You’re at the thrift store and find the perfect pair of shoes. They match your style, your personality, and they look great on you. One problem — they’re a little too small for you.
You bought them anyway because they were so cute, but they’re too uncomfortable to wear for long. It’s a shame your perfect pair of shoes have to sit in your closet where no one can see them.
That is — unless you get a shoe stretcher. But among the myriad shoe stretchers out there, you might be scratching your head wondering which one to invest in. No one needs multiple shoe stretchers, after all, so the first one you buy should be your last.
Fear not — we’ve provided the ultimate list of the best shoe stretchers you can buy for cheap.
Top Three Choices for Shoe Stretcher
FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher – Best Overall
HOUNDSBAY”Bulldog” Heavy-Duty Shoe Stretcher – Premium Product
Miserwe Shoe Stretcher – Best Value
But first, we need to educate you on what shoe stretchers are and how to use them properly.
What Are Shoe Stretchers?
Shoe stretchers save you time, money, and energy. Instead of using other methods to stretch your shoes, such as wetting it with water and loosening it with a blow dryer or using different materials to attempt to extend the shoe, the shoe stretcher does it for you.
A shoe stretcher looks kind of like a mannequin foot mixed with a robot. The base of the shoe stretcher looks like a peeled potato roughly in the shape of the human foot. It’s elongated yet wide and should snuggly fit when placed into a shoe.
But at the posterior end of the potato is a ridge that fits against the heel of the shoe. And past that ridge is a method for you to lengthen the space between the toe part of the shoe tree and the heel ridge, letting you extend the shoe.
Some shoe trees also have widening functions, so that you can make the shoe roomier around your toes.
Shoe trees are excellent for people with wide feet. Shoes rarely conform to the wide foot, meaning your outer toes will get smashed against the shoe’s exterior edge, which can be uncomfortable if not painful.
But pop a shoe stretcher in there for the night, and you’ll feel rapid improvements. Not only will there be more room in your shoe, but you didn’t actively have to make the shoe stretch. With a shoe tree, you can let the shoe stretch overnight, doing zero work to improve your comfort with your shoes.
What Are Shoe Trees?
Shoe trees are devices that help shoes maintain their shape when the shoes’ owner isn’t wearing them. This is most applicable to men’s leather dress shoes.
These types of shoes crease easily when the owner isn’t wearing them, as the leather can collapse in on itself over time — especially when the leather is dry. Thus, the empty cavity in the shoe needs to be filled to help the leather keep its shape. Shoe trees help fill that role.
Shoe stretchers can be used as shoe trees to maintain the shape of your shoes. You have to make sure that the shoe stretcher is not, in fact, set on a size larger than your shoe size to avoid accidentally stretching your shoe when you didn’t mean to.
Otherwise, most shoe stretchers double as shoe trees when set to lower settings, allowing you to stretch new shoes when needed and help boost the lifespan of your current ones. You’ll see us refer to shoe stretchers as shoe trees depending on the context in which you use the device.
What Are the Advantages of Buying Shoe Stretchers?
The advantages of shoe stretchers are two-fold.
The first is that, aptly, you get to stretch your shoes. If you have wide shoes, this can be the most significant advantage of all, as people with wide feet often feel the discomfort of ill-fitting shoes straight out of the box. They often have to wear their shoes much longer than people with narrow feet to break the shoes in, as there’s more material to conform to the shape of the foot.
The second advantage is that you get a shoe tree to keep the shape of your shoe when you’re not wearing them. You don’t have to stuff paper towels, toilet paper, or socks into your leather shoes to help them keep their shape and avoid creasing.
Just pop your shoe stretcher in there, and it will mimic the shape of your foot without the movement that leads to creasing, prolonging the leather’s longevity.
The third advantage is that shoe stretchers used as shoe trees can help your shoes smell better, but it depends on the material your shoe stretcher is made of.
Cedar is a common material shoe trees are made out of, as cedar is not only aromatically pleasing but absorbs moisture as well.
The reason shoes smell is because of the sweat your feet produce. The moisture gets into the material of the shoe, such as canvas or leather, and moistens the material’s surface. Bacteria live on that surface and produce an odor. The more your feet sweat, the smellier your shoes.
