Shoes that fit well and feel good are a must for any wardrobe. But even the most stylish and popular shoes can become uncomfortable when they don’t fit properly. Finding the correct shoe size can be especially difficult if you have wide feet.
If you think you will wear tight shoes and endure the pain, think again. Tight shoes can cause foot pain, corns, and bunions and even lead to severe problems like hammertoe.
This doesn’t mean you need to give up on your favorite shoes. Luckily, there are some things you can do to stretch your current shoes, so they fit better. In this article, we will give 11 tips on how to stretch shoes for wide feet.
Change the Shoe Insoles
Changing shoe insoles is an easy way to make space in your new shoes. However, this can only be achieved if your shoes have removable insoles.
Simply remove the insoles and replace them with a thinner pair. You would be surprised at how much additional room this small adjustment could give your feet, especially in the toe box.
Use a Shoe Stretcher
Shoe stretchers are ingenious devices that can expand the width and length of your shoes. The device is inserted into the shoe and turned or rotated to increase its size. Shoe stretchers come in various sizes and styles. Please leave the shoe stretcher inside the shoe for at least 12 hours to ensure good results.
Make sure you wear the shoes after stretching them with a shoe stretcher, or else the shoes will not keep their new shape. A shoe stretcher can stretch leather shoes, sneakers, athletic shoes, and canvas shoes.
You can also use adjustable shoe trees to expand the width of your shoes. The shoe tree should be set to the desired width and placed inside the shoe for 24 to 48 hours.
Learn how to properly use a shoe stretcher by checking out our guide on shoe stretchers.
Use a Hair dryer or Blow Dryer
A hair dryer or blow dryer is another great way to stretch brand new shoes. While this method may sound unconventional, the truth is that it works like a charm.
First, put on thick socks and wear your new tight-fitting shoes for about 15 minutes. Then turn on the device and set it to medium heat.
Direct the hot air towards the toe box and any other tight spots on the shoe. The heat should be directed for about 15 seconds. The heat will expand the shoe material and make the shoes more comfortable.
After heating the shoe, walk around in it for a few minutes. This will allow the shoes to mold to the shape of your feet. Repeat this process if necessary.
However, keep the heating device at least six inches away from the shoe. Also, remember to move the device around the shoe continuously. This ensures that the heat is dispersed uniformly rather than focused in one spot.
The heating method is very effective on leather shoes, suede shoes, and dress shoes. The hairdryer method also works well for stretching Crocs.
Please keep in mind that if you’re heating leather or suede shoes, you’ll need to apply a leather conditioner afterward.
The Freezing Technique
You can also use water to stretch shoes for wide feet. The freezing method is based on the fact that water expands when it freezes.
Fill up two Ziploc bags with water and place them in your new tight-fitting shoes. Make sure there is some space for water to expand in the Ziploc bag. Place the bagged-up shoes in a freezer overnight.
The water will freeze and expand, stretching out the shoe material. In the morning, take out the water bags and let the shoes air dry. Once they are completely dry, you can put them on and enjoy your new, wider shoes.
The water freezing technique is a very effective method to stretch shoes, especially the shoe box area.
As your shoes are kept in the freezer, they will become wet. Therefore, this method should only be used with water-resistant footwear such as Crocs, mesh shoes, running shoes, and fabric shoes.
Stretch Shoes Wider With Rubbing Alcohol
Another strange yet effective way to stretch shoes wider is by using rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol penetrates the material of the shoe and loosens the fibers, making it more supple. Please remember that this method should not be used on leather, suede, or nubuck shoes.
You can use this method in 2 ways –
- Spray the rubbing alcohol – For footwear that is slightly tight
- Wear a sock soaked with rubbing alcohol – For footwear that is extremely tight
Spray the Rubbing Alcohol on the Shoes
Pour an equal amount of rubbing alcohol and water into a small spray bottle. Spray the mixture evenly all over the shoes, especially in tight areas. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, wear the shoes and walk around until the alcohol dries.
Wear a Sock Soaked with Rubbing Alcohol
Combine equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and water in a bowl and dip your socks into it. Take out the socks and squeeze them to remove excess liquid. Then, wear these wet socks and put on your shoes. Walk around until the alcohol dries.
It is recommended that you wear thick socks. The thicker the socks, the more effective the method will be.
Use Shoe Stretching Sprays
Shoe stretch sprays are the quickest and most effective way to stretch leather shoes wider. These sprays contain a chemical that softens the leather material and makes it more flexible.
Apply a generous amount of shoe stretching spray all over the shoes. After that, wear them and walk around until the spray dries. Wear thick socks to get the best results.
