How to Shrink Leather Boots black

How to Shrink Leather Boots for A Pain-free and Comfortable Experience?

While it is a bit challenging to find a leather boot that perfectly fits your feet, take note that it is still possible to shrink it to your exact size and fit. Whether you are using it for work or for your daily activities, you need to ensure that your leather boot is extremely comfortable. If it does not fit correctly, then there is a great possibility for you to suffer from blisters and sore feet. 

Just like raw denim, it needs to go a shrinking process to have a custom fit. Sanforized denim has gone through a chemical treatment that prevents further shrinkage after washing the jeans. Most mass-produced jeans and many raw and selvage denim are sanforized. Unsanforized denim has not gone through with the shrinking process, so when you end up washing or soaking the jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.

Fortunately, it is now possible for you to avoid all that by learning how to shrink leather boots correctly for a perfect fit. You don’t need to spend a fortune on how to shrink leather shoes since some materials in leather shrinking can be found at home. 

What Do You Need to Follow this Tutorial?

  • A pair of wet socks
  • Water
  • Small spray bottle
  • Direct sunlight or blower
  • Leather conditioner
  • Clean cloth
  • Elastic band
  • Hairpin or safety pin
  • Thick thread and curved needle
  • Tissue paper
  • Thick insole

Step 1 – Shrink your Leather Boots with a Pair of Socks

How to Shrink Leather Boots 1

Get a pair of socks then soak them in a tub filled with water. Ensure to soak them for at least five minutes. Once the water is fully absorbed, you can remove the socks from the tub.

Wear the wet socks then put your feet into your boots. Do not take your boots off until the socks dry. Often, this process takes a day to complete. A wise tip is to continue wearing it while you are doing your daily activities.

This is important because it allows your leather shoes to take shape and go with the contours of your feet when stationary, moving and walking. Wait for the socks and boots to dry as such is the key to making the boots shrink to your feet’s shape.

Step 2 – Try the Water Method

You have to be careful when using this method, though, as excessive use of water might cause the leather material to get damaged. It may acquire stains or cracks or become stiff. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use water to make the top part of the shoe or its sides damp. Target the extremely large parts, particularly the toe and sides.
  • Fill a small spray bottle with water then spray it to the part you want to shrink. Make sure that water does not get to any other parts of your shoes, particularly the base and sole.
  • Dry the shoes. You can do so by putting it in direct sunlight. While this drying process is longer than the others, it also prevents your shoe from getting damaged.
  • Alternatively, you can use a blow dryer but make sure to  that you’re only using the lowest setting. The hair dryer should also be at least six inches away from your shoe because if it's too hot or too close, the leather will either burn, harden and then crack.
  • If necessary, do the process again by applying water for the second or third time and subsequently heating it if you notice that the shoe is still too large.
  • Do not use a washing machine tumble dryer because it can damage the shoe and the tumbler although some dryers include a stable drying rack for this type of drying.

If necessary, do the process again by applying water for the second or third time and subsequently heating it if you notice that the shoe is still too large.

Step 3 – Condition the Leather

You need to do this right after you’ve tried the water solution in step 2. What you have to do is to wait for the shoes to be fully dry. Once dry, you can clean the boots or the with a dry-cleaning solvent to remove any stains. After cleaning treat it using a leather conditioner.

Note that both heat and water may cause your shoes to crack or become stiff. With the help of the leather conditioner, you can deal with such a problem and prevent the risk of further damage.

Rub the leather conditioner into the shoe using a clean cloth. Once done, let it dry naturally. Avoid using any heat treatment to dry it off. You can also do this method for leather gloves, leather hats leather seats and leather upholstery. Applying leather conditioner will prolong the life of the leather by making it soft and durable. 

Step 4 – Sew an Elastic Band into the Leather Boot’s Heel

The use of an elastic band is another technique that you can use on how to shrink leather boots. What you need to do is to sew a tiny patch of an elastic band at the inner parts of the boot heel lining. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cut a small piece of the band. Make sure that it is thick enough to make a difference. There should be some excess on the patch. This is the key to making the sewing or stitching process hassle-free. Aside from that, you can just cut off the excess later.
  • Align the elastic band into the heel with the help of a hairpin or safety pin.
  • Sew the patch into the boots with a thick thread and needle. If possible, choose a curved needle as it makes the sewing process easier. Once done, you can remove the attached pins.

Step 5 – Other Possible Solutions for Shrinking Leather Boots

Aside from the ones mentioned above, you can also try other solutions designed to shrink leather boots.

  • Tissue paper – All you have to do is to stuff your leather boots with it. Such is extremely useful if you have an extra-long pair of boots that extend to your toes.
  • Just push some tissue papers inside to prevent them from slipping off. Alternatively, you can use thin cloths, or some newspapers to stuff the boots.
  • Socks – If you want your boots to fit you perfectly, then wearing thick socks can help. During winter, you can also decide to wear multiple pairs of socks. Such can help shrink the boots to your size and fit.
  • Thick Insole – You can also insert a thick insole on the space between your boots and the topmost part of your foot. Doing so can help shorten or get rid of the gap.

The good news is that you will never have a hard time finding a thick insole as you can easily find those made of foam or rubber in local stores.

Common Leather Shoe Options


The rough out leather is soft and has a neppy texture.  The rough flesh side of the cow skin is on the outside of the shoe.  It is thick and durable and can take lots of abuse. Roughout was the preferred leather material for the US Marine Corps combat boots in WWII because they don’t need shining and were more breathable compared to rough-in leather.

Full-Grain Leather

Full grain leather is made up of supportive, water-resistant, dense and tight fibers. Full grain leather conforms to the foot over time when used to make boots and shoes. This leather type retains the outer texture of the hide and conforms to the foot over time. The leather can vary in thickness, depending on the starting thickness of the hide, and from which part of the hide the leather is taken.

Vegetable-Tanned Leather

The name comes from the vegetable/plant matter and tree barks used in the leather tanning process that is combined in creating a stiff and naturally-colored leather. The light shade doesn’t stick around for long; however, vegetable-tanned leathers will naturally darken and soften up with use resulting in a fantastic patina throughout the boots’  life. But you have to take note that the process doesn’t make the leather stable in water. It can shrink and become brittle when drying out.


Pull-up covers a wide range of heavily waxed and oiled leathers like aniline, semi-aniline leathers, and chrome whose color lightens when you pinch and “pull-up” on the leather. This process allows the leather to take on scrapes and remain maintenance free.


Just like the Roughout, suede uses the flesh side of the skin. The difference is that the skin surface has been buffed and sanded down to get an even texture. This makes the suede thin and supple for more delicate garments. Suede is an excellent, light wearing material but best worn in summer and early fall as the neppy texture is a sponge for dirt and stains.

Shell Cordovan

Shell Cordovan is considered the holy grail of leathers by leather aficionados. The leather is one of the rarest and hardest wearing shoe materials. The Cordovan is cut from the horse’s hindquarters where the pores are so dense that it’s naturally water and stretch resistant. It also means the leather ripples instead of creasing and folding around the shoe stress points. If treated properly, the shoe can last for several decades.


Calfskin is the leather made from a young cow’s hide that makes the leather thin and soft with a fine grain, free of blemishes and still very durable. Calfskin responds well to a high polish and can last for years if treated well Shoes made of calfskin are excellent dress shoes.

Final Thoughts on How To Shrink Leather Boots

Now that you are fully aware of how to shrink leather boots, there is no need for you to worry about facing discomfort when wearing it. You’ll surely be glad to know that you can now use it in your daily activities with utmost convenience.

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