So to get rid of the shoe’s smell, you have to get rid of moisture. If you’re wearing leather shoes, you need to use a shoe tree anyway to help your shoes keep their shape, so using cedar shoe trees help metaphorically kill two birds with one stone. The shoe trees not only help prevent creasing in your shoes but make them smell better as well.
What to Know When Buying a Shoe Stretcher
First and foremost, know how much money you want to shell out on your shoe stretcher. There are some higher-end cedar ones that not only keep the shape of your shoe and help stretch them when needed but help your shoes smell great AND last a long time due to their higher-quality construction.
However, as with anything, these higher quality shoe stretchers will cost more upfront, even though you’re bound to get years of use out of them.
If you don’t want to shell out nearly half a hundred dollars on some shoe stretchers, though, you can buy cheaper ones made out of plastic. Plastic won’t absorb moisture, thus preventing smells, but it will still effectively stretch your shoes and help them maintain their shape. Since plastic is easier to break than wood, it’s likely these shoe stretchers won’t last the test of time.
Thus, know how much money you want to spend on your shoe stretcher, as that decision will determine the material comprising the shoe stretcher.
Second, know your rough shoe size. Shoe stretchers tend to work on a variety of sizes, but if you have small feet, like a size four, for example, you can’t use shoe stretchers intended for larger sizes without breaking your shoes. You’ll have to look in the children’s section for those shoes.
However, if you have shoes designed for narrow feet and want only to lengthen the shoe, you have to make sure you don’t buy a shoe stretcher designed for wide feet. If you accidentally get that kind of shoe stretcher, you could end up making your shoes too big to wear, and effectively render a good pair of shoes unwearable.
That’s no fun. Use common sense when buying shoe stretchers and know your rough shoe size. Shoe stretchers will then go up a half to full size, perhaps even more. But they can’t work miracles and stretch your shoe more than about two sizes (and that’s getting lucky).
Do You Even Need a Shoe Stretcher?
No, you don’t always need a shoe stretcher — but they make your life a lot easier.
You can theoretically stretch your shoes out the old-fashioned method — wearing thick socks and taking a stroll around the neighborhood for about an hour. The thick socks and walking motion stretch the shoe out, and you should be good to go.
But who wants to wear tight, pressing shoes on their feet wrapped in hot, sweaty socks for an hour? That’s no fun. There are better ways to use that time than to use it stretching out shoes.
You could also spray shoe stretching spray on your shoes and gently pull the material to loosen it up. There are other methods to stretch your shoes as well, such as wetting the shoe’s material and blowing on it with a blow dryer to lengthen the footwear.
The blow dryer method is quite common, but the heat could damage the shoe’s material and lead to more harm than good. And the shoe stretching spray could stain or otherwise damage the shoe.
Besides, the common denominator among all these alternative shoe stretching methods is that they involve your input to make them happen. You have to sit there with the blow dryer and sink nearby to continually wet your shoe and blow dry it a size larger. You have to spend a quarter to a half-hour trying to get results that aren’t guaranteed to last.
A shoe tree is a long-term solution that lets you save time. Rather than returning to the sink, blow dryer in hand, every time your shoes start to constrict again, all you have to do is pop the shoe tree back in the shoe overnight, and the shoe should be stretched out again.
It took you about three seconds (ten, max, if you’re especially clumsy) to put the shoe tree in the shoe. But it would take fifteen minutes, perhaps thirty, even an hour to use other shoe stretching methods on your shoes.
Shoes want to bounce back to their standard size, so you’ll have to repeat these shoe stretching methods often. But with the shoe tree, you save yourself time and energy while wearing comfortable shoes.
So to answer the above question, no, you don’t need a shoe stretcher used as a shoe tree. But we’ve explained why you might want one.
Without further adieu, here is a list of good shoe stretchers to check out. Most on the list double as shoe trees.
Best Shoe Stretcher
The FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher calls itself a two-way stretcher, but it’s four. It stretches in all cardinal directions, helping you expand the length and width of your shoes.
The shoes come with two manual knobs to manipulate. One is a silver disk by the heel block, with lengthens the shoe vertically. The other is a black knob at the southern edge of the shoe with widens the toe block.
