Do Work Boots Stretch Out? (Answered + 5 Helpful Stretching Tips)

If you end up buying a pair of work boots that are too small or too tight for you it’s reasonable to ask yourself the question: will my work boots stretch out? 

The answer is yes, in my experience (and research) work boots will stretch out a little bit. Especially if you put them to work hard. The more you use them, the faster they’ll stretch out.

myself showing the mink oil product I used for one of the methods I used to stretch out my work boots

So it doesn’t matter if you have bunions or you need the boots to be wider, or it bothers you at the instep…any work boot (especially leather ones) can be manipulated to fit you right.

The only thing you cannot do to stretch your work boots is to make them larger/longer. So the size must be the right one.

How much can you stretch work boots?

I’m sure you’re not that naive to think that you can stretch them as if they are clay for kids. You can only play a little bit by stretching the leather.

As a rough idea, you can stretch your work boots as much as half a size in length, and 1 full size in width.

If you try to stretch them more than that, you’ll put a lot of pressure on the leather and it might break in the middle of the stretching process actually.

Do work boots stretch out naturally over time?

Yes, work boots do tend to stretch out over time. It doesn’t matter what material they’re made of, the more you use your work boots, the looser they’ll become. 

With the exception of rubber boots. These tend to remain in their original shape. Even though you can stretch them out a little bit by heating them up, once the rubber becomes cold (which is almost instantly) they will return to their original shape and form.

So there is a break-in period?

Honestly, very few times I needed to break in my work boots. If they don’t fit me right from day one, I’ll send them back and get another pair (either smaller or bigger, depending on how it feels on my feet).

That’s probably the best thing about buying work boots online on Amazon and other online stores. You buy the boots, wear them around your house for a couple of days and if they’re not comfy, you send them back or replace them with other ones (for free most of the time)

Most of the work boots I buy don’t need break-in. 

Some work boots come with very thick and hard leather on the upper. Which is great for durability. Those types of work boots might need a few days to a week of trying to break them in.

Editor’s Tip: Buy your work boots in advance

The potential breaking-in period is one of the reasons I like to buy work boots in advance. 

When you buy boots because you need them today to start working tomorrow, most of the time you’ll accept whatever it comes because you’re desperate. 

You need them in order to work!

When I see that my work boots are in the last few months of their life … I just start ordering new pairs of boots to see which ones fit me best and which ones are the most comfortable pair.

This allows me to make smart decisions based on how I feel about the boots, not based on how desperately I need them!

So buy your work boots in advance, don’t wait until they become unwearable!

Do leather work boots stretch out?

Yes, leather work boots stretch out indeed. Especially if you use them every day. You can speed up the process if you want by applying leather treatment solutions such as shoes/boots oil or mink oil and other tips that you can read in the next section.

That’s exactly what I did when I bought my Thorogood 804-4200 steel toe boots. They were too narrow for me so instead of sending them back I tried to stretch them. Here’s the result:

When I bought the boots they were 3.78 inches wide. After applying the tricks and tips shared with you in this post I’ve managed to stretch the boots to 3.97 inches. Not bad.

Can you speed up the stretching process?

Yes, you can stretch out your work boots faster.

If you bought work boots that feel too tight, first I’d urge you to simply send them back or replace the boots at your local store. Your work boots should fit perfectly and comfortably as soon as you put them on.

But, let’s say you fell madly in love with them and you don’t want to send them back, try these few things to stretch your work boots faster.

Five ideas, tips, and products to stretch out your work boots

I’ve tested all of these methods on my leather safety toe work boots. Which one worked for me?

Let’s find out. We’ll start with the safest, easiest one…

5. Apply mink oil (the best & easiest way to stretch your work boots)

a bottle of liquid mink oil for stretching work boots

Just rub the oil on the exterior of your boots (don’t be shy with it, apply it in abundance)

You can even apply it to the interior of the boot if you don’t mind the smell of the oil on your socks for a little while. This will help the leather become softer, and faster. Also, you can do this only if your boot doesn’t have lining of course.

