There are some interesting home remedies for how to stretch shoes from simple sock stuffing and walking around the house to the more complicated freezer approach and water dunking. I was most intrigued by the bucket of water and the freezer since stuffing socks into things is for amateurs, and walking around the house is obvious, but let’s start with the obvious.
Walk Around The House
When you need to stretch out a pair of snug shoes, an easy thing to do is walk round your house every day for as long as you can. The comfort of your home acts as a training wheel. If you start to feel pain or too much pressure, simply throw off the shoes and try again the next day. Eventually, the squeezy pains won’t come round no more, and you and your shoes are ready to take on the streets of real life without your safety net.
Put Your Shoes In The Freezer
I find this to be the most bizarre advice. Some “shoe stretch experts” recommend putting the shoe in the freezer while others recommend putting baggies of water into your shoes and then putting the shoes in the freezer. The bag of water expanding within your shoe as it freezes made more sense to me, so I decided to try it on my new calf hair Coach pumps. The toe box is too tight.
I recommend using high quality baggies to ensure no leakage or holes. I filled my strong baggie about a quarter full. Then I placed a water filled corner of the baggie into the very tip of the toe box of my snug shoe and left it to freeze for over a day. I can concur that it did indeed stretch it a bit.
Dunk Your Shoes In Water
I first heard this bizarre advice from Banana Republic’s Creative Director Marissa Webb, and had it confirmed by ex-ballet dancer Sonia Evers. After reading the ballerina’s advice, I suddenly remembered the water shot in the beloved pointe toe sequence from the movie Center Stage. I couldn’t wait to try it.
I should mention that you wouldn’t dare do this to a calf hair kick or suede pump. It could cause real damage like loss of hair or suede texture. You want to do this with an unadorned leather shoe, like my J.Crew leather pumps.
I started by filling a giant pot of warm water in my bathtub. I then put my feet into the heels, and then stuck my feet and heels into the pot. No need to hang out in the water, like I did. In fact, take them out quick. You just need them wet, not soaked to the bone of the shoe. Once your feet are out of the pot, you will notice water had collected in the shoe. Go ahead and dump the water out of the shoe, and then put your shoes back on. With your wet shoes on, pat everything down with a towel and then wiggle your toes and move your feet around in there for awhile. If you really want them to mold to your feet, keep them on as they dry. In my case, it even changed the shape of the toe box because it molded to the shape of my toes. When you get tired of hanging out in your wet shoes, put them in a sunny windowsill to dry, or blow dry them on low with cool air. You don’t want the wet shoes to get hot. Too much heat makes leather brittle and leads to cracking.
Dunking shoes in water seems like it could mess up a perfectly good shoe. In my case, the repercussion of my shoe dunk was a very, very slight all-over color change to the upper, and the bottom of the shoes have a bit of that “water damage” look. As a whole, you could absolutely never tell these heels had been submerged in a pot of water.
Um… Use A Shoe Stretcher!
The easiest, most versatile, and most effective way to stretch a shoe is to use a shoe stretcher. This is the real answer to how to stretch shoes. There is really no need to use these wild home remedies when you can go to Amazon.com and purchase the incredibly effective FitRight Two-Way Shoe Stretcher ($17.99 – $19.99). I feel like a bumbling dolt to have waited so long to purchase such a thing. It even has inserts that can mimic bunions and bulges on your feet. In the end, it was the only solution that effectively widened my pumps’ toe box. I am amazed. The freezer and dunker were a blast, but completely unnecessary. This tool is especially amazing if you have a wonky foot that is slightly bigger than the other. Feel free to only stretch one of your shoes.
Pointy Toe Heel Tip: Cotton Balls
My shoe stretcher did an amazing job with the Coach heels, but I still found gravity would push my feet into the pointed shape and irk my tootsies. My solution: fill half of the toe box with cotton balls. This keeps my foot back where it is supposed be while giving my toes a cozy pillow instead of a triangle cage.