How to Use a Shoe Stretcher - Detailed Instructions by the Experts

How to Use a Shoe Stretcher - Detailed Instructions by the Experts

You need to stretch your shoes?

Well you're in luck, because we're the experts.

In fact, you are in the home of the "Bulldog" Shoe Stretcher -- the toughest 2-way shoe stretcher on the market.

In this article, I'm going to walk you through how to stretch your shoes. I will use the Bulldog in my instructions below. But first, a few important points:

  • These instructions are for stretching Shoes, not Boots or High Heels.
  • Stretcher Spray is optional, but is not necessary.
  • The Bulldog can be used to stretch both the Right or Left Shoe. If both your shoes need stretching, you can do each side separately, or you may buy 2 stretchers.
  • This stretcher can stretch Width, Length, and "Spot Stretch" specific problem areas

Okay, so let's get started. First take a quick look at this diagram to understand the "anatomy" of our Shoe Stretcher:

Anatomy of a Shoe Stretcher

Shoe Stretcher 5 Step Instructions

Below I will break down the shoe stretching process into 5 easy steps. It's not rocket science, but you should still read carefully so you don't make mistakes and damage your shoes. At the end of this article, you can download printable PDF instructions that are even more detailed than this article.

STEP ONE - Prepare the Stretcher

Shoe Stretcher Use - Preparation

We need to fully close the shoe stretcher so we can wiggle it into your shoe before the fun begins! To do this, turn the metal "T" Handle at the back counterclockwise. That will close the Toe Block.

Next, spin the Lengthening Drum clockwise to push the Heel Block up against the Toe Block. If you don't do this, it will be difficult to fit the Heel Block into your shoe.

And finally, if you need to "target stretch" a specific local area of your shoe, insert a Bunion Plug into the stretcher in a spot that matches the problem area on your shoe (yes, it's called "Bunion Plug" - we didn't invent the name - don't laugh at us, please!).

Now you're ready for the fun to begin.

STEP TWO - Insertion. Let's Get This Stretcher into you Shoe.

Shoe Stretcher Use - Inserting into Shoe

First insert the toe block into your shoe and push it to the front. You should be able to feel it, and any plugs you attached, through the shoe leather. 

Then, while pushing the stretcher up toward the laces, swivel the Heel Block down into your shoe. This might take some wiggling and pushing down on heel material Do your best to get it in without damaging your shoe!

Now you're in. Let's Stretch!

STEP THREE - Stretch that Puppy

 Shoe Stretcher Use - How to Stretch Steps

First, no matter what kind of stretching you're doing, you need to turn the lengthening drum counterclockwise to move the heel block all the way to the back of your shoe. Otherwise no stretching will work properly.

If you are trying to stretch length, then go ahead and turn the Lengthening Drum counterclockwise some more to start to stretch your shoe from front to back. You will see and feel the tightness. Don't go too tight.

If you are not stretching the length, just leave it snug (but not tight) at the back of the heel.

Now to stretch the width, begin to turn the metal "T" Handle clockwise. This will open the Toe Block of the stretcher to stretch the width of your shoe.

Once you feel the toe block through the outside of your shoe and it feels "snug," give it a couple more cranks to achieve the optimum stretch. This step will also push any bunion plugs you attached into the side of your shoe.

Be careful not to over-stretch. Stretching too hard, too fast, could tear or damage some shoes.

STEP FOUR - Wait and Remove

Shoe Stretcher Use - How Long to Stretch Shoes with Shoe Stretcher - 8 Hours Minimum

Leave the stretcher in your shoe for at least 8 hours. The longer in your shoe, the more the fibers in the shoe leather can stretch and relax.

Now, remove the stretcher by closing it back up again and wiggling it out. In this order, turn the metal "T" Handle counterclockwise to close the toe block, and then spin the lengthening drum clockwise to push up the heel block.

Then wiggle out the heel block first, and pull out the stretcher.

