11 Tips on How to Make Shoes Smaller: Practical Solutions for a Better Fit

Having ill-fitted shoes is quite common these days. With the rise of online shopping, many people have found that their ordered size does not match what they receive. Different brands (like Crocs) have different sizing charts, further complicating the process of finding the correct size.

If your shoes are too small, you will have no choice but to exchange them. Conversely, if you receive a pair of shoes that are too big, you may be able to make them smaller.

In this article, we will give 11 tips on how to make shoes smaller. Keep in mind that not every method will work for every pair of shoes. You may have to experiment a bit or use combinations of methods to get the desired results.

How to Make Shoes Smaller

Wear Thicker Socks

Wearing thick socks before wearing shoes.

One of the simplest ways to make shoes smaller is to wear thick socks when you wear shoes. The extra fabric will take up some of the space in the shoe, making it a better fit. This is a quick and easy solution, but it may not be suitable in the long term.

Alternatively, you can wear two regular pairs of socks if you don’t have thick socks. This might be a bit uncomfortable, but it will help make your shoes fit better.

This method should be avoided in hot weather, as it will make your feet sweat.

Suitable for – athletic shoes, winter boots, and other closed-toe shoes that require you to wear socks.

Use Full-Size Insoles

A pair of full size insoles.

An insole is a piece of fabric or foam inserted into the shoe to provide support and cushioning to your foot. When an insole is put inside the shoe, it takes up space and makes the shoe smaller.

Placing a full-size insole is the simplest and most effective method to make shoes smaller.

There are a few different types of shoe insoles that you can use:

  • Foam Insoles – Suitable for making shoes fit more snugly and improving foot stability.
  • Gel Insoles – Suitable for reducing joint pain and improving shock absorption.
  • Leather Insoles – Suitable for enhancing breathability and keeping the shoe interior dry.
  • Thermal Insoles – Suitable for keeping your feet warm in cold weather.
  • Odor-free Insoles – Suitable if you continuously wear shoes for a long time.

You can also use custom-made shoe insoles, which will be made specifically for your feet. This is a more expensive option, but it may be worth it if you have trouble finding the right size.

Suitable for – all types of shoes

Are your shoe insoles dirty? Follow our cleaning guide for step-by-step instructions.

Use Ball of Foot Cushions

Ball of foot cushions placed on feet.

Another way to make shoes smaller is to use the ball of foot cushions. These are small, gel-like pads that you place on the balls of your feet. Ball of foot cushions elevates your feet and helps fill some of the space in the shoe.

Ball of foot cushions also adds additional padding and grip, preventing your feet from moving forward within the shoe. Therefore, if you have extra space in the toe area, a ball of foot cushions is a good solution.

Suitable for – heels, flats, sandals, and other open-toe shoes.

Use Heel Liners or Heel Strips

Heel liners placed inside the heel of the shoes.

Heel liners or heel strips are small pieces of foam or fabric placed on your shoes’ heel counter. They have an adhesive backing that sticks to the inside of your shoe. To stick a heel liner or heel strip, peel off the protective covering and stick it to the heel counter.

Heel liners and heel strips help fill the space around your heels, making the shoes fit more snugly. They also add cushioning and support to your heels, preventing them from rubbing against the shoe.

If you have a lot of space in the heel area of your shoe, a heel liner or heel strip can be a good solution. You can also use them if you find that your heels slip out of the shoes as you walk.

If you think one heel liner or heel strip isn’t enough, apply a second or third one until you’re satisfied that your big shoes are properly fitting. Make sure you stick them in a proper position, or else they will cause blisters.

Suitable for – women’s dress shoes, high heels, pumps, and other shoes with thin heel straps.

Use Heel Cups

Placing heel cups inside the shoes.

Heel cups are a similar product to heel liners or heel strips. One major difference between the two is that heel cups are placed on the insoles and cover the entire bottom of your heels.

Heel cups work the same way as heel liners and heel strips – they fill in the space around your heels and add cushioning and support. They are also helpful for treating plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and other heel-related injuries.

Heel cups are more durable and will last longer than heel liners and heel strips. In order to ensure a proper fit, we recommend using heel cups in combination with the ball of foot cushions.

Suitable for – all types of shoes

Use Toe Inserts

A pair of toe cups.

Toe inserts are small, gel-like pads that you wear on your toes. They are used to fill in the space between your toes and the front of your shoes.

Toe inserts keep your toes from moving around too much within the shoe, which can lead to foot problems. They also provide cushioning and support for your toes, preventing them from rubbing against the inside of your shoe.

If your shoes have a lot of room in the toe box, toe inserts are a good solution.

Toe inserts are usually worn on top of the toes or between them. You can wear them without socks, but we recommend using them with socks if your feet sweat a lot.

Suitable for – all types of closed-toe shoes

Use Shoe Fillers

Shoe fillers placed inside high heels.

Shoe fillers are a fantastic way to fill out oversized shoes. They are small pieces of foam or rubber that you place inside your shoes. Shoe fillers come in different shapes and sizes, so you can find the ones that fit your shoes best.

Shoe fillers should be placed at the back part of the shoe or the front, depending on how much extra space there is. If you have a lot of room in the heel area, put the filler in the toe box, and vice versa.

You can use shoe fillers with toe inserts or a ball of cushion to get a better fit. If possible, choose a shoe filler made from memory foam, as this will offer additional cushioning and support.

Suitable for – all types of closed-toe shoes

Stuff Your Big Shoes With Tissue Papers or Cotton Balls

Stuffing tissue papers inside shoes.