The shoe also comes with many different holes into which you can attach the bunion plugs. With the personalized bunion placement, you get spot relief from the painful pressure afflicting your augmented foot shape. In total, there are 16 holes on the shoe in which you place the bunion or corn plugs.
Each FootFitter shoe stretcher is designed to fit both the left and right shoe, meaning you don’t have to buy two shoe stretchers if you don’t want them. Sure, you have to stretch only one shoe at a time, but you can supplement the time spent with the money saved from only buying one shoe stretcher.
Each shoe stretcher comes with simple, comprehensive instructions in the user manual, which allow you to get the most usage out of your stretchers. Most people don’t read the instruction manual, but a helpful guide is there for you in case you need it.
The FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher is made from German harvested beechwood — beautifully collected to not only create a sexy-looking shoe stretcher but one that wicks away moisture when left in the shoe for an extended period. If used as a shoe tree, this FootFitter can help prevent the build-up of over that affects many shoe wearers.
You can use the FootFitter on shoes made from vinyl, leather, canvas, suede, fabric, and nubuck materials. With the stretcher itself highly customizable and its ability to fit a wide range of shoes, there’s a reason the FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher is a bit pricier than the other shoe stretchers on this list.
- High-quality wood build
- Metal rod
- Stretches both length and width of shoe
- Fits both left and right shoe
- You can only buy one shoe stretcher at a time
- Wood may splinter after years of use.
The Houndsbay “Bulldog” stretcher is made from heavy-duty german beech wood and thick steel, meaning you’ll not only have a high-quality shoe stretcher but a long-lasting one as well. These shoe stretchers are used by both casual shoe users and professionals alike. If you want to buy one shoe stretcher and have it last a long time, the Houndsbay could be it.
The Bulldog shoe stretchers help expand the length and width of your shoe, which gives you the perfect stretch in all angles for maximum length and width. In just eight hours, you get a long-lasting stretch that perfects the fit of your shoes. No more pinches and blisters — you have to make sure to pop the shoe stretchers in your shoes overnight and enjoy the next morning.
You’ll notice along the smooth exterior of the shoe are six holes. You place the bunion plugs in there if you need them, allowing you to get the best fit for your feet if you have corns, bunions, other annoying pressure points in your shoes.
There’s a trend towards buying products that don’t have plastic. Not only is it better for the environment in the long run, but it provides an aesthetic that pleases your eye — a rustic, vintage look that brings the connotation of log cabins or sipping whiskey by the lit fireplace. The Houndsbay stretcher could be an investment for long-term shoe care.
While only one Houndsbay is included upon purchase, it’s designed to fit both the left and right shoes. You can theoretically only buy one to save money, but you’d need to stretch over twice as long a period to be able to wear your shoes. Consider purchasing a second Houndsbay to stretch both shoes at the same time.
- Wooden shoe build
- Easy to use turning knobs
- Included bunion plugs
- No added pouch to keep accessories in place
Coming in as the last recommended product, the Miserwe shoe stretcher gives you the most bang for your buck. It’s on the cheaper end of the products in this list but still delivers what it promises — both general and targeted shoe stretching.
The Miserwe shoe stretchers encourage the perfect fitting shoe. It both widens and lengthens the shoe. The yellow part expands east and west for the widening effect, while the nob allows at the heel block turns to lengthen the shoe. After developing the shoe stretcher to the desired amount, leave the stretcher in your shoe for 24 hours for longer-lasting results.
Not only can you expand the size and fit of the shoe, but you can also create targeted stretching to alleviate the pain from bunions and other foot abnormalities.
You can fit these stretchers in a variety of shoes, such as high heels below six centimeters, sandals, flats, sports shoes, canvas shoes, and leather shoes. However, know that the Miserwe shoe stretchers won’t fit boots, especially long boots, so you’ll have to find other means to stretch those.
The company says the best time to use the shoe stretcher is with new shoes to help break them in or to loosen up older shoes you find too tight.
Included in the shoe are eight bunion plugs, two high pad plugs in each shoe stretcher to accommodate wide feet, a carrying bag, and the various inserts to place the bunion plugs and relieve the pain of blisters, corns, or bunions.
