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How to Shrink Cowboy Boots? The Biggest Mistake

How to Shrink Cowboy Boots? The Biggest Mistake

We’ve written extensively about how to stretch and break in tight cowboy boots, but we haven’t covered much on the opposite problem: what to do when your cowboy boots are too big.

Shrinking cowboy boots is a bit more challenging than stretching them, and there’s a lot of information out there. But how much of it actually works?

In this article, we’ll guide you through the maze of advice available online about shrinking cowboy boots.

We’ll identify the methods that don’t work and should be avoided, as well as the effective techniques you can use to fix a pair of loose cowboy boots.

So, are you ready to learn how to get the perfect fit? Let’s dive in!

Key takeaways:

1. Busting Myths About Shrinking Cowboy Boots:

Common methods like soaking in water, using extreme heat, or applying conditioner are ineffective and can even damage your boots.

It’s important to avoid these techniques as they do not actually shrink the boots and can harm both the leather and your feet.

2. Practical Solutions for a Better Fit:

Instead of attempting to shrink cowboy boots, consider alternative ways to improve their fit.

Options include wearing thicker or multiple socks, using cushioned insoles, heel grips, and cushions, or padding the toe area with soft materials.

These methods can help your boots feel snugger without altering their structure.

3. Understanding Leather’s Behavior:

Leather cowboy boots don’t naturally shrink over time. They tend to stretch to fit the shape of your feet, especially with regular use.

If boots are not worn for a long time, they may tighten slightly, but they’ll typically stretch back out once you wear them again.

Importantly, getting boots wet is not a solution to shrink them; in fact, it’s likely to cause further stretching.

The Biggest Mistakes when making Cowboy Boots Shrink

In fact, a lot of people make the mistake when trying to shrink cowboy boots, here are some fatal mistakes!

men wear cowboy boot outside the jeans

Myth 1: Use water to shrink cowboy boots

Using water certainly won’t make your cowboy boots shrink.

Browse the web for step-by-step instructions on how to make cowboy boots shrink, you come across these tips: “Dip them all in the water for 1 hour”, “wear wet socks with wet cowboy boots until they are dry”, “Use conditioner”, etc.

We just shook our heads in disbelief. No, you absolutely cannot use water to shrink cowboy boots!

Reason 1: Water is the number one enemy of cowboy boots

Water is the #1 enemy of cowboy boots, especially cowboy boots made from leather and suede.

It is challenging for cowboy boot lovers or collectors to protect their cowboy boots in the rainy or snowy season.

If cowboy boots are not well maintained (by conditioner, wax polish) after rainwater and snowfall exposure, their quality will decrease quickly.

So, why do you soak them all in the water for an hour just because you want them to shrink? No, don’t do that with your expensive cowboy boots!

Read more: Are Cowboy Boots Waterproof?

A pair of cowboy boots and water

Reason 2: Water does not help cowboy boots shrink

Water just stretches cowboy boots, not shrink them. That’s why I said using water to shrink cowboy boots is the worst method.

Water can soften cowboy boots, if you wear cowboy boots when they are wet, then they will stretch over time.

At that time, nothing could cure your already loose cowboy boots.

Reason 3: Wearing wet socks and wet cowboy boots will ruin your feet

This is another bad way, you can’t sacrifice your feet like that. If your feet are wet in wet socks and wet boots until they’re dry, then both your feet and cowboy boots will get hurt.

walking in cowboy boots

Myth 2: Dry the cowboy boots with too much heat

This method may be “a bit” effective. But I’m not sure whether it adversely affects cowboy boots.

Sudden changes in the temperature of cowboy boots can reduce the quality of leather completely.

Using high temperatures to dry cowboy boots quickly will affect cowboy boot quality due to sudden temperature changes (rise and fall quickly).

This method might be effective a little in shrinking cowboy boots, but I don’t think that a bit of shrinkage is worth the trade off.

Myth 3: Use conditioner

This might be good for your cowboy boots, but it certainly won’t make your cowboy boots shrink.

Maintaining your cowboy boots well with conditioner will help your cowboy boots last longer, and keep them waterproof and shiny for a long time. BUT, it won’t shrink your cowboy boots.

With a conditioner, your cowboy boots look better and softer so your feet are more comfortable when wearing them. It would be great to apply this method to tight cowboy boots, not too wide cowboy boots.

However, this way is not as bad as the above.

Read more: The 5 Best Cowboy Boot Conditioners

How to Shrink Cowboy Boots?

