Shoe Stretcher Vs Shoe Tree: What’s The Difference?

Shoes make a statement about your style and personality. But there are occasions when you might find that you cannot wear your favourite shoes because they are too tight or they pinch at some points. This can arise because your foot size falls between two sizes. Or worse, due to foot problems like corn, bunion or hammer toes.

That is when a shoe stretcher or a shoe tree can come to your aid. These two shoe accessories can stretch your shoes and make them more comfortable to wear. But how do you know the tool that suits your needs best?

We make a shoe stretcher vs shoe tree comparison to help you make a decision.

Similarities between a shoe stretcher and a shoe tree

Shoe stretchers and trees are accessories that have a similar design and functions. Their basic design consists of a wooden or plastic dome connected with a spiral spring. They have the following similar uses:

  • They stretch the heel and front of the shoe to make it fit your foot better
  • Both absorb moisture from the fabric lining of the shoe, making your shoes last longer
  • They prevent the shoe leather from cracking or creasing
  • Both help to maintain the original shape of the shoe
  • They work well on shoes made up of leather, suede, and other natural materials. Materials like vinyl are not suitable because they do not have much give.
  • They also come in different styles. There are those that are suitable for high heels and flats, and for women’s and men’s shoes

What are the differences between a shoe stretcher and a shoe tree?

The main difference between the two shoe accessories is in their design. The shoe tree is a simpler tool. It has a basic wooden or plastic dome attached with a spiral spring.

On the other hand, a stretcher is more elaborate. It can stretch the length and width of a shoe. But in addition it has built–in holes placed in its dome. A plug can be placed in the hole to stretch a specific point of the shoe that pinches the wearer.

Thus the shoe tree has a major advantage over the stretcher. The shoe tree can be used to stretch the whole shoe or stretch some specific pressure points. This will give relief to a person with foot problems like corn, bunion or hammer toes.

Since the shoe tree is a simple tool, it is easy to improvise with various materials and stretch your shoe at home. A shoe tree can be made from potatoes, old newspapers or rugs.

How to use shoe stretchers and shoe strings

You should follow the instructions that come with each product because there are some minor differences. But generally, you will start by applying a shoe stretching liquid or spray. The liquid helps to saturate the shoe material to make it stretch easier. After applying the liquid, expand the stretcher then insert it into the shoe. Turn the knob to stretch the shoe. Keep turning until you feel some resistance.

Then you might make two or three more times. Leave the stretcher for a night or two. The shoe will stretch more depending on how long you leave the stretcher in. So, it is advisable to leave the stretcher in for a short time then remove it and try out the shoe. You don’t want to stretch your shoes too much because they might become loose.

The process for the shoe tree is the same except that you have to fix a plug in one of the dome holes. You fix the plug in the specific position that pinches you. The plug will stretch that pressure point, so your shoe will not hurt you when you wear it.


A shoe stretcher is a convenient tool to preserve the shape of your shoes, make them last longer, and comfortable to wear.

But the shoe tree has added advantages. It can provide relief for corn, bunion or hammer toes.

Both accessories can extend the shoe by a quarter to a half inch if your foot fits in between two sizes. When your shoes are a little too snug or too tight, these tools will help you out.


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