How to Stretch Leather Shoes

Shoe Stretcher

We’ve all been there. You go and get some great new shoes, and after you wear them a couple of times, you realize that they are too tight. What can you do? You can stretch them out. How do you do this? You have a bunch of options.

One option is take the shoes to a professional. Any good shoemaker has a machine that will stretch your shoes. Just be sure to tell him exactly where the shoe feels tight so that the stretch can be customized for you. This generally takes a day or so and the cost is fairly minimal.

If you want to try to stretch your shoes at home, there are a variety of procedures you can follow. Try any of the following:

Invest in some shoe stretchers. This can be a cost-effective measure if your feet tend to swell and you experience this problem frequently. There are several options available at, such as the Four Seasons Professional Shoe Stretcher.

Wear the shoes around the house for a few days. Gradual stretching over time can sometimes make a difference. If your feet get uncomfortable, take the shoes off. This procedure might be enough to make a difference so that you can wear the shoes more often/out of the house.

Stuff the shoes with socks, and leave the socks in the shoes for a few days, or at a minimum overnight. You may notice a difference even within a day.

Heat the shoes. That’s right, heat them. Put your feet in the shoes, and then aim a hair dryer set to high heat on the spots that feel tight. Keep the heat on for 20-30 seconds, and remove your shoes from your feet once the shoes have cooled. This will loosen up the leather. You might also want to add a leather conditioner to the shoe after you complete the process, to restore any moisture you’ve depleted in the shoe.

Freeze the shoes. For shoes made of materials like canvas, you can put the entire shoe in the freezer. Why does freezing work? Water expands as it freezes. If you get your shoe wet and then put it in the freezer, the water will cause the shoe to expand. Once you take it out of the freezer and let it dry, your shoe should fit more loosely.

For leather shoes, do *not* put the entire shoe in the freezer. Instead, partially fill baggie with water and freeze that. Then insert the baggie (I would double bag anything containing water) into your shoes. Once the water thaws, remove the bag from the shoes and try them on. Do not try this method with expensive shoes!

Of course the best way to have proper fitting shoes is to make sure you get the correct size in the first place. Allow for some foot swelling when you make your purchases, particularly if you are buying a pair of heels or a pair of athletic shoes. Also consider shoes that stretch naturally, like those with elastic goring, or are completely stretchy such as Arcopedico shoes or Rock Spring shoes. Getting the footwear to fit correctly in the first place can alleviate the hassle of trying to stretch them out later.

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