If the new pair of leather boots you pined for and eventually bought are uncomfortably tight on your feet, you can stretch the leather out for a more customized fit. Likewise, if your trustworthy pair of leather hiking boots has shrunk over time, you can stretch them out to return them to their original condition. There are a few different methods you can use the stretch your leather boots at home.
Method One of Five:
1Fill a resealable plastic bag with water. Fill roughly one-third to one-half of the bag with water. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing completely.
- To remove the air, seal most of the bag, leaving only a small gap open in one corner. Gently squeeze the portion of the bag without water in it until the plastic sides come together. When you have brought the sides together as closely as possible without spilling water, seal the remaining gap.
- Use plastic bags marked as "freezer bags" to reduce the risk of breaking the bag inside the freezer.
- Choose the best size for your boot. If the toe or heel needs to be stretched, a quart (liter) size bag should suffice. If the entire foot portion or calf portion of the boot needs to be stretched, choose a gallon (4 L) size bag.
- Alternatively, you can skip the water-filled bag altogether and use freezer gel packs if you have them.
- Do not place water or ice directly against the leather. Water can cause leather to become brittle.
2Position the bag in the boot. Place the bag of water in the shoe inside the problem area.
- This is easiest to do when the problem area is the toe or heel, but it can still be done for larger portions of the boot.
- If you only need to stretch the calf portion of the boot, stuff the foot with balls of crumbled newspaper and place the bag of water inside the calf portion. The newspaper should prevent the bag from slipping down into the foot portion of the boot.
- Make sure that the water presses against all sides of the boot in need of being stretched. Otherwise, the boot may not stretch evenly.
3Place the boot in the freezer. Carefully place your boot in the freezer and let it sit 8 hours to overnight.
- As the water freezes, it will expand, stretching the leather out in the process.
4Thaw the ice before removing it. When you pull your boot out of the freezer, you should let the ice melt for at least 20 minutes before you try to remove it from the boot.
- If you try to pull the bag out immediately, you may damage the boot.
5Repeat as needed. Try your boots on and see if the leather has been stretched enough. If not, repeat the process to stretch the boots a bit more.Advertisement
Method Two of Five:
1Put on your thickest pair of socks. If you have "boot socks" or thick house socks, slip these on during the heating process.
- If you do not have any thick socks, put on two to four layers of normal socks.
- Having a thicker layer of socks will make it easier to stretch the leather further.
2Slip your boots on. Force the boots onto your feet over the socks.
- Note that this will likely feel very uncomfortable, but this short-term discomfort will lead to greater long-term comfort.
- If you find it impossible to fit your leather boots on over the socks, remove a layer of socks or opt for a slightly thinner pair.
3Heat the tight areas of your boots using a hair dryer. Any problem area in need of stretching should be heated with a hair dryer, set to high heat, for at least 30 seconds.
- Flex and stretch your feet inside the boots as you heat them up to stretch the leather out further.
- Make sure that each problem area receives 30 seconds of heat.
4Keep the boots on until they cool. Turn the hair dryer off but keep the boots on your feet until the outside feels room temperature when touched.
- If you remove the boots before they cool, they will likely shrink back down.
5Check the fit. Once cool, strip the socks from your feet and try your boots on again. If they feel comfortable, keep them as they are.
- If the boots still feel tight, repeat the process a couple more times, wearing a thicker layer of socks each time.
6Apply leather conditioner to the boots. Rub a shoe cream or shoe polish over the leather when done to replenish the lost moisture.Advertisement
Method Three of Five:
1Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle. Pour 70% rubbing alcohol into a 2 oz (60 ml) spray bottle and tighten the spray nozzle on securely to prevent any leaks.
- Use 70% rubbing alcohol instead of a higher concentration. It contains 70 percent of concentrated ethanol or isopropyl alcohol by volume, which is safe to use with leather boots, but higher concentrations could prove too abrasive for the leather.
2Spray the leather. Generously spray the rubbing alcohol over the area of the boot in need of being stretched. Make sure that the area is quite damp when done.
- Do not spray areas that do not need to be stretched.
- The area in need of being stretched should be sprayed evenly.
- Give the rubbing alcohol 20 to 30 seconds to soak into the leather before proceeding.
3Slip on your boots. After the alcohol has soaked into the leather but before the boots dry, slip the boots over your feet. Keep the boots until they dry completely.
- For best results, keep the boots on as long as possible before removing them, even after they dry.
- The leather should stretch as soon as you slip the boots onto your feet. If it still does not budge, spray more rubbing alcohol over the problem area of the boot and try again.
4Check your boots a few hours later. After you remove the boots and let them sit undisturbed for a few hours, try them on again. The leather should still be fairly stretched, and the boots should still be comfortable.
- If the leather still feels a little tight, repeat the process to stretch the boots out a bit more. For even greater success the second time around, where extra-thick socks or an extra-thick layer of socks to stretch the boots out even further.
Method Four of Five:
Commercial Stretching SprayEdit
1Read the label carefully. Before using a stretching spray, read any warnings and instructions provided on the label.
- Some stretching sprays may not be safe for all forms of leather. As a result, you should verify that the label does not warn against use on specific types of leather boots.
- The instructions are usually fairly similar, but there can be slight variations here or there. To ensure the most benefit and least amount of damage, follow the instructions carefully.
- Also make a note of the active ingredients used in the stretching spray. Some sprays are made of little more than rubbing alcohol, in which case, they can be used interchangeably with rubbing alcohol for the purpose of stretching your boots out.
