Due to a high instep, your boots might be hard to get a well fit and cause discomfort, irritates, or blisters.
Let’s learn how to stretch cowboy boots at home so that you can make them more comfortable for you without hiring a professional boot stretching service.
- How To Stretch Cowboy Boots Around The Calf?
- How To Stretch The Instep And Ankle Of Cowboy Boots?
- Useful Tips On Stretching Cowboy Boots
- Final Words
How To Stretch Cowboy Boots Around The Calf?
Many people can’t wear cowboy boots because their calves are too large. The following methods will help you stretch the calf area to fit in your calves.
Use A Boot Stretch Spray
The first and simplest method to stretch cowboy boots is using a cowboy boot stretcher like Angelus Professional Shoe Stretch. This product will relax the fibers and make the leather expand safely.
Spray this product inside your boots, wear them on, and walk around until the boots are well-relaxed and the spray is dry.
After finishing the work, you should use a leather conditioner to moisturize the leather and avoid dryness and cracks on the leather’s surface.
- Safe for leather
- Have to purchase the boot stretch spray
- Have to spend time on the stretching process
Tuck In A Cowboy Boot Stretcher And A Boot Shaper
A boot stretcher (or boot expander) is a passive yet convenient way to stretch your cowboy boots when you are busy. And since many boots have a long shaft, you should use the boot stretcher with a boot shaper.
There are two advantages of this method.
First, you can tuck the stretcher in and set it inside instead of spending a few hours on this task.
Second, it takes only around 6 hours to get 0.5 sizes up (and can stretch up to 1 size up!), which is more time-saving than the steam or water submersion methods.
You should choose a stretcher with bunion plugs and pad plugs to break in targeted areas inside your cowboy boots. Plus, you can also combine this method with the steam method by applying hot steam inside the boots to relax the leather prior to stretching.
However, you will have to spend a notable budget for purchasing the stretchers. Plus, this method is only applicable to the boots’ width, not to the toe box.
To install the stretcher into your boots:
- Spray the boot stretch or wipe a cloth of boot stretch spray inside the boots, to get the leather relaxed.
- Insert the bunion plugs into their corresponding slots on the toe box.
- Tuck the toe block into the toe box so that the toe block can touch the toe box’s edge.
- Turn the handle clockwise to stretch the toe block. Once snug, turn it from 2 to 3 times for a proper stretch.
- Leave the stretcher at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours, to take effect.
- Remove the stretcher by turning the handle counterclockwise. Pull it out slowly.
- Save your time and effort
- Get your boots ready to wear instantly
- Upfront cost for the boot stretcher
- Only stretch the boots’ width at some spots
Use Socks To Stretch Cowboy Boots
If your new cowboy boots or sneakers are too narrow, you can use socks to stretch them out. This method is simple, easy to follow, and requires no extra cost.
All you should do is wear socks on your feet, wear the boots on, then walk around for a while to let the leather expand.
Socks can stretch up to 0.5 sizes at multiple angles inside your boots, either the width or the height of the toe box.
However, wearing too many socks can be extremely painful and cause blisters. Thus, you should only wear one thick sock or two thin socks per foot.
You should apply this method on warmer days or in the later hour of the day when the leather is more flexible and stretches easily. This method also requires multiple sessions to get your desired fitting.
- 100% free
- Convenient, easy to apply at home
- Stretch boots at multiple angles (width, height)
- Can be painful
- Require multiple tries
With Water (Or Water Submersion)
How to stretch cowboy boots that are too small at home with no extra cost? You can immerse them in water to get a custom fit.
While this method sounds crazy (who dares to put his new boots in the water!), you can use water as a leather-softening liquid to make them well-fitted on your feet.
Yet, be careful since using water for leather can make it fade faster.
To stretch your cowboy boots with water:
- Prepare a bucket or a bathtub of clean, lukewarm water.
- Fully put your boots into the bucket/bathtub without letting the water enter the insides. Partially water submersion can result in watermarks on your boots. You can press the insoles down to keep the boots from floating.
