Is there a way to shrink leather shoes?

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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Is there a way to shrink leather shoes?
Shoes shrink more evenly when the majority of the materials are leather. (leather shoes image by Steve Lovegrove from

Leather shoes can be custom fitted through a process that shrinks the leather gradually. Shoe leather expands and loosens with regular wear, causing shoes that were once snug to fit more loosely. Shoes that are too large cause foot irritation and may lead to falling and injury. Shrinking shoe leather reduces the space inside the shoe to prevent the sliding that makes a shoe unsafe. You can shrink a pair of leather shoes to fit better than ever in just a few minutes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Towel
  • Adjustable nozzle spray bottle filled with water
  • Heated hair dryer

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  1. 1

    Fold a towel in half and place the shoes on it with the soles facing down. Remove the laces and insole to keep them dry during the shrinking process.

  2. 2

    Adjust the nozzle on the spray bottle to release a fine mist of water before evenly wetting all the leather portions of the shoe. Dab the sides of the shoe with the towel to remove excess water that is not absorbed by the leather.

  3. 3

    Dry the shoe leather quickly with a hair dryer set to high air speed and low heat. Keep the tip of the hair dryer's nozzle at least 5 cm (2 inches) from the surface of the leather at all times to avoid discolouration.

  4. 4

    Replace the insole and laces before trying on the dried leather shoe. If the shoe is still too big, repeat the wetting and drying process (with insole and laces removed) until you are satisfied with the amount of shrinkage.

Tips and warnings

  • Protect leather shoes from damage and discolouration with a leather protection pretreatment spray before attempting to shrink them. Leather spray treatments are available at most shoe stores.
  • Leather of different types and thickness shrink at varying rates.
  • Some suedes, and dyed and artificial leathers can be damaged by water and heat application. Read the warnings on the shoe and shoebox before attempting to shrink untraditional leathers.

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