How to Shrink Leather Boots? (5 PROVED METHODS)

Your boot doesn’t fit? Became oversized? Need to know how to shrink leather boots of yours? We always put emphasis on our appearance. For that, we sometimes end up spending a lot of time choosing the right attire and shoes. Shoes, or in this case, leather shoes, need to fit perfectly and snugly to boost our looks and confidence.

The problem with leather shoes is, they don’t fit all the time perfectly. The pair you tried in the store fit you right, but the same pair is feeling loose once you wear them a couple of days after.

Fortunately, shrinking leather shoes to your feet size is not that difficult. In this article, we are going to discuss five ways on how to shrink leather boots (or how to stretch boots to your size).

Understanding Leather Boots And Why Shrinking Is Necessary

Leather boots remain a timeless classic in footwear fashion, with their versatile nature and durability being their strong suits. The ideal pair should be comfortable, fitting snugly around your feet without being too tight. However, what if your pair of leather boots is too loose and uncomfortable?

Shrinking your boots might be the solution to your problem. Below are the key points to consider when shrinking your leather boots.

Different Types Of Leather Boots

Before you start shrinking your leather boots, it’s important to understand that not all leather boots are made equal. Different types of leather have unique properties that affect how they will shrink. Some of the common types of leather in boots include full-grain leather, top-grain leather, suede, and nubuck.

Here are some key facts about each type of leather:

  • Full-grain leather: This leather type is the most durable and high-quality, possessing a natural grain that is resistant to wear and tear. Full-grain leather boots can be challenging to shrink.
  • Top-grain leather: This leather type is less durable and of slightly lower quality than full-grain leather. It’s easier to shrink than full-grain leather boots.
  • Suede: This type of leather, popular for its soft texture, is even easier to shrink than the two types of leather above.
  • Nubuck: Similar to suede but with a finer texture, nubuck is another soft leather that shrinks easily.

Reasons Why You May Need To Shrink Your Leather Boots

There are various reasons why you may want to shrink your leather boots. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • You recently lost weight, and your boots no longer fit. Shrinking the boots will help them fit better.
  • You purchased a pair of leather boots that’s slightly bigger than you expected.
  • Your boots have stretched out and become too loose over time.
  • You bought a pair of boots online without trying them on first, and they don’t fit as expected.

Identifying The Type Of Leather Used To Make Your Boots

To shrink leather boots effectively, you need to know what type of leather your boots are made of. This will help you determine the best method to use. Here are some simple ways to identify the type of leather used in your boots:

  • If the boots feel smooth and have no markings or scars, they’re most likely full-grain or top-grain leather.
  • For suede, the leather will have a textured or fuzzy surface while nubuck will have a slightly sandpaper-like texture.

Whether you’re planning on shrinking your leather boots for comfort or aesthetic purposes, proper knowledge of the type of leather used and the different shrinking methods is key to achieving the desired result. Follow the instructions carefully, and with a bit of patience, you’ll have a fitting, comfortable pair of boots in no time.

Pre-Shrinking Preparation Of Leather Boots

Shrinking leather boots can be an easy process if you know what you’re doing. One of the most important steps in that process is the pre-shrinking preparation of the leather boots. Here we will go through the steps needed to ensure that your boots are ready for the shrinking process.

Cleaning The Boots

Before anything else, it is important to clean the boots properly. Dirt and debris can get in the way of the shrinking process, causing it to fail. To clean your boots, follow these steps:

  • Gently remove any dirt and debris from the surface of the boots with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Take a damp cloth and wipe the boots to remove any remaining dirt and dust.
  • Dry the boots with a towel and leave them to dry completely in a warm, dry, and airy place.

Checking For Damages And Defects

Once your boots are clean and dry, it is important to check for damages and defects. You don’t want to spend time on a damaged boot only to end up with an unusable end result. To do this:

  • Check for scratches, tears, or other damages on the surface of the boots.
  • Inspect the seams and stitches for any signs of damage or wear and tear.
  • Check the soles for any cracks or other forms of damage.

Removing Laces And Insoles

Before proceeding with the shrinking process, it is important to remove the laces and insoles. This will help to ensure an even shrinking process and prevent any damage to those parts.

  • Remove the laces from the boots.
  • Take out the insoles and set them aside.

By following these pre-shrinking preparation steps, your leather boots will be ready for the next stages of shrinking. It is important to ensure that they are clean, damage-free, and ready for the shrinking process.

5 Ways to shrink your shoe size

  1. Soaking your boots in water
  2. Shrink by using a blow dryer
  3. Using vinegar solution
  4. Using an insole and wear thick socks
  5. Sewing an elastic band

You can try these hacks at home without going to a cobbler. Moreover, you can do it just with some common ingredients you can find. It is important to know that some of these tricks can change your boots permanently.

1. Soak your boots in water:

This old army trick can get the job done! Leather and water repel each other. Using that property, you can adjust the fit of your boots. You have to follow these steps.

  • Take a bucket of water. Put your boots in and fully submerge them in water. If they are not totally submerged, they can shrink unevenly.
  • Soak a thick pair of socks. That will help your boots get to the proper size and cancel the pain you might feel for the shrunk boots.
  • Put on the boots over your wet socks. The boots will start to shrink as soon as you bring them out of the water, so do that as soon as possible.
  • Walk with your boots on and let them dry on your feet.
shrink your boot with water
How to Shrink Leather Boots With Water

2. How to Shrink Leather Boots using a blow dryer

This method also works nicely.

