How to Make Shoes Smaller With Ease

What if we said you’d never have to return another pair of oversized shoes thanks to this guide on how to make shoes smaller?

You’d fall over your feet, right?

Attaining the perfect fit with shoes can be tricky business, and returning shoes simply because they’re too large for your feet can be a real pain!

We know because we’ve been there.

Luckily for you, we walk you through the following methods on how to make shoes smaller:

  • Replace the insoles.
  • Use stuffing and double layers.
  • The water shrink.
  • Stitching.
  • Heel liners.
  • Tongue pads.
  • Ball of foot cushions.
  • Visiting a professional.

Ready to go through each one in detail?

Let’s go…

How to Make Shoes Smaller

How to Make Big Shoes Fit

Each of these methods has its merit based on your situation and necessity.

#1 Replace the Insoles

Things you will need for this technique:

  • New insoles.


This is a sure-fire way to make shoes smaller using just one item:

  1. Pick out a new set of insoles that are ideal for your feet.
  2. If your old insoles can be removed, peel out the top layer from your shoes.
  3. If you can’t remove your insoles, use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to unsettle the glue.
  4. Gently keep the heat on the old insole until the insole comes unstuck.
  5. Peel out the old insole gently.
  6. Replace the old insole with the new one by folding it and sliding it inside the shoe, toe first.
  7. Use your hands to flatten the insole inside the shoe.

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Insoles for the Win

Most insoles can be replaced, so if your large shoes have a replaceable insole, you’re in luck!

Many replace insoles with orthotics offer additional support for foot problems, such as high arches and plantar fasciitis.

However, you can also alter them to adjust sizing.

If you have bigger shoes, a brand new insole can take up more space than the original, improving the fit.

This also works for extremely large shoes that don’t have replaceable insoles. In this situation, simply add another layer of these types of insoles:

  • Foam: Ideal for a snug fit and improving foot stability when your shoes are too big.
  • Gel: Especially great for joint pains and to improve your shoes’ shock absorption. Additionally, you can also use thermal gel insoles for increased warmth.
  • Leather: Can be used to improve shoe breathability and ensure the interior remains moisture-free.
  • Odor-free insoles: Help eliminate foot bacteria that cause odor after extended use.

#2: Stuffing and Double Layers

Things you will need for this technique:

  • Spare cloth.
  • Extra/thick socks.

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This is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective how to make shoes smaller method since it uses items you likely already have.

Yep, we’re kind like that!

  1. With your foot inside the shoe, slide it around to feel where space occurs naturally.
  2. Grab the cloth and rip or tear off a piece to fill the gap.
  3. Try the shoes on and repeat as needed.

If you’re unable to achieve the desired comfort levels with the cloth, try using tissue paper, toilet paper or cotton balls. These work just as well to reduce the extra space in your shoes.

If it’s not summer yet or you don’t get hot feet, you can also double-up on pairs of socks. Alternatively, just use one pair of extremely thick socks to achieve the same result.

Again, this is one of the easiest methods of making big shoes fit but is only feasible on cooler days. Wearing two pairs of socks during a hot summer day is a recipe for stinky feet!

#3: The Water Shrink

Things you will need for this how to make shoes smaller technique:

  • Water.
  • Hairdryer.

This is an age-old technique that’s used the world over to make shoes too big smaller.

It works on the simple principle that air-drying a pair of wet shoes results in the shrinking of shoes.

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Just follow these simple steps for a shoe too big:

  1. Wet the shoes by carefully spreading water over the areas you’d like to shrink. There’s no need to drown them!
  2. Sun-dry the shoes or force dry them using a hairdryer on a low setting. You can always increase the heat if it hasn’t made a difference.
  3. Wear the shoes to check for shrinkage.
  4. If the shoes haven’t shrunk enough, repeat the process.

While we wouldn’t usually recommend getting these types of shoes wet, you can try this method directly on:

  • Casual shoes.
  • Sports shoes.

Both of these can be directly soaked in water to shrink them.

It Doesn’t Walk for All Materials, Though

On the other hand, suede or leather shoes shouldn’t be soaked entirely as it can damage the material. This also applies to boots too big for your feet. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Try using a spray bottle to wet the exterior.
  2. When you get to the drying stage, using the sun doesn’t require too much care or attention.
  3. However, if you’re using a hairdryer, make sure to use a low setting and not place it too close to the shoes.
  4. After round one of this technique, you may also notice that your shoes have dropped in size.
  5. In case this hasn’t happened, or the shrink isn’t enough, repeat this process again you’ve made your shoes smaller.

#4: A Stitch in Time for Size 9

What you’ll need for this technique to shrink shoes too big:

  • Thread.
  • Needle.
  • Elastic bands.
  • Safety pins.

