How to Shrink Leather Work Boots

Must-Know DIY Methods to Shrink Your Leather Work Boots

Shrinking Your Leather Work Boots Could Be Disastrous! Let’s Get Into Why You Should Never Shrink Your Leather Boots & How to Give Your Boots a Better Fit.
Shrinking Leather Work Boots
How to Shrink Leather Work Boots
Table of Contents

You can’t shrink leather work boots, their sole prevents them from becoming smaller than their original size, but you can give them a better fit by altering their volume with thick socks, tongue pads, arch cookies, heel pads & liners, insoles, and ball of foot cushions.

If you’re planning to shrink your leather work boots, don’t fall prey to the wrong tips and damage your work boots! The internet is crawling with articles with quick fixes for shrinking leather boots, very few of which are safe solutions for you or your work boots.

If your boots are a little too big for you, we suggest using the following tried and tested tips rather than doing something that may make your boots look like a pair of shriveled raisins!

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Must-know DIY methods to shrink your leather work boots.
  • The real reason you shouldn’t shrink your leather boots.
  • Exactly how your work boots should fit.
  • 6 ways to give your boots a better fit by decreasing the volume.
  • Methods you should avoid when trying to shrink leather work boots.

Our specialist editorial body at MyBestWorkBoots works hard to give you the latest retail scoops. Consequently, we’ve collated this accurate and thorough evaluation of how to shrink your leather work boots.

Let’s dive right into it!

The Reason You Shouldn’t Shrink Leather Boots

The reason you shouldn’t shrink leather work boots is that shrinking leather work boots is, in fact, impossible to do; the rubber sole keeps leather boots from shrinking further than their original size.

If your leather boots are too big, you should adjust their volume or get a new pair of boots.

You can shrink the leather in certain portions of the boot, such as the uppers, but you will never be able to shrink the entire boot. Shrinking the leather in certain parts of the boot may help it break in faster, but you’ll most likely wind up with wrinkly boots that still don’t fit.

Whatever you do, don’t try to shrink your leather work boots!

How Should Your Boots Fit?

Your boots should fit you snugly. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to shrink your leather boots because you should try to buy a pair that fits your feet perfectly from the start. 

Choosing too small a boot could cause your toes to feel squeezed in the toe box. Choosing too big a boot could cause your heel to move and your foot to slip forward when you walk.

Discovering the volume of your boot should point you in the right direction to make your boots fit better. It’s important to know what it means when your boots are too big. Are your boots too long or wide? Is the heel cup a little too round? The part of the boot that is too large will determine if and how you can get the boot to fit better.

6 Ways to Give Your Boots a Better Fit by Decreasing the Volume

There are six ways to give your boots a better fit by decreasing the volume:

  • Thick socks
  • Tongue pads
  • Arch cookies
  • Heel pads and heel liners
  • Insoles
  • Ball of foot cushions

People’s feet are all different shapes. Although a pair of boots may fit nicely in length, a narrow foot will swim inside the boot. Alternatively, people with collapsed arches will have far too much room between the top of their foot and the boot.

You can’t obtain a good boot fit in either situation, no matter how tight you tighten your laces. Both issues arise as a result of the boots’ excessive volume.

If you’re having trouble finding boots that aren’t too big for you, you can use the methods listed below to fill in the gaps.

How to Shrink Leather Work Boots

Thick Socks

Wearing a thick pair of socks with a pair of boots is the simplest way to fill up the excess volume in your boot and make your boots fit your feet better.

This will work because the socks will fill the gap between your foot and the boots. They’ll only help if the boot is only a little too big. 

Tongue Pads

One way to give your boots a better fit is using tongue pads; their thickness take up the extra volume in your boot.

You can purchase tongue pads for a reasonable price. 

The tongue of the shoe is the section of the boot directly beneath the laces. A tongue pad is a self-adhering pad that is placed on the underside of the boot’s tongue. Most tongue pads are thin, ranging in thickness from 1/8′′ to 3/16′′. 

You could use two or more tongue pads in your boots to give them a better fit.

