There are a number of reasons why you would want to stretch out your shoes. Whatever that reason is, you definitely need some know-how to get the job done properly.
Just as there is more than one way to (proverbially) skin a cat, there’s more than one way to stretch a shoe. Some methods are on the crack-pot side like hairdryers (yikes!), potatoes (really?), and thick socks, while others are more professional and call for professionally made stretching tools and/or professional services.
First off, if you are really worried about damaging your shoe in the attempt to stretch it then you should just cut your loses and take it to a shoe repairman. At least if anything goes wrong there’s someone to blame besides yourself and a compensation policy. If, on the other hand, you’re sure of your skills, don’t care about the shoe or just can’t afford to pay a repairman then you can go ahead and try to do some of these methods on your own.
Method A – Freezing
Find two plastic, sealable bags. If you’re trying to stretch the toe, fill 1/4 of the way; for the toe and insteps, 1/2 of the way; everything then fill ‘er up! The idea is to fill the bag with the water you need, place the bag in the shoe with the water filling the area to be stretched, then placing the shoe, bag and all, into the freeze over night. The freezing causes the water to expand and thus stretches the shoe. Remove shoe from freezer and bag from shoe, let shoes come to room temperature and try on (or you can jump right in if you don’t mind cold shoes). If they’re not stretched enough then repeat the process, maybe using more water than last time.
Method B – Spuds
Find a potato that fits snuggly into your shoe and leave it in over night. It’s been recommended that you peel the potato, but this might let starchy potato liquids into your shoe and also reduces the size of the potato. When in doubt, try a larger potato.
Method C – Stretching Tool
This is our recommended method. No weird home tools that could potentially damage your shoe, just a wooden shoe stretcher than you can find at most shoe stores. Wooden shoe stretchers are also known as shoe trees and come in a variety of styles. There’s mens, which are the standard foot shaped style with adjusters, and then there’s women’s, which comes in the flat shoe style and also a style for high heels both also with adjusters. There are also shoe trees out there for women’s shoe that are two-in-one for flat and high heeled shoes. You’ll want to look for a ‘combination shoe tree’ if you would like to use this device. There is also a shoe stretch spray that loosens fibers and allows for a more easy stretch that is supposed to be used with the shoe tree. Find the shoe tree you need and follow the manufacturer’s directions for a proper stretch.