How to Stretch Out Shoes: Leather or Non- Leather

How to Stretch Out Shoes: Leather or Non- Leather

Wearing tight shoes is one of the most uncomfortable experience that can happen to anyone, so, knowing how to stretch out shoes is a useful skill you should have. Imagine  buying a shoe smaller your size or that your legs have grown a little bit bigger. In another scenario , imagine ordering a shoe online  and it took a while before it was delivered, only to find out they were not your actual size, ouch! You picked the wrong size.

Whichever it is, there is a solution to this. We are here to give you tips on how to stretch your shoes, whether leather or non-leather. If they don’t seem to fit comfortably, there are ways to stretch your shoes instead of going through blisters and pain while trying to expand them with your legs because shoes naturally expand when worn over a long time.

Stretching your shoes can add a quarter- to a half-size in space, this stretching process also typically happens in width, not length, as the outsole can’t be stretched that much. So, don’t buy a size 7 shoe when you are actually a size 8 even if one of your feet is larger than the other it is advised to fit the larger feet and then add an insert for the other foot. Don’t worry about creasing the skin of your new shoes either. It is said that this is a normal  by-product of the stretching process.

Some tips on how you can stretch out your shoes, leather or non-leather include:

  • Using heat
  • The freezer method
  • Using the shoe stretcher tool
  • Using peeled potatoes
  • Using shoe stretching liquids

We’ll be looking at these and more in better detail. Let’s get right into it.

How to Stretch Out Shoes

Heat Your Shoe

The process of stretching your shoe (leather most especially) can be done immediately  with thick socks and a blowdryer. The heat from the blow dryer loosens the leather and alloes it to adjust to your foot. To start, cover your feet with one other two pairs of socks, the thicker the better.

Put on your shoes and blast them on medium heat for 30 seconds—you may want to move the nozzle to different spots on your shoes to avoid overheating any particular area and cracking the leather. As you do this, flex your feet, bending your toes back and forth to move the shoe material as much as you can. Do this for 20 – 30 secs at a stretch so you don’t damage your shoe. This may not sound very comfortable but it works.  Repeat this process until your feet slip in comfortably.

Use the Freezer Method

It is known that when water is frozen it expands, and the same happens to your shoes when water in a bag is placed inside your shoe and then  placed in the freezer.

Fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag one-third of the way with water. Secure tightly, leaving a little room at the top. Squeeze the bag to make sure there aren’t any invisible holes to avoid water spilling over into your shoes during the process. Place the bag in the shoe. Make sure to mold the bag down into the toe area where shoes tend to feel especially tight. Put the shoes in the freezer until the water becomes ice. Once the ice has formed, you can take out your shoes to thaw for about 20 minutes. Repeat this method multiple times until you reach the size you need.

Wear Them Around the House

If you notice your shoes are a little bit uncomfortable, try wearing them around the house till you feel they’ve become comfortable enough. Try this for a few days. This principle is derived from the fact that a shoe expands when it is worn. Try this on carpets and rugs so can shoes can still look new when it eventually fits. To speed up the process, wear a thick pair of socks—or several pairs—before you stuff the shoes on your feet. When the shoes hurt your feet, just take them off.

The Peeled Potato Wonder

Peeled potatoes? Yes. That’s right. Try peeling some potatoes and mold them into the shape of your shoe’s toe box (the front of the shoe). Wipe the potato dry with a paper towel, and stuff it inside your shoe overnight. This method can provide a modest amount of stretch. Try it!

Use the Shoe Stretcher Tool

Shoe stretchers such as adjusted shoe trees are a very special item at shoe repair shops. There are one-way and two-way shoe stretcher but now four -way adjustable shoe trees are now available for home use. There are versions are available for both men’s and women’s shoes. Other versions are still available, deluxe versions in cedar and other types of wood and stainless steel can be found. This device can help you expand the length and width of a shoe.  

Use a shoe spray for maximum effect and to speed up the process. Insert specially designed plugs (bunion plugs) which will target problem areas in the top of the toe box, then insert the shoe stretcher. Turn the adjustment handle of the shoe tree every 8 to 12 hours to keep stretching until you get the desired length and width. Leave the stretcher on the shoe for two days but ensure you check on a regular to know if you have your right fit. This method is relaible but it will cost you a very little sum of money.

Use Sprays and Liquids for Shoes

There are a variety of liquids and sprays to stretch shoes whether leather or non-leather. Simply spray them on the tight areas and then walk in your shoes. Please note you can use this method with the adjustable shoe tree stretchers to help give your shoes a custom stretch.

Find a Shoe Repair Professional

Seek the expertise of a prefessional cobbler even though they are becoming harder to find these days due to lack of interest, most professional shoe repair shops or cobblers provide stretching services. They have machines and training to alter shoes. Not only can a cobbler stretch your shoes, they can repair and refresh the ones you have to make them last longer in total.

Apply Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol which refers to  as isopropyl alcohol or ethanol based liquid are liquids used for industrial and household purposes and can be used to stretch your shoes.

  • Pour a little amount of the liquid on an empty spray bottle.
  • Spray the inside of your too-tight shoes until they are slightly damp.
  • Then put the shoes on, walk around until the alcohol dries up.

Repeat as much time until your shoes become comfortable to be in.

Another way to use rubbing alcohol is to take a pair of cotton socks, soak them in rubbing alcohol and squeeze out the excess. Then put on the socks and wear with the shoes until the alcohol dries. Repeat several times if necessary.

Use Wet Newspaper


Just like the principle that works in the freezer method. Wet newspapers expands when it dries. Stuff your shoe with wet news paper and allow to dry. Repeat this until you get your desired fit.

Stuff Your Shoes with Sock Balls

Roll several pairs of socks into small balls, then stuff them into your shoes until your shoes are at maximum capacity. Leave the socks in overnight. Repeat as many times as  necessary for additional stretching.

With all the methods mentioned for stretching shoes it is important to note that they should not be relied on to make all shoes fit. However, it is important to know them.


What happens if you wear shoes that are too small?

Wearing small shoes are not really a good idea and can damage  your feet causing bunions and corns and other severe feet deformities that may need corrective surgery.

How long does it take for your shoes to stretch?

It will take 24hours for your shoes to stretch, but 48hours maximum.

Can you stretch sneakers?

Yes you can. Use the freezer method

Should I buy my shoes a size bigger?

The trick here is buy a shoe that fits your bigger feet. If you don’t have a bigger feet, then get a size that fits.

Do running shoes loosen up?

No, running shoes doesn’t loosen up. A new pair would be great!

How do you know if a shoe fits properly?

Make sure the ball of your foot fits comfortably into the widest part of the shoe. Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slipping – the shoes should not ride up and down on your heel when you walk.

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