As I am traveling along the Norwegian coast down to Oslo to attend this summer’s second mandatory wedding, I look down at my shoes and realize just how comfortable they have become.
I bought them for the first wedding I attended earlier this spring and they were so uncomfortable that, when we left, I took them off and drove for about 2 hours with just my socks on.
In the meanwhile, I’ve tried and tested some of the best shoe stretcher sprays and here is what my experience has been.
What Is the Best Shoe Stretcher Spray?
The best shoe stretcher spray on the market today has got to be the FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretcher Spray. It is actually a conditioner that nourishes and protects the leather, it can be used on anything from leather to canvas, and more than 700 Amazon users have given it a 5-star rating.
What Differentiates a Good Shoe Stretcher Spray from a Bad One
There are several features of a shoe stretcher spray that you need to look at before you make a purchase.
The most important aspect for me is to check if the stretcher spray contains alcohol or not. The basic formula of a shoe stretcher can be alcohol based or conditioner based.
Alcohol tends to dry out leather, not so badly as to damage it after a single use, but why stress out the leather when there are alternatives. Also, I personally do not like a company that puts out a product I could whip up myself with stuff I have around the house.
A conditioner-based shoe stretcher will feed the leather instead of drying it out, so it will even get rid of some of the creases that naturally appear when the shoes do not perfectly fit. The problem with a conditioner-based shoe stretcher spray is that, unless the formula is perfectly calibrated, it may leave stains on shoes, particularly on nubuck and suede.
Finally, the size and presentation of the shoe stretcher spray are also of significant importance if you plan to have it with you on trips.
It may not sound like an all-important tool but most ladies, my wife included, will only realize how uncomfortable their shoes are only when they get to the party.
So, because I had the spray in the glovebox of the car, I was able to perform a quick fix on my wife’s shoes while we were at a party. Naturally, any spray would have worked, but it certainly felt a lot better to pull out a discreet, classy looking FootMatters spray, rather than a brightly colored tin can like some of the products on the market today.
Do Shoe Stretchers Work on Leather, Suede and Canvas?
A fourth point that I thought about when choosing my favorite shoe stretcher spray was if it would work on different types of shoes like leather or canvas.
Turns out that most of the products on the market, including all the ones I will be talking about bellow, do work on almost any type of shoe material. However, alcohol-based shoe stretcher sprays are a better solution for non-leather products because their more aggressive formula softens the artificial fibers better.
There is also something to be said about saving the better product for the shoes that will be able to make full use of the formula.
Related: How To Stretch Patent Leather Shoes
Top 10 Best Shoe Stretcher Sprays Reviewed
Although I have only tried personally 4 of the 10 products on this list, I think I have gained enough experience to have an informed opinion on the other products just by considering their ingredients and by looking at the reviews actual users have left. I will point out the products that I have personally tested so you can use your personal judgement on the rest.
1. FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretch Spray
I am already on the record as being a huge FootMatters fan so it should come as no surprise that they are the first ones on the list. I have personally used this spray and, while it is definitely not my go-to conditioner, it does nourish and protects the leather while it is helping it stretch out.
The FootMatters spray works on anything from leather shoes to canvas and nubuck, and, in my experience, it does not leave any stains. I have used it on a pair of hard, waterproof boots that I have owned and used for years but were never that comfortable and they got them to the point where they are my go-to shoes when I go on trips with the family.
The spray also helped breathe new life into a pair of shoes I had owned since college, and, although they were still very comfortable, they had pinch marks on the sides.
2. Simple Shine Premium Leather Stretch Spray
The Simple Shine spray is the one alcohol based shoe stretcher spray that I have actually bought and used. It worked great on a pair of white sneakers that were a little tight around the toes area.
There are two important features that a good alcohol based stretch spray needs to have. In the first place it can’t leave any marks, even after repeated use. As I mentioned before alcohol is a lot more aggressive on fabrics than conditioners and, therefore, it can leave a stress mark if used repeatedly.
The other important feature to consider when using an alcohol bases stretch spray is whether the shoes get back to their original shape once they are washed.
Canvas shoes, in general, are great because they can be through in the washing machine for a thorough clean. I did that with my shoes and they stayed comfortable even after the wash, with no need to reapply the product, which tells me they are using a fixing agent besides the alcohol in the formula.
3. FootFitter Shoe and Boot Stretch Spray
While I was looking at shoe stretcher sprays that would work on leather, I was very tempted by the FootFitter shoe stretch spray. I was looking for that one handy solution I could have with me all the time and this one fit because of the quick drying formula and because of the classic, minimalist design of the label.
