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How to Stretch Sneakers That are Just Too Tight (4 Ways)

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

This guide on how to stretch your sneakers will give you the confidence to do it yourself and avoid any more headaches (or toe aches).

Just remember, never use excessive force; treat your sneakers with kindness and care like your newborn child.

How to Stretch Your Sneakers

Take a deep breath and know you’re about to save yourself a world of pain by taking these steps. It might be more work than you were hoping for when buying your shoes, but hey, emergencies pop up, and the best people respond quickly.

Here are a couple of methods we’ll be trying.

1. Wear Your Sneakers all Day

It might seem incredibly obvious, but hear me out. This method is about the least invasive thing you can do to your shoe.

This ultimately means this method will result in the least amount of damage if worst comes to worst. Shoes are often costly investments for most people, so it’s important to take care of them. If not for their sake, at least for your own sanity.

Just take your sneakers, pop on some thick, comfortable socks, and just go about your day running some errands and living your best life. Your feet won’t, but your shoes will thank you, and in time, they will reshape to your foot shape.

This method, however, won’t result in the biggest of changes, so if it doesn’t work, you’re going to be looking at different ways that will warp your shoe more. You’ll need to use more care for the following methods.

2. Use Frozen Bags of Water

It’s a bit unorthodox, but when done right, some frozen water can give your shoes a good stretch without warping them a ton.

The method is pretty simple: take a few secure Ziploc bags and fill them with a bit of water. From there, stuff them into your shoes, focusing on where they feel the tightest. 

You’re then going to place your shoes, water bags and all, into the freezer overnight to be chilled. During that time, the water will freeze and expand, stretching your shoe with minimal force.

Your shoe might not drastically change shape, but the frozen water should provide a bit more wiggle room for your toes.

3. Try the Potato Method

Another wacky method of stretching your shoe involves peeling a large potato and shoving it in your shoe. It’s weird, but sometimes the most bizarre things work.

Take a large potato and give it a peel, molding it so it fits inside of your shoes. It’ll be a little effort, but the potato should be solid enough not to be crushed by the shoe.

If it all works out, your shoe should stretch a little thanks to the efforts of the potato. Just be warned: this might result in the least amount of stretching.

So if you only need a little help, this is the best method.

4. Use a Blow-Dryer 

Here is an easy trick that uses gentle, medium heat and short bursts of the blow dryer to warm up the shoe to allow for easier expansion.

But because we are using heat, this is a warning: don’t use too much heat or you may seriously damage your shoe.

It’s best to take some thick socks and to put them on before putting on your shoes. With your shoes on nice and tight, turn on your blow dryer and set it to medium heat.

You’re then going to use the blow dryer and blow over the tight sections of your shoe, using the heat in only 20 to 25-second bursts. Any longer, and you might burn your shoe. Or yourself.

This method, however, is a surefire way to give your sneakers a good stretch.  Just please don’t overdo it.

Final Suggestions

These methods offer a lot of wiggle room to stretch your shoes without spending even more money. But sometimes, more significant steps need to be taken.

One of the best options is finding a shoe repair person. They often are the most knowledgeable on how to perform resizing on shoes and can do so without destroying your shoe.

If you don’t live near a cobbler or shoe repair person, your next best option is the use of a shoe tree, which can stretch your shoes over time gently. These are noninvasive and can do a lot of great work with ease. 

However, regardless of the method you choose, make sure it works for both you and your shoe. And remember, be gentle so that you protect your investment!

Up Next: How to Wash Sneakers (The Right Way)


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