Converse is one of the most reputable footwear brands in the market; the brand has been around for over a century. As such, the shoes have traversed the globe and become well-known for their signature unisex, ageless appeal.
So why would you want to stretch out your shoes? Why not buy a shoe in the right size? In this article, we’ll highlight numerous ways to stretch your Converse sneakers without ruining them. Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover:
- Reasons to Stretch Your Converse Shoes
- Effects of Wearing Ill-Fitting Shoes
- How to Stretch Out Your Converse Shoes
- How to Stretch Your Shoes with Tools
- Frequently Asked Questions
Reasons to Stretch Your Converse Shoes
Of course, the best method by far is ensuring you purchase the right fit from the onset. But what happens when a shoe that used to fit you right no longer does?
There could be numerous reasons why you may need to stretch out your Converse sneakers, including:
- The shoes might be new, and you’d like to break them in faster.
- You could have bought the shoe in the morning hours, so your foot had not expanded.
- You may also have gone through a growth spurt, and your Converse shoe no longer conforms to the shape of your foot.
Effects of Wearing Ill-Fitting Shoes
Wearing an ill-fitting shoe, whether it’s bigger or smaller, is always uncomfortable. But what are the long-term effects of wearing a shoe that feels too tight?
When you wear too-tight shoes, you may experience damage to nerve endings in the toes and foot – Neuropathy. This medical condition causes the feet to feel numb and is, in some cases, irreversible. Over time, this damage causes the numb sensation and eventually pain.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes causes acquired foot deformities that are either acquired or congenital. The most common foot deformities include:
- Bunions: A bunion is a hard, bony lump that forms on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. Bunions cause the big toe to point toward the rest of the toes. This puts awkward pressure on the foot, causing inflammation and irritation, and general pain in the toes.
- Hammertoe refers to when the second toe (the one next to the big toe) causes the toe joint to remain bent in a “hammer” shape, with the middle joint pointing upward.
- Claw toe is similar to hammertoe in that the second toe is affected. But in this case, even the other toes are also affected, and they all point downward in a claw shape.
- Mallet toe, on the other hand, affects any toe and causes the joint closest to your toenail to bend downward.
While claw toe may be related to an underlying medical condition, hammertoe and mallet toe are primarily caused by wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes.
How to Stretch Out Your Converse Shoes
Stretching out your shoes doesn’t have to be a costly process; you won’t need to buy any tools. Below are simple solutions you can adopt to make your shoes fit better.
Wash Your Shoes
This is a pretty basic method with a straightforward rationale. The fabric used to make Converse shoes is typically a little rigid and inflexible when new. You may end up getting blisters by wearing them as they are. However, the tightness usually goes away after a few wears.
So, the point of washing the shoe is to speed up the softening process to make it feel comfortable faster.
- Start by removing the laces.
- Next, soak the shoes in some warm water and mild soap. It’s best to use mild soap because any other soaps will bleach the color of the Converse material.
- Gently scrub the canvas and the rubber outsole.
- Let the Converse and the laces out to air dry. Stuff the shoes with old newspaper to make sure they maintain their shape while gently stretching them out.
Another convenient method of loosening and stretching out your pair of Converse shoes is to put on a pair of thick socks when wearing your shoe. This is a steady and gradual way to stretch out Converse shoes, minimizing the chance of overstretching them.
- Buy thick socks and wear them with your Converse shoes. Tie the laces as you normally would, making sure not to put them on too tight as the resulting look might seem odd.
- Wear the shoes around the house, preferably around the evenings, for several hours at a time. Repeat this process as often as necessary.
Hairdryer and Thick Socks
Although similar to the socks method, this one incorporates heat as well. The heat helps stretch out the canvas material, while the thick socks help the shoes maintain their shape. Here’s how to do it:
- Wear thick socks and fasten the shoes so they fit comfortably.
- Now using the hairdryer on moderate heat for 20 to 30 seconds, apply the heat from the dryer to the tight areas of the Converse.
- Again, only use medium heat, and keep the blow dryer moving in random motion so you don’t damage or burn the material.
- Try to wiggle your toes as you repeat the process and keep the shoes on until they cool down.
Tip: This method works best to stretch out Converse leather shoes. It’s best to apply a leather conditioner or moisturizer to the shoes after using this method.
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Ziploc Bag and Frozen Water
If wearing thick socks, washing, and using a hairdryer do not do the trick, the Ziploc bag method will. This method utilizes the principle that water expands when frozen. Here is how you do it:
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- Fill a Ziploc bag with water, but not to the brim.
- Place the bag inside your shoe, and fix it so that it is nearer to the tighter areas of your Converse shoe that need stretching out, especially the front where the toes rest.
- Leave the bag in the freezer overnight. The water in the zip bags will freeze and stretch out the shoe material as it expands.
Tip: This method is more suitable for stretching out non-leather Converse sneakers.
This method can be employed in two different ways, particularly if the shoes are tight around the toes and need a little wiggle room.
- Roll up several socks or bundle up old newspapers, and push them right to the end of your shoes. Make sure they are squeezed in tightly enough to stretch out the footwear material.
- Leave the stuffing overnight or a couple of days (as you see fit).
- If the shoes have not stretched out enough, repeat the process until you are satisfied.
This is an unorthodox method called the peeled potato trick. Mold the peeled potato into the shape of your shoe’s toe box, i.e., to resemble the front side of the shoe. Wipe the potato dry, and stuff it inside your shoe overnight or as long as it may require. The result is a good amount of stretch.
How to Stretch Your Shoes with Tools
If all the other methods do not work, using a shoe stretcher might be your best option. Shoe stretching tools include:
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- Two Way Stretcher or Four-Way Stretcher
- Ball and Ring Shoe Stretcher
Using a Two-Way or Four-Way Stretcher
These tools help expand the length and width of your shoe. They come in different specifications, the two-way stretcher and the four-way stretcher. They also have a variety of specially designed plugs (bunion plugs) that can target problem areas in the top of the toe box.
They are easy to use after you install them. Simply turn the adjustment handle of the stretcher every 8 to 12 hours and keep stretching until you achieve the desired length and width.
Tip: This method does best when combined with a shoe stretching spray and liquids. It is best for leather shoes and sneakers.
Using a Ball and Ring Stretcher
This is a device similar to the two-way stretcher, the difference being that the professional ball and ring stretcher helps alleviate shoe pressure points.
- Start by finding the problematic area.
- Place the ball end of the device on the inside and the stretcher on the outside of the shoe.
- Pull the stretcher arms together so that the ball on the inside of the shoe pushes the fabric out.
- Use the integrated screw fitting to screw the arms into place.
Although you might notice some initial changes, it’s best to leave the stretcher inside the shoe until the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Converse All-Stars Stretch Out By Themselves?
Most Converse footwear will eventually conform to the wearer’s feet. However, when the shoe is newer, it may be uncomfortably stiff and hurt your feet.
Newer brands like the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars are now all cushioned with a plush and springy foam cushion on the footpad, making them more comfortable even when new.
Can I Toss My Converse Sneakers Into the Washer?
Yes, you can wash your Canvas material sneakers using the washing machine. The only recommendation is to put the washing machine on a low cycle without any other garments and then let them air dry.
The Bottom Line
To stretch out Converse shoes and sneakers, employ any of the methods mentioned above. However, inspect the shoe often to ensure you don’t over-expand your Chucks.
And if your shoe still doesn’t fit right, it may be time to visit your trusted cobbler.