The Miserwe shoe stretchers are made from sturdy and durable polyurethane plastic and a premium tool shaft, meaning they’re not going to break anytime soon. The shoe stretchers foot-like shape allows them to accommodate the size of most shoes and will enable you to get the perfect fit.
The company provides a warranty for one and a half years after buying the product, so if you have issues with your shoe stretcher during that time, let them know. They can fix most problems with the Miserwe shoe stretcher, but they ask that you buy the correct size shoe stretcher and read the product description carefully after purchase.
- Comes with two shoe stretchers
- Bunion plugs included
- Heal block feels flimsy
The Eachway shoe stretchers provide stretching in four directions: they provide increased with on the east and west of the show while increasing the north and south lengths of the shoe as well. New shoes are constricted in all angles, shoe trees expanding in all four directions help break in your shoes the fastest.
The Eachway shoe stretchers do all the work with little manual input, improving the fit of your footwear if you have bunions, calluses, corns, or other medical issues on your feet that cause them to put pressure on some parts of your foot.
Every shoe stretcher from Eachway is made from high-quality ABS plastic, with a long steel shaft comprising the rod. The construction of the shoe stretchers means they’re not only reliable but durable, serving you for at least ten years, according to the manufacturer.
These shoe expanders can be used on two pairs of shoes. Not only that, but the Eachway shoe stretchers come in aesthetically pleasing packaging and a canvas bag to store the stretchers when not in use. With the canvas holding bag, the shoe stretchers are protected from dust and moisture.
Out of the box, you get the two shoe stretchers, eight bunion plugs, one shoehorn, and two heighten pads, and one shoe bag. If your shoes fit fine, you can give the Eachway shoe stretcher to a friend or loved one. The company offers a hassle-free 100% money-back guarantee if you don’t like your shoes. If for some reason you’re not satisfied with the shoe stretchers, contact the company, and they’ll likely refund you.
Whether you want to use them on suede, leather, loafers, sandals, flats, sneakers, or a variety of other shoes, the Eachway shoe stretchers have got you covered. The only type of shoe they don’t recommend stretching is a pair of long boots. Be sure to choose the right fit — men’s or women’s, and you can be on your way to better-fitting shoes.
- Included bunion plugs
- Four-way stretching
- Added shoehorn
- Hook design could hinder knob turning process
For another great pair of wooden shoe stretchers, consider the KevenAnna Premium Shoe Stretchers and Shoe Tree.
They’re made from unfinished pine, meaning they’ll absorb the moisture from your shoe when placed inside them. If you’re worried about your feet smelling, buying shoe stretchers made from pine can help remove the moisture and thus remove the smell from your shoes.
The shoe stretchers have twelve holes in which you can apply the four bunion plugs in a variety of configurations. Using the bunion plugs is the best way to get spot-relief for the pressure points in your shoe, so that you can feel the most comfortable wearing your shoe.
You can stretch a variety of shoes, though it would be wise not to use these stretchers with boots. For stretching, place the stretcher inside the shoe for 24-36 hours.
The sizing for these shoe stretchers doesn’t come in traditional shoe sizes. Instead, they come in small, medium, or large. Small is for woman’s shoe sizes 3.5 to 7, the medium is for women’s 8 to 9.5, and large is for women’s 8.5 to 10.
The KevenAnna keeps your shoe’s shape, and wicks moisture — all at a low price. It’s a good budget shoe stretcher for those who don’t want a plastic one.
- Unfinished pine absorbs moisture
- Added bunion plugs for spot stretching
- Fits a variety of shoe sizes
- Wood may crack and splinter over time
Another tremendous wooden shoe stretcher from EST. However, this one only fits certain shoe sizes — 9 through 13 for both men and women. If you want an efficient way to prevent blisters while ensuring the shoe stretcher you buy will fit your feet, consider this shoe stretcher from EST.
The shoe stretchers are made from wood with a metal rod in the middle of it and plastic plugs. They’ll work with high heels, leather shoes, sandals, flats, and a variety of other shoes. The instructions are so simple a child could use them. Once adjusted, place the EST shoe stretchers in your shoes and forget about them.
If you want a budget option as someone who only occasionally uses a shoe stretcher, you don’t have to break the bank for more expensive options. The EST will help stretch your shoes while expanding and help keep their shape when not.
