How to Stretch Leather Sandals – 6 Efficient Hacks

Leather sandals are pervasive and a great accessory that effortlessly matches a wide range of fashion pieces. I cherish the feel of a good pair of leather sandals: how the flexible leather molds to the shape of my feet, how the straps feel snug and secure, and how they look on me.

However, wearing a new pair of leather sandals might cause discomfort initially but should eventually loosen up with time. Nevertheless, there are several techniques on “how to stretch leather sandals,” and I have tested a few effective ones to make my sandals fit better.

Looking for how to stretch your leather shoes and sandals? In this guide, I have narrated the most effective methods for stretching leather sandals.

how to stretch slides sandals

Reasons for Stretching Leather Sandals

Stretching leather pieces is a common trend with savvy fashion enthusiasts. There are several reasons why people may wish to stretch their leather sandals. And most of these are centered on comfort and fashion.

Here are some common reasons for stretching leather sandals.

01. Swelling

Feet swelling can be caused by stress or health issues. It is also natural for your feet to expand naturally during the day. Such swelling could make even comfy sandals tortuous after prolonged use. Therefore, it is essential to provide some allowance to accommodate swelling. This way, you avoid running into severe discomfort during the day.

02. Hammertoe or Bunions

These bumps are usually caused by extreme pressure between two toes. Tight sandal straps force your toes to rub against each other and increase your chances of developing bunions. Also, tight straps make bunions more irritating and reduce the chances of effectively treating them. Therefore, you may need to stretch leather sandals to give your toes more wiggle space and reduce the chances of developing bunions.

03. Orthotics

Most sandals have no provisions for orthopedic inserts. This inadequacy could make the sandals more convenient and even possible to wear. However, stretching the leather could give you more room to accommodate orthotics.

04. Sizing

Many fashion lovers need to take advantage of the latest styles due to the unavailability of their sizes. However, you can get a size down and stretch the sandal to fit your original size. This way, you can stay comfy while rocking the newest trends.

05. Friction

Constant rubbing of tight leather straps against your skin will only result in nasty blisters. Consider wearing socks to protect your feet. However, you can stretch your sandals to reduce the friction against your feet.

06. Comfort

Tight leather footwear feels hard against your feet and could leave you with scuff marks after prolonged use. Just as you can stretch leather belts, you can also employ some methods to stretch and loosen your sandals to make them softer and get a smooth feel.

How to Stretch Leather Sandals best methods: 6 Effective Methods

Leather sandals are made from various leather types and leave a classy fashion appearance. It is common for new leather footwear to appear slightly uncomfortable, considering that the tight material usually loosens up eventually. But if you can’t wait for your leather sandals to break in, there are several ways to stretch them quickly.

Stretching leather sandals is the best way to make them more comfy and durable. However, stretching leather sandals require utmost care.

Leather has different stretching limits depending on the type and treatment. Therefore, some methods give different results than you desire. Also, specific treatments could permanently ruin your favorite footwear.

Here are six proven methods that you can use to stretch leather sandals.

how to stretch faux leather sandals

Conditioning Leather Sandals

Leather conditioners help restore lost moisture and oil in leather. Conditioning leather sandals make them softer and more flexible. This way, it becomes easier for the material to stretch and adjust to the size you wish.

Leather is prone to contract and crack once it loses its natural oils. But applying a suitable conditioner will help restore the leather’s suppleness. Conditioners relax the leather fibers and compensate for lost oils. This way, conditioners make leather durable and improve its look.

Materials Needed

  • A suitable leather conditioner
  • A soft cloth

Steps to Follow

  • Start by wiping and cleaning the leather shoes or sandals using a dry cloth. This way, you eliminate dust particles that could prevent the conditioner from getting into the leather pores.
  • Next, apply some of the leather conditioners to the soft cloth.
  • Now, rub the conditioner on the leather straps gently in a circular motion. Ensure that you cover the gaps between the straps and the soles of the sandals. Also, apply the conditioner on the footbed of the sandals if it is a leather one.
  • Massage the conditioner into the leather straps with your fingers.
  • Leave the conditioner to dry. Also, buff the leather straps to get a glossy finish.

