How to make a shoe stretcher

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a pair of shoes that just does not quite fit but they are simply too cute to give up on, then you might need a shoe stretcher. These devices also come in handy if you have one foot that is slightly bigger than the other, but not enough to warrant going up a size for the second shoe. You can make a shoe stretcher quickly and easily using things that you probably have in your own kitchen.

Decide what part of the shoe needs to be stretched to fit correctly. Usually, you will not want to expand every part of the shoe. Determine if you need more space in the front of the shoe, if it is slightly too narrow or if you need more space all over.

Fill the zippered bag with water and seal it. Do not fill it completely to the point of bulging, but so that it is still flexible. However, make sure there is little to no air in with the water.

Secure the bag in the part of the shoe that needs to be stretched. If you need more room in the toe, then cram the filled bag it in as far as possible so the water conforms to the shape of the toe of the shoe. If the arch area needs to be wider, then place the plastic bags in the toe, then position the water-filled bag in the middle area so that it fits snugly. You might need to tape it into place. If you just need more room in general, then use a large enough bag that the water bag fills the entire shoe.

Tape the bag into place. Use the masking tape so that you do not damage the finish on your shoe. Any exposed areas of the bag must be taped down so that when the water freezes, it cannot simply expand out of the shoe.

Freeze the shoe and the shoe stretcher apparatus. As the water freezes, it will expand and the shoe will be forced to expand with it. You should leave the shoe in the freezer for several days, and you might have to repeat the process two or three times to get the degree of stretching you need.


Some people treat their shoes with Listerine before doing this because they believe it makes them easier to stretch. Check that the Listerine will not discolour your shoes before adding this step.

Things You'll Need

  • Zippered plastic bag
  • Water
  • Shoes to be stretched
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Freezer
  • Masking tape
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