How to Shrink Shoes

What can be a better feeling than wearing your favourite pair of shoes for the first time? If you are a shoe-holic like me, you know the anticipation of purchasing a pair of shoes you have been eyeing for a long time can be extremely euphoric.

Unfortunately, sometimes it can happen that we order a pair of shoes and the size doesn’t seem to fit quite as snugly as we would want. In such cases, there are a couple of tricks you could try to make your shoe shrink to your foot size.

Whether you are looking to shrink your shoes to one size smaller or 2 sizes, or make an ill-fitting shoe fit better by a little bit, just follow my super simple guide on how to make shoes smaller.

Approach 1: Making Some Areas Shrink

If you are planning to shrink your canvas, leather or suede shoes, this method can be effective. This works well if you are only planning on achieving a better fit by shrinking certain areas of your shoe.  

Materials/Equipment

  • Water
  • Blow dryer

Step 1: Figure Out the Area that Needs to Shrink

Wear your shoes and walk around in them a little bit, as well as check them out on your feet in front of a mirror, to see exactly which areas need to be worked on.

Step 2: Wet the Target Areas

With the help of your fingers or a soaked rag, apply water to the identified areas. Don’t let any water soak into the insoles since it can cause your shoe’s quality to disintegrate. It can cause the shoe to smell or crack, depending upon the material.

Step 3: Blow-dry the Wet Areas

Using a hair dryer, completely dry the target areas that you thoroughly soaked with water in step 2. Make sure you use the medium setting and aim the blow-dryer from at least 6-7 inches away. Direct or intense heat can cause discoloration in shoes.  

Note: If you are drying leather shoes with the help of a blow dryer, watch out for a strange smell. If your shoes start to smell, stop the blow-drying process immediately and air dry them instead.

Step 4: Condition Your Leather/Suede Shoes

You can purchase a leather conditioner from a nearby shoe store or online. Use the conditioner to maintain the supple texture of your leather or suede shoes since drying them can cause the material to dehydrate and crack.

Approach 2: Make Shoes Smaller by One Size

If you are looking on how to shrink leather shoes or canvas shoes overall instead of shrinking particular areas, then your best bet is to use the soak and dry method.

This method only works for leather or canvas shoes, not suede. Soaking suede shoes completely in water can damage them.

Leather Shoes:

Materials/Equipment

  • Tub
  • Water
  • Socks

Method:

  • Submerge your leather shoes in room temperature water in a large tub or bucket
  • Put on some socks and dip your feet in a bucket of water to get your socks completely wet. This ensures that your leather shoes shrink down to the exact shape and size of your feet.
  • Put on the wet shoes immediately after removing them from the bucket or tub of water. Timing is essential because as soon as you pull the shoes from the water, they will start to shrink.
  • Just go about your day as usual and avoid any outdoor activities that can get your shoes dirty. Wear the shoes until your socks are completely dry.
  • This could take a couple of hours so be prepared for a little bit of discomfort.
  • Let the shoes air dry completely and try them on to see the fit.
  • Don’t forget to condition the leather with a good quality leather moisturizer.

Canvas Shoes:

You can shrink your canvas shoes easily in the washing machine.

Materials/Equipment

  • Washing Machine with Dryer/Dryer Machine

Method:

  • Submerge your canvas shoes in water until completely wet
  • Pop the wet canvas shoes in the washing machine and turn on the drying feature. If you have a separate dryer, you can use that instead
  • Run the drying cycle for at least 12-15 minutes
  • Once dry, try on your canvas shoes and see if they fit better. If not, repeat the process or target specific areas using the first approach used for shrinking only certain areas

Approach 3: Use insoles/Cushions

If you don’t want to go through intensive and invasive ways to make shoes smaller, and are just looking for a way to make your shoes fit better, you can try to add insoles to your shoes instead.

  • If the shoes that need a better fit are closed shoes like sneakers or boots, you can try wearing thicker socks like hiking socks or wear more than one pair of socks to make them fit better
  • If you need shoes to be a better overall fit but can’t pair them with socks, use insole inserts to make the fit tighter. You can also target specific areas of the shoe as per your requirement by using heel cushions or ball of foot cushions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I make my shoes smaller?

You can use several methods to make your shoes smaller depending upon the material of the shoe and the type of shrinking you require.

For leather shoes that need to be shrunk completely, they can be submerged in water and then worn with wet socks until dry, to achieve the perfect fit.

For canvas shoes, popping them in the dryer can be a quick and easy fix to shrink them down to your required size.

For suede shoes, targeting specific areas using a spray bottle and then pointing a blow dryer on a mild setting from 6 inches away should do the trick.

how to shrink heels

What can I do if my shoes are too big?

If your shoes are only slightly big or ill fitting from only certain areas, you can either try to shrink them by using one of the methods given above or you can use some heel cushions, ball of foot cushions or extra insoles to make them fit better.

Can you shrink vans?

Vans are canvas shoes and can be easily shrunk in the dryer/washing machine. They can also be made smaller by targeting only specific areas of the shoe with a spray bottle and a blow dryer.

Do shoes shrink in the washing machine?

Most shoes shrink when they go from wet to dry. If you are planning to wash your shoes in the washing machine and don’t want them to shrink, you should air dry them after stuffing them with old newspapers to retain their shape and size. However, if you do want your shoes to shrink, you can simply pop them in the dryer and they will definitely shrink up in no time.

Conclusion

I hope this comprehensive yet simple guide will help you solve your shoe size dilemma! If you have any tips or tricks to share about shrinking shoes or general upkeep of shoes, feel free to share them in the comments!

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