Few things are more unpleasant than uncomfortable shoes—OK, maybe stepping in a dog mess in uncomfortable shoes and then having to clean it off tops it. If your new shoes still cause blisters after a few weeks of wearing, they may be too small for you. But that doesn't mean you have to write them off—you can widen shoes to help this problem. Wondering how to widen shoes? We’ll show you how to stretch out your shoes.
Blisters, pressure points, and painful heels or toes—if shoes don't fit properly, it can really ruin an otherwise delightful walk. The problem is that very few shoes fit our feet exactly, because custom-made shoes are basically non-existent for most people. In addition, most people have different-sized feet and this often changes in the course of life. You can't always tell where shoes will pinch when you buy them. Unfortunately, most shoes only show their true colors after a long walk—meaning you have to learn the hard way.
There is a solution—you can widen your shoes. How stretchable they are depends not only on how they were made, but above all on the material they’re made of. As a basic rule, leather can be stretched relatively well—which is good news if you’ve bought new suit shoes for a fancy event. Wondering how to iron your clothes in preparation? Check out how to iron dress pants, here. If you’ve got sneakers or similar shoes, it's a bit more difficult because shoes made of plastic or textile fibers are harder to stretch out. Of course, you can still try!
If you find that your shoes do not fit properly, you have the option of taking them to the nearest shoe repair location. They’ll have professional equipment and, with the help of these, a cobbler can gently stretch your shoes. Are you wondering how to stretch shoes yourself? There are several methods. The one that comes closest to the shoemaker’s approach is the combination of shoe trees and a stretching spray. You can get both at specialty stores. Good shoe trees will be adjustable and will stretch your shoes both in length and width, depending on your needs.
Spray the stretching spray on the shoe in the place where you want to stretch it—first on the inside, then on the outside. Once the product is absorbed, insert the shoe tree into the shoe and adjust it until it is snug and fills the shoe well. Let the shoes sit overnight and then test how much they have stretched. If it is still not enough, you can repeat the process several times.
Heat and moisture help to stretch new shoes. If you don’t own shoe trees or have any stretching spray on hand, you can resort to the following home remedies:
- Thick socks and a blow dryer can help with widening shoes? Yes, they really can! Put on your thickest pair of wool socks, slip into your shoes and then aim the blow dryer at the places where it pinches. While the material is heating up, move your feet around in the shoes if possible and take a few steps. However, make sure the shoe doesn't get too hot so the glue doesn’t melt.
- Who needs a shoe tree when you have a freezer bag? Sounds strange, but it really works. Place a large freezer bag inside your shoe, fill it with water, and then seal it carefully. To widen the shoe, put it in the freezer overnight. The cold will cause the water in the bag to expand, stretching the shoe.
- These solutions keep getting better (or weirder? But they do work!). Potatoes are also suitable to widen shoes—especially if they are leather shoes. Cut open the potato and press it on the part of the shoe where it pinches. Then stuff the shoe with newspaper or something similar to fix the potato in position. The moisture and potato starch released will make the leather supple. You should notice a difference the very next day.
- The classic way to widen shoes at home is probably wet newspaper. Dampen the paper evenly, stuff the shoe with it until everything is properly stuck, and let it dry. But be careful not to make any dents—you want the shoe to keep its shape, after all.
Even if shoes often only start to pinch after a while, there are some tips that you can already consider when buying them so that you don’t have to stretch out shoes. Always walk around a few times in the store and always try on two different sizes. And the ultimate pro tip is to buy your shoes in the evening! Since our feet usually swell during the day, there is less risk that the new shoes will turn out to be too small later on. Crazy, right?
We hope our tips have helped you learn how to stretch shoes and, if you’re after more DIY tips, we’ve got a whole DIY section on our website.