It's actually easier than you'd think.

By Hedy Phillips
Nov 04, 2020 @ 4:25 pm
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Credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A beautiful new pair of leather boots is a closet staple pretty much all year round but especially when the weather turns a little colder. With genuine leather, you’re getting a high-quality pair of shoes that will keep your feet toasty when they need it. But of course, brand-new leather can be stiff, so if you have a pair of boots that are just a tad too tight, that’s a combination that your feet aren’t going to like.

Fortunately, it’s possible to stretch leather boots. There are a handful of ways to do this at home yourself, or you could take your boots to a cobbler if you don’t want to try. All of these DIY methods are pretty easy to do, though. Just keep in mind that you want to take care of your leather, so stretching the boots should be a gradual process. 

It's also worth noting that you probably can’t stretch your leather boots more than one shoe size without compromising the leather, so if you grabbed a pair of beautiful boots from a sample sale that are two sizes too small, these techniques likely won’t help. For a few suggestions on how to stretch leather boots at home, keep reading.

Use a Stretching Spray or Oil Conditioner

There are actually sprays and conditioners designed to stretch out your leather boots. Sites like Amazon is a good place to start your search (Shop Similar: $13; amazon.com), or you could probably find products like this at a local cobbler or shoe store.

If you’re using an oil conditioner, you’ll want to rub a small amount of it onto the outside of the leather and let it soak in. This substance will help the leather relax a little bit so it stretches.

A stretching spray works similarly — though, depending on which type you get, you may need to apply it inside or outside of the shoe. Remember to carefully read the instructions before using so you don’t accidentally ruin the leather. These substances are one of the simplest ways to stretch leather, and you can even make your own concoction for this method by mixing alcohol and water and misting the liquid inside the boot before attempting to stretch. Use a 1-to-1 ratio of water to rubbing alcohol for this.

Use a Boot Stretcher

This is another product you can easily find online to help stretch leather boots. Boot stretchers (Shop Similar: $23; hsn.com) are inserted into the shoe and can quite literally stretch out the leather, especially the toe area. Should you need the ankle or calf stretched, there is another contraption that can be used specifically for this part of the shoe (Shop Similar: $25; amazon.com). 

If you plan on using this method, you’ll want to be very careful not to damage the leather. Leave the boot stretcher inside the shoe for a few hours before removing it. You can always stretch a little less than you think you need and then go through the process again, as this is better than overstretching and damaging your shoes.

Credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Wear Thick Socks

We've used this method to break in shoes and protect our feet from blisters, but wearing thick socks to fill out your shoes can also help soften up the leather so that it stretches out. However, chances are if you’re stretching the leather, your boots are already too snug, so the sock method might actually be really uncomfortable because it will make the boot even tighter. However, if you're able to manage it without putting yourself in pain, it’s an easy way to stretch the leather.

Warm the Leather

Here's another method that will require you to be careful, but if you warm up the leather, you can gently stretch it out. Try placing a heat source inside the boots, like a hair dryer, to warm up the leather, then insert either a shoe form or some balled up socks inside the boot to hold the shape. Make sure whatever you put in the boot will keep the leather slightly stretched out, this way when it cools off, it’s more likely to stay that size.

You can also put your boots on while wearing thick socks and warm them up from the outside with a hair dryer. Once again, just be careful with this method, especially blowing the hot air directly on the leather, which could damage the material if the heat gets too close or too intense. 

Freeze Them

Conversely, you can skip the heat, doing the exact opposite and freezing your leather boots. Fill sandwich bags with water and tuck them inside your boots. Make sure the bags are sealed so the water doesn’t damage the leather and then put the boots in the freezer. As the water freezes, it expands, slowly stretching out the leather.