We are very frequently asked “How do I stretch out leather cowboy boots?” It seems one of the toughest cowboy boot fit issues pertains to boots that are too tight. Unfortunately, this probably means you’ve ordered the wrong size of cowboy boots. We’ll get into detail on that in a moment, but first, let’s try to help you stretch your cowboy boots!

    Professional Boot Stretching

    The easiest way to stretch cowboy boots is to bring them to our store location or to a professional boot cobbler. There is less risk in damaging your leather boots by taking them to a professional. With greater experience, fancier tools, and the ability to target exactly where your boots are too tight, our experienced store employees and boot cobblers can give you great relief in your too-tight cowboy boots. Stretching specific areas of the boots offers a better boot fit without over stretching the leather boots or stretching an area that does not need it. Our store location provides this service free of charge, but you will likely pay a fee at a boot cobbler.


    Boot Stretch Spray

    Boot stretch spray is designed to spray inside of your cowboy boots to quickly offer more room and a better boot fit. It is a fairly inexpensive product that is also easy to use. Be sure to read the label carefully, as not all products are intended for all types of leather! You will see some stretch in the leather of your cowboy boots right away, but you will likely not go up a size in your boots. Boot stretch spray is intended to stretch leather across the top and sides of the foot and also in the shaft of the boot.

    Fatbaby & Gypsy Boots

    Boot Stretchers

    Boot stretchers are shoe forms that fit into cowboy boots and can be adjusted to stretch the leather of boots and shoes from heel to toe. Most boot stretchers are intended to only stretch from front to back of the boot, so if you need a little more room across the foot of your boot, you might not receive a proper leather stretch from this method. For best results with a boot stretcher, use this method along with a boot stretch spray that is appropriate for the material of your cowboy boots. Unfortunately, using a boot stretcher will affect how the leather conforms to your natural foot, so you won’t get a perfect fit from this method. Once it’s stretched out, there is no undoing it, so start small.


    Rubbing Alcohol

    If you are searching for methods to stretch cowboy boots, you are undoubtedly going to run across information that tells you to saturate your cowboy boots with rubbing alcohol or spray your boots with rubbing alcohol. While some sources will swear by this method, it is risky to use rubbing alcohol on your leather cowboy boots. The alcohol could permanently damage the leather of your boots. Every leather type will react differently to alcohol, and unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is by trying it, and you could end up ruining an expensive pair of boots in the process. We do NOT recommend this method!


    Soaking Boots in Water

    Have you heard this method yet? We have, and we even know people who have done this successfully. BUT… just like we mentioned with the rubbing alcohol boot stretch method, this is risky business in stretching leather cowboy boots. The method involves wearing your cowboy boots and soaking them in hot water, usually in the bathtub. You are then supposed to take them off and let them dry away from heat. The problem here is how the leather will react to water. We have seen some badly stained leather boots cross the threshold of our store. Leather boots can get water stains from walking in the rain, trudging through snow, and certainly from being soaked in a hot bath. We do NOT recommend this method for stretching your boots. This is the absolute WORST method! It will either damage the leather, shrink the boots, or make the boots lose their form.

    Laredo Men's Atlanta Lizard Print Boots

    Heating & Steaming Your Cowboy Boots

    Similar to the method of soaking boots in water, this boot stretch method involves heating your boots, and then walking in them until they are no longer hot. There’s not a lot of risk to the leather with this method of stretching cowboy boots unless you accidentally get the heat source too close to the leather. The absolute best method of heating your boots to stretch the leather is stopping by our store and having an employee provide this service for free! We take great care in properly stretching the leather to conform to your foot. The moist heat of a steamer will make the leather pliable without damaging the leather. If you want to steam your boots at home, you can hold them over a pot of boiling water. Be careful not to get the boots wet or it will damage the leather. Hold them at a distance that is not too hot on your hand.

    Some people recommend using a hairdryer to heat the boots. Think of holding a hot hairdryer near your face – the heat makes your skin feel really dry and tight. That’s exactly what it will do to the leather of your boots. Instead, opt for steam that makes the leather soft and flexible. After steaming your boots, put them on and walk around until they have cooled. Place them in a spot away from sun and heat to completely cool. You should notice an immediate improvement in the fit of your cowboy boots.

    Dan Post Men's Black Denver Cowboy Boots

    Break in Your Cowboy Boots

    The very best way to stretch cowboy boots is to break them in! OK, it’s not an immediate fix, but you will notice leather boots will stretch after you’ve worn them more and more. Leather will get “worn in” and conform to the shape of your foot as you break in your cowboy boots. With repeated wearing, your cowboy boots will stretch to fit your foot. You can help speed up the process of breaking in your cowboy boots by wearing thick socks with your boots to put a little more pressure against the leather. Wearing two pairs of boot socks when you first get your boots will apply a gentle pressure to help with the leather stretching process.

