How To Stretch Leather Shoes

If you have ever spent a miserable day in uncomfortable footwear, you probably want advise on how to stretch leather shoes. Leather shoes can often be tight or stiff when first purchased, but usually become more comfortable or "break in" with wear. If you have invested in a pair of leather shoes that still feel too tight after a few uses, try one of the methods below before tossing them out.

 To stretch leather shoes, you will need:

  • rubbing alcohol, water and a small spray bottle, or
  • two small plastic bags 

Stretch Leather Shoes using Isopropyl Alcohol

  1. Leather has a certain amount of natural "give" or ability to stretch, but will stretch more easily when dampened with alcohol. The best way to stretch leather shoes with alcohol is to make a mixture using half isopropyl alcohol and half water. Isopropyl alcohol, also called rubbing alcohol, can be purchased in any pharmacy or grocery store.  
  2. Pour the mixture into a small spray bottle and thoroughly dampen the interior of the shoes, concentrating on any particularly tight spots. Be sure to dampen the leather sufficiently.  
  3. Using thick socks, wear the shoes around the house for several hours. The alcohol will enable the leather to stretch and conform to your foot. 


  • If you have sensitive skin or don't want your feet to come in contact with the alcohol solution, you can spray the shoes and socks liberally with the solution, and then stuff the socks tightly inside the shoes.  This method will also serve to stretch leather shoes, but they may not conform as naturally to the shape of your foot.

 Stretch Leather Shoes using Ice

  1. Another method for stretching leather shoes is with ice. Fill two small plastic bags one-third to one-half full of water (depending on the size of the bag and the size of the shoes). 
  2. Seal the bags.
  3. Place one bag inside of each shoe, ensuring that the level of water in the bag approximately fills the interior of the shoe. Adjust the water level if necessary.
  4. Place the shoes and water bags in the freezer overnight. As water freezes, it expands. The expansion will apply gradual pressure to the inside of the shoes, stretching the leather.
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