Once you have applied the mink oil just wear your work boots around so the leather can adapt to your feet. As it gets dry the boot will keep the new shape. When you take them off at night time simply stuff some newspaper or some socks, whatever you have at hand.

This is because you want to create some pressure while you’re not wearing the boots so it forces the leather to expand.

4. Use a stretcher solution sprayer

You can make your own solution by mixing 3 parts of water with 1 part of isopropyl alcohol if you have any of this at home.

making a DIY stretching solution at home for my work boots

Or you can buy a ready-made stretcher spray on Amazon such as this one. Whatever you prefer. I have isopropyl alcohol at home so it came in handy in this situation.

  • Get a pair of very thick socks or put some paper inside the boots. 
  • Apply the stretcher solution with the sprayer. 
  • Wear your boots around the house as this is will help stretch the leather as the solution penetrates the leather and is getting dry.
  • Repeat the process a few times if you don’t see results on the first attempt.
  • IMPORTANT: When you’re happy with the result, apply some leather conditioner or mink oil to the upper of the boots to bring them back to life.

3. Fill up a bag with water and put it inside your work boot. Then put them inside the freezer.

Yes. This is not a joke, so you can stop laughing now 🙂 I’ve seen this method recommended by so many people.

The idea behind this is that when the water freezes it gains volume. So as the water transforms into ice it will stretch the leather of your work boots.

Just fill up a bag of water for each boot and put them in the freezer and leave them overnight.

It’s my least favorite way to try and stretch the boots since it’s kinda messy and I needed to take out my food from the freezer. A lot of work haha. Plus you don’t really have much control about how much that water will expand as it becomes ice. 

But feel free to try it.

3. Soak your work boots in water

Leave your work boots to soak in a bucket full of water for an hour or two. After, wear them around the house for a few hours until they start to dry. 

When you feel they’re starting to dry, you apply some leather conditioner or mink oil to the upper of your boots. 

The idea behind this is that as the water and moisture evaporate it’s replaced with the oil you’re applying. And it helps the leather adapt to the new shape you’re trying to give to the boot.

2. Buy a boot stretcher (or two)

a home made kit to stretch steel toe work boots made of mink oil and a boot stretcher

If you don’t want to wear soaked boots around the house (in all honesty, it’s not the most pleasant experience in the first place), you can apply mink oil as I’ve mentioned above, and then place the boot stretcher in the work boots.

Leave the boot stretcher and the mink oil to break in the work boots for you. By doing this you’ll also avoid the initial pain, blisters, and discomfort that some new work boots will create whilst you’re breaking them in. 

Just keep expanding the boot stretcher a little bit each day until the boot becomes comfortable for you to wear.

1. Take them to a professional. A cobbler could help you with this!

a professional cobbler working on a pair of work boots

If everything else fails take your work boots to a cobbler. These guys have a lot of experience working with all types of footwear and they have all sorts of tools that you don’t usually have at home. 

I’d recommend you to do this as the FIRST CHOICE, especially if you bought a pair of expensive work boots. The boots are safer in their hands.

You can watch the video if you want on the BestForMyFeet YouTube channel (but the article is a bit more in-depth)

So, do safety boots stretch out? The takeaway

Yes, safety boots do stretch out if you apply one of the tips I’ve shared with you above. 

A couple of things you need to remember here. First, as long as your safety work boots are made of leather you can manipulate them to achieve whatever you need (within reason).

And second, the only thing you should not expect when stretching work boots is that they become bigger in size. You must buy the right size for this to work for you.

From all of the above methods I’ve used to stretch my work boots, here’s how I rank them in terms of efficiency:

  • Number 1: Rub your work boots with liquid mink oil in abundance (outside and inside as well for even faster results)
  • Number 2: Use a stretching solution (either buy it on Amazon or make your own)

I won’t even bother with the other ones. If you start with these two, your work boots will stretch a little bit for sure!

Team Members Working On This Page

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, taking care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

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