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How To Make Shoes Smaller

I was in a shoe store recently and I fell in love with a pair of shoes that I just couldn’t walk away from. But they only had a size up from my regular size. The woman in the store told me that they weren’t going to have any more of these shoes in stock any time soon so I bit the bullet and purchased the larger size.

How to make shoes smaller
Sometimes, you just need to make shoes fit a smaller sized foot!

When I got home and tried the shoes on, they were obviously a little too big so I wondered how to make large shoes smaller.

After some serious research and testing out a bunch of hacks, I narrowed it down to a handful that really do work. So, if you’re keen to learn how to make shoes fit smaller, you’re in the right place; I’m here to tell you everything you need to know.


Insoles (also known as shoe inserts) are one of the best methods on how to make shoes smaller. They come in a variety of different materials including gel, foam, and leather. The insole is placed into the shoe and since they take up additional room inside the shoes, they’ll usually make large shoes fit a little better.

Additionally, insoles are designed to provide the foot with extra cushioning and support so they’ll also make your favorite shoes even more comfortable to wear. If you have postural issues or foot problems then insoles will soon become your new best friend.

That said, it’s really important to choose the right type of insole as each has its own range of pros and cons.

How to make shoes smaller
Insoles can work wonders to make a shoe that is just a bit too large fit your feet


Foam insoles are brilliant if you want your shoes to fit more snugly. They’re one of the most common types and therefore offer a rather general solution to comfort and support. Some foam insoles are designed to mold to the shape of the foot which is great if you want optimal comfort.


For anyone who has joint pain, gel insoles are a fantastic choice and not just for making your shoes fit smaller. They provide amazing shock absorption and offer extra cushioning for immense comfort.


Thermal insoles are made from a combination of wool and padded foam. They’re ideal if you live in a chillier climate or for when winter rolls around.


If you have problems with sweaty feet then I’d recommend leather insoles as these are among the most breathable. They’ll help to keep your feet dry and comfortable and many come with odor eliminating charcoal so your feet are always fresh.

Odor Eliminating Insole

As I mentioned above, some leather insoles have odor eliminating properties, but this isn’t the chase across the board. However, if you really suffer with sweaty feet then there are insoles whose sole purpose is to provide odor destroying potential. On top of this, they offer the same level of comfort as other types of insoles and will take up space in the shoe to make it fit better.

Heel Inserts

One of the most common problems with shoes that are too big is the heels slipping out. Not only is this annoying but if you wear the shoes for a long time, it can cause chafing and blisters. But heel inserts are designed to counter the problem and are easy to use, simply stick them to the back of the shoe.

You can also use heel grips which will prevent the back of the shoe from rubbing on the heel. In some cases, people aren’t even aware that the cause of their constant heel blisters are shoes that are too big but once they try heel grips, their problems seem to disappear.

Keep in mind that this is only a solution for closed heel shoes as you need something for the grips to adhere to. They also work better when wearing low shoes as it can be tricky to know exactly where to put them in boots or high top sneakers. You can use a bit of trial and error but that does require some patience.

One thing I’d also suggest keeping in mind with this method is that the presence of heel grips in the shoe can make it harder to put on. Yes, it’ll make the shoe smaller but it can feel quite odd when you first put them on so it might take some getting used to.

However, it’s worth persevering and having a short walk to get your feet used to this new sensation. Before you know it, you’ll feel as though you’re walking on Cloud 9 and your large shoes will no longer create friction on your heels.

Toe Inserts

Sometimes, shoes can feel a little too loose at the toe end and this is nothing short of infuriating when you’re trying to walk. There are a lot of hacks online that tell you to stuff tissue paper down the toe end of the shoe but this isn’t the best option when you consider there are actual toe inserts made for just this reason.

They’re made from foam and so are much more comfortable than toilet paper or kitchen towel and unlike these products, the inserts won’t lose their shape after just one wear.

Toe inserts can be used for any type of closed toe shoes. Even if your shoes are loose at the heel, but have an open back, a toe insert might be a viable alternative to a heel grip. It won’t work in all cases, but it’s worth trying.

How to make shoes smaller
Thick socks are a quick, easy, and cheap way to wear shoes that are a bit too large

Wear Thicker Socks

If you don’t want to buy any type of inserts for your shoes then it’s possible to make them fit better by simply wearing thicker socks. For any type of closed shoes such as sneakers and boots, this is one of the easiest methods.

I’ve done this a few times with my favorite pair of Dr Martens that were slightly too large but probably not so large that it warranted using an insert. Instead, I donned a thick pair of walking socks and the boots fit like a glove. On top of this, thicker socks protect the skin better so there’s less chance of chafing and blisters.

I find that socks with a heavy pattern are better for everyday wear as they’re thicker by design since they contain more strands of fibers. As long as you don’t mind having a quirky sock on show, I think they work excellently.

If you want something a little more understated then cushioned sports socks are a brilliant idea. They’re great for wearing with running shoes or sneakers and add a little extra coziness and comfort as well as taking up more room in the shoe to make it fit better.

Now I hasten to add that some thick socks are not the most breathable things in the world. If you’re looking for a way to make your shoes fit smaller in summer, you aren’t going to want to wrap your feet up in dense socks. Things like bamboo, wool, and cotton are natural materials and so they are far more breathable than synthetic socks, making them ideal for summer

I have heard of people wearing two pairs of socks to get the same results as wearing one thick pair. However, the problem I found with this was that it’s not the most comfortable set up in the world. The pairs of socks move around independently of one another and it just feels annoying inside the shoes.

Shrink Them With Water and A Blow Dryer

The methods I have talked about so far will make your shoes fit better but they don’t physically shrink the shoes. But if you have leather shoes then it is possible to actually make them smaller using nothing more than your blow dryer and a spray bottle of water.

Just spray the shoes liberally with water, concentrating on the areas that are particularly large. But be sure not to saturate them. Then take your blow dryer and, using a medium heat, direct the airflow at the shoe to dry it.

After this, you’ll need to try the shoe on to see how much it has shrunk. If it’s still a little too big then you can repeat the steps until it shrinks sufficiently.

Video With Dr. Emily Splichal, Podiatrist

Heels are probably the most difficult type of shoes to “make smaller” In this video, podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal demonstrates how to do it! This great video is under one minute long.

Dr. Emily Splichal video on how to make heels smaller


There’s nothing quite as irritating as shoes that don’t fit properly. When your shoes are too big, this can cause friction and may result in chafing, blisters, and sore spots. Even if you’re lucky enough to escape this, you’ll still feel uncomfortable as you walk around trying to make sure that your shoe doesn’t fly off your foot!

There are a range of different inserts such as heel grips, toe inserts, and insoles that will take up room in the shoe, making it fit more snugly. Alternatively, you can try things like wearing thick socks or shrinking leather shoes using nothing more than water and a blow dryer.

Different people find that different methods work better for them so it’s worth testing several of these to find which is right for you.