How Much Do Leather Shoes Stretch? 5 Quick Ways To Break In Them!

Are you tired of dealing with blisters and sore feet from wearing brand-new leather shoes? You’re not alone! Even Queen Elizabeth herself hired staff to break into her shoes for her. But if you can’t afford a royal team of shoe-breakers, there are some ways to become one.

For instance, you can break your leather shoes using water, hairdryers, newspapers, lotions, stretching sprays, potatoes, and more. But how much do leather shoes stretch? Depending upon your leather, they stretch to a specific limit, usually half to a quarter of the thumb’s length. Naturally, faux is less stretchy than genuine leather.

But regardless of the type, how can you stretch your leather shoes? Let’s get into the details.

how much do leather shoes stretch

Can Genuine Leather be stretched?

Genuine leather can be stretched to a minimal extent if appropriately stretched. It can be stretched up to ¼ to ½ of the original size—however, the quality of the leather matters.  

Genuine leather has mechanical stretchable properties. Being composed of skin/collagen, leather is stretchable to a specific limit depending upon the usage and quality of leather.

Different types of leather show different mechanical properties at ambient and humidities; i.e., at humid and moderate temperatures, leather usually shows elastic and flexible properties. 

How much do leather shoes stretch? 

Shoes made of genuine leather can be stretchable from 1/4 to 1/2 of their original size. But if you stretch beyond that limit, you might ruin them.

Do not expect every leather item to stretch because the quality of the leather matters the most. Depending upon the flexibility and reliability of genuine leather.

How do you stretch leather shoes lengthwise?

One of the most common methods to stretch leather shoes is putting a stretcher device/shoe stretcher on targeted areas prone to corns and bunions. Once you place the stretcher inside the shoes, you need to stretch a little by using your hand after every eight hours, just as how we stretch BirAre Doc Martens Real Leathers?kenstocks.

Heat method 

You need to put thick socks inside the shoes and heat them with a dryer. Applying mild to moderate heat for 40 seconds can expand the length of the shoes. Only apply heat to the targeted areas where you want the expansion. It could be lengthwise, sidewise, or the toenail area. 

How do stretch leather shoes wider?

You can also use the same shoe stretcher to work on the shoe widths like the length. But we have another method to widen your shoes. Just be careful about burning both the shoes and your hands. 

  1. Fill a kettle halfway with water and bring it to a boil for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Hold your shoes in place so that the steam from the kettle is directed at them. Do this for 3-5 minutes, ensuring the shoes are evenly exposed to the steam.
  3. After steaming the shoes, take them out and try to dry them as much as possible. To absorb moisture, use newspapers or a dry towel.
  4. Allow the shoes to dry in a shaded area once most moisture has been removed. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or heat, which can cause material damage.
  5. When the shoes are completely dry, put them on.

How do you stretch leather shoes with newspaper?

Stretching genuine leather shoes using newspaper is easy to make your shoes comfortable and better fitting. 


  1. Dampen several sheets of newspaper with water, crush them into balls, and place them inside the shoes. 
  2. Insert sheets of newspaper inside the shoes and ensure you fill them. 
  3. Leave the shoes for up to 24 hours; in the meantime, the newspaper will sit and expand according to the shape of the shoes. 
  4. Remove the newspaper and clean your shoes. Put them on and walk around and feel solace. You can repeat the process if your shoes are still a tight fit. 

How do you stretch leather shoes with water?

Stretching leather shoes with water is cost-effective, straightforward, and commonly used at home. But don’t use water if you’re planning to stretch your suede shoes, like Uggs.


  1. To stretch your shoes comfortably, fill them with moderately hot water for 1-2 minutes. 
  2. Warm enough water to relax the material without scalding your feet. Keep in mind that hotter water will stretch the shoes more effectively. 
  3. Pour the water out and put on a pair of socks after you’ve checked the temperature. Slip your feet into the wet shoes and keep them on for as long as possible.
  4. Repeat this process three to four times a week until you notice a comfortable shoe expansion.

But one thing. Don’t heat your shoes after soaking them in water or with them; otherwise, they’ll shrink. It would also help if you dried them properly for the same reason.

How to break in leather shoes quickly?

If you’re tired of the outdated, sloth-breaking methods discussed previously, you can try the following quick methods for your leather shoes this time:

Rubbing Alcohol 

Rubbing Alcohol is an efficient method to stretch your leather shoe, and its spray is readily available. You can rub tighter parts of your shoe with a hand or spray. 


  • Apply the spray at specific areas of the shoe you want to stretch and leave for 20-30 minutes before wearing these shoes. 
  • Wear your shoes until the leather is dry.   

Double your socks 

To avoid the soreness and discomfort of your shoes, you should double up your socks when breaking them into brand-new shoes. By doing this, you will be able to identify the uncomfortable parts of your shoes, and you will be able to stretch these areas later.

double your socks

Use Leather Lotions

If you want to stretch your shoes without the leather getting cracked, go for a leather shoe cream. It is usually applied on a clean cloth and spread all over the shoes before storing. It will help stretch your shoes and make them more comfortable.

You can apply this cream every week on a routine basis. 

Use Stretching spray 

One option after applying leather oil is a stretching spray. Use a shoe stretcher or wear your shoes before applying the spray for the best results. This step is advantageous if your shoes are too tight. Spray your shoes according to the label instructions, and wait for them to dry. However, it is critical to exercise caution when working with stretching sprays. Wear gloves to protect your hands and avoid direct contact with the chemicals. 

apply stretching spray

Peeled Potato Trick 

You can try this method at home by peeling potatoes of your shoe size and placing them inside the shoe. Leave your shoes overnight to get the best possible results.

Frozen zip-lock bag 

This is a convenient and easy method to go after at home. In this method, you must fill up a partially filled zip-lock bag, put the bag inside the shoes near the targeted area, and place the shoes in the freezer overnight. The water can expand on cooling, resulting in increased shoe size. 

But despite the quick methods, I would tell you to:

Don’t rush!

You would love to wear your brand-new shoes right after you purchase them for a longer time. To minimize the discomfort of your shoes, start wearing them for a few hours daily. 

On the first day, wear your new pair of shoes for around 2-3 hours at home. The next day, try to improve timing from 3-4 hours. After practising this, you will have a comfortable and perfect-fit pair of shoes shortly. 

How long does it take to break in leather shoes?

Buying a brand new pair of shoes takes longer to soften and break comfortably in your feet. However, in time your shoes fit your feet comfortably. This brief break-in period is necessary to adjust and get to the feel and fit of your shoes.

Stretching genuine leather can take 2-3 weeks or 80-100 hours, depending on the method you use for breaking in. And it’s essential to be patient with the breaking-in process. If you rush in it while stretching, it might damage your brand-new shoes.


Now, while leather shoes do have a bit of give to them, I must caution you against using any mechanical means to stretch them out immediately.

And I discussed some easy and effective home remedies for you to achieve that perfect fit for your precious kicks. So go ahead and give them a go! Your feet will thank you for it.

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