How To Shrink Leather Boots and Cowboy Boots: 8 Methods

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How to shrink leather boots instantly comes into your mind every time you buy a great, high-quality yet unfit pair. Should I give up on it or still get it and try to fix it later? Can we tighten or change the natural form of boots? In case they stretch out and become too big to fit you, there are a few simple tricks that you can do at home to make them tighter.

How to shrink leather boots?

There are a number of ways to shrink leather boots, but I think that the 8 methods listed as follows are the most common and easy to do.

Method 1: Sew in an Elastic Band

Sew in an elastic band

You can take advantage of the elastic ability of rubber bands to make your boots tighter naturally.

Step 1:

Place a rubber band inside your boots in the position of your heel.

Step 2:

Then, use a thick-gauge sewing needle and thread to sew around the edges of the elastic strip and through the heel of the boot.


However, this method only works with thin boots. For those having thick leather, you might need the help of a heel grip. Get one and attach its adhesive side inside your boots.

Method 2: Wear thick socks or two socks


Putting on additional socks may solve the problem. You might need 1 or 2 pairs of socks to achieve the needed thickness for your feet to fit in.

We recommend you use athletic socks or specialized socks (if available). Anti-slip yoga socks such as Ozaiic yoga socks for women or Muezna men’s yoga socks can minimize slipping possibilities in your loose boots and avoid unexpected accidents.


Always note that your feet can sweat when wearing too thick socks or 2 pairs during the summer. Therefore, this method should be applicable in colder months.

Method 3: Use cushion shoe pads


The loose instep is one of the common reasons resulting in unfit boots. You are likely to slip out frequently, which causes you discomfort and difficulty.

In this case, a cushion shoe pad may come in handy as it lifts your feet until they fit the boot’s instep.

Cushion shoe pads are available in different types that can lift your feet and support your arch simultaneously. Now you can wear your boots comfortably and smoothly all day.

If you are looking for a quality shoe pad, Ariat Men’s ATS Shoe Insert Footbed might be a good try.

Method 4: Spray water and alcohol mixture on your boots


Step 1:

Mix water and alcohol with a ratio of 3:1 in a spray bottle.

Step 2:

Spray the mixture on the upper leather until it is wet.

Step 3:

Now, you can add a shoe tree to keep them in shape and wait for a day until they are fully dry.

Step 4:

The alcohol evaporates water faster; thus, your leather boots would dry quicker. Then, paint a layer of oil-rich leather conditioner on the outer to recover the leather condition.


For alcohol, we recommend you to use isopropyl alcohol that you can easily get from any pharmacy. This method is quite risky, as alcohol may damage the leather and ruin your dyes. Therefore, you should only use this method as a last option.

Method 5: Use heel cushion or heel grip


Like loose instep, loose heels also cause discomfort to you since they can easily lead to slippage. If you have the same problem, it is time to use a heel cushion or heel grip.

Insert them on your cowboy boots’ heels, and you no longer experience the heel slippage.

For first-time users, we recommend you try Urchoice heel cushion inserts with the unique rational design for heel pain and slippage prevention.

Use heel cushion and heel grip

Method 6: Utilize soft cloth and cotton balls in your boots


In case your boots are too long for your toes, some light and soft materials might be useful. All you need to do is place those small objects such as soft cloth or cotton balls inside your toe box.

Luckily, you can easily find those soft materials at home to save your important moments. You can also think of getting a versatile pack of cotton balls like cotton balls organic by Sky Organics as a plan B.

Method 7: Use a foot cushion


If you are experiencing a forefoot loss, using a foot cushion might help. A good product like Fabric Metatarsal Pads not only tightens big boots but also maximizes your comfort and protects your barefoot from hurting.

Method 8: Resize your boot at a shoe repair store


You can take your boots to a reliable cobbler or local shoe repair for reshaping and resizing. Seeking professional care is the best answer for how to reshape leather boots.

However, because it is the most costly and time-consuming, you should consider the cost of your boots. It is better to get a new pair of leather boots if the old ones are not worth the price.

Big mistake when you shrink cowboy boots?

1. Soak your boots in water


Whenever you search for how to shrink leather boots or how to shrink faux leather boots online, you might see some websites tell you to dip your boots in water for an hour or wear wet socks in wet boots.

But, the truth is, these methods do not work. Water does not help shrink your boots.

Water is the biggest enemy of leather shoes. Boots collectors or lovers even find different ways to protect their boots from rain or snow. That is because water can ruin their quality quickly.

Therefore, soaking your expensive boots in water does not shrink them.

Moreover, water stretches boots, not shrink. Water softens the leather, which can stretch if you wear them wet over time. That is not to mention wearing wet socks for a long period can hurt your feet, too.

2. Dry the leather boots with too high a temperature

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Though it is little effective in shrinking your boots, you may sacrifice their quality. That is because most leather shoes cannot sustain sudden temperature changes.

3. Use a leather conditioner


It is a good way to protect your boots, keep them shiny and waterproof. However, it takes no effect in shrinkage. Conditioner makes cowboy boots softer and more comfortable to wear; thus, this method works for tight boots, not for wide boots.


1. Do leather boots shrink over time?

Definitely no. Leather shoes might stretch upon frequent and continuous use. They will stretch until your feet comfortably fit in. Since leather boots are durable, they will not stretch or shrink too much.

In case you only wear them occasionally and maintain them in good condition, there is a chance that they might shrink. However, this shrinkage effect will not last long, as your boots will stretch out again as soon as you wear them.

2. How to shrink leather shoes with vinegar?

For this method, you can either use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

  • Soak a pair of socks in vinegar and insert them in each boot. Let them stay in your boots for around 1 to 2 hours.
  • Remove the socks and place your boots in a location until they are fully dry. Exposing them to natural sunlight helps them shrink easily and dry fast.
  • Remember to bring them in once they are dry. Too much heat might leave cracks on your leather.
  • Now, try on your boots. If they are still too big for you, repeat the whole process until they reach your desired shrinkage.

3. What is the best way to shrink leather?

In general, making use of heat is the simplest and cost-effective way to shrink your leather boots. Luckily, this is effective for most leather items, not limited to leather boots only.

You can either blow them dry with a dryer or leave them dry in the sunlight.

Meanwhile, if you already found problems in specific parts, purchasing a small yet effective gadget such as a shoe pad, foot cushion is also a great idea.

Whatever method you choose, do not let your boots stay in the water for too long. Instead of shrinking your boots, water might destroy them. Once they already stretch out, there is no answer for how to unshrink leather boots.

If those mentioned tricks do not fix the problem, it is time to seek help from a professional cobbler.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, with the information we provide in this article, now you know some useful tips and some main mistakes to avoid when shrinking your leather boots.

If you are not clear about any points that we raised up, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. We will try to reach and discuss this with you as soon as possible.

And last but not least, thank you for reading our article on “how to shrink leather boots”.

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