How to Stretch Shoes that are too tight
So you’ve gotten yourself a new pair of shoes. They haven’t been worn in yet, so they’re a little tight. And you’d rather not run the risk of blisters. Or maybe your feet grew a size after pregnancy. Then again, maybe your friend has given you a beautiful pair of Louboutins, but the shoes are too small. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
In this post, I’m talking about how to make shoes bigger, when your footwear is too tight or narrow.
Thankfully, most shoes can easily be stretched out to achieve some toe-wiggling room! And there are a few cheap & cheerful shoe repair hacks that you can easily do at home. All of them coming up after the jump 🙂
How to Make Shoes Bigger – 5 Easy Ways
Getting your shoes stretched or stretching them yourself is a great option for footwear that is a half to a full size too small. As always, I encourage everyone to buy the right size shoes in the first place. However, I’m the first to understand that sh*% can happen & sometimes we just need to give a little, well, give to our shoes!
Of course, the best way to stretch your shoes initially – in order to break them in & enlarge them slightly – is by gently walking in them. Preferably with thick socks at home, so you don’t run the risk of blisters.
But if you need to know how to stretch out your shoes a wee bit more than that, I present you with some handy hacks, below:
1. Use a Shoe Stretching Tool
The most professional way of stretching your shoes at home is by using a shoe stretcher. Yeah, I know, not a very creative name, right!? Shoe stretchers are great shoe accessories for those of us who have problem feet and can’t get the right shoes to fit. So totally worth it if this is something you’ll be using time & again.
Wondering how to stretch shoes wider? Well, this is also a fab tool because that can expand the width and/or the length of shoes. To get the use of the two functions in one, you’ll want to buy a two-way stretcher.
There are shoe wideners & lengthener and 2 in 1 stretcher for both men and women’s sizes, as well as stretchers specifically designed for women’s heels. Some even have these little holes throughout the toe area, where you can insert plugs into for areas around the toe that are particularly tight.
If you want to stretch boots, there’s an
app tool for that too! This hangable boot stretcher happens to be cheap, cheerful & comes in a variety of colors. Each product is different, so be sure to read the instructions!
For a standard stretcher, you can use it per my instructions below…
How to use a shoe stretcher:
- If your gadget requires it, spray it with the liquid it came with, or suggested by the manufacturer
- Place it inside the tight shoe
- Turn the knob to expand the stretcher the desired amount*
- Leave overnight. Repeat the process with the other shoe
*NB: Start small, so you don’t over stretch the shoes. When it doubt, take baby steps!
This method is best for: expanding the toe box area and width of shoe, depending on which tool you purchase. Best for shoes made of natural materials. Leathers, suedes, cotton canvases naturally stretch, while man-made fabrics such as plastics & PVC don’t really “give” much.
Where to buy shoe stretchers, below:
2. Use Rubbing Alcohol
Using rubbing alcohol to stretch shoes is a great way to break in new shoes and for footwear that requires a minor stretch. I’ve used this trick a few times myself and it works miracles. There are two ways you can use rubbing alcohol to stretch shoes:
- Wet a wad of cotton or a cotton ball/pad with rubbing alcohol. Then press it onto the desired, tight area of the shoe, transferring the liquid. Then, immediately put on the shoes & walk around. It’s important to do this fast, as rubbing alcohol dries quickly and it will only act as a strong shoe stretcher when it is wet.
- For a shoe that is too tight all over, put on a pair of socks. The tighter your shoes, the thicker the socks! Soak the socks thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. Then, put your shoes on and walk around, stretching any particularly tight area with your foot, until the alcohol has evaporated & the socks are dry.
This shoe stretching method is best for: Expanding all or parts of the shoe. Best for shoes made of natural materials & fabrics. Avoid repeated use on fancy leather shoes, as rubbing alcohol dries leathers out. And don’t worry about rubbing alcohol ruining your shoes. I used them on a pair of hot pink satin espadrilles, and there was absolutely no discoloration or damage. However, some dyes may leak, so if you must go ahead with the “procedure”, test it on a small, non visible area first!
If you prefer, there are professional stretching sprays that you can buy such as Shoekeeper shoe stretcher or any of the ones referenced to in the slider, below. Easier to use, as it sprays from a bottle.
Check out some highly rated shoe stretch liquids, below:
3. Stretch Shoes with a Blow Dryer
If you want a quick, mess-free fix to make your too small shoes bigger, all you need is a heavy pair of socks (the tighter the shoe, the heavier the socks!) and a hot hair blow dryer. We use this method as so:
- Put on yer socks, followed by your shoes
- With your blow dryer on the hottest setting, blast it towards the tight areas of your shoes. Not too close, though
- Move your feet & wiggle your toes to stretch out the tightest areas, while blow drying on hot
- Walk around in the shoes, at least until the shoes cool down
- Now try on your shoes without the socks. Still too tight? Repeat steps 1-4!
This method is best for: All shoes made of natural materials, because they’ll expand more & likely not to melt. Beware of heating any plastic or patent material. It may not end well :/
4. Stretch your Shoes in the Freezer
Yes, the freezer. And before you get all grossed out by the prospect of mixing shoes with food, hear me out! It’s all very scientific 😉
So how do you stretch your shoes in the freezer? Essentially the trick here is to fill a baggie with water, place it into your shoes. As the water freezes & expands, it will stretch your shoes by pushing against them. This works particularly well for stretching out the front part of your shoes. What you will need to do is:
- Depending on your shoe size, fill a small to medium sized ziplock bag half full of water. 1 for each shoe.
- Seal it so that no water can leak out & making sure that there is no air in the bag
- Place each water-filled baggie into the shoes
- Put both shoes into another larger plastic bag, to protect the shoes (and frozen produce!)
- Leave overnight & voilà!
This shoe stretching method is best for: enlarging the toe box of the shoe. Good for all shoe materials, including plastic & vinyl.
5. Go to a Cobbler
If you couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to make shoes bigger at home, your neighborhood cobbler will happily do it for you. The service runs anywhere from 10-20 dollars, depending on where you live.
Getting a cobbler to stretch your shoes out is obviously the safest route to take. Also a good option if you only have one pair of shoes to enlarge & don’t want to invest in a shoe stretcher or any fancy product. Surely best to use a cobbler if your footwear is particularly pricey. What’s another 15 bucks if your heels or brogues cost you over a grand, right?
So have I left any shoe widening options out? If you have any tips or want to share your favorite trick on how to stretch shoes, feel free to leave me a comment in the allotted section, below!
Want more? Check out all my post about shoe care tips here. Like if you have the opposite problem of your shoes being too tight, take a look at my post on how to make shoes smaller. Lots of free to low cost tips there too!
Disclaimer: Attempting to stretch shoes yourself may cause irreparable damage to your beloved heels & boots. It’s usually safer to take your footwear to a professional specializing in shoe stretching. Highly recommended for your pricey Choos & Blahniks!