If you know your way around a needle and thread, use this simple method to hack your shoes and make shoes too big for your feet smaller:

  1. Locate an area inside the shoes that’s too big for your feet.
  2. Stitch one end of the elastic band on the inside of the loose section.
  3. Stretch the elastic band onto the other side of the shoe, so it becomes taut.
  4. You can use safety pins to help hold the elastic bands in place.
  5. Sew the regions around the band on the other side to secure it in its location.
  6. Once you’re done attaching the band inside the shoe and you let go, you’ll notice the band has been pulled the material together.
  7. Voila! Your shoes should fit way better than before.
  8. Once complete, try the shoes on straight away. If they’re too tight, you can unpick the stitching. If they’re still loose, combine it with one of the other methods for double-impact.

Stretching Your Luck

Ensure you’re competent with a needle and thread; otherwise, you may end up damaging your shoes unnecessarily.

Another important factor to remember here is the band’s elasticity. Make sure the bands aren’t too small or too big as this will negate this hack’s purpose, and you’ll end up further morphing the fitting.

This might be a bit of a complex method when you’re looking for how to make shoes smaller, but it sure works!

#5: Heel Liners

Things you will need for this technique:

Use them by following these steps:

  1. Wipe the inside of your shoe to make sure it’s clean.
  2. Unpack the heel liner.
  3. Bend the heel liner to curve down.
  4. Press firmly into the shoe section where the rubbing occurs.
  5. Make sure to replace the heel liner every six months.

Silver Lining in Your Heels

These are a great tool to have handy at all times if you’re a sneaker-head, high-heel lover or just a general shoe enthusiast.

A heel liner is a 3-inch strip placed inside the shoe near the area under your heel.

These are extremely useful to shorten your shoe’s length, increase your overall comfort levels, prevent your heels from constantly slipping out of place and to prevent the formation of blisters in the long run.

Much like your shoe insoles, heel liners are also available in a wide range of materials. You can pick this nifty little strip up in fabric, gel or other latex-free materials.

#6: Tongue Pads

What you need:

Use them as such:

  1. Remove the cover to the shoes’ adhesive backing.
  2. Place the pad in the correct location on the shoe’s underside.
  3. You’ll know the location is correct when you don’t feel any discomfort with the shoes on.

Tongue in Cheek for the Win

While heel liners—as the name suggests—are placed under the heel of your feet, tongue pads take up the other end of your shoe.

More specifically, you place tongue pads at the tongue, which is the region directly below your toes and laces.

These are often made using a thick material that resembles felt, and it can be highly useful in making shoes too big smaller.

Tongue pads have become extremely popular, and you can easily find various options when you shop online or at a branded shoe store.

#7 Ball of Foot Cushions

What you need:

Follow these steps to use this tool:

  1. Remove the liner or insole from your shoe.
  2. Locate the area where the ball of your foot lands on your shoe.
  3. Peel back the adhesive on the cushion by a quarter.
  4. Place the cushion in the section.
  5. Wear the shoes first to check if the location is accurate.
  6. If you’re happy with the location, remove the rest of the adhesive and stick the cushion.

Baller Move

Not only are ball cushions extremely comfortable to wear, but they also help bulk your feet within the shoe and improve the fitting.

Much like the heel liners and tongue pads, these tools are easy to secure online and in-store. You can also find them in a wide range of colors.

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#8: Visiting a Professional

So, you’ve tried everything you can, and nothing seems to work?

Don’t fret!

Cobblers and podiatrists can help on how to make shoes smaller.

Cobblers Do Work

Cobblers work with footwear and can mend and mold your favorite shoes to fit your needs. They’ll charge a modest fee for the job, but they can be extremely efficient in identifying the right fit for your feet and morphing your shoes.

Foot Doctors to the Rescue

Podiatrists are foot doctors who can identify if there are any abnormalities in the shape of your feet.

If everything is fine from your end and only the shoes need mending, then the podiatrist will help recommend the perfect pair of orthotics to help you fill shoes.

These act as an extra layer for your feet, much like insoles, and offer additional support and cushioning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Insoles Make Shoes Tighter?

Insoles don’t make shoes tighter, per se, but they can fill the gaps in large shoes to make shoes feel tighter. They’re an excellent way to wear shoes that are too big, and you can combine them with other methods to make shoes smaller.

How To Make Shoes Smaller Without Insoles?

The best ways to make shoes smaller without insoles are:

  1. Use stuffing or extra socks.
  2. Shrink them with water.
  3. Stitch the inside.
  4. Heel liners.
  5. Tongue pads.
  6. Ball of foot cushions.
  7. Pay a cobbler to reduce them.

What Kind of Socks Do You Wear If Your Boots Are Too Big?

You can either wear multiple thin pairs or a pair of thick socks if your boots are too big. It’s best to trial and error the socks since different pairs might rub more or less on your feet.

How To Make Big Heels Fit?

One of the best ways to make big heels fit is to use heel liners. These are affordable solutions that you can customize to fit in your heels, depending on the severity of the issue. You can combine these by using a hairdryer to reduce the size of the shoe, too.

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A Fit for Your Form

We hope this how to make shoes smaller tutorial has been useful in helping you salvage shoes and making the best of your situation.

Some of the above methods have been really helpful to me, so I hope you can make use of them, too. They’re simple steps that anyone can try to help reduce the size of their shoes.

Please make sure to give us your two cents in the comments below and let us know if you have any hacks on how to make shoes smaller.


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