6 Clever Ways to Shrink Work Boots

Just grabbed a new pair of work boots for a steal of a price only to find out that they don’t fit quite right?

How to Shrink Work Boots

I know it’s no less than an agony. Worry not! Luckily, you can fix this problem with quite simple hacks. If your boots are off only by a half size or so, there are few tricks that can make your boots snug your feet.

The natural material of our work boots can reduce molecularly which makes them a little smaller in mass. You can take the advantage of this same phenomenon and just by following a handful of tricks like immersing your boots in warm water and then drying them on your feet, using thick socks, using elastic bands, etc. you can definitely give your boots a tighter fit.

So before throwing your pair give these hacks a try and thank me later!

1.) Use Water to Shrink Boots

Our work boots generally use leather as their construction material. You know that leather and water repel each other. Just take the advantage of this by retaining the shape of the boots while they shrink. Let me tell you how!

1.) Fill a tub of water and soak your boots in it

Fill the tub enough so that your boots can sink in it. Mind it, if they don’t get completely soaked, they might shrink unevenly.

2.) Soak a thick pair of socks as well

By following this step, your damp socks will help your boots shrink to the proper size and will avoid the pain your feet might feel by shrinking. Check out the best socks for steel toe boots.

3.) Put on the wet boots over your damped socks

Try to follow this step as soon as possible because your boots will start to shrink right after you take them out of the tub. However, you need to be a little careful as while wearing you might take a little elbow grease.

4.) Wear them and walk around the house until they are dry

After you have followed the above three steps you can do whatever you want. As you will continue to walk around, the material will automatically shrink to snug your feet. This may sound uncomfortable to you but trust me it’s really effective.

2.) Shrink the Boots with a Hair Dryer

The heat method is quite impressive and works perfectly for shrinking the boots. Just come after:

1.) Fill hot water in a spray bottle

Spray bottles are super helpful if your boots aren’t made from leather and you have to hit only particular spots. You can also use a sponge or old rag as an alternative to dampen your boots.

2.) Spray the water on outer surfaces of your boots

Make your boots soggy by spraying from about 5 inches or 13 cms away to avoid the mess. After all, any dry parts simply won’t recoil.

3.) Blow dry the outer parts of the boots with a hair dryer

The last step involves drying your damped boots using a blow dryer. Just hold the dryer about 6 inches from the boots and evenly pass the heat on each boot until both the boots become dry.

Remember, the parts which dry first will shrink the most, so it is advisable to start with those parts which are loosest on your feet.

3.) Shrinking Using Elastic Bands

Time to try your sewing skills! This method requires sewing a small piece of elastic into a band and then placing it inside the heel of your boot.

  • Cut a piece of elastic with sufficient thickness to shrink the interior of the boot to your desired length.
  • Just place this part of elastic inside the heel. You can use any hairpin to make it stable for some time.
  • Lastly, take a needle and sew this elastic material permanently into the heel.
  • Once you are done, just remove the hairpin and your boots are all set.

This method is very useful for thin leather boots and can be done using a curved needle. However, this method is difficult to be experimented on with thick leather.

4.) Stuffing Boots

I would not say stuffing boots will shrink them but this process decreases the internal dimension of the boot. You can use materials like newspapers, foam or cloth or thick socks for this. These materials can absorb the moisture quickly thus allowing your boots to hug you well.

When your boots are long and go beyond your toes, you can easily fill the gaps by cushioning tissue paper, cloth or any other scrap paper.

You can also try some good work socks which are thick and padded. These socks not only make your boots well-fitted but also prevent long boots from slouching.

5.) Using Insoles to Make your Boots Snug

Just like stuffing material in your boots, insoles also help to reduce the space between the bottom of your foot and the upper.

An insole is the first layer of the sole and is attached to the upper of the shoe. It is present directly beneath the foot which cradle the foot.

5 Best Insoles for Work Boots on Concrete


So how can you use it? Simple, when there is a gap between your upper and top of the foot just fill the gap with a thicker insole.

In most cases, the insole is detachable and can be replaced with another thicker sole but if it is glued to the upper of the boot, you can just add another insole on top of it.

