Have you ever bought long boots that get stuck on your calves? And even if you pull them up and zip them with all your might, they end up hurting the living hell out of you?
Wearing boots that are tight on your calves can cause pain, irritation, and bunions. Therefore, you have to get them stretched according to your feet size.
Now, the first instinct is obviously to get them fixed through a cobbler—but what if we tell you that it can be done free of cost at your home? Try some of our DIY methods for stretching calf boots before you go and shell out money unnecessarily.
Method 1: Use A Shoe Stretcher
A shoe stretcher is your most convenient but the most expensive bet among all the methods. Shoe stretchers usually come in two types of materials—plastic and wood.
There will be a $20 worth difference in the prices of the two. We suggest you opt for the wood stretcher, as it offers more durability and sustenance. Make sure you buy the shoe stretcher in a pair of two, so you can work on both boots simultaneously.
Please pay attention to the length of the shoe stretcher, and compare it with the size of your boots before making the final purchase. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the method:
Step 1: Prepare the shoe for stretching
Only the true shoe enthusiasts know the far-reaching benefits of preparing a shoe with stretching fluid before you jump into the process. It provides the boots with much-required flexibility that helps make adjustments easier.
But you don’t necessarily have to make another purchase if you don’t want to. Just create your own stretching liquid at home by mixing water and rubbing alcohol. You can apply this liquid in the tight calf area until the shoe is wet.
Make sure you jump into the next step immediately after the process.
Step 2: Slide the unexpanded shoe stretcher into the shoe
Position the shoe stretcher in the shoe with the narrower end first. Keep pushing the stretcher till it enters the actual body of the boot. Doing this will ensure that the entire calf of your shoe is evenly stretched.
Following this tiny step correctly will save you a lot of time later, as you will not have to repeat the process. Keep the stretcher unexpanded for this step to make sure it seamlessly enters through the boot.
Step 3: Expand the stretcher.
Start twisting the stretcher till the material of the shoe is nicely tight. For leather material, continue stretching till you observe leather straining. Gradually, you should be able to widen the calf of your leather boots by 1 to 1.5 inches.
For boots with zippers, pay attention to the zipper when you’re stretching the boot. The stitching around the leather must not start fraying, or else you will end up damaging the shoe beyond repairable condition. If you’re unsure about how exactly to deal with zip-up boots, it is advisable to take them to a cobbler directly.
Step 4: Let the stretcher do its magic.
Stretching boots, especially leather boots, can take some time. We advise you to do this process at night time and let the boots stretch over the period of 8-9 hours. Don’t worry. Even if you leave it on for longer, it will not be an issue until you remove the stretcher within 12 hours.
Although you will begin to see the boots stretch in a couple of hours, don’t misunderstand it as the final product. A few hours will only give you a temporary fix, and the material of the boot will go back and shrink again. Be patient.
If your boots still feel tight around the calves after 12 hours, put them back in and let them another round. A repetition of this process is only optional in case you don’t achieve your desired results.
Method 2: Using Homemade Stretching Spray
Remember the stretching spray we used in the first method? In this step, that’s our only tool. This method works for either slightly or moderately tight boots and usually takes at least two to three sessions before you accomplish your desired results.
However, it is a nifty trick since you’re shelling out almost no money on this method. All you need is time and copious amounts of patience.
Step 1: Mix rubbing alcohol with water
Take about 1 cup or 240 ML of both rubbing alcohol and water and transfer it into a spray bottle. You can also purchase a commercially available stretching spray for convenience, but making a DIY solution will be almost free of cost.
Rubbing alcohol has qualities that help loosen leather material, which will further allow it to stretch easily. When you mix diluted water with rubbing alcohol, it will not evaporate quickly.
Step 2: Spray the shoe
Thoroughly spray the solution inside the boots until they are adequately saturated with the mix. Make sure you wipe away any drops of solution that land outside of the shoe, as it can lead to leather discoloration.
If you find it difficult to reach the calves properly, you can try to flip the shoe upside down to get the insides completely wet.
Step 3: Time to wear the boots
This will be slightly icky for some people, but a necessary part. You have to put on your alcohol-soaked boots for about 30 minutes. Maybe take a walk around the house. Best to be done indoors, preferably at night.
Once the shoes have dried completely, you can take your feet out. You will notice the boots have conformed to the size and shape of your calves.
Step 4: Condition the exterior
Since we have used water with alcohol, the chances of leather to dry out and crack are high. Therefore, conditioning the outside of your boots with conditioning cream is vital to keep the leather supple.
You can either apply the conditioning cream while the boots are still on or do it after removing them. It depends entirely on what you’re comfortable with, as the cream will work either way.
Step 5: Repeat the process
You can continue repeating this entire process about 2-3 times to reap the full benefits. This means spraying the diluted alcohol-water on the insides of the shoe, walking in them for 30 minutes, and re-conditioning the leather.
Please be wary, and this method will take at least several sessions. If you find the boots haven’t loosened up according to your requirement, the last resort will be to take them to a cobbler.
Method 3: Freeze Up
Using ice can help you make minor adjustments here and there, but don’t expect a full-blown transition. For that, you will always require a boot stretcher or a stretching spray.
Step 1: Fill two bags with water
Take two resealable bags, preferably zip-lock bags, and fill at least ⅓ of them with water. Squeeze out all the air from the bags before placing them into the freezer.
Use a bag that will fit perfectly into the boot and reach the calf area easily. Make sure you use freezer-safe plastic. Bags that don’t meet these standards can easily tear, and you risk leaking the water in your boots.
Step 2: Position the bag
Since your target area for stretching is the boot’s calf, make sure to stuff rolled newspaper inside the shoe. Position the bag right at the calf area, or else you will mess up the boot’s fit.
Step 3: Leave it overnight in a freezer
For this method to work its magic, you need to leave the boots inside the freezer for at least 10-12 hours. Unlike other liquids, water tends to expand when frozen. This will help push the boot outward and, thereby, stretch it adequately.
Step 4: Thaw the ice before removing the bag
Before you remove the bag from the boot, let the ice thaw for at least 30 minutes or until it has melted completely. Removing the iced bag right away can potentially damage the inside of the boots due to friction.
Few Handy Tips
Here are a couple of ways that can help you yield the best results and maintain the outcome.
- Once the shoes have been stretched out according to your calf measurements, you can try stuffing a rolled-up towel inside it whenever you’re not wearing them. Doing this for at least a couple of days will help sustain the results better.
- When dealing with zip-up boots, consider purchasing a zipper extender for more ease while putting on the boots.
William has hands-on experiences with construction sites, and the hazards employees face while working. He has been a dedicated worker since 1995 and is currently looked up to by many of his subordinates for the work he has done throughout his tenure. He has passed several certifications regarding safety at the workplace, including OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Silica in Construction Certificate, and the National Association of Safety Professionals Certification.
He has ample experience in woodwork and welding and understands the importance of a tough work boot in dangerous occupational environments. His achievements, experience, and knowledge allow him to be an expert in the field of work boots. He selects and tries all the products that he reviews and presents to his readers. As per him, the safety of the boot is beyond the beauty of it. He carefully scrutinizes each aspect of work boots, including flex, laces, length, breathability, strength, and more.