How to Stretch Leather Shoes, four methods for DIY shoe stretching at home.

Sometimes, despite a buyer’s best efforts, a pair of shoes will be a little too snug to wear comfortably. Perhaps the shoes never quite fit properly to begin with, or maybe weight changes or other conditions caused the fit to change. No matter the reason, it’s possible to stretch leather shoes at home. While you won’t get a significant increase in size, you can alleviate minor irritations and tightness. Read on to find out how.

Slow and Steady

One way to stretch a pair of leather shoes is to put on a pair (or two!) of your thickest socks. Do this, and then put on the shoes you want to stretch. Wear them around the house for at least an hour, but preferably longer, for better results. Do this at least twice a day, every day, for several days to several weeks – or as long as it takes to achieve the desired size. This method is good if you’re at all concerned about applying heat or moisture to the shoe.

A Quick Fix

Using this method requires thick socks (one or two pairs) and a hair dryer. Put on the sock or socks and then the shoes. Plug in the hairdryer and apply heat to the areas of the shoes that are too tight for about 3-5 minutes. While doing this, flex your foot and wiggle your toes. Lean on the balls of your feet, and roll your ankles. Concentrate on the areas where the shoes feel too tight. Turn off the hairdryer, and keep moving your feet in the shoes until the shoes cool off completely.

Keep Your Shoes on Ice

The ice method is effective but requires some extra care. First, get two plastic bags and fill them with water. Be very sure that these bags have strong structural integrity, because the last thing you want is water leaking inside the shoes! Place the plastic bags filled with water into the shoes. Work the bags in so that they fill the shoes. Put the shoes in the freezer. Freezing water expands and will gently stretch the leather. After the shoes have frozen (several hours to overnight), remove the shoes from the freezer and let the water thaw until you can comfortably remove the bags from the shoes. Don’t force it though! This can damage the shoes.

The Rubbing Alcohol Method

Lastly, the rubbing alcohol method can be used with care. Here, put thick socks on, wet but not soaked with rubbing alcohol. Put the shoes on immediately, and wear them until the socks are dry. As an alternative, you can apply rubbing alcohol directly to the shoe where it’s bothering your feet, and then wear them until they dry. Use caution here; some kinds of leather – especially dyed leathers and suede – aren’t likely to stand up to rubbing alcohol like plain leather shoes are. It’s a good idea to do a small spot test for colorfastness before using this method.

FYI,  in Australia, “rubbing alcohol, is sold as ” isopropyl alcohol “

No one wants to stop wearing a favourite pair of shoes because they’re a little too tight. There are a few ways to stretch the leather a bit at home, using heat, ice, or rubbing alcohol. Use care, and take your time when using these methods, and your shoes will fit better than new before you know it.

Leave a comment