6.) Leave it on cobbler

Lastly, if everything fails you can let the cobbler take care of it. Your boots just need a re-stitching because they might be too loose. And this can only be done by a cobbler.

Just take your boot to him, get your feet measured and let him do his work!

Why should proper fitting boots be your first choice? 

We all know the answer to this question is to feel comfortable. But if we particularly talk about work boots, the main purpose of these assets is to protect your feet from injury. However,  an ill fitting boot is an invitation to injuries and can lead to foot cramps and blackened toenails. It can even act as a catalyst for any pre-existing health conditions.

Next is the problem of smelly feet. You might be suffering from this problem without realizing that it’s your wrong size boot which is contributing to it. Improper foot hygiene can aggravate certain health issues by allowing growth of bacteria. It also fails to provide you with a good posture and balance which are quite important to maintain a proper work life.

Do Leather Boots Shrink Over Time?

Leather will not shrink over time if not exposed to the following factors that contribute to the shrinking of the leather:

Cold weather stops the stretching process of the leather:

That said, when you expose your leather boots to cold weather over a prolonged period of time, it will stop the stretching process of the leather, but will not shrink in that way. But when the stretching process stops over time, you might feel that your boots are shrinking in size.

Heat makes the leather boots brittle over time:

When you expose your boots to extreme heat day after day, it will make the leather brittle in texture and you will feel that your boots are shrinking.

Excessive washing of leather boots without proper conditioning might shrink them:

We are all aware that certain cloth materials tend to shrink after washing. Leather too falls in the same line, and if they are not treated with a good conditioner after the washing process, they will get hardened and stiff and as a result you will experience shrinking of the boots.

Wet leather tends to shrink:

Actually, it is not the wet texture of the leather that shrinks it, but continuous drying of the boots after getting wet tends to make the leather hard and as a result shrink.

Boots will shrink if not worn for a long period of time:

If you do not wear your boots for long, the break-in process reverses and then your boots will be back to the stiff form once again and you will feel that they have shrunk.

How to shrink cowboy boot shaft?

There is actually no way to just shrink just the shaft of your cowboy boots except taking them to a professional to get it done.

Still, you can try the process that is used to shrink the cowboy boots:

      • Just soak the shat area of the boots in a bucket of warm water by holding the boots while immersed in water so that the entire boot does not dip in the water.
      • Then wear a pair of wet socks and then wear your boots.
      • Let it dry on your feet by applying heat with the help of a boot dryer or hair dryer.
Top 10 Best Cowboy Work Boots for Men and Women

How to make cowboy boots tighter around calf?

You can choose one of the following ways to make your cowboy boots tighter around the calf:

Use warm water to shrink the boots: Fill in a bucket of warm water and immerse your boots in it for an hour. Do the same with your pair of socks. Now wear the socks and the boots while still wet and let them dry on your feet by sitting in the sun. Your boots will shrink and the calf will become tighter anyway.

Wear thick pair of stockings: Wearing thick pair of stockings will make the circumference of your calf area larger and as a result when you wear the boots, the calf area will become tighter.

Adding a belt will make the calf area tighter: You can add a belt around the calf area over the boots and this will help to tighten the area without much effort.

Use a hair dryer to shrink the boots: Drying wet boots with the highest heat setting of the hair dryer might help in shrinking the boots. So, if your concerned area is the calf, apply direct heat on the calf area.

How to shrink suede boots?

You can shrink suede boots by using the following tips:

      • Wet the inside of the suede boots using a wet sponge. 
      • You just need to insert the wet sponge inside the boots and let the suede material to soak up the water. 
      • Then take out the sponge and wear your boots. 
      • Apply heat using a dryer and it will take the shape of your feet.

You can also carry out the process by inserting wet tissue or a wet cloth inside the suede boots.

How to stretch work boots?

You can stretch your work boots by following our awesome tricks on how to stretch work boots fast.

Before You Leave

I have told you earlier as well, before investing in a pair of boots a sufficient amount of research can help you in many ways. But if you ever face such situations you know how to get out of them, right? Just try these recommended methods and save yourself from throwing your boots in the trash. After all, it’s not a tough row to hoe!

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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