Shoe Care & Comfort

How to Stretch Canvas Shoes at Home

There are shoe stretching devices and sprays that can expand leather shoes easily. But, what about canvas shoes? Many times, you might read that canvas shoes can’t be stretched. Well, that isn’t necessarily true.

Canvas shoes or shoes made from synthetic materials are a bit more difficult to stretch, but it isn’t impossible. You may have to implement a few unconventional methods to get these materials to change their overall shape and size.

Most of the time, people want to stretch canvas shoes to ‘break them in.’ Shoes created from man made materials are very popular. They tend to go with just about everything, they’re comfortable, and always in style. But, if you don’t find the right size, creating a custom fit can take a bit of work.

If you don’t break in your synthetic shoes quickly, they can begin to cause problems. When this type of material rubs against your feet, it can create calluses and blisters, making it painful to walk. So, while it’s always best to make sure you’re getting the right size, you don’t have to despair if your canvas shoes are fitting a little snug. There are things you can do to get the right size.

How Can I Stretch My Canvas Shoes?

This article will focus on a few effective ways to stretch synthetic shoes without damaging them. By expanding your shoes correctly, you can prevent foot pain and other conditions. You may also save money in the long run because you can stretch either brand new, or old shoes that have never quite been ‘broken in.’

Wearing shoes, even synthetic shoes, which don’t fit properly may lead to painful and unsightly foot conditions. Don’t feel as though you have to deal with discomfort. You could be putting yourself at risk for things like bunions or toenail fungus in the process. There are shoe stretchers with bunion attachments available, but prevention is always better than the cure.

You may not be able to use all the same methods on man-made materials that you can with things like leather. But, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find a comfortable fit with canvas shoes. Let’s take a look at some of the best methods for finding a better fit.

Finding the Perfect Fit

It may seem counterproductive, but one of the best things you can do when buying new canvas shoes is to get them about a half size too small. The material will stretch out over time with regular wear. Your ‘traditional’ shoe size may end up being too big, because of this.

Once canvas stretches out too much, it’s difficult to get it back to its proper size. This can cause them to slip off your feet. To keep them on, your toes have to grab hold of the shoe. If you’ve ever worn flip-flops, they do the same thing. This can put an unnecessary strain on the nerves in your feet and cause even more pain. So, to get the perfect fit, start smaller and apply these expanding techniques.

If you’re unsure about the right sizing, talk to a professional shoe salesman to get the best fit while you’re still in the store. They may suggest a smaller size than what you’re used to, so you can stretch out the shoe for a more personal fit.

Step-by-Step Guide to Stretching Synthetic Shoes

Follow this easy process to stretch out your canvas or synthetic shoes. When done correctly, this should allow your shoes to conform to your perfect size without over-stretching. That will make for a comfortable fit that you can enjoy for a long time. Shoes made from man-made materials are typically designed to be more casual for everyday wear. Making sure they fit properly will allow you to wear them comfortably as often as you’d like.

  1. Ensure that there are no metal parts to the shoes, even trace amounts.
  2. Place the pair of shoes in the microwave and turn on high for 30 seconds (no longer!).
  3. Be careful when removing the shoes. It may require potholders to take them out safely.
  4. Set your shoes on the floor and allow them to cool for 30 seconds.
  5. Slide your feet into the shoes. They should feel slightly warm, but not hot.
  6. Walk around with your feet in the shoes. Be sure to move your toes back and forth, and even ‘squat’ to stretch out the heel. The more you can stretch them while the material is warm, the better.

The heat from the microwave should help the materials conform to your feet specifically for a custom fit. If, after trying this method, the shoes are still too tight, try the following:

  1. Put on a pair of extra thick socks, and slip your feet into the shoes.
  2. Turn your hair dryer onto a ‘heat’ setting and point directly toward the tightest areas of the material. Don’t get too close to the material itself, or you may burn your skin.
  3. As you feel the heat start to soften the material, bend your toes and wiggle your feet to get a proper stretch. Flex your feet until the shoes start to feel more comfortable.
  4. Remove the socks and try the shoes on. Repeat the process if necessary.

