Leather boots are a staple of the American shoe industry and a piece of Americana when in the shape of a cowboy boot. They can be practical, offering comfort and protection when working, and can also make a style statement when worn out on the town. If the calf section on leather boots is too tight after original purchase or shrinkage after coming in contact with water, they can be stretched larger with just a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

Rub a clean cloth directly into the saddle soap. There should be enough soap on the cloth to be visible to the eye.

Apply the soap to the interior of the calf section of the boot, beginning at the bottom and working your way to the top.

Rub saddle soap into the the exterior of the boot, covering the calf section completely.

Put on a pair of socks that you don’t mind coming in contact with the saddle soap and put on the boots. Wear the boots for at least one hour, but the longer the better.

Dampen a few newspapers, crumple them, and place them in the boot, filling the calf section until the papers are snug.

Allow the boots to dry. Repeat the process, if necessary.


  • The same process can be used to stretch the foot and toe area of a boot. Be sure to fully cover the interior of the foot section for best results. Wearing two pairs of socks while wearing the boots will also help stretch the foot section.

  • If the above method does not work, or if you prefer the convenience, take the boots to a cobbler, who can stretch the leather on a machine.

References and Resources

Step Out: Caring for Leather