How To Fix Too-Tight Shoes . . . Chill Out!

how to stretch your shoes

I did something crazy this week. I bought these shoes! :-)  

I’ve been trying to get my “glam” on for the upcoming Alt Design Summit next week (which is a losing battle…but that’s a whole different story and post!) and my friend Emily suggested these shoes! The funny thing is I LOVE them…even though they are SO not what I would normally buy or wear. So when they came a couple of days ago (I ordered them online) I was bummed that while the RIGHT one fit like a glove, the LEFT one was a bit on the pinchy side. I hate having mismatched feet! (Does anyone else have that problem???)

I was considering just sending them back when I remembered seeing some crazy idea on Pinterest quite awhile ago where someone filled their shoe with a bag of water and set it outside in the snow to stretch it out. The concept being….when water freezes it EXPANDS. That’s why water pipes freeze and burst in unheated houses in the winter.

That couldn’t possibly work on SHOES! Could it?  Well, I decided to give it a try.  I realized if I did this I wasn’t going to be able to send the shoes back, but I figured the worst that could happen would be that the ice method wouldn’t work and I would just have to suffer in the name of fashion for a few hours. Something women have been doing for centuries. ;-)

shoe stretcher 3

So I took TWO zippered plastic bags, put one inside another (just to be safe!), and jammed them down into the shoe as far as they would go. I then carefully filled the bag with water and tied a piece of string around the top as another safety measure. I REALLY didn’t want to ruin these great shoes with my unproven attempt to get a little more wiggle room in them.

shoe stretcher

First I tried setting the shoe outside because it has been SO cold here lately…I figured it wouldn’t take long before it was frozen solid! Wrong. Several hours later it was still a bit slushy so into the DEEP FREEZE it went. Boy oh boy…they don’t call it a DEEP freeze for nothing!  A few hours later it was frozen rock solid! The fact that it was so tightly wedged in the shoe that I couldn’t even unzip it gave me hope that some real stretching was taking place.

After letting it thaw for a few hours on the kitchen counter I was able to pry the bag out of the shoe and tried the shoe on again. A huge improvement! As a matter of fact, they felt so good I didn’t want to take them off! So for a good hour or so last night I walked around the house in my fancy new boots and my pajamas. :-)

Maybe I could rock THAT look at AltSummit? I wish!!!


MORE Shoe Stretching ideas:

Stretching with Rubbing Alcohol

Grab a spray bottle and fill it up with some rubbing alcohol. Spray the inside of your shoes until they are slightly damp and pop them on your bare feet. Strut around in them until the alcohol dries. Repeat if your shoes are still a bit snug as many times as needed.

Hairdryer/Socks Method

Put on a thick pair of socks (or as thick as will fit!) and slip on your shoes. Aim a hairdryer on the tight section for a few seconds while wiggling your toes and and bending your feet inside the shoe. Keep the shoes on while they cool. If you need more room, repeat the process again.


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  1. Safaia says

    Just be cautious of the material. Ie. Leather and cold dont mix well for example, but I reckon if you do the freeze method and then rub the shoes down with the appropriate oil it would work just fine (same thing applys with the hair dryer method). And watch the material on the alcohol too, to make sure that its not goiing to mess it up (suede and such would spot, and leather can too)

      • Shawn says

        I broke my right foot in 3 places a few years ago and have used this method on boots, sandals, even Uggs and have never had an issue. There have been a couple of times that there wasn’t enough stretch at first and I repeated the process. Maybe I just got lucky but I have never had an issue with stretching leather this way.

  2. Safaia says

    Sorry, dead tired here lol, forgot to say thank you! I have wide feet and I always have issues finding shoes that fit quite right. The wide width shoes can even pinch a bit, usually I have to go 2-3 shoe sizes up before I find a pair of shoes that fit the front of my foot and those then leave blisters on my heels! So I totally sympathize with you, particularly since one of my feet IS a lil wider than the other. This is really really useful!

    • Doris Gordon says

      Buy your wide shoes from Zappos. You can return them within one year – postage free. I have wide feet too, EE. This is the only place I can get shoes as local stores do not carry EE. There is one store here that does, but it is about 25 miles away.

  3. says

    I have VERY wide short feet. I work in a factory. There was a time when steel toed work shoes were required. Life was hell wearing ST work shoes. If I found a shoe wide enough, it would have to be a size and a half bigger, and then only three of my toes would fit under the ‘steel’, and the other two were being ‘knarred’ up by the steel. Very unpleasant. The other part of work shoes, was that being leather, they usually needed to be stretched. Almost everyone wide feet or not, complained about breaking in new shoes. One night, I accidentally left my shoes out on the porch, and it rained. I was upset, and dried them out the best I could, but I wore those shoes that day until they dried on their own. Being wet, stretched them out, so from that day forward, whenever I got new work shoes, I would purposely walk around in wet grass until they were good and soaked, then when they dried, they were comfortable. I know, not good for dress shoes, but it sure worked for work shoes!

  4. Nicole G says

    You are not alone. My right foot is slightly smaller than my left foot. I can always tell the difference in shoes. Thx for the tip!

  5. Amanda says

    This is a great idea, thanks for sharing. Do you think this would work the same if you did it in the freezer? I live in Florida, no snow here :)

  6. says

    I’ve combined your last two tips with success before. I sprayed my leather pumps with alcohol, put on thick socks and slipped the shoes on. While still wearing the shoes, I used the hair dryer on the tightest spots then wore the shoes around home until the alcohol dried. It really helped!