    Dan Post Women's Sanded Bluebird Cowgirl Boots

    Which method do we recommend?

    Take some steps! Breaking in your boots by walking in them is free, easy, and you can start right now. Walk around in your new cowboy boots and let them stretch out naturally as they get more worn in. The next best method is having your boots steamed by a professional. Our store offers this service for free!

    If you are experiencing discomfort even after stretching the boots, you should check to make sure you are wearing the right size cowboy boots. See our boot size tips HERE.

    If you are near our store location, we’d love to help you in person. Stop by, and we’ll look at how your boots fit, and our expert team will give you personal advice on the best method for breaking in your specific boots in the exact way that would give you the perfect boot fit.

    If you are not near our store, we recommend finding a local boot cobbler to professionally stretch your boots. Ask your friends for references, check the phone book, and ask for a consultation before handing over your prized cowboy boots.

    We remind you again to read all labels to make sure the product you use is appropriate for the leather of your cowboy boots.

    Need more help? Leave a comment, or CHAT LIVE with our customer service team.


    Find your perfect cowboy boot fit here.

    Cowboy Boot Fit Guide

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    You can also reach us on Facebook, Twitter, or at our Erie, PA store if you have additional questions.


29 Responses to Cowboy Boot Fit Guide – How to Stretch Cowboy Boots

  • Stanley Armes wrote on February 5, 2014 at 9:17 // Reply

    We have just moved to Chattanooga and don’t know too many people. Do you have any recommendations for a place to stretch cowboy boots? They are Nocona boots. thanks

    • admin wrote on February 6, 2014 at 6:07 // Reply

      Hi, Stanley! We do not know of a specific location in Chattanooga, but you should be able to find a listing in the yellow pages under “boot cobbler” or “boot repair.” Good luck!

  • Stanley Armes wrote on February 6, 2014 at 10:48 // Reply

    Thanks for the reply. One boot fits and the other does not. The heel won’t go all the way down. It seems that the space between the instep and the back where the heel slides down is not big enough. Are you aware of any home remedies or is this a job for a boot cobbler? thanks\
    Stan Armes

    • admin wrote on February 17, 2014 at 4:12 // Reply

      Stanley, you absolutely can stretch your cowboy boots at home to get a better fit! The tips in this blog should walk you through the process. Steaming is the method we recommend. You can use a clothing/hat steamer or a pan of boiling water. Just be cautious not to saturate the leather. If you’d like personalized assistance, send an email to

  • boris wrote on August 19, 2014 at 9:05 // Reply

    Hi all,

    could you please advise how to stretch top/front sector of a cowboy boot. The new boots are ‘hooking’ on my front part of the boot when sliding in. Once on all is ok. taking them off is a complete workout on its own.
    Could you recommend anyone in the Cape Town area to assist please?

    kind regards

    • admin wrote on August 19, 2014 at 1:59 // Reply

      Boris, a boot cobbler in your area should be able to help with stretching. The throat of the boot (where the shaft and foot meet) is snug in a new pair of boots and requires pushing to slip your foot in. That will break down with time, but you can also have them stretched to speed up the process. You will also find more info about stretching boots here:

  • kim wrote on August 23, 2014 at 4:20 // Reply

    We bought our 9 month old boots for a wedding and we are trying to strech them out. It’s really hard to get his feet into them even tho he is starting to walk in his own. Any sugguestions??

    • admin wrote on September 12, 2014 at 5:24 // Reply

      Baby feet and cowboy boots can be a tough match-up! If you steam the boots to stretch them, immediately stuff the foot of the boot with something that will stay in place to help them remained stretched. For adults, the trick for getting swollen feet into tight boots is to use a plastic grocery bag over your socked foot, and slip the foot into the boot. Once the foot is in, you can tear out the bag. That might be harder with a baby. Some of our customers have reported good results from sprinkling baby powder in the shaft of the boot to help the foot slip in. Thin and slick surface socks could make it easier, too. Send us a chat message if you need more options – visit and click the link on the right side of the page.

  • Kaelee buske wrote on December 3, 2014 at 10:18 // Reply

    what is the best way to shrink a pair of cowboy boots?

  • Gia wrote on January 16, 2015 at 1:31 // Reply

    How much stretching can a cobbler do? Would they be able to go up a size? I bought a pair of vintage western boots, after reading they were a size 4.5 or 37. I normally wear a 37 shoe. I There are no markings on the boots so I’m not sure how the size was determined.
    Thankyou for your help.

