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How to Shrink Leather Shoes With Vinegar

Have you ever bought a pair of leather shoes that felt snug, and after wearing them for a while they became too large? If so, you may be able to shrink your leather shoes with vinegar. I know this is frustrating, but here are some tips to help you out. If you are looking for the answer to how to shrink leather shoes with vinegar, this article is for you.Leather is like any material and it can shrink when dried. It is important to get the shoe leather out of its wet state, by either drying or cleaning your shoes thoroughly with water and a sponge at this point before they have a chance to dry on their own (which will result in shrinking).

How to Shrink Leather Shoes With Vinegar

Sometimes because of weather leather may get over-expanded and it will need to be shrunk in order for the shoe to go back into its original shape. This can happen when leather is subjected to high amounts of moisture and humidity, which causes this expansion that has a tendency to make shoes too large.Also, If you shrink your shoes too much, it will be difficult to stretch them back out again. It is important not to over-shrink shoes, as they are harder to stretch afterward and this can lead to tearing the leather of your shoe.


Why Vinegar Can Be Used to Shrink the Shoe?

Vinegar is a liquid created by the fermentation of alcohol. When wine or fruit juice goes through this process, it creates acetic acid which has antibacterial properties that can be used to disinfect things like silverware and countertops. Vinegar also contains malic acid found in apple cider vinegar which helps with digestion as well as lactic.The vinegar will work to break down the fat that has been hardened by moisture and humidity, thus shrinking your leather shoes. This is because of its acidity which can balance out the pH level in order for it to shrink back into shape properly. It also helps with peeling off any dried skin on top of the leather as well as removing dirt or debris from within the shoe’s fabric.

What Types of Materials are Necessary to Shrink a Leather Shoe using Vinegar?

  • White Vinegar
  • Leather Shoe (or the shoe you would like to shrink)
  • Dish Soap or Dish Washing Liquid
  • A bowl that is deep enough to submerge the entire shoe in water
  • A towel or fabric with a rough texture
  • Paper Towel for drying off excess moisture.

5 Steps of How to Shrink Leather Shoes with Vinegar 

Step 1

After finishing the marking. Don’t rub anything on them instantly. Also, make sure that they are away from any kind of liquid because any type of rubbing or spilled liquid will spread their color throughout the leather.

Step 2

Unlace the laces and remove any loose pieces of leather from inside or outside of the shoe. Then, wear gloves and soak your hands in soapy dishwater before handling this delicate material. When you’re done working on one side, wash your hands again.

Step 3

Towel dry the shoe and then place it into the bowl of water. The goal is to submerge all parts of the leather inside a deep enough bowl, but not so deep that your foot gets wet when you wear them again. Your toes should be at least an inch above any surface water in order for this trick to work best! If there’s too much excess water on top, pour some off before putting your feet back in.

Step 4

Wait about 30 minutes or until desired toe height has been reached. To get more firmness, allow shoes to air dry overnight with paper towel stuffed inside each shoe to help absorb excess moisture leftover from soaking process. Most people will see great results.

Step 5

The water inside the bowl will get dirty from rubbing off the excess dye. If you want to reuse it, pour everything out and refill it with clean water before soaking a new shoe. Allow shoes to air dry overnight if they’re still damp after being soaked for 30 minutes. Repeat as needed until the desired size has been reached!

Can Vinegar Damage Your Leather Shoe?

No. But Some leather shoes can be affected by vinegar. The acid in the vinegar weakens and breaks down some types of shoe materials, like suede or nubuck (leather). While this is not an issue for many types of leather those are treated with a coating to resist spilling onto them, it could cause irreversible damage if they’re left wet.It’s always best to test out your method on an inconspicuous spot first before proceeding so that you don’t have any surprises! This will also help determine whether the material being used is too delicate for home methods of cleaning. If there are tears or holes in the spots where rubbing alcohol has been sprayed on these areas, then use caution as well because using strong chemicals may exacerbate the issue.Soak the shoes in a mixture of water and vinegar for 30 minutes, then apply a leather conditioner to finish out the process if desired. Keep them away from light or direct sunlight for at least 24 hours while they dry! Then go back outside and put on your shrunken-down shoe with pride because you did it yourself!You may find that some types of shoes shrink better than others due to their material composition (e.g., nubuck versus suede). Test this method out beforehand by spraying rubbing alcohol onto an inconspicuous section first before proceeding into full use if any tears or holes are present where the liquid has been applied. If there’s no such issue with the materials being used, soak these areas in order to avoid weakening the seams or stitching.