2Test the spray first. Spray a small amount of the stretching spray onto a hard-to-spot area of the boot, like the very top back or very bottom of the leather, near the sole of the boot.
- Some stretching sprays may stain certain types of leather, especially if the leather is light in color. Performing this test can save you from creating a large stain on a clearly visible portion of your boot.
- If the area you test stains, do not use the spray for the rest of the boot. If it does not stain, the spray should be safe to use.
3Spray the problem area. Douse the tight area of the boot with your stretching spray, as well as the surrounding area. Make sure that the spray is evenly spread out over the entire area.
- Apply the spray from a distance of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
- Let the leather absorb the spray for 30 seconds or so.
- You do not need to spray areas that are nowhere near the portion of the boot you plan to stretch.
4Wear the boots immediately. Put the boots on your feet as soon as the leather has absorbed the spray but before it feels dry to the touch.
- Keep the boots on your feet for as long as possible to maximize the stretching effect.
5Repeat as needed. Slip off the boots when necessary, but check them again a few hours later to see if the stretch held. If not, repeat the process a second time.Advertisement
Method Five of Five:
1Choose the right footwear stretcher for you. In general, you will want a boot stretcher to stretch the foot of the boot and a calf stretcher to stretch the calf portion of the boot.
- The difference between a boot stretcher and a shoe stretcher is that a boot stretcher has a long handle sticking up, allowing you to access the stretching mechanism in spite of the boot's tall sides.
- If your leather boots are ankle height, you can probably manage to stretch the foot with a shoe stretcher instead of a boot stretcher.
2Wedge a boot stretcher into the foot of the boot. Carefully position the wooden wedge of the boot stretcher device into the foot of the boot.
- Make sure that the long handle sticks up and out of the boot. You will need to be able to reach the handle and turn it without difficulty.
3Open the wedge once inside the boot. Turn the handle to open the wedge up. The screw device should push open the wedge, stretching out the toe area in the process.
- Let the leather sit in this position for several minutes before returning the wedge to its original size and removing it from the boot.
4Slip the boot onto a calf stretcher to stretch the calf portion. Pull the boot over the calf stretcher so that the entire calf portion fits on.
- Stop directly above the ankle of the boot to avoid damaging or distorting the foot of the boot.
5Crank open the wedge. Turn the crank at the top of the device to open up the wedge. Open the wedge as far as it will go to stretch the boots as much as possible.
- Let the boots sit on the calf stretcher for several minutes to maximize the effect.
How would I stretch a leather-lined pair of riding boots? The shaft is too thin.Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Rub a leather conditioner into the inside of the boot (I like Kiwi mink oil) and wear it as long as you can tolerate. If you are not initially able to zip it all the way, heel lifts may help with positioning. I know when I put mine on, I initially have to put my heel all the way down to zip it up to the ankle, then stretch the back of my leg and create a gap under the heel to get them to zip over the calf. Be as active as you can while wearing them. Do this until you have reached the desired size.
- If you are unable to stretch your leather boots yourself, you could also take them to a cobbler and request professional help. The cobbler will tell you if the boots can be stretched further, and if not, he or she may be able to add elastic or leather to the boot to make it larger.
Things You'll NeedEdit
- Resealable plastic freezer bag
- Hair dryer
- Spray bottle
- 70% rubbing alcohol
- Stretching spray
- Boot stretcher
- Calf stretcher
About This Article
Reader Success Stories
A"The rubbing alcohol method seemed to work best."
TH"I was skeptical, but the heating technique worked great for my Redwing pull-on 3505s. They were tight in the metatarsal area. I had to heat for a bit longer, about 3 - 4 minutes with a hairdryer, and worked some Dr. Martens balm in as well."..." more
DW"Thick socks and alcohol did the trick!"
DC"I used the blow dryer method, it works like magic. I walked around in the boots for about 5 minutes, doing various foot exercises. Took them off, removed socks and now I have happy feet!"..." more
A"What made it easy was having so many options in the same article and the easy-to-follow graphics. I prefer graphics to a video because I print things out. My new boots are too cute to send back so big thanks!"..." more
NM"I bought a beautiful pair of Boulet boots from The Salvation Army. They fit really tight and hurt my feet. I used the hair dryer and alcohol tricks. They fit awesome now. Thank you very much."..." more
"1 boot was tight to remove without the aid of someone else. The hair dryer worked a treat and I managed to stretch the boot in the tight spot. Complete success, thank you so much."..." more
TB"Thank you so much! I used heat/thick socks method. I was planning to return boots, but not now! I rubbed pure cocoa butter into the leather. Worked beautifully."..." more
LD"I tried the heat method on some Gucci boots I purchased on eBay that were quite a bit smaller than the marked size. Very small toe area. It totally worked! "..." more
A"I wore several pairs of socks, heated the leather with a blow dryer, and wore the boots for about 30 minutes. After that, they seem to fit great!"..." more
NT"Discovering that 70% rubbing alcohol can be used was a real plus for me. I can now make all my shoes and boots feel great. Thank you."..." more
A"It worked really well! Thank you for your tips. Worked just as good as you said it would!"
EA"Very informative! Didn't know anything. Now I won't throw away my boots! Thanks."
A"Very helpful. Do it all the time to stretch the boots and I tell everyone to."
SR"The left foot was quite tight, but it loosened up with the hair dryer."
SW"Very helpful, went with method 5 to avoid damaging adhesives."
PD"Different methods on how to stretch out my new boots. Thanks."
AB"It has been the best day, now that they fit."
TJ"It works great. I had to spray them twice."
A"The article helped a lot."