How To Shrink Leather Shoes That Are Too Big

how to shrink leather shoes that are too big


Don’t you hate it when the shoes you ordered are way too big for your feet?

Other times you order a shoe that fits perfectly only for it to expand over time.

In this article, we will discuss how to shrink leather shoes that are too big.

Because big shoes are not only uncomfortable to walk around in, but they also slow you down! In fact, you can also end up looking like a clown. Let’s get started.

A Note About Shrinking Leather Shoes

how to shrink leather shoes that are too big

There are different criteria for shrinking shoes depending on the material used and how much you want to shrink them.

Make sure you pick not just any method, but one that is right for your specific shoe type.

There are different techniques, but this article will highlight only the most effective ways on how to shrink leather shoes that are too big.

Materials Needed

You need the following items to get started:

  • Clean water
  • A blow dryer
  • A piece of cloth
  • Heel cushions
  • Insoles
  • Foot cushions
  • Leather conditioner
  • Elastic band
  • A sewing needle and thread


The first step is to wear the shoes to determine which parts need to be shrunk.

If you just purchased the shoes, you don’t need to shrink the whole shoe. Instead, focus on parts of it.

For instance, if you have leather oxfords, you can shrink the sides so that the shoe fits more snugly to prevent them from slipping while you are walking.

Leather loafers can also be shrunk on the upper pumps to make them compact.

Take some time to evaluate which part of the shoe needs to be shrunk in order to most efficiently use your time.

How To Shrink Leather Shoes That Are Too Big

how to shrink leather shoes that are too big

Adding heat does not work primarily with coated leather sneakers, most leather heels with a patent, or larger shoes such as boots.

To get a better fit, you need to use extra inserts.

Method 1: The Wet and Dry Trick

Wet The Shoes

Dip your fingers in water or a piece of cloth then rub it against the part of the shoe that needs to be shrunk.

The objective here is to make the pump a little bit moist but not necessarily dripping wet.

Repeat this step until the pump is adequately moist.

Take care not to get the insole of the shoe wet.

This can cause it to smell, crack, or even discolor.

Blow-dry The Shoes

Hold the dryer at a reasonable distance from the shoes and turn it on.

This should be done at warm-hot temperature settings for best results.

However, if you begin to smell the leather or you hear a cracking sound withdraw the blow dryer for a few minutes until the shoe cools.

Too much heat might cause the leather to dry and crack.

Air-dry Your Shoes

Air-dry the shoes for around 20 minutes or until they cool down.

Test Your Shoes

Now wear your shoes to see if it fits and walk a few steps to ascertain that your shoe has successfully shrunk.

If it is still not tight enough, repeat the process. Just moisten it again and continue blow-drying. Then air-dry them and try them on again.

Note: With this process, the shoes might become a little too tight or become damaged.

In this case, put on thick socks or paper inserts to stretch them evenly.

If this does not help, then you might reconsider expanding the various shrunk parts of the shoe.

Be careful when using this method.

Condition Your Shoes

To restore the smooth leather texture, rub the shoes with a small amount of leather conditioner using a piece of cloth.

Method 2: The Cheats Way

how to shrink leather shoes that are too big

This method does not involve an actual shrinking of the shoes but rather ways of making the shoe feel smaller.

Below are some of the ideas on how to shrink leather shoes that are too big without actually shrinking them.

This will work more efficiently if you don’t often wear the boots too often or don’t want to risk damaging the leather by actually shrinking it with water.

1. Wear A Pair Of Thick Socks

This works to fill the extra space and give the shoes a tighter fit.

2. Use A Cushion At The Back Heel.

For shoes that are too long, this will improve their fit. Heel cushions are not visibly thick.

They measure about 0.42cm thick, which makes them appropriate for shoes that do not need that much shrinking.

They can be found in most shoe retail stores and online.

3. Try Foot Cushions

If you want to shrink the space in the toe area, you can fill it with foot cushions.

When applying them, peel off the protective paper from the back of the pillows and place them where your toes usually rest.

4. Add Extra Insoles

If your shoes continually slip out or they don’t fit snugly between your feet and the top of your shoe, then this trick might work.

Purchase an extra insole (thick) for the same shoe size.

Insert it above the one already in your shoe, and try them on.

Try walking to see if there is a difference. This method is preferred because the additional insole is not visible from outside.

5. Constrict The Shoe Using An Elastic Band

This should not be difficult if sewing is not a new experience for you.

Pick out a free area of the shoe, which you want to shrink and stretch the elastic material across it.

You can use safety pins to maintain the elastic tightness as you keep sewing.

When you are done, you will notice that the elastic band pulls the material of the shoe together giving it a tighter fit.

The Benefits Of Wearing The Right Sized Shoe

how to shrink leather shoes that are too big

Shoes do more than just protecting your feet.

Besides cushioning the foot, the right shoe size will help support the alignment of your foot when it touches the ground.

Wearing the right shoe size is essential even for mere comfortable walking.

It is thus essential to know how to shrink leather shoes that are too big, just in case you get the wrong fit.

The other benefits include:

They shield your feet from injury: The wrong shoe size may cause injury to the foot and ankle besides worsening any existing health conditions.

You avoid foot cramping and black toenails: These occur because of repeatedly wearing shoes that don’t fit well.

