Want to learn how to make shoes bigger at home and/or with professional tools? Well, today you will learn how to stretch shoes in 6 different ways.
There are many reasons why you'd want to make too small shoes bigger. Maybe you've just bought a new pair of shoes; they haven't been worn in yet, so they're a little tight. Stretching shoes is a great way to break in shoes!
Or maybe you have 2 different sized feet and there's always one that fits just right, but the other is often too big. I have this problem and it's extremely frustrating.
Or better yet, maybe your friend has gifted you a beautiful pair of Louboutin heels that you'd like to wear to a function. However, the shoes are too small and you need to figure out how to stretch out shoes asap.
No matter the reasons you're here today for a how to stretch shoes lesson, it's always better not run the risk of blisters, discomfort or stability issues!
In this post, I'm walking you through how to make shoes bigger, when your footwear is either too tight or too narrow for your feet.
Stretching shoes lengthwise is also possible, but if you're using DIY methods at home, I'd advise never trying to stretch them more than a half size up.
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.
Check out my post about boots, if you're looking for how to break in leather boots, even at the calf! There are so many types of shoes with their own particular shoe-stretching needs. That's why I've also written a post on how to break in cowboy boots, as they are made of very tough leather!
At the end of this post, I will also be listing out the top 5 signs your shoes are too small and when you should definitely NOT stretch your shoes!
- How Stretch Out Shoes to Make Them Bigger
- 1. Try a Blow Dryer with Thick Socks
- 2. Wear Your Shoes in the Evening
- 3. Use a Shoe Stretching Tool
- 4. How to Stretch Shoes with Alcohol
- 5. Let the Freezer Stretch out Your Shoes
- 6. Use a Professional Cobbler
- Signs your Shoes are too Small (and stretching won't help)
- Final Thoughts on How to Stretch Shoes
How Stretch Out Shoes to Make Them Bigger
Getting your shoes stretched or stretching them out 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!
If you're needing to know how to stretch out your shoes a wee bit more than that, I present you with some handy hacks, below:
1. Try a Blow Dryer with Thick Socks
Stretching shoes with a blow dryer? Well, if you want a quick, mess-free fix on how to make shoes bigger and stretch out your shoes & heels, this hack is great.
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:
How to Stretch Shoes with a Blow Dryer + Socks:
- Put you socks on, followed by your shoes
- With your blow dryer on its medium/hot setting, blast it towards the tight areas of your shoes, from about 1 foot away.
- 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 all previous steps!
This method is best for: All shoes made of natural materials such as leather, because they'll expand more & likely not to melt. Beware of heating any plastic or patent material. It may not end well :/. This method to stretch shoes is best for sizing up more vs less.
2. Wear Your Shoes in the Evening
Of course, the best way to stretch 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.
Seems obvious to wear your shoes in order to stretch them, but it's doing so in the later afternoon/evening that is ideal.
Because our feet swell during throughout the day, due to walking and standing, our feet in the evening are at their largest size. So if you have a pair of shoes that you'd like to nudge in expansion, this is the simplest and cost-free solution.
Just wait until an hour before your bedtime when your feet are at their peak and wear them around the house. Want to stretch your shoes a little more? Try adding a pair of socks and repeating the process!
This is also why shoe shopping is recommended during the evening vs at the beginning of the day.
This method is best for: shoes that are only a little tight. Say, a quarter to half-size (absolute max) too small. If you're looking for how to break in new shoes, this is a great first step!
3. 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 it's worth investing in a premium shoe stretcher if this is something you'll be using time & again.
Wondering how to stretch shoes wider? Well, this a shoe stretcher 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, like this one.
There are shoe wideners & lengthener and 2 in 1 stretcher for both men and women's sizes, as well as stretchers specifically designed for stretching high 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 boot stretcher happens to be cheap, cheerful & also helps tall boots keep their shape
Of course, 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: For sizing up to a full size. 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” that much.
Shop Shoe Stretchers:
4. How to Stretch Shoes with Alcohol
No, not that kind of alcohol, silly! Using rubbing alcohol – aka isopropyl alcohol – is definitely a solver of the how to stretch out shoes problem, but is also a great way to break in new shoes. I buy my rubbing alcohol from my nearby pharmacy or Walmart.
And you can stretch your shoes with alcohol at home, so easily! I've used this trick a few times myself and it works miracles. There are two ways to show you how to stretch shoes with alcohol of the rubbing kind:
- 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. 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 method is best for: Expanding all or parts of the shoe and for footwear that requires a minor stretch. Rubbing alcohol is best used on 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 this pair of 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 Footmatters shoe spray or any of the ones referenced to in the slider, below.