Stretch your favorite pair of canvas shoes

Using Ice to Expand Shoes Safely

Another popular method with canvas shoes is to stretch them out with ice. You can do this with all different types of materials. It just so happens it works well on synthetics, and won’t damage the shoe itself when done properly.

To try this method, fill two small food storage bags with water. Make sure they are sealed tightly to prevent leaks. Place the bags inside the shoes, making sure they reach down to the toe area. Place them in the freezer overnight.

In the morning, take the shoes and bags out, and allow them to thaw before removing. Your shoes should have a bit more ‘wiggle room’ for your toes, making them less painful to wear.

Will a Shoe Stretcher Work?

Most shoe stretchers are designed to expand materials like leather or suede. While stretching out canvas or other synthetic materials isn’t impossible, it’s much harder because these materials are far less elastic.

If you only want to stretch out canvas shoes, you probably shouldn’t go out and purchase a shoe stretching device. However, if you already have one on hand and want to try it on different materials, the important thing is to be patient. It may not work as well on your sneakers or casual shoes as it does on dress shoes.

If you do want the best results from using a shoe stretcher on canvas, be sure to use a shoe stretching liquid. One of the best available is the Kiwi SELECT Universal Shoe Stretch Spray. A stretching spray will help to soften the materials of your shoe so your feet or a shoe tree can expand the footwear safely. It may take several repeat processes with a stretching device and spray to find the right fit for your synthetic shoes.

Is It Safe to Use a Stretching Spray on Canvas?

It’s always a good idea to do a ‘spot test’ on synthetic shoes before spraying them all over. Man-made materials tend to be more porous and can easily discolor. If your shoes are made of fabric, try to spray a small amount of the solution in a discrete spot. If you don’t notice any staining or discoloring, it should be safe to use the spray all over.

Not all shoe stretching liquids are created equal. If you don’t use the Kiwi SELECT spray, be sure the liquid you choose is suitable for different types of materials. These sprays are typically designed to soften material enough for them to expand. Most man-made materials are already soft enough to be stretched without this extra help. But, if you feel as though your shoes will benefit from an extra boost, be sure to find a spray that won’t damage them in the process.

What If I Stretch My Shoes Too Much?

One of the risks of stretching out synthetic shoes is over-expanding them. Not only will they become loose, but this can create more friction and blisters, as well as strain on your feet. The stretching methods listed in this article are designed to give you a perfect custom fit, not make your shoes too big.

If, however, your canvas shoes have gotten to be too loose, there is a safe method you can use to ‘shrink’ them a bit.

To make your shoes fit tighter, spray them with water until they are fully moistened inside and out. Then, place in a warm dryer and let the cycle run for about 25 minutes. When you remove your shoes, they should be slightly smaller.

For some people, finding the perfect fit with fabric shoes can require a lot of trial and error of different stretching and shrinking methods. Thankfully, synthetic shoes are quite resilient and can hold up to these methods until you find the right fit.

Is It Safe to Stretch Shoes Made of Fabric?

Shoes made from synthetic materials are designed to be broken in over time. Unfortunately, during that time you could be putting yourself at risk for a lot of pain and even potential foot conditions. If a pair of shoes doesn’t fit properly, you likely won’t wear them enough to break them in.

You may have read that it’s impossible to stretch out canvas shoes. That isn’t true. It may take different methods to expand man-made shoes, but you can stretch them to your perfect fit by utilizing some of the processes discussed above.

Shoes made from fabric are usually more casual and meant to be worn regularly. Don’t feel as though you have to live with tight, painful shoes as you break them in. Whether you use heat, a Footfitter Premium Professional 2 Way Shoe Stretcher, or a DIY method, stretching canvas shoes safely can save you money, time, and unnecessary foot pain!

If you have a pair of shoes that have been causing you trouble, give one of these suggestions a try. You may be surprised at how quickly they work to customize your shoes to your feet. Once you know how to stretch your shoes at home, you’ll feel more confident when it comes time to buy a new pair that you’ll always be able to end up with a perfect fit.