4 Steps to Stretching Shoes with a Hair Dryer

Did you happen to buy a new pair of shoes, get home and feel some intense pain in problem areas?

Hair Dryer

Is it the end all be all, and now you’re stuck with walking around in a painful pair of shoes?

No, fortunately that is not the case.

There are a few things we can do to make it right and eliminate the pain, but today I want to talk about the hair dryer.

The hair dryer is a masterpiece when it comes to shoe stretching…if done correctly, of course.

In this article I’m going to show you how to stretch your shoes and break them in in a matter of 4 steps.

Step 1: Put on extra socks

I recommend wearing the socks you’ll normally be wearing with the shoe, and then adding another sock (preferably a thick pair).

So put at least 2 pairs of socks on your feet and then move on to step 2.

Step 2: Wear the shoes and heat them up

Put the shoes on your feet and turn the hair dryer on hot.

Point the hair dryer to the areas causing the most pain or discomfort.

This could be the ankle area, toe box, the pinky toe, big toe, etc.

Move it around the problem area for about 20-30 seconds, no more, as you risk burning the shoe.

Keep in mind that you should only be doing this to one shoe at a time, not both at the same time.

Also do NOT place the hair dryer directly on the shoe.

You’ll need to move it around to avoid burning the material.

Step 3: Get up and walk around until the shoe gets cool

Once the shoe is hot enough after about 30 seconds, get up and walk around.

Doing so will cause it to “break in” much quicker and stretch out those problem areas causing grief.

Walk around until the shoe cools down, and don’t be afraid to throw a couple of squats in there to really ensure they get a good stretch.

Step 4: Remove the thick socks and check the shoe

Sit down, remove the thick socks and leave the first layer on.

Now put the shoes back on and walk around.

The discomfort should be eliminated, do the same with the other side.

However, if it’s not fixed, repeat the process a couple more times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do this if your shoes are plastic or synthetic?

No, I highly advice against trying anything like this on plastic or synthetic shoes.

The hair dryer will burn and cause permanent damage to the shoe.

ONLY do this hair drying method on leather shoes or boots as it’s a natural material.

Natural material loosens up and stretches, forming the shape of your foot.

Can you stretch synthetic or plastic shoes another way?


There are lots of different ways to do this.

The most common are:

  • Shoe stretcher
  • Doubling up your socks (without heat)
  • Ice with ziploc bags
  • Sock balls

Here’s a step-by-step guide for all of them

How much bigger can you stretch the shoe?

You should be able to get at least 1/2 to 1 full size of stretch with relative ease.

If you require anymore than that, you’ll probably damage the shoe from heating it too much.

If you think the shoe requires more than 1 size, I highly recommend sending it back to the store and getting a larger pair before touching it with any sort of heating tool!

If they see that you’ve tampered with the shoe, they will not give you a refund.

Can you spot stretch the shoe?

Yes, this technique is all about pointing the shoe around the problem area, heating it up and stretching it out as you walk.

Sometimes with a new pair of leather shoes, we feel areas digging into our toes, or our pinky toes are tight in the toe box, etc.

There are lots of problems that can arise with a new pair of leather shoes but this technique helps eliminate that.

Can you stretch the shoe in width and length?

Yes, you can do this by piling on the socks (about 2 pairs, or 3 pairs for thin socks).

Do everything mentioned above but heat up the entire shoe before getting up and walking around.

Do the same with the other side.

Does stretching the shoe decrease lifespan?

It all depends on the quality, but in this case, the answer is not really.

Leather shoes are made to last a very long time.

Stretching the shoe out one full size is only doing what it’s inevitably going to do anyway, but speeding up the time.

It may decrease lifespan (by a small amount) but will not affect the quality.

If you’re still stuck or don’t know what to do, I have found step-by-step guide on which you can watch below.

Wrapping Up

Stretching your leather shoes or boots can be done in a matter of minutes.

It’s not technical, does not cost a lot of money and can make your dinner much more comfortable and hassle free.

