6 Simple Ways to Stretch Leather Boots For the Perfect Fit

Mackenzie Dunn
·4 min read

Zbynek Pospisil, Getty Images

So, you scored what you thought would be the perfect pair of leather boots, only to realize after getting them home that they're a bit too snug. It happens—especially with so many of us shopping online right now and not always being able to try things on in-person. But since a good pair of leather boots is a winter wardrobe essential, you probably don't want to get rid of them right away. Luckily, since leather is a natural material, it can be manipulated with some gentle, yet firm, stretching to allow for a better, more customized fit. If your boots are sized just slightly off (about a half a size or so) in the foot area, or the shaft is too tight on your calves, there are a few simple ways you can stretch them out so that they fit just right.

How to Stretch Leather Boots:

1. Boot stretcher

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Boot stretchers like these are designed to save your feet from painful blisters and discomfort due to incorrect sizing. If your foot feels squeezed into too tiny leather boots, these handy tools are a worthy investment.

To use, simply insert the tool into your pair of boots, then turn the knob clockwise to adjust the width of the boot stretcher and gently stretch the shape of the shoe. Leave the contraption inside your boots for 24 to 48 hours for best results, then try them on to test their fit. This particular boot stretcher is extra-long, so it’s suitable for use on taller boots.

2. Calf stretcher

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Got a pair of tall boots that are squeezing you calves? A calf stretching tool may be your best solution. Just like the classic boot stretcher, these contraptions work to adjust the width of your boot calf through the gentle expansion of the leather material. To use, place these down the shaft of your boots and adjust the width. Leave them inside the boots for at least 24 hours, then try on for fit. You may need to repeat to process if you find that the boots are still too tight.

Bonus: Not only do these help to stretch out boot calves but once you’ve achieved your desired width, you can use them to store your tall boots standing up. This helps increase air circulation (which in turn, will reduce odor and fungus) as well as minimize creasing and wrinkling, which will prolong the life of your boots.

3. Boot-stretching spray

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A boot stretching spray works to gently soften leather (without staining or fading the color or finish) to make it more pliable and expandable. Simply spray your leather boots generously, then put on your thickest socks and wear them until the spray dries. This will allow them to stretch out as you wear them while molding to your foot. If you want to maximize stretching, you can also use this spray with a boot stretching tool, once again waiting to remove the tool until the spray has dried completely.

4. Freezer method

If you’re not able to get your hands on a shoe-stretcher tool, this DIY method works similarly. Start by filling a sealable plastic bag with water, then gently placing inside the foot of the boot. Repeat with another sealed plastic bad of water on the next boot. Ensure that the bag presses into the area that you are trying to stretch (ie. the toe). Then, place your boots in the freezer. The water will expand when frozen and cause the leather to expand with it. Make sure to use caution with this method, as excessive water can damage the leather, so make sure the bags of water are properly sealed and won’t leak when you place them inside the shoes.

5. Newspaper method

Another easy, DIY way to stretch leather boots is to use old newspapers. Crumple up some wads of the paper and then gently wet them before stuffing them into your boots. As the paper dries, it will expand and harden, stretching out the shoe. If needed, you can do this each time you store your boots to help them keep their shape and optimal stretch.

6. Blow-dry method

A blast of heat will relax firm leather and cause it to expand. That's why this blow-dry method works well. To give yourself more room in your boots, put them on with thick pair of socks (or two) and then blast the areas you would like to stretch out with a blow dryer on a high or medium setting for 20 to 30 seconds. Keep the boots on while they cool, then take them off and test out the fit with a normal pair of socks. Repeat as needed.