If you don’t have any shoe fillers at home, you can stuff your big shoes with tissue papers or cotton balls. This is a cheap and easy solution to make your shoes smaller.

To use this method, take a handful of tissue paper or cotton balls and place them inside your shoe. When you have a lot of space in the toe area, stuff tissue papers or cotton balls in the heel area and vice versa.

Make sure you pack the tissue papers or cotton balls tightly to take up as much space as possible. You may need to do this a few times until your shoes fit correctly.

You can also stuff your shoes with a piece of cloth. Avoid using newspapers, as they can leave ink marks on your shoes and socks.

This method might not be the most effective, but it’s a good last resort if you don’t have other solutions.

Suitable for – all types of closed-toe shoes

Use Shoe Tongue Pads

Sticking tongue pads on the tongue of a leather shoe.

A shoe tongue pad is a small piece of foam or rubber placed on the tongue of your shoe. It is used to fill in the empty space between your foot and the shoe tongue. Shoe tongue pads have an adhesive on one side so they can be attached to the shoe.

Shoe tongue pads are a good solution when the rest of your shoes fit well but the tongue is loose.

Suitable for – sneakers, loafers, slip-on shoes, and lace-free footwear

Shrink Your Shoes Using Water

Canvas shoes submerged in a bucket of water.

If you have really big shoes, you can try shrinking them with water. While this is a permanent solution, it may also damage your shoes.

To make your shoes smaller, you will need –

  • Bucket of water
  • Spray bottle
  • Hairdryer
  • Leather conditioner

The following instructions will show you how to make shoes smaller –

Step-1 Wet your tight shoes. If your shoes are made of canvas or cloth, you can soak them in a bucket of water for 15 minutes. If you have suede or leather shoes, you will need to use a spray bottle to wet them down.

The water will cause the material to shrink and tighten.

Step-2 After you have wet down your shoes, let them dry for 15 minutes under direct sunlight.

Step-3 Set your hairdryer to the lowest setting and wear your wet shoes. Direct the heat of the hairdryer on your shoes. The heat will cause the water to evaporate and will shrink your shoes even more.

Make sure you move the hairdryer around to distribute the heat evenly. Do not direct heat on one spot for too long, as this could damage your shoes.

Step-4 Once your shoes are dry, keep them aside for 30 minutes.

Step-5 After 30 minutes, apply a thin coat of leather conditioner on your shoes. This will prevent your shoes from cracking due to heat and water exposure.

Repeat the process if you feel that your shoes are still big.

Suitable for – leather shoes, suede shoes, canvas shoes, athletic shoes, casual shoes, and sports shoes.

Suede is a delicate type of leather that requires extra care. Follow our complete guide on suede shoes.

Use Elastic Bands

Wearing a pair of sports shoes.

If you have a pair of shoes that are too big in the heel, you can try using elastic bands. To do this, you will need –

  • Elastic band
  • Safety pins
  • Sewing kit

Step-1 Place an elastic band around the heel of your shoe. Make sure it is tight, and pin it in place with safety pins.

Step-2 Take the sewing kit and sew the elastic band to the shoe. Make sure you do a tight stitch so that it doesn’t come off during use.

An elastic band will pull the material of the heel together, making it tighter and smaller.

Suitable for – shoes made from cloth

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make Shoes Smaller

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on how to make shoes smaller –

How to make open-toe heels fit narrow feet? 

Open-toe heels can be made smaller by using the following things – 

  1. Ball of foot cushions
  2. Heel liners or heel strips
  3. Heel cups

How to make close-toed heels smaller?

Open-toe heels can be made smaller by using the following things – 

  1. Ball of foot cushions
  2. Toe inserts
  3. Use heel liners or heel strips
  4. Use heel cups
  5. Shoe fillers
  6. Tissue papers and cotton balls

How to make slip-on shoes fit tighter? 

The best method to make slip-on tight is to use tongue pads. You can also use –

  1. Ball of foot cushions
  2. Full-size insoles
  3. Toe-inserts
  4. Heel cups

How to make cowboy boots tighter around the calf?

To make cowboy boots tight around the calf, wear thick socks. You can also shrink them using water.

How to make sandals fit tighter? 

The best way to make sandals fit tighter is to use the ball of foot cushions.

How to make boots tighter around the ankle? 

To make the boots tighter around the ankle, you can use the following things –

  1. Heel cups
  2. Shoe fillers
  3. Toilet paper or cotton ball

The Bottom Line

Wearing shoes that are too big can be very uncomfortable. It can also lead to foot pain and other health problems. However, there are a number of ways to make shoes smaller.

Choosing the right method will depend on the shoes you have and how much room you need to remove. If you are looking for permanent solutions, get your shoes wet and shrink them. If you need a temporary fix, use any shoe inserts.

Whichever method you choose, make sure that you are comfortable with it and that it does not damage your shoes. If none of the above methods works, taking your shoes to a shoe repair professional is always an option.

To avoid the same problem of incorrect size with Crocs, check out our blog post “Do Crocs Run Big or Small.” This will help you pick the Crocs in the perfect size for you, so you don’t have to worry about stretching it.

Also, check out these nine ways to make big shoes fit. If you have loose Crocs, check out our article “How to Shrink Crocks.”

We hope our article has helped you find a solution to make your shoes fit better. Always follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your shoes. 

If you want to make your shoes non-slip, check out these 15 methods to make the shoes non-slip.

Happy shrinking! 🙂

Leave a Comment