Precautions Taken for Shrink Leather Shoes

Keep them away from light or direct sunlight for at least 24 hours while they dry!

Place a couple of old newspaper pages underneath the area you’re treating to avoid staining your floors while they dry!

Rubbing Alcohol

Avoid using rubbing alcohol on any material that may be weakened by the liquid such as lace, satin or velvet.

Keep this in mind for surfaces and colorfastness when using vinegar!

Don’t Soak Your Shoes Too Deeply

This will weaken areas of stitching and seams.


Avoid soaking any materials made from a natural fiber because it will deteriorate them quickly with prolonged exposure to liquids containing acetic acid (e.g., wine).

The Brush Test

This is an easy way to test if the leather has shrunken properly before putting shoes back into use where you can wear around indoors while looking at your feet in front of a mirror and see how much they’ve shrunk over time. If there are still visible wrinkles along the interior side of the shoe, then you have not shrunk them enough.

Then go back outside and put on your shrunken-down shoe with pride because you did it yourself!

Other Methods of How to Shrink Leather Shoes Without Vinegar

  • Fill a basin with water and ice cubes.
  • Soak your leather shoe for 20 minutes in the ice bath, then remove it from the tub of cold water to dry on a towel. Repeat if necessary until you are satisfied that they have shrunken enough.
  • Put shoes in a freezer bag or container and place them into the freezer overnight…Remove them at least every 30 minutes so they don’t freeze solid; repeat as needed until the desired length is reached.”

Comment: I think this could use more detail about how long before wearing to test for shrinking success? For example, what does a “long” time span mean here? A day? Two days? One week…? Was there any way to know when the shoes were finally done shrinking?

  • Fill a basin with water and ice cubes.

Go to Nearest Cobbler

If your shoes are not too large, you may be able to have them resized at the nearest shoe repair shop. Choose the Cobbler carefully. Before giving the shoe to them, You need to understand if he can fix your shoes or not.

  • Ask: “Do you repair leather shoes?”
  • If they say yes, proceed to ask if they can fix this problem with the shoe and what it will cost. Give them your shoe size for reference before leaving.

*The Cobbler should be able to take care of large-sized leather shoes without any problems.*

*Hint: If the cobbler says that he cannot do anything about it because there is a hole in the sole, then you might want to consider buying new ones instead! (We recommend looking at stores such as DSW)


After following the guidelines, shoes can be used again. And, I am sure you have the answer to how to shrink leather shoes with vinegar. Shoes shrink by about one size but this will vary depending on the material composition of the shoe. You may notice that some types of leather shoes shrink better than others due to their different compositions (e.g., nubuck versus suede). Test this method out beforehand before proceeding into full use if there are any issues with tears or holes where liquids have been applied. It is advised to soak these areas when necessary in order to avoid weakening seams

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Shrink a Leather Shoe?

If you are looking for a way to make your old leather shoes more attractive, then you should consider using shoe polish. The process of making the leather shoe more attractive is quite simple and can be done in just a few minutes.

What Does Vinegar Do to Leather Shoes?

There are many ways vinegar can be used to clean and maintain leather shoes.

  1. Vinegar can be used as a shoe cleaner: Simply mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and use it to spray the insides of your shoes before you wear them for the first time.
  2. Vinegar can also be used as a shoe conditioner: Apply it on a damp cloth, then apply it to your shoes before wearing them again for long periods or overnight, especially if they get wet frequently (for example, when you live in an area with frequent rain).
  3. For extra protection, mix up some white vinegar with water and apply it to your shoes after every walk outside to prevent mildew from forming on the leather uppers.

Does Heat Shrink Leather Shoes?

Heat shrink leather shoes are generally made from a material that is heat-sealed onto the shoe. This method of manufacturing is used to prevent tearing and provide added protection against dirt, water, or other environmental hazards.

Will Leather Shoes Shrink in the Dryer?

No, leather shoes will not shrink in the dryer. To know whether or not your leather shoes will shrink, check the following:

  • Does your leather have a shiny surface?
  • Is there any other fabric on top of the shoe?
  • Do you have a sock with the shoe that could prevent it from shrinking?