Rubber boots are great for wet weather or when you need a bit of extra grip on slippery surfaces. But they can be tricky to size correctly, so you may find yourself needing to stretch rubber boots to get them to feel comfortable on your feet.
We’re discussing ways to stretch them safely and easily in this article if you find yourself in that position. Do it wrong, and you may ruin them, but follow these steps, and you should be able to find a more comfortable fit without compromising their durability.
Why Stretch Rubber Boots?
Rubber boots are molded and shaped by high-pressure and high temperatures. This process makes them stronger and more durable so that they’re able to withstand punctures and everyday wear and tear.
It’s also the reason why most rubber boots don’t come in half sizes and why the shape and fit vary by brand. This can make buying a pair of rubber boots with a snug fit challenging!
Unlike shoes with laces, buckles, or hook-and-loop straps, you can’t adjust the fit of a rubber boot once you’ve slipped your foot into it. Some brands may fit about a half size bigger than your normal shoe size, while others may fit a half size smaller.
Fortunately, if your rubber boots fit too snug in the toe box or around the ankle, you can safely stretch them for a comfortable fit.
How to Stretch Rubber Boots Safely and Easily
Try one of these methods to stretch your rubber boots. It’s a good idea to stick to one method and try it a few times. If the boot isn’t stretched to your liking, give it some time and try a different method.
You may find that your boots stretch enough for you to wear but then return to their normal size. So you may need to do these methods more than once.
1. Freezing Method
The freezing method is popular because we all have a freezer! You will need some Ziploc bags and enough space in your freezer to fit your boots inside safely.
Fill a few Ziploc bags with water. Squeeze out the excess air before you seal them shut, and make sure there’s no way they’ll leak because your boots could be damaged if this backfires.
Once you have bags filled with water and leak-proof, stuff them inside your boots. You will need to do this carefully, so you don’t end up bursting the bags. Push them all the way down into the toe of the boots, and add another bag to keep that one in place.
You will then need to place your boots in the freezer overnight. If you can, you might want to place them at a slight angle with the toes facing downwards so the bags don’t slip out or move.
As the water freezes, it will expand and stretch the rubber. The following morning, remove your boots from the freezer. Wait a few minutes for the ice bags to thaw slightly, then gently pull them out of your boot. If you can’t get them out, wait a few more minutes and try again.
Once you’ve removed the bags, check to see if the boots fit you better. If they do, you should stuff the inside of the boots with newspaper to keep the stretch. You will have to remove the newspaper the next time you want to wear the shoes and replace it when you take them off again.
If it isn’t stretched enough, repeat the process during the day or overnight.
2. Heating Method
Rubber boots are made using heat, so it makes sense that you can stretch them using heat as well. This is just a temporary solution, so it will help when you want to wear them, but the boots will likely shrink back down again.
Keep in mind that too much heat will cause the rubber to melt, so you want to go for medium heat of 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a hairdryer or a heat lamp, but ensure it doesn’t get too hot.
It’s a good idea to soak your boots in hot water for a few minutes to warm them up. Then, put your feet in the boots while wearing thick socks. You may need to squeeze your feet into the boots, but they will soon expand and feel better.
Set your hair dryer or heat lamp on low and hold or place it about 6 to 8 inches away from the boots. If you’re using a hair dryer, move it constantly around the boot, so it doesn’t focus the heat on one spot. If you’re using a heat lamp, you must move your foot around, so the entire boot gets hot.
Flex your feet while this is happening. When they feel more comfortable, remove the heat source. Don’t keep the heat on the boots for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
3. Boot Stretcher Method
You can buy a boot stretcher for a reasonable price at shoe stores or online. Make sure you get one with a long handle that will reach into your boot, and make sure that it’s the right shape for your boot.
It’s easy to use. Slip it into the boot and turn the handle to “open” the stretcher. This will push on the inside of the boot, stretching it gently. When it feels tight, turn it 2 to 3 more times to stretch the shoe. Be careful not to overdo it—you should only need about 5 to 6 turns.
Leave the stretcher inside the boot overnight. Keep in mind that some stretchers come with 2, so you can do both boots simultaneously, while others only have one, and you’ll need to do one boot at a time.
In the morning, remove the stretcher slowly. Put the boots on and walk them in. If they aren’t quite right, you can repeat the process the following night.
4. Wearing Them In
If your boots are only slightly tight, they might need to be worn in. Wearing them for a few hours at a time may be all that you need for them to stretch out slightly and become more comfortable.
FAQs for Stretching Rubber Boots
When Should I Stretch Rubber Boots?
You should wear your boots for a few days to a week before deciding if you need to stretch them. Wearing them in might solve the problem and loosen them enough to become comfortable.
If you start stretching them immediately, you might find them a little too roomy for you.
How Can I Break In My Rubber Shoes Quickly?
If you want to wear your rubber boots quite quickly, you can try walking a fast mile or going for a run in them. It may be uncomfortable, but this will cause them to mold to your foot and develop more flexibility.
What If I Overstretch My Rubber Boots?
It’s quite hard to overstretch rubber boots. Many of these methods are not permanent; you will need to do them more than once as the ribber returns to its original size.
But if you end up with rubber boots that are too big, you could shrink them with heat, similar to how you expand them. You can soak your boots in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes at a time or use a hairdryer or heat gun for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
Simply heat the rubber and then allow it to cool down without your foot being in it. There’s a chance that this might shrink the rubber down slightly.
However, you will need to do it in short bursts to prevent the rubber from getting damaged.
Can These Methods Damage My Boots?
Your rubber boots may get damaged if you:
- Leave them in heat for too long
- Turn the heat up too high
- Overstretch them
- Break the ziploc bags of water and it freezes to the boot
- Don’t follow the method’s instructions
But if you’re careful and follow each method’s instructions clearly, your boots should be undamaged.
How Many Times Can I Stretch Rubber Boots?
Stretching your boots too many times may cause the rubber to lose its elasticity and become unstable. You should be able to stretch them 4 to 5 times before this happens, but it can differ from boot to boot, and it also depends on how gentle you are.