It's a Stretch How to Increase the Size of Shoes That Are Too Tight

A blow dryer, freezer ziplock bag, shoe stretcher and alcohol are just a few random items that can stretch out shoes, boots and sandals that are too tight.

How to Stretch and Increase the Size of Tight Shoes

If your new shoes have you wailing for aspirin within an hour, it’s a possibility they’re too tight. We’ve all made the mistake — purchasing that seemingly perfect pair of pumps, boots, flats or sneakers only to find out upon first wear that they pinch and/or nearly cut your circulation off. One usually has the option of returning the uncomfortable footwear, but if a return is impossible or if you’re dead set on (literally) squeezing the most wear out of your too-tight shoes, stop scouring Jillee and WikiHow and just use these methods to help you stretch them up to one full size larger. 

The Heat Is On: Use a Blow Dryer

It might sound a bit ridiculous, but the same tool that can give your hair bouncy Victoria’s Secret waves can also do wonders for pinching, callus inducing shoes — provided they are leather. Simply put on as many thick pairs of socks you can muster, squeeze your feet into the offending shoes and use a blow dryer to blast warm air onto the shoes while you flex your feet and wiggle your toes. Concentrate on the tightest areas and keep the shoes on until the leather cools. Test out the shoes without wearing socks, and repeat the process if they are not stretched to your liking. 

Ice Ice Baby: Freeze the Shoes Up a Size

The idea that ice can stretch your shoes may be a hack that leaves you cold, but trust us when we tell you it actually does work! It’s all behind the science, which has proven that water expands when it freezes. So how do you employ this improvised method? Fill a Ziploc bag for each shoe about half way up with water. Insert the zipper bags into the shoes and then place the footwear into the freezer until the water in each bag freezes. Take the shoes out of the freezer and allow the water to thaw entirely. Now try on the shoes, which should be up to one size larger. Repeat the process if necessary, but try not to get the shoes wet, as water has the potential to ruin some footwear. For added leak protection, you could use two Ziploc bags for each shoe — one filled with water, and one on the outside to prevent possible leakage. 

Wear ‘Em Out... While You’re In

It’s so obvious, it’s dang near overlooked. But simply wearing your new shoes around the house until they stretch and adjust to your feet is a practical way to break in too-tight shoes. Spend a few days wearing the offending shoes while you’re doing regular household activities and chores. The beauty is that you can kick off the shoes at any time if they start to bother you, and within a few days, they should be stretched out and more comfortable for outside and long term wearing. 

Drink Up: Alcohol Spritzer

One good thing about tight-fitting shoes is that they can give you an excuse to go crazy with alcohol — on a work night, even! Just fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, spray the inside of your shoes and then wear the footwear around your house for a while. Repeat if necessary until you feel the shoes won’t leave your feet in ramshackle condition.

*Note: Any type of liquid or wetness can ruin some shoes, so be aware of your shoe's material and its ability to withstand moisture before trying this method.

911: Emergency Stretcher

One way to avoid dreaded blisters from shoes that are too tight is to use an official shoe stretcher. There are a number of professional tools on the market used specifically for stretching out footwear. Sure, they might set you back a few dollars. But the handy-dandy tools can help increase shoe length as well as width. 

The Case of the Fairytale Cobbler

If at-home hacks and DIY approaches aren’t your thing, give your feet and offending shoes a happily ever after with the help of a professional shoe cobbler. For just a few pence (or dollars, whatever), a cordwainer can stretch your shoes to your liking. Yes, another word for shoe cobbler, at least these days, is cordwainer. But let’s get back to the issue: your too-tight shoes! Walking this path takes time and money, but it might be a worthy option in... the end. 

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Kambra Clifford