5 Ways to Stretch Your Shoes at Home | Fashion How To
How to Widen Leather Shoes
While leather shoes naturally stretch with wear and shape to your feet, when they're new, they can feel tight and painful. Speeding up the stretching process can be done, and a few suggested ways are presented here.
Stuffing the Shoes
Stuff each shoe with crumpled damp newspaper.Stuff as tightly as you can.
- Alternatively, stuff the shoes with peeled potatoes.
Leave the shoes to dry slowly.Place away from direct heat, such as sunlight or a heater, as direct heat can damage the leather.
Remove the crumpled newspaper (or peeled potatoes) when the shoes have dried out.
Wear.The shoes should feel a lot more comfortable than the tighter new feeling before.
Heating the Shoes
Adding heat to new leather shoes can help stretch them. However, this method must be used with caution as direct heat can damage shoes. Do not use on vintage leather, as the heat will likely damage the glues or crack the older leather.
Put on a really thick pair of socks.Squeeze your feet into the new leather shoes.
Sit somewhere comfortable.Heat each shoe in turn with a hairdryer, bending your feet back and forth as much as is possible. Blow with heat for 20-30 seconds at a time.
Remove the heat.Keep the shoes on as they cool.
Remove the thick socks.Put on thinner socks or pantyhose. Try on the shoes. If you can feel enough of a difference, the shoes are stretched. If not, repeat the process.
Apply leather shoe conditioner or saddle soap.This conditioning will restore any depleted moisture caused by the heat.
Wetting the Shoes
It is said that this method is used by members of the military forces to stretch their new leather shoes!
Take off everything except the shoes.Jump in the shower. It sounds ridiculous but the hot water will relax the leather a bit.
After getting out of the shower, wear the shoes around for a few hours.While the leather is relaxed, it will conform to you foot width as it dries.
- It may sound squelchy walking around outside (you should be outside or someone will be mad at the water tracks on the carpet) with mushy shoes but it will pay off.
Apply leather shoe conditioner or saddle soap.This conditioning will restore any depleted moisture caused during drying out from being completely wet.
Steaming the Shoes
Just be careful not to burn yourself on the steam when doing this method. Perhaps first wear a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands.
Boil a kettle.Keep it boiling while working on the shoes, so that you can use the steam it emits.
- A boiling pan of water on the stove can also be used.
Hold each shoe over the kettle steam.Hold for 3-5 minutes.
Remove from the steam.Stuff with dry newspaper or paper towel as tightly as possible.
Allow to dry in the shade.
Freezing the Shoes
This method will work for most leather shoes but be wary of using it for expensive shoes, in case freezing them ruins the leather or other features on the shoe.
Fill snack- or sandwich-size resealable bags with water to halfway (or a third).Don't overfill or the bag will burst open when being prodded or when frozen. Then seal tightly.
- Check that it is free of holes first!
- Do one bag for each shoe.
Place a bag inside each shoe.Be careful not to squeeze too hard, lest the bag burst open and soak the shoe.
- Push the bag into the nooks and crannies of the shoe as far as possible.
Clear out a decently sized spot in the freezer.The area needs to be large enough to accommodate your shoes.
- Make sure that nothing else in the freezer will lean against the shoes. Anything touching the shoes could leave a stain or cause freezer burn marks if you have to pull them apart later.
Place the shoes into the freezer.Let freeze overnight. As the water freezes, the bag will expand into the shoes and will provide a gentle shoe stretch.
Remove from the freezer the next morning.Allow to thaw for half an hour, then remove the bags.
Try on the shoes.If you're happy with them now, they're good to go. If not, repeat the freezing process once more.
Apply leather shoe conditioner or saddle soap.This conditioning will restore any depleted moisture caused by the freezing process.
- Buy new shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are likely to be more swollen and tireder. You will get a better idea of the right fit for the whole day this way!
- If your new shoes have slippery soles, rub with sandpaper to rough them up a little.
- Shoe trees will keep shoes in their best possible shape between wears.
- Shoes last longer if they have a day's rest between wear; have at least two pairs per season and interchange them each day.
- If preferred, it is possible to buy a proprietary spray-on shoe stretching solution. Spray on, then wear around the house as the shoes stretch. Look online for such a product.
Sources and Citations
- Real Simple,Save Your Soles, September 2004 Issue
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