Get rid of smelly feet: Most people suffer this condition oblivious that the wrong shoe size is a contributing factor.

Bad foot hygiene may lead to aggravated circumstances.

Proper fitting shoes help to maintain good posture and balance: It is easier balancing in shoes that fit and maintaining an upright position.

How To Pick The Right Shoe Size

Perhaps you are going through all this trouble because you picked the wrong shoe size.

Sure, it might have been a perfect fit when you tried it on at the mall but it seemingly ‘became bigger’ moments later.

You need not only know how to shrink leather shoes that are too big but also how to pick the right shoe size.

Keep the following in mind when shopping for the right shoe size:

Trace your feet: Keep this tracing whenever you go shopping and place the shoe above it.

If it looks narrower or broader, then it probably won’t fit. In addition, remember to trace both feet.

Since feet change with age, it is important to have both your feet measured when you are buying shoes.

In some occasions, one foot will appear bigger than the other one. Pick a size for the larger foot under this circumstance.

Shop in the Afternoon: Naturally, your feet tend to expand as you walk more during the day.

Consequently, if you want to shop for shoes, the afternoon is the most appropriate time to.

Similarly, if you are buying work-out shoes measure your feet immediately after working out.

Do not change your socks: Wear the same socks you will be wearing daily when you go shopping.

This ensures an accurate fit.

Physically try fitting both shoes: When shopping, it is not enough to look at the shoe size.

Wear both boots and walk a few steps to see how comfortable they feel.

The right shoe size should leave some space for the toes to wiggle and move about freely. Sizes may sometimes be different so trying them on gives you a more accurate judgment.

Also, bear in mind that shoe sizes vary from one country to another.

Consider your width: Most shoes have a width size.

Crosscheck the width of your foot from your trace against a sizing table.

Most shoe stores have sizing tables and some include all tables for different countries.

Oftentimes, people do not account for width and end up with shoes that are too small for them, or occasionally, shoes that are too big.

Tips to Care For Your Shoes To Avoid Unnecessary Stretching And Wearing Out

how to shrink leather boots

Perhaps you just bought new leather boots, and you don’t want them stretching further.

Cleaning is an essential ingredient if you’re going to keep your leather shoes in good shape, both functionally and aesthetically.

When done regularly, cleaning restores the look of leather shoes and prolongs their life.

The following simple care tips will help to keep your shoes in perfect shape at all times:

  1. Polish. Any shoe material needs regular polishing to keep it moisturized. When uncared for, leather tends to become too dry and hard resulting to cracks.
  2. Condition leather shoes with cream conditioners.  Although this will not make your shoes shine, conditioning prevents cracks in leather shoes. Always apply cream conditioners sparingly. Only a pea size is recommended. When applied in excess, conditioning creams block the pores of the leather, which prevents it from breathing.
  3. Waterproof. In surplus amounts, water has a terrible effect on the leather material. Waterproofing or simply waxing works to create a coating that blocks additional moisture out.
  4. Wash them gently. Be mindful not to use a brush with stiff bristles to avoid scratching off the material. Alternatively, you can clean using a damp piece of cloth.
  5. Air-dry. Drying your shoes in the air is the best alternative to blow-drying. Blow-drying is a quick way to get that excess moisture off, but if not done in moderation it may lead to cracking of the leather material. Always set the blow dryer at a medium level setting. Another efficient way of drying wet shoes is by stuffing them with pieces of paper or dry fabric.
  6. Always wear your socks with leather shoes. Wearing socks protects the leather from your sweat, which would otherwise wear it out. This is a common misdoing among shoe lovers. Additionally, allow your shoes enough time to dry before wearing them the next time. Leather needs at least one day to dry off natural perspiration after heavy use. Giving your leather time to recover can drastically improve its longevity.
  7. Change shoes regularly. It is not healthy wearing the same shoe consecutively. If you have to re-wear the same shoe do not do it more than three consecutive times to allow for natural aeration.
  8. Replace your shoes. Naturally, even if well cared for, shoes will wear out eventually. The proper period to replace your boots is after at most two years depending on the brand. If you have purchased a high-quality leather shoe, the leather may have life left in it if you have taken good care of the shoe. Consider resoling them to add to its lifespan.

Once you know how to shrink leather shoes to make them fit, you need to care for them in order to make them last. The above tips work perfectly.

Shoes contribute to a significant part of how good or bad one looks.

If properly cared for, they will amplify your look and last for years.

Besides knowing how to shrink leather shoes that are too big, you need to know how to take good care of them.

Can I Shrink Leather Shoes With Vinegar?

An interesting question that many of our readers have asked us is if it is possible to shrink leather shoes with vinegar.

We recommend combining the wet and dry method with socks that have been soaked in white vinegar.

Let your vinegar soaked socks sit in your shoes overnight, and then allow your shoes to air-out in the sun.

It can help shrink your leather shoes even more.

In Conclusion

At times shoes may be too big – way beyond shrinking.

The best decision in such a case would be to replace them.

Alternatively, there are many articles and techniques on how to shrink leather shoes that are too big.

Do not just pick any or apply a blend of all of them without careful research.

If you continuously have to shrink your shoes, that is a sign that you are not doing it right or you need to give them up.

Next time, you might want to pick the right shoe size to avoid having to go through the hassle of shrinking your shoes.