I have compiled all the steps in an easy-to-read manner and a video tutorial in case you’re still stuck on what to do.

But that wraps up this article.

Do you have any questions or concerns about this article? Please them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.

Cheers for reading and have a great day.

12 thoughts on “4 Steps to Stretching Shoes with a Hair Dryer”

  1. 30 years old, and it never occurred to me to try this before! Wow. 

    Simply put, awesome trick! Definitely would have come in handy a few times in the past and maybe resulted in less foot discomfort haha. Going to grab my wife and try this out now, I have a pair of boots that I think may have a little stretch left, so let’s see how this goes.

    Thanks a lot for the cheat code, I will definitely save the site for future reference πŸ˜€

  2. Oh wow Brandon! Where were you and this advice ten years ago! I can’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I have broken in by just wearing them and praying that the pain will eventually go away. And the funny thing is, the higher quality of shoe, the more pain I would put up with! (As in, the pain must mean that the money was well spent. Silly me. I even have a few pairs in my closet that I haven’t worn at all because they hurt so bad.

    I’m so glad you mentioned the type of shoe to use this technique on as well. I’m sure I have shoes of all materials known to man so I know I will be looking into the other techniques you mentioned to make sure I don’t ruin any pairs. 

    What do you look for when you are looking for a quality pair of leather shoes? My husband has a few pairs for work that look very nice but I question the quality when I see how quickly they fall apart. (And I will be applying your answer to boots for myself too!) 

    Thanks so much for this technique. My feet are going to be very happy in the near future!

    • Haha, that sucks you had to put up with that Kaytee. It is not pleasant having to break in a rock hard pair of leather shoes, but sometimes that’s all we think is the solution.

      To find a high quality pair of leather shoes I smell the inside, I smell the leather, I check for quality stitching (good quality stitching will be hidden) and the firmness of the cushioning.

      Basically, if you smell leather and not a synthetic smell, it’s probably high quality.

      Also if I smell the inside and it smells like glue, it’s been put together with glue bonding rather than stitched together, which is going to last much longer.

  3. Great topic you have there, clear steps and easy to understand, I usually wait for the pain to pass when shoe hurt me or pass it to other younger people if I couldn’t replace/refund it. I am probably going to use this information in the future. Thanks for frequently asked questions it help a lot. Do you know why new shoes cause pain?

    • There are many different reasons for shoes to cause pain but the most common are not the right fit, not fit for the job, incorrect insole, or not replacing them when they get old.

      I have a full article on these reasons and how to fix them here.

  4. Now I have learned about two ways to use heat for fixing things today!  This is incredible!  Seems like this would fix the problem for a lot of people who do not want to order shoes online right?  I have heard even my wife say that she does not like to order shoes online because of the potential size discrepancies.  This is such a cool way to help people with what I would have thought was an unsolvable problem.  Thank you for sharing this, the video step by step is really helpful.

    • Of course an ill-fitting shoe does suck and that means we have to do some things to make it work.

      Yes it can be avoided by going to a shoe store, but online shopping is getting more popular, people just don’t want to go outside these days.

      This article is to help those many online shoppers πŸ™‚ and I’m glad I helped you, Patrick.

  5. Hmm, that’s very interesting and a great thing to know, as I’ve felt pain and discomfort in one of my pairs of shoes but at the same time, they’re still in decent shape. This would be a great way for me to prolong my shoe life and get the most out of them – often when they age I tend to use them more as grass cutting shoes than anything else, but still, it’ll give them a purpose. Thanks for the pointers and thanks for saving me a few dollars as well – it’s nice to know I can make current pairs of shoes last a little longer. 

    • I’m not sure if this will give some life back into your shoes, but hey, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

  6. Oh wow. This I have not heard of. A pair of shoes I bought 2 months ago was a bit too tight at the toe box. Not exchangeable/refundable as it was bought during the sales period. Although I know it will somehow expand a little after wearing for some time but it is really uncomfortable. Now, I will go fetch me hairdryer. Thanks a lot for saving my shoe πŸ™‚


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