- Take your boots out, wear socks or breeches, wear them on, and take a walk. Be careful as wet boots are more likely to slip off. You can cover a plastic bag on the socks to avoid the discomfort of wearing wet shoes.
- When the boots are dry, apply a leather conditioner or a hand lotion on the leather surface to make them soft while avoiding cracks and dryness.
- Free and easy to follow
- Can get a perfect custom fit
- Take a long time to dry
- Can be scary for first cowboys boot users
Applying steam from boiling water is an inexpensive way to get your custom fitting at home with no mess. Some people may say that this method is harmful to the leather (either dryness or fade), so you should perform it with risk.
And since the drying process takes much time, you should not steam your boots if you need to wear them the next day.
The steaming process can also degrade the vibrancy of the leather dye treatment and the solidarity of the leather, depending on your leather’s quality, dye type, and the saturated level of the boots.
How to steam your boots:
- Place the upside of your cowboy boots above a kettle of boiling water or a garment steamer for 20 seconds. The steam from the hot water will relax the leather.
- Place the boots away from the steamer. Then, check the leather condition with your finger. If the leather is still firm, repeat step 1 for 15 seconds.
- Once the leather is warm, soft, and flexible, use your thumb to press the inside of your boots. You can also rotate to add pressure to the instep. You can also wear the boots on your feet and take a short walk with them to stretch them out.
- Keep the stretching process on or keep wearing them until they dry and cool. Avoid using a heat source to speed up the process as this can damage the leather.
- When finishing, condition your boots with a leather conditioner (like mink oil).
- Inexpensive, less messy
- Close to custom fit
- Slow drying process
- Can lower the quality of the leather
Moisturize Your Boots
If you don’t want to risk damaging your new Luccheses with hot steam or water, you can use leather conditioner and oil to gently massage them.
When well-treated with moisturizer, the leather will become softened and easy to stretch out with fewer cracks.
You should only apply this procedure on your boots every 3 to 6 months. Over-moisturizing can result in a saggy or unattractive look to them.
To stretch your cowboy boots with leather conditioner and moisturizer:
- Use a clean rag to apply leather conditioner or oil on your boots in a gentle, circular motion. You can use a conditioner like Shaphir Medaille d’Or Leather Renovator or mink oil.
- Use a horsehair brush to swipe on the boots to make sure that all areas have been treated. Then, leave the boots air-dried.
- When the boots have been dried, wear them and take a few walks to stretch the material.
- Hard to cause any damage to your boots
- Some dark oils (like mink oil) can improve fade leather
- Can’t apply many times in a short period
- Can’t stretch too much
Stretch Cowboy Boots With Ice
Water expands when it is frozen. You can use frozen water (or ice) to passively break in the height of your boots’ toe box.
This method can be applied in small increments and can size up to 0.5 sizes per boot. However, you need to repeat this procedure multiple times to get your desired fit.
To stretch your boots with ice:
- Fill the bottom of a Ziploc or a sealable bag with water (½ to ¾ full).
- Seal the water bag and pull as much air as possible, so that the water can’t leak out when you turn the bag upside down.
- Put the bag into the toe box of your boots. You can use some old socks or crumpled newspaper/paper behind this bag to secure the bag in place.
- Put your boot with the bag in the freezer for at least 8 hours (overnight). The bag will expand and stretch your boots.
- Thaw the bag, then remove it gently. You can repeat this procedure with more water in the bag if you want more space in the toe box.
- Passive stretching
- No cracks on your boots
- Take time
- Some boots can’t fit the freezer
- Can only stretch the toe box area
With Alcohol And Vaseline
You can use Vaseline and alcohol to break in your new cowboy boots as follow:
- Make a stretching solution by mixing isopropyl alcohol and water with a ratio of 1:3.
- Wear thick socks or a pair of socks on each foot. Spray your boots with your solution. You can use a boot stretcher as an alternative.