Arch Cookies

Another way to give your boots a better fit is by getting an arch cookie that fills your boots’ instep area and prevents your foot from sliding forward. 

34-inch also fills your boots’ instep but takes up more space.

Heel Pads & Heel Liners

Heel pads and heel liners are a great way to make your boots fit better by filling up some of the extra space in your boot. They are excellent for when the boot fits well in other areas, but the heel slips a lot, causing a shearing action in the heel that can result in blisters. 

Heel pads and heel liners can be purchased in various thicknesses and materials – depending on how loose the boots are, you can stack two on top of each other if necessary.


You can fill up the additional space in the boot by adding an insole, giving your boots a better fit.

The standard detachable insoles that come with your boots are usually thinner than the insoles that you can purchase separately.

Ball of Foot Cushion

Using a ball of foot cushion to give your boots a better fit also serves the function of distributing the pressure on your feet as you walk, relieving stress on the metatarsal.

Metatarsal pads are another name for ball of foot cushions. These are typically used for those who have metatarsalgia or discomfort in the delicate ball of the foot. 

Instead of trying to shrink your leather boots, use a metatarsal pad to offer some comfort and make them fit better.

Methods to Avoid When Trying to Shrink Leather Work Boots

Methods to avoid when trying to shrink leather boots are sewing an elastic band into your shoe, using a hairdryer on them, using an alcohol and water mixture, and shrinking them in the microwave. 

Using any of these methods to attempt to shrink your boots may destroy them.

If you have a brand-new pair of boots that are too big, consider using an insert or wearing socks with them first. If that doesn’t work, you can try selling them or giving them away. But please, in your desperation, don’t ruin a perfectly good pair of boots by using the wrong methods to try to shrink them!

Avoid Sewing an Elastic Band Into Your Boots

Trying to sew an elastic band into your work boots puts you at risk of perforating the leather, which will make them less water-resistant. It’s frequently recommended on the internet to sew an elastic band into your shoes to shrink them, don’t do this!

Instead of using this method to try to shrink your leather boots, we propose that you use a heel grip instead.

A heel grip is mostly used to protect and support your heels from pain, blisters, and rubbing while also keeping your heel in position in your shoe. The soft, ergonomic shape mimics your heels’ contours, cushioning them, and can assist in adjusting the volume of your leather boot to give you a better fitting boot.

How to Shrink Leather Work Boots

Avoid Using a Hairdryer

Don’t use a hairdryer, or any form of direct heat, on your work boots. The heat from the hairdryer can cause considerably more harm to the leather than simply drying it.

When you apply direct heat to leather, you risk drying it out. It is even possible to crack the leather surface and damage a brand-new pair of boots. Excessive heat can also harm other boot areas, such as the glue or other components that keep the shoes together.

Avoid Using a Spray-on a Mixture of Alcohol & Water

Don’t use a mixture of alcohol and water on your work boots as this will remove the oil from the leather and dry them out. 

This procedure is also used to stretch leather boots, which is the opposite of what you’d be trying to achieve.

Avoid Microwave Shrinking

Whatever you do, don’t microwave shrink your work boots! You’ll damage your boots and microwave if you try to shrink them with this alleged method. It’s the worst two-for-one offer you’ll ever find.

Common Questions

Will a Boot Dryer Shrink Leather Boots?

What Can I Do if My Boots Are Too Big?

Can a Cobbler Shrink Leather Boots?

In Conclusion

If your work boots are too big, there are plenty of solutions you can employ rather than adopt some of the more destructive remedies offered by many of the sources on the internet.

To avoid a situation that requires you to shrink the size of your work boot, try to get a boot that fits you properly in the first place. This will save you a lot of trouble.

Unfortunately, there are no magic shortcuts to improve the fit of your boots that will directly shrink them. In desperation, putting a pair of oversized boots in the microwave may seem smart, but you should instead attempt to fill the extra volume in your work boots with less destructive methods.

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James Blake

James has made it his mission to find the top boots on the market. He's passionate about matching the right boot to the right application because different boots are a perfect fit for different uses.

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