Have you bought a pair of Doc Martens Boots or shoes and found that they are too big? If so you may want to find out how to shrink Doc Martens so they fit.
There is nothing more annoying than having a pair of boots or shoes that don’t fit correctly. It makes them uncomfortable if not impossible to wear and your footwear is just going to sit in the closet doing nothing.
Yet there are plenty of ways to make them the perfect fit if you know how. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about adjusting my footwear to fit my feet.
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What To Do If Your Doc Martens Are Too Big
I’ll start with my obvious answer which is if your Doc Martens are too big for your feet take them back to the store.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought shoes in the past because I liked the design but knew when I was trying them on that they weren’t quite right. I somehow miraculously hoped that my shoes would adjust to my feet with a little wear but really I was lying to myself.
Doc Martens doesn’t sell half sizes in their footwear which can be part of the problem. So some people size up but find they are too loose. If your feet are able to move around too much in your footwear you are going to end up with blisters and foot pain.
Luckily I am now considerably older and wiser and can advise you not to make the same mistakes I have. Now I make sure that any shoes or boots I buy fit perfectly before I part with my hard-earned cash and you should do the same. Anything that doesn’t feel 100% comfortable should come out of the shop with you.
Remember you only have a certain window of time to return shoes online or in-store so don’t procrastinate otherwise you will lose your chance.
If you are well past the return window or have inherited your Doc Martens from someone else read on for my other solutions.
Can You Shrink Leather Doc Martens?
If you are totally stuck with a pair of Doc Martens that are too big then you need to decide whether the situation is fixable or not.
I know people talk about wanting to shrink Doc Martens but the fact is this is not easy to do. There are two reasons for this.
- Trying to shrink leather invariably involves doing things to your footwear that could potentially ruin it.
- Shrinking leather can’t necessarily be controlled when you do it yourself so you get a poor result.
Plus if your shoes or boots shrink will it be significant enough to make any real difference? Clearly, you are not going to be able to shrink your footwear by much so it usually only works well if you have half a size difference or less to fix.
A far better solution instead of shrinking is to find ways to fill out the extra space inside your shoes so they are more comfortable to wear. This is usually far simpler and is less likely to damage a new pair of shoes or boots.
How Can I Make My Boots Tighter?
So how can you get rid of some of that extra space in your Doc Martens so that they fit better? Well, a really easy, simple, and no-cost way is to tighten the laces on your footwear.
Lots of people never fully tighten their laces to the max which means that their boots are not going to be as tight as they could be. When you really crisscross the laces and pull tightly on each eyelet you are going to get a better fit.
If you are going to do this with Doc Martens boots make sure that you do this all the way up the ankle as well as on the lower section.
Wear Thick Socks
If you want to know how to shrink Doc Martens without doing something that could cause damage then my next solution is another simple one, wear thicker socks.
A really thick pair of socks can take up quite a bit of room in your Doc Martens and even more so if you double up and wear two pairs, one over the other.
Thick socks can help to stop your boots and shoes from feeling so loose and make them much easier to wear. Plus thick socks help to protect your feet from blisters and are great at keeping your feet warm when it is cold outside.
Wearing thicker socks or two pairs is a low-cost and low-risk option which is why I prefer it to methods that cause shrinking.
Buy Insoles To Take Up Space Inside Your Footwear
My next suggestion is my favorite for reducing room inside leather shoes and boots and that is to wear insoles or orthotics.
I know this method works because just about every pair of shoes that I own has an extra insole or orthotic inside it. Partly this is to help with my tendonitis and partly because they act as a form of cushioning and make my leather boots and shoes so much more comfortable.
When you add an insole or orthotic to the inside of your shoes they are going to take up room and make the inside of your shoes smaller. How much space they take up depends on the shape and size of the insert you use.
Orthotics can take up a lot of space. I remember once seeing a doctor because of my tendonitis and being given inserts that were so thick and bulky that they wouldn’t fit into any of my shoes. Thank goodness times have changed and there are better and thinner orthotics made now.