- Smooth wood absorbs moisture and smells
- Sturdy design
- Added bunion plugs for more accurate stretching
- Wood could dry and grow rough over time
If you have a lot of heels but are tired of coming home with blisters every night, you should consider getting a shoe stretcher designed for high heels. XYH delivers a premium high heel stretcher designed to make the already uncomfortable shoe a little more bearable.
Place the stretcher inside your high heels and twist the rod clockwise. The shoe stretcher will expand the shoe, and you must leave in the shoe stretcher either overnight or for twelve to twenty-four hours. The longer you leave the stretchers in there, the longer-lasting the stretch.
The stretchers are made from a durable build — polyurethane plastic with a steel shaft. There’s no heel block to the stretchers, so they focus on stretching the area around the toes where most pain occurs. When used for a day, the shoe stretcher expands your shoe a half to a full size up in most cases.
The XYH shoe stretchers work with leather and suede shoes, as well as shoes made from natural materials. The stretchers are sold as one pair in the USA sizes 4.5-11 and have a 90-day warranty out of the box. Feel free to contact the manufacturer if you have any questions or concerns.
If you want to stop wearing painful high heels and the luxury of getting spot-relief, consider getting a pair of XYH shoe stretchers.
- Shoe stretcher designed for high heels
- Effectively widens uncomfortable shoes a half to a full size up
- Included bunion plugs
- Doesn’t stretch the heel area of the shoe
While wooden shoe stretchers have their perks, their downsides could make them more trouble than they’re worth. Wooden shoes, especially one without a finished exterior, can grow rough over time as the wood splinters off. The wood can also become moldy and fail to do what they’re intended — wick moisture and smells away from your shoes.
As a result, you might want to get high-quality shoe stretchers that aren’t made from wood. Plastic is another excellent choice that won’t lose its quality over time.
LANNEY just so happens to make a good pair of plastic shoe stretchers.
These LANNEY shoe stretchers are made from ABS plastic, so they feel solid in your hand and aren’t flimsy like a lesser-quality plastic shoe stretcher. There’s no risk of a spare splinter getting lodged in your shoe or, worse, in your foot when you put on your shoes. With LANNEY’s artistry, you can ensure your shoe stretchers get the job done.
The stretchers work in four directions: increase the width of the shoe, prolong the length, raise the in-step or ramp, and provide spot stretching for bunions and other foot maladies.
To use the stretcher, turn the metal handle clockwise to make the toe box widen. Turn the wheel knob to lengthen the shoe. Place the bunion plugs in the proper wholes and apply the foot pads for maximum shoe stretching comfort. Just be sure to leave the stretcher inside the shoes for at least 24 hours.
- Four-way stretching
- Comes with two stretchers for simultaneous shoe stretching
- Included bag to keep accessories in
- Not useable for boots
You might be thinking, “A shoe tree isn’t the same as a shoe stretcher! A shoe tree only keeps the shape of a shoe!”
And you would be correct. While a shoe stretcher can be a shoe tree, a shoe tree isn’t necessarily a shoe stretcher. Except the Johnston & Murphy cedar shoe tree is.
See, a shoe tree provides the right amount of tension around the shoe’s material to help keep it from constricting. Gravity’s pressure makes the shoe want to collapse in on itself, much like how a canvas bag will look crumpled if you through it on the floor. Without your foot inside of it, the pressure the shoe places on itself can cause micro creases that slowly grow over time.
That’s where the shoe tree comes in. It won’t stretch your shoes up a size, but it will stretch the shoe’s materials to stop it from collapsing in on itself. That’s why you need the shoe trees to help keep your shoe’s shape.
Cedar happens to be one of the best woods you can use. The wood is high quality and won’t flake and splinter like lesser trees. Cedar absorbs moisture and smells nice as well, improving the odor of your shoes. These cedar shoe trees will protect leather, fabric, stitching, and soles from moisture damage.
It will also smooth out linings and insoles, making the shoes more comfortable to wear, in addition to smoothing out the harmful creases and wrinkles that cause the leather to age prematurely.
