Sometimes, whether by accident or by compromise, you end up with a shoe that is slightly too large.

Maybe you ordered online and didn’t get to try the shoe on, or you were wearing an extra thick pair of socks at the time you tried the shoes on.

Or perhaps the next available size down was too small, so you opted for a shoe that is slightly too big.

Either way, a shoe that is just a hair too big can be uncomfortable, especially if you plan on wearing it for long periods.

Thankfully, in the case of leather boots, it is easy to learn how to shrink leather so that the boots will fit perfectly when you are done.

This article will guide you through everything you need and the steps required to shrink leather shoes down to the size you need.

What You Will Need

Option 1: Shrinking with water

  • Socks
  • Spray bottle
  • Blow drier
  • Leather conditioner

Option 2: Elastic band shrinking

  • Elastic band
  • Safety pin
  • Curved needle and thick thread

Option 3: Tissue paper

  • Tissue paper

Option 4: Insole

  • Thick Insole


Option 1: Shrinking with water

When soaked and then heated, leather will naturally shrivel up slightly.

The best way to accomplish wetting leather boots is to soak a pair of socks in water, then wear them on your feet and put the boots on.

timberland premium work bootWear the boots for an entire day with the wet socks, waiting until the boots have absorbed all of the water from the socks and left them dry before taking the boots off.

You can also spray down the boots with water on the outside, although this method is prone to developing cracks in the leather.

Use a spray bottle to target the toe area and upper of the boot, being careful to avoid the sole in the wetting process.

Once the boot has absorbed the water, put them out in the sun for a few hours or use a blow drier to dry them out completely.

If you use a blow drier, be sure to keep it on the lowest setting to reduce the chance of cracking the leather.

Whichever way you go about shrinking boots with water, you will want to recondition the boots when you are finished with leather conditioner since this process dries out the leather.

When the boots are fully dry, rub leather conditioner into the boot with a clean cloth, making sure to cover the whole boot evenly. Once done, allow the boot to air dry for a day or so.


Option 2: Elastic band shrinking

In essence, this method involves sewing a small piece of elastic into a band on the inside heel of the boot.

This method works best for thin leather boots, since you will have a very difficult time sewing through the heel of a thicker leather boot.

To begin, cut a piece of elastic with enough thickness to shrink the interior of the boot to your desire length.

Leave plenty of elastic at this point – it is easier to cut it later than to end up with a patch of elastic that is too small now.

Place the piece of elastic inside the heel of the boot, using a hairpin to fix it into place temporarily.

Then take your needle and a thick piece of thread to sew the elastic material permanently into the heel of the boot. Once you are done, remove the hairpin.


Option 3: Tissue paper

An easy, although short-term, solution to filling empty space in leather boots is to fill the toe with tissue paper.

This solution is easily customizable – you can add more or less tissue as needed – and the tissue paper won’t hurt your toes when you walk.


Option 4: Insole

Like the tissue paper method, the insole method involves filling the inside of the boot using an external add-in.

Superfeet Premium Orange Insoles

In this case, a thick insole will help to reduce the space between the bottom of your foot and the upper – it will not do much to reduce the overall length of the boot from heel to toe.

Any sufficiently thick insole will work, whether it is a thick orthotic insole or a thick foam insole, and you can even use the insole from an old boot.

Buying leather boots that are slightly too big can be extremely annoying, as you are reminded of the size mismatch every time you take a step.

Over time, boots that are too large can become painful and you won’t want to wear them.

Thankfully, it is easy to solve this problem in the case of leather boots by learning how to shrink leather boots down to size.

Please let us know how these solutions worked for your leather boots in the comments, and if you enjoyed the article please share it with your friends!

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