Finding the right fit when it comes to shoes is not always as easy as the fairy tales make it sound. Most department stores don’t even carry smaller shoe sizes, leaving many of us to search amidst the kid’s section for footwear or to stick to shoes that are too big. Knowing how to shrink shoes, however, saves you the hassle of finding the perfect fit in a selection you might otherwise have to go without.
Beyond the issue of not being able to find your size in stores, another reason to uncover ways to shrink shoes revolves around wearing down your favorite pair of tennis shoes. We all have that one pair that’s so worn and loved that our feet slide inside as we walk.
These helpful techniques restore the shape of those worn in sneakers by shrinking them back to their original size. To learn more about how to shrink leather shoes, sneakers, and boots, check out the brilliant tips we put together.
Fantastic Easy Ways to Shrink Shoes
Going to a cobbler to fix your shoes is a pricy expense to pay for shoes you already spent so much to buy. Depending on the type of shoes, it isn’t even an option to have a professional make alterations.
If the size available in shoe stores is only off by a half size or a little larger, than using these techniques suits just fine. Anything that exceeds a full shoe size, however, should be reconsidered.
Identify What Areas to Shrink
The first step in the shoe shrinking process is to determine which areas do and don’t fit. After purchasing a new set of dress shoes, some part of the shoe likely fits fine.
You don’t want to risk making well-formed parts of the shoe too small along the way. As a result, your focus then shifts to shrinking that specific spot on the shoe, rather than trying to adjust the entire shape to form to your foot.
To determine what needs shrinking, put on the shoes, and try them out. Do the sides of the sneaker need reducing to avoid slipping while running? Does the toe area require shrinking to prevent blisters? Consider these questions before deciding on how to approach the alteration of your shoes.
How to Shrink Shoes with Heat
The simplest way to shrink shoes is with a little bit of heat and water. Start by dabbing the area of the shoe that would benefit from shrinking, though be careful not to soak the material thoroughly. Do not get any water inside of the shoe, either.
You especially want to avoid getting the insoles wet, as this may result in a musty smell that forms along with mold and mildew. We do have some stinky shoe hacks if this does become a problem, however.
After wetting the surface, use a hair dryer to shrink shoes to a smaller state. Keep the blow dryer six inches away from the surface of the shoe to prevent damaging the material, especially when it comes to suede or leather shoes.
Run the dryer on a medium heat setting, rotating the areas evenly until completely dry. Test the newly shrunk boot out and repeat the process as necessary.
This method may also work to shrink leather gloves if you got a great pair on sale that are a little too big.
Toss Your Sneakers in the Dryer
If you are attempting to shrink a pair of canvas shoes, one easy way to do this is by tossing them into the dryer. Cleaning Vans in washing machine is not required, though it is perfectly fine to do, too. When using a spot treatment to clean, use mild laundry detergent or a homemade solution, like the one seen in this recipe.
Scrub your running shoes clean with the lemon juice solution before running them through the washer. Spritzing them with a bit of water also works. Run them through the dryer for about 15 minutes, then try them on to see how they fit.
Use Natural Heat to Shrink Shoes
Similar to the other wetting and heat method, using natural heat also acts as a shrinking mechanism for your favorite pair of shoes. Since this tactic uses subtler tools to dry out boots and shoes, it is safer to apply to high heels and other delicate shoes than running them through the dryer.
Use water in a spray bottle to moisten the areas that need shrinking first. Place the dress shoe out in direct sunlight to warm. Doing this tightens it up naturally as it dries. Do not leave the heels out in the sun for too long, though. Too much exposure to the sun may cause these larger shoes to lose their color in the process.
How to Shrink Leather Shoes Properly
Using heat to shrink leather shoes is a perfectly acceptable practice, except for the dryer method. One additional step you should take when making your leather boots and shoes smaller is to add a leather conditioner to the procedure after shrinking.
Doing this maintains the high quality of the shoe by restoring oils lost due to the water and heat. Dab a tiny amount of the leather conditioner onto a clean cloth and run it along the surface of the boot. Pay close attention to areas where prolonged exposure to heat and moisture occurred.
However, there may be times when your leather shoes feel a little too small rather than too big. Stretching leather shoes is just as easy as shrinking them.
A shoe stretcher or putting a well-sealed bag of water in your shoes and adding them to the freezer often adds just enough room for comfort. You can stretch shoes wider to accommodate a wide foot or even make them a little longer to increase the size.
Other Ways to Shrink Shoes
Sometimes the only way to make large shoes feel smaller is by closing the space inside the shoes, rather than altering the shoes themselves. A straightforward way to accomplish this is by wearing thick socks to compensate for the extra space.
Not only do these extra fluffy clothing items provide cushion for the foot to remain locked in place, but they offer an added barrier to protect against blisters. Using thicker socks does not work with dress shoes or loafers, though.
Instead, try adding inserts either on the bottom or to the backside of the shoe. The first option lifts the foot upward, leaving less room between the top of the foot and the top of the shoe for sliding around. The second prevents blisters on the heels by allowing less room for the heel to slip out of the shoe when walking.
Add Embellishments to Large Shoes
If a pair of socks and inserts simply don’t feel right when trying to make your big shoes feel small, another option is to alter the shoes slightly. One is to add a strap to shoes to hold it in place, though this may require a trip to the cobbler.
For softer materials, such those seen on ballet slippers, adding an elastic band to the heel also helps. Doing this requires sewing a small piece of elastic to the outside of the heel, causing it to cinch up when the elastic snaps back. Hold the bands in place with safety pins while sewing to ensure they make the right size.
How to Shrink Leather Boots
It’s important to understand that some leather boots cannot be altered without the help of a cobbler. Instead, using thick socks to fill in the excess space is your best bet.
The types of leather boots that do not budge on size are generally patented leather shoes. For those leather boots that are receptive to shrinking, this next method uses a more extreme version of the above tactics.
After shrinking, if you find that your shoes or boots are dirtier than you would like, you may wonder what can you clean leather with that won’t damage the material? Use our simple but effective cleaning recipe and conditioner helps preserve the leather.
Place the leather boots inside a tub of warm water, completely submerging the base of the shoe. Put on a pair of socks and wet those as well, then tug on the still wet leather boots. Wear the boots on your feet until they dry all the way. As the boots begin to dry out, they slowly form to your feet.
The tightening leather may pinch just a little as it shrinks, so the wet socks act as a barrier to prevent this. Next, use the above recipe for the best homemade shoe cleaner on your dried boots to remove any residue, gunk, or grime from the surface.
Use a small, pea-sized drop of leather conditioner to treat the material of the shoe and restore the proper levels of moisture so they don’t crack. Buff your boots with a homemade shoe shine recipe so they look brand new. Test your shoes or boots with regular, dry socks when you finish shrinking them and repeat the process if needed.
While we have discussed shrinking shoes here, know that there are also ways to stretch tennis shoes and your other favorite types of footwear. Some of the solutions are remarkably similar.
These easy-to-follow processes allow you to find the perfect fit you’ve been waiting for all along. With so many different ways to shrink shoes, the answer to your woes is much closer than you think, no matter what types of shoes you purchase. So, buy those new shoes without worry or salvage an old pair with these simple strategies.
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