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How to Stretch & Soften Leather Sandals

Posted by Jones Bootmaker on

How to Stretch & Soften Leather Sandals

It’s a wonderful feeling, buying a new pair of leather sandals. They are a classic staple of many wardrobes and an incredibly comfortable and versatile option for summer footwear. In time, leather sandals soften to the shape of your feet and become your comfiest go-to footwear. Leather sandals are also very long-lasting, so they are always a practical investment. 

New shoes take time to break in and leather sandals are no exception to the rule. However, there is a sure-fire way to break in your leather sandals a little quicker. Whether you need to stretch your leather sandals to make a little more space for wider feet, or you just want to know how to break in leather sandals for general comfort, there are a few key tips you need to remember before you get started. 


First, double check the material of the sandal and the care instructions on the label. Leather sandals are usually made of good quality materials and depending on the type of manufacturing process and style, different leather sandals may have different care options – this advice is not a one-size-fits-all, you should always check the label. 

If you want to know how to soften leather sandals fast, then read on to get to know how to get past the blisters and jump straight to the comfy!


How to stretch leather sandals?


Can you stretch leather sandals? You absolutely can, but if you’re looking to know specifically how to stretch leather sandal straps, then first consider how much you need your sandals stretching. Different options will gain varying results, so be careful not to go full blast and over stretch your new leather sandals! You want to take the time to mould your sandals into the perfect shape. 

To stretch leather sandals, you will need to use a couple of tools– all of which you can likely find around the house. One of the most effective methods to stretch leather sandals is to use a hair dryer. Heat is an amazing and easy resource to help stretch leather. Simply use the hairdryer to blow warm air onto the sandal straps, be sure to keep it at around 30cm or more from the sandal so as not to risk any damage. We find it works best on a medium heat and in short regular bursts. You can even stuff the leather sandal with rolled up socks or scrunched newspaper to make the stretching even more effective, but we recommend doing so slowly to avoid over stretching. Move the hairdryer around the sandal straps to ensure even distribution of heat and be careful of any metal detailing that will become very hot under the heated air, this will burn if you catch it! Once cooled enough to handle, but still warm, pop those sandals on and walk a few laps to help stretch them to the perfect size.


How to soften leather sandals? 


If you’d like to know how to make your leather sandals softer, then there are a few very easy solutions to come by. When any leather item is first purchased, it is naturally quite stiff and can be unmalleable to begin with. Investing in a leather conditioner can help resolve this issue swiftly. Be sure to check the fabric of your sandals and the care instructions to see if conditioner is a suitable option. It is always best to patch test the conditioner in an inconspicuous place on the shoe. Once the patch test is complete, you can use a soft cloth with the leather conditioner applied to it and start to massage into the sandal. This method may only be needed a couple of times and may even require a little elbow grease, but it is a fantastic and speedy way to get your leather sandals beautifully softened.


How to widen leather sandals?


There are two reasons as to why you may want to widen leather sandals. Either they are a narrow-fit style, or you may have wider feet and find it difficult to find perfectly fitting footwear.

If you find you regularly struggle to find a wider fitting shoe, then being able to widen sandals could be a saviour for you. Widening leather sandals is best done with a specific apparatus. If you regularly struggle to find shoes that are a comfortable width for you, then investing in a shoe stretcher could be the key to opening all your footwear opportunities. Leaving a shoe stretcher in your sandal, or any shoe, overnight could be all it takes to have that Cinderella moment when you come to wear it the next day.


5 tips to break in sandals at home


Even when you have used a heat treatment or used specific tools to soften and stretch leather sandals, you might still feel the pinch when you first come to wear them. Do not fear. This is quite natural with any new items and easily amendable. ‘Breaking in’ your leather sandals can take no time at all, and the investment is worth it for those comfy walks in your newly fitted footwear. If you’re ready to break in the new pair of sandals, then follow these quick and easy suggestions.


Wear your sandals around the house


This one is an oldie but goodie. Wear your new leather sandals around the house. Walking around for 15 – 20 min in your home can be more efficient than heading straight into the great outdoors. Another bonus of this method, is that it gives you the opportunity to suss out where your new shoe may start to give you a pinch and therefore give you chance to take them off, whip out the hair dryer and treat them to some heat. We are also not averse to checking out your dance moves indoors to help soften the sandal as you strut around doing the tidying – a quick kitchen disco is good for you, don’t you know!


Spray sandals with water 


It might seem a little counterintuitive to spray your sandals with water, but water reacts well with leather and can help make the material more malleable. First and foremost, test on a small inconspicuous area to see how the leather of your sandals reacts to water. If there is no long-term discolouration then you can lightly spray  clean water onto your leather sandals. Wear them for up to 30 minutes after to help them mould to your feet after they have dried. If the water spray has done the trick, then it might be worth investing in a leather protector spray to avoid them changing shape again if you were to get caught out in the rain!


Wear thick socks with sandals 


It might not be the comfiest way to do it, and it is likely not the best way forward if your sandals have toes posts, but wearing thick socks is an effective way to help stretch your leather sandals! You might feel a little squeeze as the thick socks work their magic, not to mention the unique style you’ll be throwing out there, but you do avoid blisters and the sandal will still mould to the exact shape of your foot for that perfect fit! No newspaper, hair dryer or stretcher... Just your favourite thick winter pair of socks. 

Knowing how to stretch leather sandals is a great life hack that can be done with or without the help of tools and comes in handy all your life. No need to endure the long drawn out ‘breaking in’ period for your future purchases, a few household items or even a pair of socks could be all you need!

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