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

How to Stretch Shoes - Make Shoes Bigger

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 Rubbing Alcohol

How to Stretch Shoes with 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Foot Matters’ Shoe Stretch or similar. Easier to use, as it sprays from a bottle. These do, however, also contain alcohol. Not that, that’s a bad thing. Just saying 🙂


Check out some highly rated shoe stretch liquids, below:


2. 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 on sale & comes in a set of 2. Each product is different, so be sure to read the instructions!

For a standard stretcher, you can use it as stated below.

How to use a shoe stretcher:

  1. If your gadget requires it, spray it with the liquid it came with, or suggested by the manufacturer
  2. Place it inside the tight shoe
  3. Turn the knob to expand the stretcher the desired amount*
  4. 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:


3. Stretch Shoes with a Blow Dryer

How to 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:

  1. Put on yer socks, followed by your shoes
  2. With your blow dryer on the hottest setting, blast it towards the tight areas of your shoes. Not too close, though
  3. Move your feet & wiggle your toes to stretch out the tightest areas, while blow drying on hot
  4. Walk around in the shoes, at least until the shoes cool down
  5. 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

How to Stretch Shoes in the Freeze

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:

  1. Depending on your shoe size, fill a small to medium sized ziplock bag half full of water. 1 for each shoe.
  2. Seal it so that no water can leak out & making sure that there is no air in the bag
  3. Place each water-filled baggie into the shoes
  4. Put both shoes into another larger plastic bag, to protect the shoes (and frozen produce!)
  5. 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!

xo Cristina




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!

How to Stretch Shoes - 5 Hacks

16 Comments

  1. I just bought 2 pair of dress pumps on Amazon, size 5.5. Wore one pair to work today, but had to remove after an hour because the tightness in the HEELS gave me blisters. Which method would work best for stretching out these back sections? My toes are also a slight bit cramped, but not painful. I probably should have bought size 6, but I do have small, narrow feet, and the 5.5 were cheaper.

    • Hi Cindy!
      I hear you with the narrow feet (I have the same problem and going half a size down narrows shoes enough but also unfortnately shortens the length.)

      Method of stretching depends on the shoe material. I find canvas and faux leathers are the toughest to stretch. Natural leathers are a lot easier. That being said, I’d first try stretching with socks & a hair dryer, then if that doesn’t do the trick, move onto a shoe stretching spray/rubbing alcohol in all tight parts. If neither of those methods work, a cobbler is probably your best bet. Hope this helps!
      xo Cristina

  2. I bought myself a pair of leather mules in my size but the toe is too narrow causing the back part of my foot to be hanging over the back… bought them online and spent a fortune 🙁 will these tricks work?

    • Hi Jessimon,

      It really depends on the narrow toe area. If the mule is too narrow because it’s a pointed toe, then there’s nothing much you can do. However, if the toe area is narrow on a rounded or almond toe, I would try the rubbing alcohol/shoe stretching spray, wetting only that exact area that is too tight. Or try the hair dryer trick with socks. Neither method will ruin the shoes, so you could still take them back if they don’t fit quite right. With mules, if your heel is hanging over the edge, the shoe will end up digging into your foot and be very uncomfortable (not to mention a potential tripping hazard!).

      Hope this helps!
      xo Cristina

  3. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing this. I prefer casual shoes to wear so that it won’t cause pain in the evening.

  4. to make a little more room in the toe area, pull up the inner sole from the toe about 2-3″ and cut that part of the inner sole.

    • EEk, I never knew you had such small, dainty feet! Lucky you (well, not in terms of finding sizes, but for being able to pull off footwear some of us with bigger feet could never!). I hope you can get to my “how to make shoes smaller” post and let me know if I’ve missed any tips. I’m sure you’ve got a ton!
      xo Cristina

  5. If I thought these would be good for about two sizes, I’d do them all. (My feet are big in the morning, monstrously huge in the evening.)

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