Sometimes, getting a pair of shoes in exactly the right size is something that happens easily and naturally. Sometimes, though, it isn’t quite that easy to find the perfect size. Often, you will find the perfect pair of shoes, but find that they are just a tiny bit too small to be comfortable. That can be annoying, but it doesn’t have to be a complete disaster. It is entirely possible to stretch out almost any pair of shoes to make them fit your feet better, and we are here to help you understand the various different method options available to you when it comes to the ways to stretch leather shoes.

Here at Shoe Adviser, we have put together a guide on how to stretch shoes, covering methods ranging from shoe stretchers through to the freezing method. If you have got any questions about a specific method, or just about shoe stretching in general, then Shoe Adviser (rights reserved) is the place to be! Everything you need to know is listed below, so just read on now to find out more about the stretching process and which method might be best for your shoes and situation!

Using a Shoe Stretcher

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to stretch a pair of leather shoes is to use a shoe stretcher. This is a very precise and user-friendly way to increase the size of your shoes and can give great results for minimal effort.

A shoe stretcher is one of the most reliable options available. It is the ideal method to use if you have got an expensive high-end pair of shoes, and you are worried about damaging them in the stretching process. There are many different DIY methods available that you might be able to get good results from, but using a shoe stretcher is the most precise and even way to get a shoe to fit you properly. It is also a very adjustable method, as plugs and additional blocks can easily be added to a shoe stretcher to target particularly problematic areas.

There are two different types of shoe stretchers available: the one-way shoe stretcher and the two-way shoe stretcher. The one-way type stretches out the width of your shoe, while the two-way type stretches out the width and also the length. You will probably need to buy a pair of stretchers, though, as they are available individually shaped for left and right shoes! If one of your feet is significantly larger than the other, then you might only need one shoe stretcher, but in most cases, you will probably need to get hold of a matching pair.

Once you have put your shoe stretchers into your shoes, you might be wondering, “how long do you leave a shoe stretcher in?”. It will need to be at least 8 hours for the leather to stretch properly – you can’t just leave it for 30 seconds and expect to get results! We would recommend leaving it for somewhere around two days to make sure that your shoes have been fully stretched out to the correct size for your feet and will stay that size permanently.

Wearing your Shoes Around the House

Our second recommended method is one of the easiest out there. All you will need is a pair or two of thick socks and some time. Two pairs of thick socks are ideal, but a single pair will do as long as they are really thick socks and not just regular socks!

All you need to do is put on your pair of socks (or two pairs, if possible), and put on your shoes. Then, just walk around the house for half an hour or so to stretch your shoes out a bit. You will probably need to repeat this several times in order to get good results, so expect it to take a few days, but it doesn’t require any specialist equipment and has no additional costs, making this a good basic option for users without access to more advanced shoe repair and stretching methods.

You can usually get around a size of extra room in your shoes using this system, but if your shoes are particularly tight around the toes or ankles, then you might find that this is not a particularly comfortable way to do things. Wearing your too-tight shoes around your house with extra thick pairs of socks to make them even tighter can be uncomfortable, so you might want to try other options if this one proves painful.

Stuffing your Shoes

Method 3 on our list is another easy one, and that is just stuffing your shoes with socks to stretch them out. Roll up several pairs of socks into small, tight balls and shove them into your shoes, making sure you fill up all of the corners and the toe box. Once your shoes are completely full, leave them overnight to stretch. You might need to do this a few more times, adding more socks every time, but in the end, it should give a bit of extra room in your shoe without too much effort required.

This is one of the slower methods available, as it will probably take a few days in order to see the results you want, but if you are not in a rush, then it is a good option. The big advantage of this method is that once you have got it set up, you can just leave it without having to wear the shoes around your house or actively work on them. It is also an affordable and accessible option, as everyone has a few pairs of socks lying around! You don’t need any special tools for this one, just some socks. Overall, this is one of the easiest methods for stretching out shoes at home without needing time, tools, or effort.

