How to Make a Shoe Stretch With Rubbing Alcohol and Water

by John DeMerceau

Alcohol is the main ingredient in many commercial shoe stretch products so you might as well make it yourself!

Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

New leather shoes, as well as shoes that have been in storage for prolonged periods of time and shoes that have dried after exposure to water, sometimes fit very tightly and are difficult to break in. You can stretch shoes using a store-bought shoe stretch liquid or spray, but rubbing alcohol mixed with water is just as effective and is far less expensive. You'll need to apply the alcohol mixture to the inside and outside of the shoes, especially at the points where the shoes are tight, and either wear your shoes or use a shoe stretcher to break them in.

Items you will need

  • Rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol)
  • Measuring cup
  • Spray bottle
  • Thick socks
  • Shoe stretcher
  • Leather conditioner or cream shoe polish
Step 1

Measure 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of alcohol. Pour them into your spray bottle and insert and close the spray trigger cap.

Step 2

Spray the mixture on the outside and inside of the shoes, concentrating on any tight spots. Allow to dry for a few minutes, then wear your shoes around the house with thick socks for several hours to help loosen the material.

Step 3

Try on the shoes while wearing a normal pair of socks to test whether or not they are comfortable. If so, they can be worn as normal; if not, you'll need to stretch them further. Mix a solution of 1 1/2-cups alcohol and 1/2 cup water in your spray bottle. Spray the interior and exterior of your shoes generously, paying special attention to interior and exterior seams. Insert a shoe stretcher or shoe horn firmly inside the shoe and allow the shoes to stretch for at least four hours.

Step 4

Try the shoes again. If they still are not comfortable, repeat Step 3, making sure the shoes are thoroughly saturated with the solution before inserting the stretchers, and allowing the shoes to stretch for at least 12 hours.

Step 5

Apply leather conditioner or cream shoe polish to the shoes once they are comfortable, and then wear as you would normally.

Warnings

  • Use rubbing alcohol and water only on leather shoes. Try rubbing the solution on an inconspicuous spot and checking to see whether dye comes off on your cloth or brush if you are unsure as to whether you can use alcohol on your shoes. Alcohol can damage other shoe materials.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

About the Author

John DeMerceau is an American expatriate entrepreneur, marketing analyst and Web developer. He now lives and works in southeast Asia, where he creates websites and branding/marketing reports for international clients. DeMerceau graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.