How to Shrink Shoes: 5 Useful Methods!

Learn how to shrink athletic, leather, suede, and canvas shoes by reading our step-by-step article on How to Shrink Shoes.

How to Shrink Shoes

Smaller Shoe Size

The best methods to use when trying to shrink your shoes or make them fit better are by:

  • Using a dryer
  • Using a blow dryer
  • Using natural heat
  • Wearing thick socks
  • Using a cushion or insole

This is How to Shrink Shoes: 5 Useful Methods!

If your shoes are too big and not fitting correctly there are a handful of different methods you can use to shrink your shoes and fix the fit. 

Your shoes may be too big because they have been stretched, or you may be trying to shrink some “hand-me-downs” for your next of kin. No matter what your reason, we have solutions for you.

One of the best ways to shrink shoes is by using the dryer. Most shoes can be dried in the dryer (learn how hot does a dryer get), however not all of them can, so be sure to check the shoe’s care label before using this method. 

By using a blow dryer and a spray bottle you will be able to accurately shrink certain portions of your shoe, instead of shrinking the whole thing.

Shrinking your shoes might help stop your shoes rubbing the back of your heel.

Before your shrink your shoes make sure there are no creases in them. These creases will not only hold rivets of dirt but also affect the look of the shoe. Look over our article how to get creases out of shoes to address these wrinkles, and how to not crease shoes to prevent further creases.

To learn how to employ these shrinking methods and more, continue reading our article on how to shrink shoes.  

How to Shrink Shoes

Use the following methods to shrink your shoes. Remember. to always check the care label on your shoes before trying any type of care procedure. 

Do not shrink your clothes to these instructions, instead follow our specific guides on each piece of clothing.

1. How to shrink shoes in the dryer

Before trying to shrink shoes in the dryer, it is important to first check the care label, which is stitched on to the back of the shoe’s tongue. If you see the tumble dry symbol on the tongue of the shoe, then you may put your shoes in the dryer. If you see a do not tumble dry symbol, then they must be air dried. Most athletic shoes made of cotton or canvas are able to be machine dried

1. Spray your shoes

Spray water on to your shoes with a spray bottle until the shoes are slightly damp but not soaking wet. 

This is the a photo of tall paul spraying his shoes so they can be shrunk in the dryer

2. Stuff your shoes

Stuff the shoes with socks or another dryer friendly item such as a washcloth or face towel. This will help the shoe keep its shape. 

This is a photo of a pair of Puma shoes being stuff with socks before they are shrunk in the dryer

3. Put shoes in laundry bag

Tie the shoes together by the laces, and place them into a mesh laundry bag to avoid them from bouncing around too much during the tumble dry cycle. 

This is a photo of Puma shoes with socks in the being placed in a mesh laundry bag

4. Place shoes in dryer

Place the shoes into the dryer and adjust the setting to tumble dry high.

This is a photo of tall paul changing the setting of the dryer to dry his shoes

5. Push start on dryer

Push start with the dryer being on its highest setting.

this is a photo of tall paul pushing start on this dryer to shrink is shoes

6. Check on your shoes

Periodically check on your shoes to make sure they are not becoming damaged and that they are not being over dried. Learn how long does a dryer take.

This is a photo of tall paul opening his dryer to check on his shrunk shoes

7. Take out of the dryer

Take out your shoes when they have achieved your desired level of shrinkage, or when they are completely dry, whichever comes first. 

This is a photo of Puma shoes in a mesh laundry bag that have been shrunk in the dryer

2. How to shrink shoes with a blow dryer

Use a blow dryer to shrink shoes if you have a specific area of the shoe that you’d like to shrink. Using the blow dryer is an easy and accurate way to shrink individual areas instead of your whole shoe. 

1. Spray your shoes

Use a spray bottle to add moisture to the area of your shoe that you wish to shrink.

This is a photo of tall paul spraying his shoes with water before shrinking them with a blow dryer

2. Spray until damp

Spray until the area is damp, but not soaking wet. 

This is a photo of tall paul spraying his shoes until they are damp

3. Set blow dryer setting

Adjust the blow dryer to the medium heat setting

This is a photo of tall paul setting his dryer before shrinking his shoes with it

4. Turn on the blow dryer

Turn on the blow dryer and apply hot air to the damp area from around 15cm/6in away, until it dries. 

This is tall paul turning on the blow dryer to shrink his shoes

5. Repeat as needed

Repeat as necessary until you have achieved the degree of shrinkage you require. 

This is a photo of a pair of Puma shoes with water spray bottle and blow dryer to shrink shoes

3. Line Dry Outside

Use natural heat to shrink your shoes by hanging them on a clothesline (line dry) and letting them dry out in the sun.

Add moisture to your shoes with a spray bottle, tie the shoes together, and hang them over a clothesline on a hot and sunny day. If you do not have a clothesline, hang the shoes over the back of a chair, the fence, a rail, or just place them on the ground or table top of any kind (dry flat).

Learn some more tips on how to dry shoes without a dryer.

This is a photo of Puma shoes being line dried outside to shrink them

4. Wear Thick Socks

The easiest and most inexpensive way to shrink your shoes is by making your foot bigger; that is by wearing thicker socks

Try on some super thick and fluffy cotton or wool socks to fill up the empty space in your oversized shoes.

This is a photo of a pair of thick socks laying overtop a pair of shoes

5. Use a Cushion or Insole

If your shoes still don’t fit properly after trying the three methods above, then you may want to consider simply buying a cushion or insole for your shoe

Buy a cushion or insole that fits your shoe, so that your foot will be raised up and the inside of the shoe will feel more full. You may want to try this first as cushions and soles are inexpensive and easy to find. 

How to Shrink Leather Shoes

If you are looking to shrink leather shoes you must pay a visit to a shoe cobbler. The main two things needed to shrink any kind of shoe or garment is heat and water

Leather cannot be put into the dryer, and should not be soaked in water. If you would like to shrink leather shoes, head to your local cobbler/shoe maker.  

How to Shrink Suede Shoes

To shrink suede shoes you’ll need a spray bottle filled with water and a blow dryer

Use the spray bottle to add moisture to the area you wish to shrink, and then use the blow dryer on a mild or medium setting to dry and eventually shrink the shoe. 

How to Shrink Shoes FAQ

If you would like to shrink your shoes down a size, dampen them with water and place them into the dryer on tumble dry high. The heat generated by the dryer could possible shrink your canvas shoe by up to one size. 

Make your shoes tighter by adding an cushion or insole, wearing thick socks, using the dryer, or using a blow dryer. 

Check the care label stitched on the back of the tongue of your shoe, to see if you can place them in the dryer. If you see the tumble dry symbol printed on the label, then you may use the dryer to shrink your shoes. 

If you’d like to shrink a specific area of your shoe, use a water bottle and blow dryer to accurately target that portion of the shoe. If you would like to shrink the entire shoe, place it in a mesh laundry bag and dry it in the dryer on tumble dry high.

Written and reviewed by:
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

Get Men's Fashion Tips