STEP FIVE - Try on Your Newly Stretched Shoe

How does it fit? Much more comfortable? Or does it need some more stretching? Maybe another problem area needs to be targeted? Repeat as many times as needed.

And if you only did one side shoe (right shoe), now you can move onto the left. Remember, the bulldog can be used for the Right-side shoe or the Left-side shoe. That is why you really only need 1, although many people end up buying 2 because they like to stretch at the same time.

Need some visual shoe stretcher instructions? Here's a nice video created by Sam here at HOUNDSBAY:

12 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about How to use a Shoe Stretcher

Question 1: I'm right between the sizes of the Shoe Stretcher options, should I size up or down?
Answer: We recommend sizing down if you are between sizes. If the Shoe Stretcher is too big, then you will have a hard time fitting the Heel Block into the back of the shoe.

Question 2: Can I use a Shoe Stretcher for boots or high heels?
Answer: We do not recommend using our Bulldog for boots or high heels. But don't worry, we offer the same high-quality stretchers here for Boots, Cowboy Boots, and High Heels. For detailed instructions on How to Stretch Boots, Click Here.

Question 3: Do I need to use a Stretching Spray?
Answer: It is optional but is not necessary. If you do decide to use one, be careful and go gently as it could over-stretch the shoe.

Question 4: Can I use a Shoe Stretcher on leather sneakers?
Answer: Yes, most shoe materials will respond to a shoe stretcher. However vinyl or plastic parts may not retain the stretch as well.

Question 5: How long does it take to stretch shoes with a shoe stretcher?
Answer: About 8 hours to get results. Up to 24 hours would do well.

Question 6: How effective are Shoe Stretchers?
Answer: If the Shoe Stretcher is strong and not made of plastic, it will be very effective in stretching your shoes.

Question 7: What are the best shoe stretchers?
Answer: The best shoe stretchers are the ones that are made from thick metal and wood, because they do not break when under stress. For example, our Bulldog Shoe Stretcher is made with Stainless Steel and German Beech Hardwood.

Many of the less-expensive plastic stretchers are not strong enough to withhold the pressure of stretching a too-tight shoe, and they break. It's better to spend a little more money on a quality metal and wood stretcher so you can stretch your shoe correctly.

Question 8: Can I stretch shoes just a half size?
Answer: Yes. Using a quality shoe stretcher like the Bulldog from HOUNDSBAY can definitely stretch your shoes just a half size.

Question 9: Can I stretch shoes a whole size?
Answer: Yes, a strong wood and metal shoe stretcher like the Bulldog from HOUNDSBAY can easily stretch your shoes a whole size.

Question 10: How much to cobblers charge to stretch shoes?
Answer: A cobbler may charge $25 to $50 to stretcher shoes. Many people prefer to buy their own quality shoe stretcher to stretch their shoes in the comfort of their own home.

Question 11: How can I stretch the toes of my shoes wider?
Answer: Use a quality shoe stretcher like the Bulldog from HOUNDSBAY. It can stretch the width of your shoes, and using the included bunion plugs near the toe area, you can create more room for your toes.

Question 12: Do Shoe Trees Stretch Shoes?
Answer: No. Shoe Trees are important for maintaining, over time, the shape and quality of your shoes. They will not stretch them.

If you are looking to actually stretch your shoes to make them more comfortable, you need a strong shoe stretcher like the Bulldog from HOUNDSBAY. The stretcher is only used for 8-24 hours at a time, in an attempt to increase the shoe size.

You're Only One Stretch Away

Using a shoe stretcher is really all about making your feet more comfortable. I hope this article helps you stretch your shoes to a point where they are comfortable and you love wearing them.

If you need any help or have any questions about stretching you shoes, please contact us. We're here to help!

Fair Winds,



Shoe Stretcher inside of Shoe - Visual

About HOUNDSBAY: Headquartered in Plano, Texas, HOUNDSBAY was found in 2016 by 2 men who appreciate old style quality, and want to express this by producing premium closet accessories, valet organizers and shoe care products.

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