The shoe stretching sprays work very well and are safe to use on non-leather shoes as well. Just make sure you read the instructions carefully before using them.
Use a Potato
Potatoes can also be used to stretch shoes for wide feet. Wash the potato and then dry it thoroughly. The potato should be somewhat larger than the shoe’s opening, but not so much that it ruins the toe box. Make sure that the potato’s shape corresponds to the shoe’s opening. If not, cut the potato accordingly.
Place the potato inside the shoe and tighten the laces. The potato will gradually stretch the shoe material. Leave the potato in the shoes overnight for best results. Take out the potato and let the shoe air dry in the morning.
Wipe the inside of your shoes with a dry cloth to ensure no potato residue is left. In case your shoe insoles become dirty, use one of our cleaning methods to clean insoles.
The potato method is a slow process, but it does work. It is recommended that you use this method in combination with another technique for the best results.
Use Oats, Grains or Rice
Oats, grains, or other ingredients that swell up when soaked in water can also be used for stretching shoes. These ingredients will expand and fill up the shoe, stretching it in the process.
To use this method, fill a plastic bag or zip-close bag with your chosen ingredient and add enough water to cover the ingredient. Make sure there are no air pockets inside the plastic bag.
Seal the plastic bag and place it inside your shoe. Make sure the bag is pushed down toward the toe of the shoe. Leave the plastic bag in the shoe overnight for best results. The following day, remove the bag and let your shoe air dry.
If there is any residue, wipe it off with a dry cloth. Make sure you clean the shoes thoroughly, or else the ingredient residue will attract insects and bugs. This method is very effective for open-toed shoes like women’s heels.
Use a Tennis Ball
Tennis balls are another effective item for stretching narrow shoes. This method is very simple and easy to do. All you need is a half-cut tennis ball.
Place the half-cut tennis ball inside the shoe. Make sure you push it towards the toe box to stretch as much material as possible. The tennis ball will put pressure on the material and stretch it out. Tie up your shoes and leave them for at least 24 hours.
It is recommended that you use this method with another method like rubbing alcohol or shoe stretch spray.
Microwave the Shoes
Microwaving your shoes is another effective way to stretch them. However, this method can only be used on shoes that do not have metallic components.
Place your shoes in a microwave-safe bag and microwave them for 30 seconds. The heat will soften the material and make it more pliable. Wear them once your shoes are heated, and walk around until they cool down. You can wear thick socks to get the best results.
Repeat the process twice. Avoid microwaving your shoes if they are made of plastic, vinyl, or other synthetic materials. This method is very effective but can damage your shoes if done incorrectly. Read this guide for stretching plastic shoes.
Stuff Newspapers in the Shoe
Stuffing a new pair of shoes with newspapers is a quick and easy way to stretch them. Crumple up some newspapers and load them into the shoe until they feel tight. Leave the newspapers in the shoe for at least 24 hours. Make sure you push down the paper towards your toe box for maximum stretching.
The crumpled newspaper will pressure the shoe material and gradually stretch it out. This is another very effective way of stretching shoes with a narrow toe box, such as high heels.
You can also use a paper towel or cloth instead of newspapers.
How to stretch leather shoes wider?
The best way to stretch leather shoes wider is to use a shoe stretching spray. However, you can also use the following things –
- Shoe stretcher
- Tennis ball
How to stretch sandals wide?
To stretch sandals, use the following things –
- Shoe stretcher
- Ice bag
- Rubbing alcohol
- Oats or grains
The Bottom Line
Properly fitting shoes are essential for your feet. If you are experiencing discomfort due to tight shoes, try using one of these methods to stretch them out.
Each of these methods has its own set of pros and cons, so it is vital to choose the right one according to your needs. If you are not sure which method to use, try using a combination of two or more ways.
Taking tight fitting shoes to a shoe repair professional is another option.
Stretching tight fitting boots is slightly different. Read our guide on how to stretch leather boots for details.
However, if you have sensitive feet or severe foot problems such as bunions, you should wear a pair of custom shoes tailored to your needs. With the help of technology and professional shoe repair shops, you can get custom-fit wide shoes at an affordable price.
Be patient and gentle when stretching your shoes as you do not want to damage them. We hope this article helped you learn effective ways to stretch shoes for wide feet.
Now you know how to stretch small shoes, but what if your shoes are big and loose? To resolve this problem, check out our blog post “How to Make Big Shoes Fit.”
If you want to pick the perfect size of Crocs in the first place, check out the article “Do Crocs Run Big or Small.”
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!