  • Take a water sprinkler or a spray bottle. Spray water on all the leather parts of your boots. Using a sponge or a piece of cloth will also do.
  • Maintain a distance of about five inches to get a good effect. Make sure the boots are equally wet on all parts.
  • Take a blow dryer and dry the boots. Keep the drier six inches away from the boot and blow the heat evenly. Remember, the parts to dry first will shrink the quickest. It is best to start from the loosest parts for an even shrink.
How to Shrink Leather Boots using blow dryer
How to Shrink Leather Boots Using Hair Dryer

3. How to Shrink Leather Boots using vinegar solution

At this point, we’ll discuss how to shrink leather shoes with vinegar. Vinegar is a common ingredient that you can find in almost every home. The most common is white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar also works equally.

  • Use a pair of old socks and put them in a bowl. Pour one cup of vinegar and let them soak completely.
  • Now, put each sock into both shoes. Do not squeeze them inside; just lay them gently inside. Let them dampen the inside and keep them for about 1-2 hours.
  • Take out the socks and put the pair into the sunlight. Let them dry out completely in the sun.
  • Try them on, and if you need them to shrink more, follow the first method using water.

4. Use an insole and wear thick socks:

Thick socks can immensely help to get a snug fit. You can wear thick wool socks or may go in two pairs. The latter can make your feet hot and sweaty, so do it only in winter, or if one pair doesn’t give you ideal results.

  • Using thick socks may not make the boots fit perfectly. In that case, go for an insole. The insole will press your feet closer to the instep and eliminate heel slip significantly.
  • If there’s room between the shoe tip and your feet, use tissue paper and stuff it in the toe cap. These will help you to achieve a better fit.

5. Sew an elastic band:

Sometimes, soaking and drying methods don’t work the way you want them. To handle that, you can use an elastic band. You also need a thick sewing needle. Can’t find an elastic band? Use an elastic strip instead.

  • Take the band or strip and put it in a convenient position on the heel.
  • Use the needle and thread and sew the strip around the edge through the heel. You can apply this method if your boots have thin leather.
  • Otherwise, buy a heel grip and attach it inside of your shoes using an adhesive.

If all that fails…

By now you already know how to shrink leather boots using some easy tricks. But it can be unfortunate that any of these methods did not work on your shoes. In that matter, your best shot is to visit a cobbler and get them fixed. That will definitely work but at the cost of a significant amount.

You need to consider your budget, the cost of the shoes, and repair expenses. If the expense is too much, consider buying a new pair of leather boots.

Tips For Achieving Perfectly Fitted Leather Boots

Leather boots are a classic addition to any wardrobe. The right pair can last for years, but what do you do if they are just a bit too loose? Here are some tips for achieving perfectly fitted leather boots.

Appropriate Dressing

The right clothing can influence the fit of your boots. Wear the right thickness of socks and ensure you are wearing the correct size. Here are some dressing tips to follow:

  • Wear the socks that you intend to wear with the boots when trying them on to get an accurate fit.
  • Try your boots on at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest.

Maintaining Proper Storage

The way you store your leather boots can significantly impact their fit. Here are some of the most important storage tips:

  • Always store leather boots in a cool, dry place to maintain their shape.
  • Use boot trees to help your boots keep their shape.
  • Avoid keeping your boots in direct sunlight, which can fade the leather and cause it to become dry and distressed.

Avoiding Over-Shrinking

Shrinking leather boots can be an effective way to achieve a better fit, but it can also ruin them if you are not careful. Here are some tips to shrink your boots without overdoing it:

  • Do not soak your boots in hot water as you risk the leather becoming warped or stiff.
  • Only use a small amount of water or rubbing alcohol when shrinking your boots.
  • Test the process on small areas first before working on the entire boot.

Ideal Time To Shrink Your Boots

Shrinking leather boots should be done when the leather is wet. Here are the ideal times to shrink your boots:

  • After a rainstorm, wear them around for a few hours in wet conditions, like walking in puddles or on wet grass.
  • Place wet towels in the boots and let them air dry in a warm area. Be careful not to dry them in high temperatures.

Remember that shrinking leather boots will make them a little tight, but they will gradually stretch out to a comfortable fit. With these tips, you can achieve perfectly fitted leather boots that will last for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Shrink Leather Boots

Can You Shrink Leather Boots?

Yes, leather boots can be shrunk using water and heat method. However, some boots may not be suitable for shrinking, especially those made from patent leather or synthetic materials.

What Materials Do I Need To Shrink Leather Boots?

You need items such as a clean cloth, water, a heat source like a hairdryer, and leather conditioner.

How Long Does It Take To Shrink Leather Boots?

The entire process may take about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type and size of the boots. Patience is crucial throughout the process.

Is It Possible To Stretch The Boots After Shrinking Them?

Yes, it is possible to stretch boots after shrinking them. Wear them with thick socks to stretch them, or use a leather stretching spray or use a professional shoe stretcher.

Can Shrinking Leather Boots Damage Them?

Shrinking leather boots may cause some damage to the leather if not done correctly. Avoid the process for boots that are not suitable for shrinking or seek help from a professional.


Overall, shrinking leather boots is not as daunting as it may seem. With the right tools and techniques, you can easily achieve the perfect fit for your boots. Remember to take your time and follow the steps carefully. Always check the progress as you go and make adjustments as needed.

Whether you’re looking to shrink new boots to the perfect fit or revitalize a pair that has stretched over time, these methods will ensure that you get the results you desire. With a little bit of effort, you can make your boots fit snugly and comfortably, giving you the confidence to step out in style.

So put on those boots and start your shrinking journey today.

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