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How to Use a Shoe Stretcher? – The Most Detailed Guide

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

how to use a shoe stretcher

It’s finally time for you to buy new shoes. The last pair was your size, so you didn’t bother trying them on. However, regret kicked in when you discovered that the pair you had just purchased was too tight for you.

As you were about to panic, you realized that you had a shoe stretcher lying around somewhere in the house. A sense of relief came in but you realized that you don’t know how to use a shoe stretcher.

If you’re reading this, consider yourself lucky, as this is your ultimate guide in using shoe stretchers.

Step-by-step Instructions to Use a Shoe Stretcher


The following steps are applicable to most shoe stretchers that use widening knobs.

Materials needed

  • Shoe stretchers
  • Shoe stretching spray
  • Footwear that you want to stretch
  • Step 1: Work in the stretch spray to your shoes’ interior and exterior; make sure to apply it evenly. The shoe stretcher spray will relax and loosen your footwear’s fibers, giving them easier stretch.
  • Step 2: While the spray is still wet, position the stretcher inside the footwear until you feel resistance. Remember to aim at the stretcher at your shoes’ problem area.
  • Step 3: Turn the knob of the stretcher counter-clockwise to open the toe block. For two-way stretchers, tuck the heel block within the shoe. You can adjust its resistance by rotating the wheel found on its back.
  • Step 4: Stretch for at least 8 hours. Try on the shoes; if it’s still too tight, repeat the steps above and wait for 1-2 days before taking out the stretcher.
  • Tip: If you are suffering from bunions or calluses, you can attach bunion pads to the stretcher to target specific spots.

Different Kinds of Stretchers

Now that you’ve learned the necessary steps, it’s time to learn about the different shoe extenders and their specialty.

In this regard, you have to make sure that you purchase the one that will give you the desired results.

1. One-way Stretcher

One-way stretchers are designed to widen the shoes’ toe box area only. The device has a toe block that opens sideways and a widening knob. You can use it on sneakers, and flat shoes like bucks, Oxfords, or slip-ons.

2. Two-way Stretcher

These types of shoe extenders are used for width and length stretching. Like one-way stretchers, they are ideal as a flats or sneakers stretcher.

As for appearance, two-way stretchers are pretty much similar to their one-way counterparts. The only difference is the inclusion of a heel block, which presses against the heel counter to stretch the shoes lengthwise.

3. High Heel Stretcher


As its name indicates, this one is meant to widen ill-fitting high heels. After all, stretches meant for flat shoes will not work on heels because of their curved structure.

4. Boot Stretcher

These stretchers specified for boots have a hinged and long knob that can be adjusted angularly to follow the shape of the boots.

It is recommended to use a boot stretcher on leather and canvas boots as they also help lessen their break-in period. Note that these devices can widen boots only, meaning they can’t lengthen your footwear.

5. Vamp and Instep Raiser

If you want to create more room in your shoes’ vamp and instep heightwise, this is the stretcher that you would want to use.

Instead of opening sideways, it does its job by opening the toe block vertically.

6. Toe Box Raiser

This gadget is your solution if your problem is the toe box, especially if it is already pinching your toes and causing you pain. Just like the vamp and instep raiser, it also opens vertically. Thus, allowing the toe box to increase in height.

Frequently Asked Questions


1: Why do you need to stretch your shoes?

Here are some of the reasons why you need to stretch your shoes:

  • They are too tight and pinch your feet.
  • To reduce break-in periods in new shoes.
  • To relieve foot problems, such as bunions and calluses.

2: How long do you leave the shoe stretcher in?

It is recommended to leave shoe stretchers inside the shoes for at least 8 hours to get optimal results.

Although it is really up to you to decide how long to leave shoe stretchers in, you have to bear in mind that leaving them in for too long may cause them to become too loose.

3: Are shoe stretchers effective?

Yes, they are effective.

However, their effectiveness is also decided by certain factors, such as the stretching methods, shoe material, as well as the design and quality of the stretcher itself.

So for best results, you have to make sure that you get yourself a good quality and heavy duty shoe stretcher.

In addition, it’s important to note that shoe stretches can increase footwear’s size by around 0.5 inch. In other words, if your shoes need to increase by 2 sizes, it’s better to grab a new pair.

4: Can shoe stretchers widen shoes?

Using a shoe stretcher can indeed widen shoes. But how does a shoe stretcher work?

It is equipped with mechanisms, such as the expanding toe block, that allow it to create resistance against the materials of the shoes, therefore, stretching them.

5: How much does it cost to stretch shoes?

If done professionally, it may cost you around $15 to $45, depending on the kind and part of shoes you want to work on.

If you want to stretch them yourself, there are shoe stretchers for as low as $10, such as the Kiwi shoe stretcher (for women), which costs around $10 at the time of writing. Additionally, there are a wide variety of metal, plastic, and wooden shoe stretchers available in the market today.

But if you refuse to spend a dime on commercial shoe stretchers, you can definitely use a DIY shoe stretcher. Some of the popular options are:

  • Using newspaper to stuff your shoes
  • Applying rubbing alcohol and water solution before wearing the shoes
  • Freezing ice bags inside your shoes
  • Stuffing socks

6: What is the best shoe stretcher?

To determine which shoe stretcher is the best is totally up to you. After all, stretching jobs and other shoe modifications should all be according to your needs. However, if you want to make a safe decision in buying one, we have some recommendations for you.

One of these is the Houndsbay shoe stretcher, which is highly regarded due to its elegant look and the high quality materials used in making it.


There could be a lot of reasons why you would want or need to stretch your shoes. Of course, there are a lot of shoe cobblers that can fix them for you.

However, if circumstances require you to do it on your own, learning how to use a shoe stretcher will give you that boost of confidence that you are able to modify your ill-fitting shoes in a breeze.

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