How-To Stretch Your Shoes

So you've found the perfect pair of shoes. They look just stunningly handsome. They shine so bright with style that you unwittingly allow a few tears of joy to escape from your eyes. These shoes are so beautiful, they could spark a war. Heck, they could stop a war. They could cure cancer, feed the hungry, house the homeless, solve all the world's problems if people could just bear witness to the sight of them on your feet. Obviously, you have a duty to the world to wear these shoes. As you slip them onto your feet, music plays, strings whine with elation, you tingle with excitement, and ...... well, the shoes don't quite fit.

It happens to all of us. We find the best shoes or boots or sandals at a great price but they're just a little bit snug. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways to stretch your shoes, either with household items or with specialty shoe stretching items. These methods won't help Shaquille O'Neal fit into Cinderella's glass slippers. But they could stretch a shoe about a 1/2 size larger. Rejoice that shoes may never be too small again!

  1. Freeze a bag of water in your shoes. One common, handy household remedy for small shoes is to freeze a plastic bag filled with water. Water is unique in that it actually expands when it turns into solid ice. The water in your shoes will freeze, expand, and stretch out your shoes.
    • Fill an one-quart, freezer-strength zip lock bag with water until it is half-full. Check for leaks and remove all air from the bag.
    • Place the bag of water into your shoe, stuffing it up to the toe. You may use more than one bag of water if you need to fill the shoe where it is too small.
    • Keep the shoes in the freezer until the water is completely frozen. This may take anywhere between 4 to 8 hours.
    • When the water is completely frozen into ice, remove the bags of ice. Your shoes are stretched!
    • If the shoes are still a bit small, repeat this process until they are stretched to your satisfaction.
  2. Place shoe trees in your shoes to retain their shape. Shoes may shrink slightly due to moisture when you're not wearing them, even after stretching them. To maintain their shape and size, place shoe trees in your shoes to keep them stretched (alternatively, you may stuff the shoes with rags).
  3. Place silica gel packets in your shoes when they aren't being worn. Silica gel packets come in most shoe boxes to absorb moisture and prevent shrinking. They are very handy and most shoe stores should be fairly generous about providing you with some for free if you need them.
  4. Purchase professional shoe stretching supplies from your local shoe repair shop. You can use a wooden shoe stretcher and spray a bottle of liquid shoe stretch to stretch the shoes, if you prefer this over the home-made remedy.
  5. When all else fails, take the shoes to a professional shoe repair shop. Many shops have a stretching machine with which they can apply pressure and heat to specific areas of your shoe, stretching them where it hurts the most.
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