Ultimately, I decided not to buy it because it is yet another alcohol-based formula. From what other people seem to be writing about it, I think it is just as good as the Simple Shine spray I have already talked about, but since I had that I decided to avoid this.
It should work just as well on leather as it does on canvas but there was a red flag that got me worried. In the description of how to use the product they emphasis using it on the inside of the shoe, although later they mention that it can be used on the outside as well. I might be nitpicking here but I just feel they do not have the confidence that their product will really not stain any type of shoe.
4. StretchAll Premium Grade Shoe Stretch
This was the first shoe stretcher spray I have ever used and I was quite pleased with it. It too is based on a conditioner so it feeds the leather as it stretches it. There were two reasons why I never got back to it. The first was that I had to really soak the leather in it and then use a shoe stretcher over night to get a noticeable and permanent effect.
On the other hand that tells you that the formula used in this spray is really mild so it might actually be a better solution for frail, super light shoes where there is not that much material to work with. It also feels like the conditioner component is of a better quality and that they are really relying just on over hydrating the leather so that it stretches out.
The other reason why I was not tempted to return to the StretchAll was the fact that the bottle does not have that high end, premium look to it. I know it is a matter of subjective taste, which is why this is still one of the products I am happy to talk about with my friends.
5. Instant Comfort Liquid Shoe Stretcher Spray
For some reason it seems like a lot of people are going with the Instant Comfort Liquid Shoe Stretcher Spray. I have not tested it myself but I have a few friends who golf and who swear by this stuff.
It is an alcohol-based shoe stretcher spray and it does not seem to have a fixing agent because my friends apply it at least once a month before the head out on the field. However, they also pointed out that the grass is sometimes wet and tends to rub the compound off the material. I am not so sure about their explanation of the science behind this, but they are happy with the results none the less.
It is important to note that some shoe stretcher spray require you to use them with shoe stretchers and to leave them to act overnight. The Instant Comfort works even if you just use your own feet as stretchers and it really is quick acting which it is ranked so high on my list.
6. Four Seasons Shoe Stretch Spray
Four Seasons is quite a reputable brand and for some reason, I was able to find this in a local shoe store. I bought it just because it was backed by the store and thought they might know something I did not. In all honesty, there is nothing bad to be said about the product itself. It is alcohol based so I only use it on canvas, but it can be used on leather too.
The alcohol content is high enough that you can use it to actually “spray and go” and the fabric in the shoes will relax enough so that they become more comfortable as you walk. However, the container itself is so ill designed that I through the spray at the bottom of a shoe cabinet and rarely used it apart from the first time when I got it home.
The other thing that I tend to look at when using an alcohol based spray is whether the effect lasts. In my case it did, but it should be noted that I only tried it on a pair of Converse shoes and the fabric in those is designed to be extra comfortable regardless of whether you are using a spray or not.
7. Shoekeeper Men’s Shoe Stretcher & Spray
The last shoe stretcher spray I can confidently talk about on this list is the ShoeKeepers product. I bought this while I was actually looking for a shoe stretcher and I loved the fact that it came with its own spray.
Since then I learned that it is better if you put together your own kit rather than a manufacturer based one. The reason for that is that there are completely different industries and scientific know-how between these 2 products, shoe stretchers, and shoe stretcher sprays, and a company trying to do both, will rarely be able to excel at both points.
In the case of the ShoeKeepers kit, I would say they got it right with the spray but failed with the actual shoe stretcher. It was too big for my wife’s shoes and it started failing after just a couple of uses on my own shoes.
However, the ShoeKeeper stretcher spray does have a nice conditioner in it, so I was very happy with the way it protects the leather, but, just as is the case with the StretchAll shoe stretcher spray, you really need to use a lot of the stuff for truly excellent results. On the other hand, though, that only means the formula itself is exceedingly gentle on the fabric of the shoes.
8. Moneysworth & Best Shoe Stretch Spray
The Moneysworth & Best shoe stretcher spray is one of those products that you can occasionally see in a shoe store, but after my experience with the Four Seasons I learned that the endorsement of a shoe store is not that valuable. However, having over 30 customers that have returned to Amazon to give you a 5-star rating and review does speak volumes about the quality of your product.
This is an alcohol-based product so I have my reservations about just how good it would be when used on actual leather, but it has one feature that I am really intrigued by. This is one of the few shoe stretcher sprays that comes in an aerosol spray which means it will get optimal distribution when sprayed in a difficult to access shoe like a tall boot.
However, tall boots are usually made out of leather and this is where I through it back to you. I would still go with the FootMatters spray and just take my time to get the perfect position to use it, but I would be tempted by an aerosol if I was just thinking about the ease of use.