- Apply Vaseline on the boots to prevent cracks. Then wear your boots until they are dry. The moisture from the stretching solution and the heat from your feet will extend the leather.
- When the boots have been dried, use a soft cotton ball of alcohol to remove excess Vaseline.
- Safe and easy to apply at home with a low cost
- Take time to walk in
Use Your Hairdryer
If you feel too tight on top of your foot, you can apply the heat from the hairdryer to relax the leather and make the boots bigger. The hairdryer can prevent the sticking nature of leather, so your boots’ shape can’t be affected.
Apply the heat on the outer leather coats (except the rubber sole) also makes your feet warm in cold weather. When the boots are warm and the leather has been softened, wear your boots and walk around to stretch them.
Be careful when using the hairdryer, as leather is a flammable material. Regulate the heat from the front to the back of your boots to make the boots stretch evenly.
After finishing the work, apply a leather moisturizer or oil to keep the boots shiny and attractive.
- Easy to apply at home
- Warm and cozy in winter
- Dangerous; need even heat regulation
- Need to spend time on the work
Use A Warm Bag Of Water
You can use one or several bags of warm water to tuck into your cowboy boots. The number of bags depends on how much you want your boots to stretch.
Remember not to soak the boots in warm water bags for too long, since the fabric can become permanently damaged. Plus, warm water can lessen the turgidity of leather quickly.
- Can customize the level of stretching
- Simple, easy to practice at home
- The leather can be damaged or decrease in quality and durability
How To Stretch The Instep And Ankle Of Cowboy Boots?
If you can’t find boots for high arches, you can stretch your regular cowboy boots slightly to make them easier on you. You can use a high-quality boot stretcher as mentioned above, or use a baseball or basketball to perform this stretching job.
To stretch your boots with a baseball:
- Prepare a piece of leather, then double fold it, and slide it inside your boots.
- Put a baseball inside the boots, above the piece of leather, right in the instep area.
- Use a rubber mallet to wail on two sides of the baseball for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Leave the boots with the ball inside overnight to let the leather stretch gradually.
- On the next day, take the ball out and try on your boots to see the result.
To stretch your boots with a basketball:
- Get all air out of the basketball, and tuck it inside your boots.
- Pump the ball up, then leave the ball inside the boots for 2 to 3 days.
- Get the air out of the basketball again, then take it out. Wear your boots to see the result.
Useful Tips On Stretching Cowboy Boots
- If you stretch your cowboy boots with liquids, you should leave them air-dry in a well-ventilated area.
- Never soak your boots in liquid to stretch them, since this will ruin them.
- You can try the traction method – finding the highest walking path and donning.
- Try kneeling to spread your boots.
- If you don’t have time for this job, or you are afraid of leather damage, you should hire a professional who can stretch the boots for you.
1. How Many Weeks Does It Take To Stretch A New Pair Of Cowboy Boots?
It takes approximately one to two weeks to stretch a break-in pair of cowboy boots. Leather is pliable and made to stretch and mold. You can wear your boots with thick socks to speed up the stretching process.
2. How Much Can You Stretch Your Cowboy Boots Safely?
You can stretch your cowboy boots safely up to ¼ of their initial size, depending on the boot’s brand.
But cowboy boots can only stretch if they fit your feet, and some areas of them can’t be stretched. You should measure the boots’ shafts, instep, and width before buying them.
3. How Much Does It Cost On Average To Stretch Cowboy Boots?
If you hire a professional to stretch your cowboy boots (for men or women), you will have to pay from $15 to $20. Stretching the width and length of the boots can cost you $18, and stretching the boots’ calves can cost around $45.
When buying new cowboy boots, you should measure your foot’s length and width to get your exact sizing. And if you have any mistake in picking your boot size, knowing how to stretch cowboy boots with these above methods lets you customize your fitting at home fast and conveniently.
Come what may, leather boots will be stretched over time. The more you wear them to work, school, or house chores, the faster they will become bigger and wider.