Conditioning leather sandals help relax the material and make it more flexible. You could improve the results of conditioning by using the methods below.

Wearing Your Leather Sandals

If you are wondering how to stretch slide sandals, then wearing them is another proven method you can try. Leather sandals will naturally absorb heat and moisture from your feet and gradually loosen up.

You could wear the sandals with thick socks and flex your feet while resting on your couch. Be sure to walk around in the tight sandals to work out tough spots and stretch the sandals further. This stretching method works better after you condition leather sandals.

Steps to Follow

  • You can start by wearing leather sandals for short periods. This way, you enable the material to adjust gradually.
  • You could wear the sandals while carrying out chores around the house or take them for a short walk. Do not wear the sandals for too long or risk developing blisters.
  • Take off the sandals when your feet start to hurt. You can repeat the process the next day and over a couple of days till the sandals become more comfortable.
  • It would help if you kept the sandals between the wearing intervals to prevent them from shrinking back to their original shape.
  • Also, use a conditioner to soften the leather if the process is too slow.

Using a Sandal Stretcher

Sandal stretchers are excellent tools that ease the breaking-in process for leather footwear. You can find a suitable sandal stretcher by looking up popular brands in e-commerce stores.

Most sandal stretchers come with widening levers that you can easily manipulate into the shape you wish. Therefore, sandal stretchers are handy if you want to stretch sandals wider.

Steps to Follow

  • Place the stretcher inside the sandal. Ensure that the sandal straps are in place and secure.
  • Turn the widening lever in the correct direction to expand the leather strap.
  • Leave the stretcher in place for 6-8 hours. Apply some leather conditioner while the stretcher remains locked, and gently widen the sandals a little more.

Note: Most sandal stretchers also allow you to stretch the upper part of your sandals by adjusting the lengthening wheel. Additionally, you could find a suitable beechwood sandal stretcher. To your utter convenience, this stretcher helps absorb excess moisture from footwear and prevents mold growth.

Using a Stretching Spray

Just like leather conditioners, stretching sprays help relax leather fibers and make them loose. Unlike regular moisture that stretches leather, a stretching spray softens the leather without damaging its texture. Therefore this method is also an excellent way to stretch leather pants.

The best stretching sprays are suitable for a wide range of leather types, including nubuck and suede, and you can find them in local stores.

How to Use Stretching Spray

  • Clean the footwear thoroughly to get rid of dirt and oil stains.
  • Shake the spray can thoroughly and apply generous amounts of the stretching spray on the leather sandals. Focus more of the spray on the tighter areas. Also, target both sides of the leather to get the best results.
  • Next, wear sandals with thick socks. Ensure it is tight enough to expand the sandals to your desired fit.

You may need to leave the sandals overnight after applying the spray to get lasting results. In this case, you could stuff the sandals with a suitable mold and leave them overnight. Alternatively, you could stuff the sandals with newspapers if you can’t find a suitable mold.

Stuffing Newspaper into Leather Sandals

Newspapers are easy to crumple and fold into any shape you desire; thus, they are perfect for this purpose. They are also everyday household items and are easily accessible. Therefore, this method is the most affordable method of stretching leather sandals in this guide.

Stuffing leather sandals with newspaper helps to relax the upper part of leather sandals and stretch them out.

Materials Needed

  • Old newspaper
  • Handheld spray bottle
  • Water

Steps to Follow

  • Start by crumpling old newspaper into loose balls.
  • Next, lightly spray the crumpled paper with water. Keep the crumpled paper from becoming too soggy.
  • Stuff the newspaper into the leather sandal.
  • Adjust the newspaper to the desired size and shape. Add more newspaper if you need to. Ensure that the crumpled newspaper gets a compact shape.
  • Leave the stuffed leather sandals for a few hours. You could also leave them overnight.

Remember that the newspaper only needs to feel damp and not soggy or overly wet.

Heating Leather Sandals

Heating leather is another effective way to stretch the material. However, this method comes with significant risk and is only advisable for spot-stretching. This way, only targeted areas are exposed to control heating for a limited time. Heating is an excellent option if you are wondering how to stretch leather straps on heels.

