The Simple Guide to Stretching Your Shoes

Just bought a new pair of shoes and they’re too tight? Wondering if you made an expensive mistake?

Narrow Chucks

Don’t worry, shoes can be stretched to make them a little more comfortable.

Be sure to not wear your shoes anymore before stretching them. They are an incorrect fit and wearing them is only going to cause pain and discomfort in your toes and other problem areas.

No they don’t need breaking in, they need stretching because of the wrong size. Breaking in will not work.

We need to do a little trickery and hopefully get them up half a size or more.

Can Shoes Be Stretched?


Too tight shoes can definitely be stretched length-wise and even widthwise.

The good news is that stretching will permanently add at least 1/2 to 1 whole size and you can eliminate the need for purchasing new shoes if done correctly.

How does it work?

By stretching the cushioning and fabric so much that it’s forced to move and create a new size.

So if you need anything more than 1 size, it’s probably not going to be enough and you might have to look at buying new shoes or exchanging them.

Does It Impact Quality?

Essentially you’re stretching the shoe so much that it lowers the amount of cushioning it offers and stretches the material, which in turn lowers the quality.

So yes stretching will definitely lower the quality of the shoe so keep that in mind if you decide to use one of the methods below.

4 Ways to Stretch Your Shoe (For An Even Stretch Throughout)

Shoe Stretcher

The shoe stretcher is more expensive out of all the methods in this article, but it is definitely the best because it gives the shoe an even stretch throughout.

A shoe stretcher is specifically designed to stretch shoes so it has all the bells and whistles that other methods don’t have.

You’re able to stretch the shoe length-wise, widthwise and even spot stretch.

For example:

If it’s only tight in the toe area, you can customize the stretcher to put more emphasis on that area.

The way shoe stretchers work is placing it inside the shoe and turning the handle to your desired stretch.

Leave it for 8 hours, come back and check the fit. If it needs more, do it again for another 8 hours.

Double Up Your Socks

Thick Socks

One super simple method is to wear 2 pairs of thick ass socks and wear your shoes around the house.

The reason is if you can’t get them to the desired fit, you can still return then since they were never worn outside.

Wear them for 30 minutes and check the fit.

Repeat until you can get them to the desired fit. I do not recommend longer than 30 minutes at a time since tight shoes can cause added pain and injuries.

Freeze Bags Inside

Another great way is to fill ziploc bags with water (about 1/3) and place them in the shoes. Make sure to mold the bag to fit every corner, then place in the freezer.

The reason this works so well is that water expands when frozen.

You’re going to get the effect as the shoe stretcher, which is an even stretch throughout, but without paying a dime.

Key notes

  • You may need to use more than one bag to cover the entire shoe
  • Take the shoes out of the freezer when the water freezes and wait for it to thaw
  • Try on your new shoes and repeat if needed
  • Double up the bags if you’re afraid of getting water inside your shoe.

Sock Balls

Roll pairs of socks into small balls and stuff then inside the shoe until you can’t fit anymore socks inside.

Leave for at least 8 hours, come back and check if the shoe fits.

Spot Stretching Problem Areas

What if you only have certain areas that need stretching? What if all areas are okay except the width area or length?

Or a tight toe area?

There are a few ways we can spot stretch and I’m going to show you how below.

Shoe Stretcher

Yes this is the perfect option since you’re able to stretch the width if it’s too narrow but the length is okay.

Or they can stretch the length without stretching the width.

They also have features designed for spot stretching, such as bunion plugs for bunion sufferers.

You can even stretch the top of the shoe where common problems occur.

Potato Molding

This is a great idea for stretching just the toe box.

Peel a potato to match the shape of your toe area.

Dry it with a paper towel and wrap it in a plastic bag to protect your shoes from getting wet. Leave it overnight.

It won’t provide a huge increase in size but a great method for stretching the front of the shoe (since it’s free).

Freezing Bags

Remember the trick mentioned earlier about filling your shoes with ziploc bags filled with water?

Well it’s exactly the same thing, except we only put one at the front of the shoe.

Really stuff it in the toe area to ensure all nooks and crannies get stretched.

Fill the rest of the shoe with socks to stop the water from falling out of the toe box.

Put it in the freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make shoes wider?

You’re going to need a spot stretching method. A 2-way shoe stretcher is good in this situation.

This means it stretches length and width.

Can you stretch shoes in length?

Yes, but again you’re going to need a spot stretching tool such as a 2-way shoe stretcher.

Can you stretch suede shoes?

Yes you can, a shoe stretcher should do the trick otherwise there are special sprays for certain leathers that can do it too.

These work by spraying your suede shoes then wearing them for a few hours.

This small but handy trick can give you anywhere from 1/4 – 1/2 a size.

Can you stretch shoes one size up?

Absolutely. The methods in this article work well.

The method I recommend is the water and freezer since it’s free and offers a FULL, even stretch throughout the shoe.

Can you use a blow dryer?

Some people recommend a blow dryer on medium setting and heating the shoe up for about 30 seconds.

However, this is a high-risk approach as direct heat can warp shoes, discolor them, soften adhesives, etc.

A lot can go wrong with the blow dryer method so I say stay away form methods that require lots of heat!

Although if we’re dealing with leather shoes then this can definitely be done.

Here’s how to stretch leather shoes with a hair dryer

Will stretching damage the shoe?

Shoes can increase safely by up to at least 1/2 a size, if done correctly of course.

Depending on fabric type, your shoes may even be able to safely stretch one entire size.

But anymore than this and you risk permanent damage and voiding the warranty (since you caused the damage yourself).


Shoe stretching is a real thing and definitely possible with the methods in this article.

However, I would certainly not recommend trying to stretch your shoe more than 1 size, especially leather or suede.

Shoes are far too expensive to damage and I wouldn’t want that happening to your brand new kicks.

So if you perform shoe stretching methods, make sure you don’t go more than 1 size and checking the new size every 8 hours to see if they fit.

If not, you’re going to have to exchange them or get a refund, or just by some new shoes.

They’re not worth wearing if they’re still too tight as this is going to cause all types of issues down the line.

Well that’s all I have today. It really was a pleasure writing this article for you today and I can’t wait to see you back for more.

What are your thoughts on shoe stretching, do you have any tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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