    • admin wrote on January 21, 2015 at 3:50 // Reply

      You probably will not go up an entire size because the sole of the boot limits the stretching and determines the fit. You should be able to relax the leather at points where it is too tight. When visiting a cobbler, be sure to point out exactly where the boots are too tight. They should be able to focus attention on those areas when stretching.

  • Jane egri wrote on January 17, 2015 at 3:05 // Reply

    My one boot is so tight over my high instep, I can’t wear them

    • admin wrote on January 21, 2015 at 3:51 // Reply

      Stretching should help relax the leather at the instep/vamp of the boot. If you don’t have a boot cobbler nearby, you can use the stretching tips above to relax the leather at home. Good luck!

  • Melissa wrote on February 2, 2015 at 2:24 // Reply

    How do I soften my boots? The leather is so hard, and I have worn them several times, but still so hard, I cannot stand to wear them.

  • Thomas malcolm Mitchell wrote on April 23, 2015 at 8:20 // Reply

    How long should I hold my boots over a pot of boiling water? 20-30 seconds ? or longer? Should I try and get the steam inside the boots, or will it do on the outside only? Regards Thomas Malcolm.

  • René Bertin wrote on October 1, 2015 at 4:18 // Reply

    I have the same question as Kaelee above: what can be done about boots that are too wide, specifically around the ankle? They’re fine elsewhere (so I can’t really wear thick socks or else my toes will be too tight), and vertical heel slippage seems normal, but my heels are just not held snuggly enough for lateral support. Right boot is worst.
    These are vintage ostrich Noconas from the early 90s, worn so little that the linings still look mint.

  • Nana wrote on November 11, 2015 at 7:22 // Reply

    I need to strecher my boots where my instep hits the top what can I do

  • Nancy Steckel wrote on November 16, 2015 at 7:40 // Reply

    I just bought a pair of boots and my foot will not go down in the boot, I guess because of my instep—-can this be stretched?

  • Nancy Steckel wrote on November 16, 2015 at 7:41 // Reply

    my foot wont go down in the boot. high instep? can this be stretched?

  • Juan wrote on January 8, 2016 at 3:07 // Reply

    My left boot is a bit tight to slip my foot in I believe it’s an instep issue ,once they are on the boots fit great , possibly my left foot has an irregular bone structure at the crown of the arch , I’m hoping to take it in and have that part of my boot stretched a bit do take care of it.

  • Madeline Perez wrote on January 11, 2016 at 3:49 // Reply

    I got a pair of cowboy boots for Christmas and I can get my left foot into the boot, but I cannot get my right foot into the right boot? How can I stretch the boot or what do you recommend? I really want to start wearing them.

    • Owen wrote on February 7, 2016 at 4:09 // Reply

      It may sound weird but you can stretch them by filling them with dry corn. Then pour in water until the corn is saturated. After it stretches, dump the corn out and allow the boot to dry. I would recommend putting on a leather conditioner as well-which you should buy anyways if you want to prolong the health of the leather. Sounds strange, but it does work. Best of luck.

  • Anadee wrote on January 16, 2016 at 2:04 // Reply

    I have a pair of boots they rub on the top of my toed

  • James Bergman wrote on May 19, 2016 at 1:28 // Reply

    I don’t think I have every gotten a pair of boots that fit just right as soon as I got them. My last pair of boots took two weeks to really feel just right. So, I agree that the best way to stretch boots is to make sure you are getting the right size and then break them in through wearing them. If this just won’t work, then you can get professional help, but if you get the right size boots, chances are you won’t need to stretch them.

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  • Desiree Bosold wrote on June 5, 2016 at 1:36 // Reply

    One of my Justin bpots got oil or something on them on the part that comes a cross the outside to top of my right foot. Now by boot is very tight in that area and the boot looks deformed from shrinking into the stained area. I am in central Ohio. Is there anything I can do to repair this issue?

  • Yvette wrote on June 26, 2016 at 3:13 // Reply

    Can you reccomend boots for bunion sufferers ?

  • Darla wrote on August 12, 2016 at 12:14 // Reply

    I needed the tops of my shafts widened. I couldnt find any coblers in Michigan/northern Ohio & my custom inlay boots were to expensive to risk alcohol. I couldnt get the boot on to break it in I scoured the web. What I ended up doin was putting a 2 liter of pop (soda) in for 24 hours, then added ski socks 1 pair at a time for next couple of days. Worked great… cost nothing but time.I didnt find this method online so I figured Id share…


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