There is an old trick that professional cowboy boots makers often use to shrink boots is to set them on fire.

And this is usually quite effective for shrinking cowboy boots, keep reading and don’t stop here!

Step 1: Mix water and alcohol, and blot into a towel

Step 2: Apply the water-alcohol solution to cowboy boots

Step 3: Put high and fast heat on cowboy boots (fire appeared as he used a heat gun)

This is an old trick that is often used by bootmakers, and it always works.

The problem is, this method is only used by “professional cowboy boots makers” because they know what they are doing!

I don’t think you should use this method at home.

Don’t set your cowboy boots on fire, this way is too reckless and risky to do by yourself at home. Using this method, either your cowboy boots will shrink, or you will have brand new ones 😉

women wear loose cowboy boots and sit

So what should I do if there’s no method that really makes cowboy boots shrink?

Our goal is to make cowboy boots more fit for our feet, especially in important areas like the heel and instep. So I think there’s another article that will help you out: How to Make Cowboy Boots Fit Tighter

Well, you might not make cowboy boots shrink, but you can make your feet “bigger” by:

Method 1: Use thick socks or two socks

Use specialized socks or athletic socks, that will be the thickness needed to make your feet bigger and fit with loose cowboy boots.

Or you can also wear 2 pairs of socks to make your feet wider and fit the loose cowboy boots. However, this can make your feet feel hot in the summer.

Tecovas boot socks

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Tip: You might consider adding yoga socks, such as non-slip socks. Anti-slip socks will prevent your feet from slipping out when cowboy boots are loose.

Non slip socks

Method 2: Use cushion insole

One of the most important parts when choosing a cowboy boot is the instep. If the instep of a cowboy boot is loose to your foot, it is very difficult for you to wear it without slipping out.

You may need to lift your feet so that the instep of your feet can fit cowboy boots. In this case, a cushion insole is a good option.

There are many types of cushion insoles on the market, in addition to “lifting” your feet, they can support the arch of the foot very well, making your feet comfortable and smooth all day long.

FORM cushioned insole 2

Image copyright FORM Company | #CommissionEarned | Click the image for more info

Method 3: Use heel grip & heel cushion

What if the cowboy boot is loose at the heel?

If that happens, it easily leads to heel slippage. That’s when you need a heel grip and heel cushion.

Insert heel grip and heel cushion into the heel of your cowboy boot, and heel slippage will disappear.

Heel pads

Method 4: Use cotton balls, soft cloth, soft stuff

Here’s how to handle it when your cowboy boots have too long toes. This can be solved by the materials available in your home.

Use soft and light objects (such as cotton balls, or soft cloth) to insert inside the toe box and the problem is solved.

Method 5: Use ball of foot cushion

If cowboy boots are loose at the forefoot, then using the ball of foot cushion is also a good choice.

The ball of foot cushion can help to fit wide cowboy boots such as heel grip, heel cushion and cushion insole. It is also good for foot health.

Ball of the foot cushioned

Do Leather Cowboy Boots Shrink Over Time?

If you keep wearing leather cowboy boots, cowboy boots shrinking over time is completely impossible. They can only stretch until they fit snugly on your feet (break in). And it’s also very difficult for them to stretch anymore.

Because cowboy boots are very durable and strong, it is difficult for them to shrink or stretch too much. If you often wear cowboy boots (weekly), cowboy boots certainly cannot shrink over time.

But if you don’t wear boots for a long time and your boots are stored in good condition, the chance is your cowboy boots will shrink a bit.

However, cowboy boots shrinking due to long periods of non-use won’t last long, once you put on cowboy boots, they will stretch back out.

Read more: How to Stretch Cowboy Boots at Home

Can Cowboy Boots Shrink?!

Will leather boots shrink when wet?

Wet won’t help you to shrink cowboy boots, that’s for sure.

Wet cowboy boots may shrink slightly at first due to the sudden drop in temperature. But they will stretch in the long run, not shrink.

Water can make cowboy boots softer, speeding up the stretching (or break-in) process.

So, as for cowboy boots, especially boots made from leather or suede, you need to have proper maintenance and care methods for cowboy boots when they get wet.

Before you leave

Thank you for reading our article, I hope the above information is helpful to you.

In general, you need to keep your cowboy boots away from water, don’t expose them to the water for too long or dip them into too much water, which won’t help cowboy boots shrink but destroy them instead.

If the above methods can’t fix the loose cowboy boots, it seems you need to go to a professional cowboy boot repair shop.

Anyway, good luck <3