Materials Needed

  • A handheld hair dryer

Steps to Follow

  • Put on your leather sandals while wearing thick socks.
  • Set your hair dryer to medium, and apply warm air to the spots you need to stretch.
  • Flex your feet while heating the leather piece. This way, you force the material to stretch as it heats up.
  • Leave the material to cool down. Continue to flex your feet as the material cools.

Ensure you wear thick socks to protect your feet from potential burns. You could use a foot mold instead of wearing the sandal and simply massaging the material with your hands while heating them.

Also, avoid using extreme heat settings on the hair dryer. Exposing the sandals to extreme heat for too long may cause them to char.


Q: How do you loosen tight sandals?

Most sandals come with buckles and straps that can easily adjust. But these provisions are only sometimes enough. You can loosen tight sandals by stuffing them sandals with old newspapers. Start by inserting a sizeable foot mold into the sandal.

Secure the straps and buckles of the sandal to ensure a snug fit. Then, gently stuff old newspaper into the spaces between the sandal straps and the foot mold. Massage the leather straps as you stuff more newspaper into the sandal. You could also treat the sandal with a leather conditioner to make this process easier and get quicker results.

Q: Does water stretch leather sandals?

Leather has many pores, enabling it to absorb moisture and oil. When water enters these pores, the moisture molecules make leather more flexible and easier to stretch.

However, water poses a severe risk to leather’s durability.

Kindly note that when leather gets wet, the moisture combines with any oils, causing them to evaporate and eventually keep the leather dry and brittle. Therefore, you should take adequate measures to protect your leather footwear when using water to stretch them.

Q: How do you break in leather sandals fast?

Leather sandals will gradually adjust as you wear them. This occurrence is due to the supple nature of leather and the combination of stress and moisture from your feet. Depending on the size of your feet and climatic factors, the breaking-in process could take as long as a week or a month.

However, you can speed up the break-in process for your favorite leather footwear by moisturizing the sandal. You can use water or any suitable leather conditioner to moisturize the sandal. Moisturizing your sandals makes it easier for the leather to stretch and adjust its shape to any stress you apply.

Q: How can I stretch my sandals overnight?

When you are in a race against time and need to loosen tight sandals overnight, then you should consider freezing them. Fill a sizeable plastic bottle with water. Allow sufficient air space in the bottle for expansion. Stuff the bottle into the sandals and secure the straps. Seal the sandals and plastic bottles in a zip-loc bag and place them in the freezer overnight.

The sandals will stretch as the water in the plastic bottles freezes and expands. Allow the sandals to thaw at room temperature after taking them out of the freezer. Also, dry the sandals and treat them with conditioner to prevent any lasting damage caused by moisture. Freezing leather is also an effective way to stretch leather wallets.

Q: How do you stretch leather sandals DIY?

Professional leather workers come at a price, and you can save money by stretching leather sandals yourself. However, leather sandals are delicate, and you need adequate care to maintain your favorite leather footwear.

You can stretch your leather sandals by stuffing them with paper or old rags. To quicken the process, you can apply leather conditioners to the material to soften it. Using such moisturizers also prevents the material from cracking while stretching it.

Q: How do you stretch sandals for wide feet?

There’s no need to discard your favorite footwear because they are too tight for your feet. While you can increase the width of most leather sandals by adjusting a buckle or two, not all footwear has this provision.

Here’s how to stretch leather sandals for wide feet.

Fit a mold or any other sizeable object into the sandal. Now, add some paper or tiny bits of cloth to add more pressure to the ends of the material and stretch it further. Use a handheld dryer to apply heat to the parts of the sandals that feel too tight.

You could also add more bits of paper while using the dryer. Leave the mold in place and let the sandals cool at room temperature before taking out the stuffing.

Final Words

Waiting for your leather sandals to loosen up and get comfier can be quite tasking. However, you could use many proven techniques to ease the pressure on your feet and get a more comfy fit. Thus, I have explained how to stretch leather sandals in this article.

Although the techniques for stretching leather footwear found in this article are sure to deliver the results you desire, you may need to repeat each procedure a few times until you are satisfied. However, it would be best to remember that leather has its limits. If the footwear still does not fit after stretching it several times, you should consider getting a new piece.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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