Leather is a durable material, but sometimes a favorite leather jacket or pair of shoes can stretch out a bit over time. If you find yourself with a leather item that’s gotten too big, don’t despair! There are ways to shrink leather back to a better fit.¬† In this guide, we’ll explore different techniques for shrinking leather, including using water, heat, and even a little bit of conditioner. We’ll also go over some important things to keep in mind before you try to shrink your leather, so you can refresh your favorite pieces without damaging them.



To shrink leather stuff that can get wet all over, start by filling a bucket with really hot water. If your item is big, you can use a bath. Make sure the tap is turned to the hottest setting and let it run until the water is super hot. If you don’t have a bath, you can use a pot or another bucket with hot water. You can soak things like boots, leather clothes, gloves, and accessories in this way.

For leather stuff that can’t be fully dunked, like if it has parts that can’t get wet, you can use a spray bottle filled with hot water. This is handy for things like shoes with delicate soles. Be careful with metal bits like buckles or snaps because they might rust when they get wet.

When you soak the leather, make sure every part gets wet evenly with the hot water. If you’re using a bucket or tub, put the item in the water and push it down until it’s all covered. If you’re using a spray bottle, lay the item flat and spray the whole thing, turning it over if needed to get it all wet.

To stop some parts from looking different colors after soaking, it’s important to get all of the leather wet the same way. If you’re using a spray bottle, you can put the item on a plastic sheet to protect what’s underneath.

If you have a handheld steamer, you can use it to mix heat and moisture for soaking leather stuff. Lay the item flat while steaming it, then let it dry in the air.

Thick leather might need to soak for about an hour to get completely wet. Really thick stuff like heavy vests or boots might need even longer. But if it’s thin leather, it might only need a quick dunk to soak it properly. Whatever the thickness, it’s a good idea to leave the leather in the water for about an hour before taking it out.


If it’s warm outside, you can dry your wet leather stuff in the sun. Just lay it flat in a sunny spot, like on a towel or table outside. Don’t hang it because that might stretch it out. Also, don’t put it near heaters because that can make the leather weak and even crack.

Check the label on your leather clothes before you try to make them smaller. If they’re not suede or nubuck, you can put them in a dryer on high heat for about half an hour. But be careful because this might make the leather look weird.

Another way to dry your leather inside is to use a hairdryer. Put it on low speed and high heat, and keep it about four inches away from the leather. Move it around slowly until the leather is dry. But don’t leave it in one spot too long, or it might get burnt.

You might have to soak and dry your leather stuff a few times to make it smaller. After it’s dry, check if it’s shrunk enough. If you still want it smaller, you can soak it again up to two more times. But if it’s still too big after that, you might need to get something new in the right size.

To keep your leather soft and not brittle from getting wet and dry, you need to use conditioner. Put a little bit of conditioner on a clean cloth and rub it into the leather. Keep rubbing until the leather is all covered, adding more conditioner if you need to. You can buy leather conditioner from lots of places, both online and in stores.


Leather stretches and shrinks because of its fibers, mainly collagen, which comes from animal skins. These fibers are tough and flexible. But they react a lot to changes in the weather, especially when it’s wet or hot.

When leather gets wet, like in the rain or if you put it in water, the collagen fibers soak up the water and swell. This makes the leather loose and stretchy, especially if you press on it. But when the leather dries, the fibers go back to their normal size or even a bit smaller, so the leather tightens up again.

Heat also affects leather. If it gets really hot, like in a car on a sunny day, the collagen fibers in the leather shrink and become stiff. This makes the leather smaller.


Making leather gloves smaller needs careful steps, but it can be done right. First, get what you need: a big bowl or sink, lukewarm water, rubbing alcohol (if you want), a towel, and a hair dryer (if you have one). If you use rubbing alcohol, mix it with water to make it stronger and help it soak into the leather better.

Next, soak the gloves in the water or water-alcohol mix for about 15-20 minutes. Then, take them out and gently squeeze out the extra water. Don’t twist them too hard, or you might ruin the leather. Now, there are two ways to dry and reshape the gloves. First, you can lay them flat on a towel, shape them how you want, and let them air dry in a cool place away from sunlight. This way takes longer but is safer for the leather.

The other way is faster but needs more caution. Put the damp gloves on your hands and wear them until they feel snug. Then, take them off, reshape them on a towel, and use a hair dryer on low heat to dry them faster. Keep the dryer at least a foot away to avoid damaging the leather.

After they’re dry, try them on to see if they fit better. If they’re still too big, you can do the soaking and drying again, but be careful not to shrink them too much. With patience, you can get your leather gloves to fit just right.


Shrinking leather belts, especially thick ones, can be challenging due to their dense structure. Additionally, most leather belts are constructed with two layers of leather, further complicating the shrinking process.

If resizing your belt is necessary for a better fit, creating a new hole in the belt may be the most practical solution.


Shrinking leather shoes and boots can be tricky, especially while keeping the soles intact. One way to tackle this is by using a spray bottle to lightly dampen the upper part of the footwear without getting the soles wet.

Next, you can speed up the shrinking process by either leaving the shoes in the sun or using a hairdryer on low speed.

For shoes with rubber soles, soaking them in lukewarm water is an alternative method. After soaking, remove the footwear and place them in a tilted position to let any excess water drain out.

To dry them, you can either use a hairdryer on low speed or let them air dry in the sun. It’s important not to leave the shoes upside down to avoid causing unwanted creases and deformation.


To shrink a leather wallet, you can start by lightly spraying it with water using a spray bottle. Make sure to dampen the entire wallet evenly without soaking it too much. After dampening, you can use a hairdryer on low heat to dry the wallet. Keep the hairdryer moving back and forth over the wallet until it’s completely dry. This process can help the leather fibers contract and shrink, making the wallet smaller. Just be careful not to overdo it, as excessive heat or moisture can damage the leather.


If you want to make a leather bracelet smaller, be careful with any metal hooks or attachments it has. If possible, take them off before you start.

If you can’t remove the metal parts, be extra careful when wetting the bracelet. Use a cup of lukewarm water and dip the bracelet in it for a few minutes. Be quick to dry any metal parts that get wet to prevent them from getting damaged.

After wetting the bracelet, you can shrink it by leaving it in sunlight or using a hairdryer. Once it’s dry, you can apply some leather conditioner to make it look shiny and new again.


1. Can all leather be shrunk?

Not all leather can be shrunk safely. Delicate leathers or those with special finishes might not react well to the shrinking process. It’s always best to test a small hidden area first.

2. Is shrinking leather risky?

There is some risk involved, especially if not done carefully. Over-shrinking or using excessive heat can damage the leather. It’s best to start slow and be cautious.

3. What are some signs leather won’t shrink well?

If your leather feels stiff or cracked already, shrinking it might worsen the condition. Leather with a shiny, lacquered finish may not respond well either.


Leather’s natural properties allow for some give and take when it comes to size. With the right techniques, you can carefully shrink a leather item that’s become a little too loose. Remember, this process should be done cautiously and with high-quality materials in mind.  Start slow, test in inconspicuous areas, and be mindful of drying methods.  If you’re ever unsure or have a valuable leather piece, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional.  With a little effort, you can restore your favorite leather garments and accessories to a perfect fit and enjoy them for years to come.