Easier to use, as it sprays from a bottle. Alternatively, you could buy a small spray bottle and add rubbing alcohol to it yourself for a DIY version.
Shop highly rated shoe stretch sprays, below:
5. Let the Freezer Stretch out Your Shoes
Yes, the freezer. And, it works overnight. But 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 I stretch your shoes in the freezer, you ask? Essentially the trick here is to fill a baggie – like a medium sized Ziplock bag – with water, then place it into your shoes.
As the water freezes & expands, it will stretch your shoes by pushing against them slow and steady.
This works particularly well for stretching out the front part of your shoes and the width, if you shoes happen to have straps or laces to secure the baggie inside.
Below is your step-by-step guide on how to stretch your shoes this way:
How to stretch shoes in the freezer:
- Depending on shoe size, fill 2 small to medium sized ziplock bag half full of water
- Seal it well so that no water can leak out & making sure that there is no air in the bag
- Place each water-filled baggie into each shoes
- Put both shoes into another larger plastic bag, to protect the shoes (and frozen produce!)
- Leave overnight & voilà!
This method is best for: gradually enlarging the toe box of the shoe. Good for all shoe materials, including plastic & vinyl.
6. Use a Professional Cobbler
If you don't have the time or no longer feel like figuring sorting 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 and safest route to take. This is especially true if you're looking to stretch out your shoes a lot (say, 1 size bigger).
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.
This method is best for: for those with little time to DIY any of the above shoe stretching methods and don't mind spending a bit of money on professional services. Also your best bet for expensive shoes.
I wouldn't take a pair of costly designer shoes anywhere else! Be sure to read the reviews of the service provider, as not all cobblers are highly skilled.
Signs your Shoes are too Small (and stretching won't help)
So up above I've given you the rundown of 6 ways of how to stretch shoes. However, you might be wondering if and when it's worth trying to make shoes bigger. Here is when you should either return your shoes, donate them or simply keep them in their shoebox instead:
- You can't walk in them: If you can't walk in your shoes, that's a surefire sign that no matter how you stretch the shoes, it's not going to help.
- Your toes are pressing tightly together: this is a sign that your shoes are far too narrow
- Your toes are scrunched up: a sign your shoes are far too short in length and you need to size up at least 1 size. Making your shoes bigger will do little to prevent blisters and discomfort in this case. This will also mess with your foot's arch, potentially causing foot and leg pain.
- When any part of the foot is feeling extreme pressure: whether your heel, toes or side of your feet are feeling particularly stressed by a tight part of the shoe, this is a sign that your shoes are too small.
- The back of the shoe is cutting your heel: aside from signalling that your shoes are too small in size (especially if combined with scrunched up toes in your shoes), this could also be a flaw in the shoe constructions where the back seam has not been properly sewn together. A heel liner might do the trick, however this will result in even smaller shoes and will amplify the problem.
Final Thoughts on How to Stretch Shoes
The shoes we wear are important, but so are how they fit. Ideally, we should all be walking around in properly fitting shoes that we can avoid injury to feet like blisters, but also allow for proper posture and comfortable movement.
It's generally better to buy shoes that are a tad bigger vs too tight.
However, sometimes we realize that our shoes are too big, a little too late and have to make do. I do hope the above ways to stretch out shoes have given your too tight shoes some hope on being worn soon!
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 and how to make shoes bigger, feel free to leave me a comment in the allotted section, below!
Once you've applied all the shoe stretching techniques to make your small shoes fit, don't forget to protect your shoes too! Learn all about the best waterproof sprays for shoes and how to use them, in my dedicated post!
Looking for more shoe hacks? Check out all my post about shoe care tips here. If you seem to run into too small shoes often, it's likely time to re-measure your feet, or buy bigger shoes.
Can't find your size? Check out my post on where to buy large size women's shoes!
More Shoe Care Hacks:
Attempting any of the above methods on how to stretch shoes yourself may cause irreparable damage to your beloved heels & boots. ShoeTease and its partners are not liable for any damages to persons or property arising from any of the advice given in this post. Please Follow advice at your own risk. For best results, take your precious footwear to a professional who specializes in shoe stretching. This is highly recommended for your pricey Choos & Blahniks!
Cristina is the chief editor, fashion & shoe expert here at ShoeTease. As a seasoned stylist and women's fashion & shoe designer, she boasts over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry. She loves crafting effortless outfits for ladies both online and off and believes that styling advice should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a styling pro or just starting out, Cristina's here to guide you on your fashion journey! Learn more.