How to Shrink Shoes

Imagine this scenario. You’ve finally purchased the pair of shoes you’ve been dying to own for months on end. You’ve forked out your hard earned savings just for this occasion and can’t contain your excitement. You wait and wait until finally the package finally arrives after a week.

You rip open its wrapping, and the moment of truth arrives. You slip on the pair, but something feels off. You stand and walk, and it dawns upon you: they’re too big!

We’ve all been there from time to time and honestly, it’s a pretty common situation when you think about it. You can measure your feet with all the pinpoint accuracy possible, but the reality is no two pairs of shoes will ever fit the same.

Returning a pair and exchanging it for a smaller size isn’t always possible too because of scarcity so if you find yourself in a pinch like this, don’t worry. This is where we come in as right below, you’ll find 4 nifty ways to shrink just about any pair of shoes.

1 – How to Shrink Shoes Using water

Using water is the classic go-to method for shrinking shoes and has been utilized for decades. It isn’t without risk though! You have to make sure to do it properly otherwise you’ll end up permanently damaging your pair.

How the process works is simple. First, get your shoes wet. If you have leather shoes, use a spray bottle for this step and if you have something more casual like a pair of Vans, dunk them into a bucket of warm water. Let them soak for a bit then leave them to dry out in the sun.

If it’s too cold or cloudy where you’re at, you can also use a hair-dryer for this step though make sure you use the lowest possible setting and ensure that there is enough distance between your dryer and the shoe to avoid any unwanted damage.

Once done, you’ll immediately notice some shrinkage! And if it isn’t enough for you, simply repeat the process until you find just the right fit.

2 – How to Shrink Shoes Using an Iron

Taking advantage of the intense heat an electric iron provides is another great way to shrink shoes. In fact, this is the method we’d suggest if you’re looking to shrink only specific areas of your shoes!

Now before you employ this method, slip on the shoes again and identify the specific points where you think it could use some shrinkage. Once done, prepare a damp towel and wrap it around your shoes. Preheat your iron and simply press it gently over the sections you intend to shrink.

Ensure you use only the lowest setting and avoid at all costs, any direct contact between your shoe and the iron! The excessive heat will absolutely burn through any pair of shoes and will cause irreparable damage.

This process should take anywhere between a couple of minutes to twenty depending on the material of your shoe but make sure to let your shoe cool off and take a break every ten minutes or so. Once done, simply let your shoes rest for a couple of hours and try them on again and repeat if at all necessary.

3 – Shrinking Shoes Using a professional service

If the pair of shoes you intend to shrink cost you an arm and leg, we strongly suggest employing the services of a cobbler to help you with your shrinkage.

Not to say that you shouldn’t trust your own skills or our favorite methods but what we’ve been talking about always comes with risks as chances are, you probably aren’t a professional when it comes to shoes. Shrinking shoes is also a delicate skill that takes a lifetime to master.

Cobblers will be able to provide a practically risk-free method of shrinking your shoes and may even be able to provide further additions and suggestions that’ll benefit you such as insoles and stitching if necessary.

4 – Adding some cushioning

If all the above methods don’t appeal to you or simply don’t work, you should consider opting for the classic method: adding some cushioning. Finding appropriate shoe inserts for this is easy now thanks to Amazon and if you’re still uncertain, any shoe shop down at your local mall should have insoles ready.

Insoles are soft pads usually made out of cotton, gel, or fabric that’ll take up any unwanted space inside your shoe.

They’ll work just right if your shoe is about half a size too big and better yet, as insoles are designed to promote good feet health in terms of posture, shock absorption, and odor control, you’ll be reaping some additional benefits here too!

Of course another alternative is to simply slip on thicker socks, but we don’t particularly like this as it can promote excessive feet sweating.

Are all shoes able to be shrunk?

Absolutely. It doesn’t matter whether you own a pair of canvas shoes or a pair of fancy leather shoes. If it fits on your feet, chances are it can be shrunk. The only thing that varies though is the steps you take as with certain materials, you should opt for a more cautious and patient approach.

Shrinking shoes isn’t a perfect science though and is a skill that’ll take time and practice to get good at so if you’re uncertain about your own ability to do this, we strongly suggest you either seek professional help or opt for a safer option (e.g. purchasing insoles).

Can you shrink leather shoes with the first two methods?

Yes, but because leather is a little tricky to deal with, we suggest using the ironing method. Further, it may be best if you condition your shoe every five minutes or so between applying heat as this will preserve both the quality and visual appeal of your shoe.

Of course dealing with other materials like canvas is far simpler thanks to its composition so you can skip this step if you’re dealing with anything apart from leather shoes.