Using Shoe Stretch Spray

A nice easy option for shoe repair and stretching that you can use to get relatively easy results is to use shoe stretch spray. Just spray the interior of each shoe with the spray, and then wear the shoes around your house for half an hour or so. You might need to do this a couple of times, but it is likely to be faster and more comfortable than padding your feet out with thick socks.

For the best results possible, you can combine this method with shoe stretchers for a faster and more effective way to stretch your shoes out. The spray will speed up the process, softening the materials your shoes are made from and allowing the stretcher devices to work faster and more effectively. Either of these options can work well enough on its own, but if you want to get your shoes into shape as fast as possible, then combining stretchers with shoe stretch spray is the most efficient and effective way to stretch your shoes out to fit your feet better.

Freezing your Shoes to Stretch Them

This might sound like a bit of an odd method, but if you have got a ziplock bag and a freezer to hand, then you can use this option to stretch shoes without needing any specialist equipment.

This works because when water freezes, it expands. All you need to do is fill a ziplock bag about one-third of the way up with water, and then seal it closed very carefully and thoroughly. Place it into your shoe, and push it down into all of the corners to fill the space completely. You might need a couple of bags of water to fill your shoe completely! Then, place the filled shoe into the freezer and leave it there until it is completely frozen. The water will expand as it freezes, stretching the leather of your shoe as it does so.

Once you have allowed your shoes to defrost completely, try them on. If they are not stretched enough yet, you might need to do a second round of stretching with the same method. It might seem like a strange way to do things, but you can get great results this way, as long as you have got a bit of space in your freezer!

Blow Drying your Shoes

Another easy DIY shoe repair and stretch method is to use a blow dryer. Put on at least two solidly thick pairs of socks, put your shoes on, and blast them for 30 seconds with a blow dryer on medium heat. Keep the dryer moving to prevent the leather from overheating and cracking and try to focus a bit more on the areas that are tightest on your feet.

Once you have finished stretching your shoe out, don’t forget to keep them on your feet as they cool, so they don’t shrink again as they cool! Once they are cool, you will want to apply a treatment of leather conditioner to prevent the leather of your shoes from drying out and cracking from the heat of the dryer.

Keep the heat relatively low and be patient. If the heat hurts your feet, then it is too high, and you need to turn it down! Gentle, even heat is a very effective way to stretch out a pair of shoes, but high heat can damage leather, causing splitting, cracking, and fatigue. Obviously, it is best to avoid that, as it could ruin your new shoes, so make sure you keep that heat turned down and don’t let it creep up above a medium setting.

Visiting a Cobbler

If you are short on time and supplies but are willing to spend a bit of money to get your shoes to fit your feet properly, then you could always seek professional help for your shoes. Taking your shoes to the cobbler is a good way to achieve some of the best results possible, as any cobbler should be experienced in every aspect of working with shoes, and are likely to have specialist machines for applying pressure and heat gently and evenly. It will cost you a bit of money, and you will need to wait a few days, but this is a good option if you have got the money for it and don’t want to go to the trouble of wrestling with stretching out your shoes yourself.

Not every town has a good cobbler easily available, so this option might not even be available to everyone, but if the option is available and you have tried everything else, then this might be a great choice. It is also a good option if you just don’t have time to do it yourself, although a good cobbler can be expensive, as their work is highly skilled and complex.


If you have found that your new pair of shoes doesn’t fit you, don’t despair. As you can see from our tips above, stretching out too small shoes to fit your feet more comfortably is entirely manageable, and often not actually all that difficult at all. It might take a little while, but even the most stubborn pair of shoes can be stretched into shape.

If you have got a particularly expensive pair of shoes that you want to stretch out into shape, then it is probably best to either use stretchers or to take them to a cobbler for specialist stretching. Most DIY methods are a little uneven, which is fine for most purposes, but if you have got a particularly high-end pair of shoes to stretch out, then you should take care and make sure they out stretched as smoothly and easily as possible.

No matter how frustrated you might be at your poorly fitting new shoes, you don’t have to worry about it. You can get them stretched out to the right size, and with a little time and effort, you will be able to show off your flashy new feet in comfort and style!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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