Each purchase comes with two substantial wood shoe trees — each made in the USA. If you want a high-quality shoe tree that provides a slight stretch to your shoes, the Johnston & Murphy Full Cedar Shoe Tree is a great choice.
- Cedar both smells good
- Helps keep shoe shape
- Prevents creases from forming in shoe
- Provides gentle, consistent stretching
- Cannot stretch shoes up a half to full size
Made from pine, the high-quality H-Risen shoe stretchers add length and width to your shoes. The wood won’t splinter or grow rough over time, ensuring no harm done to you or your shoes.
Expand the shoe stretchers to the right amount and leave them in your shoes overnight. If needed, you can use the bunion plugs to provide extra stretch where you need it.
Size small fits men’s 4.5 – 6.5 and women’s 4.5 – 7.5. Medium is suitable for men’s 5-8.5 and women’s 7-9.5. Large should be used for sizes of men’s 8-13 and women’s 9-13. Don’t get a larger size in an attempt to get more stretching — you could end up damaging your shoe.
The shoe trees are designed to fit both the left and right shoes, meaning you can use just one stretcher for both feet. H-Rise guarantees high-quality shoes that only provides added comfort when wearing your shoes.
- Three-way stretching: length, width, and spot-stretching for bunions
- Wooden construction
- Wood may crack over time
These shoe stretchers are made from strong ABS plastic, allowing long-term stretching for years to come. The shoes stretch both the length and width of your shoes in addition to providing spot-stretching for bunions and foot pads for increasing the shoe’s ramp.
The two-way stretcher can be used for loafers, sneakers, leather and dress shoes, golf shoes, ballet shoes, and a variety of others. Each set comes with the two ABS plastic stretchers, eight bunion plugs, two footpads, and a storage pouch to hold all these items.
Just place the expanded stretchers inside the shoes overnight for the best results. These shoe stretchers can improve the lives of people with wide feet in particular, as most shoe companies don’t make their product with these people in mind. There’s no more need to tolerate ill-fitting shoes.
The ends of the shoe rods even come with hooks so you can hang your shoes up when stretching, ensuring they’re out of the way while getting the job done. For a high-quality pair of shoe stretchers that won’t break the bank, consider the StyledRight Unisex Shoe Stretcher.
- Four-way stretching
- Comes with included storage pouch for accessories and shoe stretchers
- Silver hooks at the end could impede knob turning
The best shoe stretchers stretch vertically, horizontally, and have added options for bunions or ramp-stretching in case you need it. They also need to be easy to use and made from high-quality material, as the only thing worse than an inefficient shoe stretcher is a broken one.
From the list, we’ve chosen the three best options for people with particular needs.
The Best Overall — FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher
With its range of options, high-quality wooden build, and effective stretching method, the FootFitter Premium Professional Stretcher is worth the investment — especially if you wear lots of shoes.
The finished shoes won’t crack or splinter over time, and the high-quality metal construction feels solid to the touch. When you pick up a FootFitter, you know it’s made from quality material.
If you’re concerned about your leather shoes, in particular, you can not only stretch the shoes out but use the FootFitter as a shoe tree. If you want to stop manually stretching your shoes, getting one of these could be the better, less intensive option.
Best Premium Product — Houndsbay “Bulldog” Heavy-Duty Stretcher
At a slightly higher price, the Houndsbay “Bulldog Stretcher delivers what the FootFitter does, and then some. The Houndsbay has a variety of options to not only stretch the length and width of your shoes but have numerous bunion plugs to relieve pressure build-up in your shoes.
The Houndsbay also has a higher-quality construction, which you can tell by looking into the shoe. The hinges that hold the toe block together is shiny and shows high craftsmanship. If you buy one Houndsbay stretcher, it can last you for life.
Best Value Product — Miserwe Shoe Stretcher
The top options only have one shoe stretcher included, but the Miserwe includes two for simultaneous shoe stretching. The Miserwe is made from plastic but includes more accessories than the FootFitter and Houndsbay have while still getting the job done.
If you want a quick shoe stretching without breaking the bank, the Miserwe Shoe Stretcher fits the bill.
This comprehensive list covered some of the highest-quality shoe stretchers on the market. Take stock of your needs, and you’re sure to find the right shoe stretcher that will give you the results you want using this list.