9. Kiwi SELECT Universal Shoe Stretcher Spray
I decided to include the Kiwi Universal Shoe Stretcher Spray with some trepidation on this list. The truth is that anyone of the stretcher sprays above will have trouble with tougher leather like alligator leather shoes. The Kiwi spray is an aerosol, alcohol based spray that can be comfortably used on high boots. It has a fairly alcohol heavy formula so it actually is the best choice for those type of shoes.
The problem is that it contains so much alcohol that it will discolor some types of shoes, particularly light colored, suede shoes. Besides, I have not had the chance to test this spray myself, so I really am not sure about just how well this would work on even dark colored suede shoes and I would be a little bit worried about using it on light colored alligator skin shoes.
The only conclusion here is that if you need to save a pair of alligator skin shoes that are just a little bit too tight, the Kiwi might be your best choice, but proceed carefully. Start by spraying only from the inside of the shoe, and, if you absolutely have the spray the outside, make sure to do a small test spray on the back of the shoe.
10. Fiebing’s Shoe Stretch-It
The last shoe stretcher spray I thought would be worth adding to this list is the Fiebing’s product. It is a conditioner based spray, so by now, you should realize just how much I love these.
However, there were a lot of reviewers that were not happy with the results and, as far as I can tell, the problem was that none of them used a wooden shoe stretcher. However, as I mentioned on several other products on this list, the fact that you need to use a wood stretcher, and you need to leave it overnight, simply means the formula is not as aggressive as others.
It is also important to note here that the bottle looks like something that was designed in the 80s and we never up for reconsideration from them. The fact that it needs to be left overnight means that no one would ever see the bottle, but I would worry that, if they have not reconsidered the packaging, perhaps the formula itself is not that well thought out either.
So, I have included the Fiebing’s here just in case it fits with a retro house styling or personal taste and because the formula will not negatively affect the shoes.
Homemade Shoe Stretcher Spray
The basic formula for shoe stretcher sprays used to be some type of isopropyl alcohol combined with water. Most companies still use that formula so if you would like the easiest thing would be to have the following ingredinets.
- Isopropyl Alcohol 91% proof
- Distilled Water
- Mint Essential Oil
Mix equal quantities of the alcohol and water in a spray bottle and add just a few drops of the mint oil to offset the smell of the alcohol. This formula is pretty basic and the smell will still be very strong but, as the alcohol evaporates, the smell should evaporate as well.
A second, highly controversial formula is a watered down version of a car leather seats conditioner. I currently use the AutoGlym leather care balm, and by the look of it, I would mix it half and half with water in a spray bottle.
The AutoGlym absorbs very nicely in my car’s seats and does not leave any stains so I am confident that, it would be a good choice for leather shoes as well. However, you should be sure to use distilled water because the mineral content in tap water may result in spots on some types of leather.
How to Use a Shoe Stretcher Spray
There are two ways in which you can use a shoe stretcher way. There is the traditional way, that a dedicated shoe repair store would use, and, what I call the modern way.
The Traditional Way of Using a Shoe Stretcher Spray
- Start by using a conditioner-based spray. It will protect the fabric of the shoe and the effects will be long lasting.
- Spray profusely the shoe with the spray, both inside and outside.
- Insert a wooden shoe stretcher and stretch out the shoe in whichever direction you need it to.
- Leave it over night at room temperature but in a confided space like a closet.
- Remove the shoe stretcher and wipe off any excess fluid.
- (optional, for leather shoes) Use a real shoe conditioner or shoe cream to feed the leather and give the shoe a fresh look.
The Modern Way
- Use an alcohol-based spray or the FootMatters Spray
- Dose the area that needs to be stretched out, both inside and outside (check that you are not using one of the few shoe stretcher sprays that actually need to be used on the inside only)
- Put on a thick pair of socks and use a shoehorn to get your shoes on.
- Take 10 minute walk around your house or office (avoid walking outside because the wet shoes will attract a lot of dust)
- Remove the socks and enjoy your new, comfy shoes.
As my train draws close to Oslo I am thankful for 2 things. One, that I can trust my shoes will be comfortable although I will wear them constantly for the next 2 days and I will need to really cover a lot of distance since I am helping out the bride and groom with a few choirs.
Second reason I am thankful is that you have followed along with my little article here. The train ride really helped to get my thoughts in order over all the shoe stretcher sprays I have had the chance to use and to consider. I hope that my experiences will help you make an informed decision about what the best shoe stretcher spray might be for your own shoes.