to twist your foot, and move the fingers up and down to help soften the leather.
Be careful with this method. Heating can widen your shoes up to a whole size and might make them uncomfortably bigger for your feet. Besides, overheating can damage your new shoes—don’t heat a single area for more than 30 seconds.
Make a Shoe-Stretching Spray
To make a spray that helps stretch shoe:
- Mix equal amounts of water and alcohol.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. If you don’t have a spray bottle, soak a pad in the mixture and gently rub it on the shoes.
- Squirt it on the shoes’ inside layers.
- You can also put the shoes on for additional stretching and mold it to your feet until the alcohol evaporates,
Running out of free time? Don’t worry; buy a shoe tree and place it in the shoe instead of wearing it—more coming up regarding shoe trees.
Put Them in the Freezer
When it comes to stretching leather, freezing can be just as effective as heating. The best way to do this hack is by using zip-close bags:
- Grab as many plastic bags as you can.
- Partially fill them with water.
- Seal the openings with the integrated zip.
- Place them in your shoes.
To ensure the plastics won’t tear and the water won’t spill in the shoes, use two bags instead of one.
When the water freezes inside the bags, its volume increases by approximately 10 percent. So, the expanded ice puts pressure on the shoes’ sides and corners.
You may need to repeat the process until you get the best results. However, once completed, this method can widen your shoes from a half to even a full size.
Bear in mind; if you have issues with your toe box, go for smaller plastic bags to shove them in and fit them tightly. Otherwise, you won’t see optimum results.
Invest in a Shoe Tree
So far, we’ve only talked about low-cost stretching shoes methods. However, although cost-efficient, they aren’t the easiest ways to stretch your shoes.
For a few more dollars, simple stretching tools can break in your footwear with ease—this is where a shoe tree comes in!
A shoe tree is an imitation of a real foot that holds the shoe in its proper shape.
Besides its primary purpose, you can also use a shoestring to expand the shoes’ width and length.
You can even combine this method with the hairdryer trick. Instead of your feet, you can use cedar shoe trees to keep the shoes upright while blowing the hairdryer. It will then mold around the shoe tree and take its shape. But if you have to wear the shoes because you don’t have a shoe tree, remember to slip on two pairs of thick socks before getting started.
Use a Shoe Stretcher
If you’ve bought an expensive pair of shoes and are worried about ruining them with the previous methods, buying a shoe stretcher would be your best choice.
These are specially designed to widen leather, and they’re less likely to damage your new pair of shoes.
They look similar to shoe trees, but they also have a T-mantle at the back to spin it to push the attached plug against your shoes. It also comes with a heel block to ensure a uniform result and expand the shoe without compromising its shape.
Even if you have issues with certain parts of the shoe—like the laces or toe box—shoe stretchers will come in handy.
A good point about shoe stretchers is that they stretch leather shoes, both lengthwise and widthwise. A one-way shoe stretcher helps expand the width, while a two-way shoe stretcher is suited to enhance the length.
Shoe stretchers are available for both men and women’s sizes and should cost no more than $50. They’re actually the safest and most convenient way to break in your footwear.
Shoe-stretching sprays, aka leather-stretching liquids, are available in various models, and you can buy them for less than $15.
Spray it all inside your shoes or on the tight areas to relax the fibers.
To make the process more effective, walk in your shoes until the material dries, or place a shoe tree inside them. After only half an hour, you’ll be surprised by the result.
Stretch Leather Shoes with Professional Help
For those not fond of DIY methods, concerned about damaging their brand new footwear or who don’t have enough free time to manage the process themselves, seeking professional help is the easiest way.
Visit your local shoe repair shop, cobbler or other similar service providers to loosen a tight pair of shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Can Leather Shoes Be Stretched?
Leather shoes can be stretched from a quarter to a whole size. The result depends on the method you use as well as the actual leather. The most cost-effective ways that yield good results are shoe-stretching liquid and the freezer method.
How Much Does It Cost to Stretch Shoes?
Overall, It costs no more than $50 to stretch leather shoes, but it depends on the method. For example, buying a shoe stretcher may cost you about $40, while walking in wet footwear needs no investment.
Does Putting Potatoes in Shoes Stretch Them?
Putting potatoes in shoes will stretch them, and it’s most effective for soft leathers. All you should do is insert a medium-sized potato in the opening of each shoe, push it into the front corners and let it be for 48 hours.
How Long Does It Take Leather Shoes to Stretch?
It can take as little as a few minutes and up to as much as 2 days to stretch leather shoes at home. Depending on the method and the amount of extra room you need in your shoes, it can take longer. However, it usually takes 2 or 3 days for a cobbler to stretch shoes.
Is It Possible to Stretch Leather Shoes?
Yes, it’s possible to stretch leather shoes using different in-home techniques, such as soaking them with water, buying a shoe stretcher or stuffing them with newspaper. Alternatively, seek a professional for assistance.
How Can I Stretch My Leather Shoes Wider?
You can stretch your leather shoes wider using various methods, such as wetting, heating, freezing, using alcohol and stretching tools.
Whether you buy your shoes online, in-store or delay using them for months, there could always be a time when you find out they’re no longer a good fit for you.
Whatever the case, you can follow our nine tips on how to stretch shoes at home, and restore the comfort to your feet with little cost and effort.