There are millions of pairs of shoes out there. But you only have two feet, and they’re unique to you. Take the time to be sure the shoes you buy are right for your feet.
Here are ways to change the shoes you already have if they’re too tight.
1. Wear them in the evening
If your shoes are just a little uncomfortable, try wearing them around the house. Sometimes, a few nights of doing this can soften them up to the point they feel good.
Let your feet rest before trying this method, especially if it’s hot outside or you’ve walked a lot that day.
New shoes? Try to walk only on rugs or carpeted surfaces, so you can still return the shoes looking new, if needed.
2. Thick socks and a blow dryer
If the first method doesn’t work, this one will add a little extra stretch and help the shoes conform to your feet.
Put on a pair of thick socks and fasten the shoes comfortably.
Now try applying a hair dryer for 20 to 30 seconds at a time to the tight areas.
Use only medium heat, and keep the blow dryer in motion so you don’t excessively dry out or burn the leather.
It’s a good idea to apply a leather conditioner or moisturizer to the shoes after you’ve used this method.
3. Adjustable shoe trees
Once a specialty item at shoe repair shops, four-way adjustable shoe trees are now available for home use for under $25. Versions are available for both men’s and women’s shoes.
For a little more money, deluxe versions in cedar or other types of wood and stainless steel can be found.
These devices can help you expand the length and width of a shoe. Specially designed plugs (bunion plugs) can also target problem areas in the top of the toe box.
Turn the adjustment handle of the shoe tree every 8 to 12 hours to keep stretching until you get the desired length and width.
This method can be combined with shoe stretching spray and liquids. It’s best for leather shoes and sneakers.
4. Shoe stretch sprays and liquids
A variety of liquids and sprays to stretch leather, fabric, and even vinyl are available. Spray them on the tight areas and then walk in your shoes.
These products also can be used together with adjustable shoe stretchers to help give your shoes a custom stretch.
5. The peeled potato trick
Peel a potato and mold it into the shape of your shoe’s toe box (front of the shoe). Wipe the potato dry with a paper towel, and stuff it inside your shoe overnight. This method can provide a modest amount of stretch.
6. Find a shoe repair professional
Most professional shoe repair shops or cobblers provide stretching services. They have machines and training to alter shoes. Not only can a cobbler stretch your shoes, they can repair and refresh the ones you have to make them last longer overall.
But these shops are becoming harder to find in most areas from lack of interest.
7. Frozen zip-close bag
This method works best on nonleather shoes.
Fill a zip-close bag part of the way with water.
Place the partially filled bag inside your shoe. Try to arrange it so it’s near the tight spots.
Now place the shoe and bag in the freezer overnight.
The water will turn into ice and expand, giving you a custom stretch for your shoes.