Half or thinner cushioned insoles will clearly take up less room but this may be enough to help you wear Doc Martens that don’t irritate your feet. Half insoles can also target specific areas inside of your shoe such as the toe box area or heel to take up space only where you need it reduced.
Use Shoe Inserts to Take Up Space In Your Shoes
As well as orthotics and insoles there are a huge range of inserts that you can buy for shoes and boots to help with comfort and to make them fit better.
Whilst some of these can work well it can be a bit hit and miss finding the right ones that work for your shoes and feet. I know that I have tried to wear a heel grip in my shoes and whilst they do work for a while they tend to start to come unstuck and need replacing.
Heel pads work better if they are fixed well in place and these are great if you have plantar fasciitis as well.
Most of these methods are relatively cheap in comparison to the cost of your boots so you won’t break the bank giving them a go in your Dr Martens. Plus if one of them works it will save you money buying another pair of shoes to fit.
Using a Tongue Pad To Take Up Room
I know that plenty of people will never have even heard of a tongue pad but they are relatively simple devices that can help to reduce the room in your shoes and boots.
A tongue pad is stuck on the underside of your leather boot shoe tongue and lessens the room between the top of your foot and your footwear.
This is a simple solution if this is where you have too much extra space. As with the inserts they are relatively inexpensive so are worth a go if you want to reduce space.
Just as an additional point you can obviously double up on any of my suggestions and do them at the same time. There is nothing wrong with wearing thick socks and an orthotic or using a tongue pad as well as an insole. Providing your feet don’t feel uncomfortable in your leather shoes or boots it shouldn’t be a problem.
How To Shrink Doc Martens Using More Problematic Methods
Whilst I have talked about how to shrink boots and shoes on the inside by removing space I haven’t talked about the more extreme methods that might ruin your shoes.
I’m going to talk briefly about them but if you can avoid using these suggestions please do because Doc Martens are not cheap and if you ruin them you won’t be able to return them. If however, you have nothing to lose you can do the following:
Stick Them in The Tumble Dryer
Ok this isn’t particularly advisable but heat can shrink your boots. If you wet your boots or shoes and place them in a tumble dryer on the lowest heat for a short time they may start to shrink.
Don’t put them in the dryer for too long. Start with 15-minute intervals and make sure you protect your boots or shoes by wrapping them in a towel or alternatively using a dryer bag to stop them from hitting the sides of the machine.
Heat has a horrible habit of causing cracking and splitting in leather so use a leather conditioner afterwards if you want to keep them looking good.
Shrink Them With Water
Dr Martens are not waterproof which means that if you saturate them with water it is going to seep through the leather. Generally Doc Martens doesn’t advise you to saturate your shoes but some people do in order to shrink them.
They get a bucket of water and fully submerge the shoes or boots into it and then get them out and dry them in front of a heat source or sunlight to shrink them.
Whilst this may shrink them slightly it will of course never change the size of the sole of the shoe only the leather upper.
When you use this method to shrink boots you are stripping the natural oils of the leather and making them more prone to cracking. Once again if you choose to do this make sure you use a leather conditioner once they are dry to keep them soft and supple.
Use Heat To Shrink The Leather
Finally, heat alone can also cause shrinking. Some people use a hairdryer to shrink the problem areas of their Dr Martens. I’ve even seen someone try and use a heat gun on leather boots!
If you are going to use heat please aim the heat source at your footwear for short periods of time only to prevent scorching them. Heat can help you to shrink Dr Martens but it also puts them at risk of substantial damage if not done properly.
See a Cobbler To Shrink Your Docs
Finally, if you want to know how to shrink Doc Martens see a cobbler.
A cobbler may be able to adjust parts of your shoes or boots to get them to fit better however shrinking as opposed to stretching can cost significantly more if there is extensive work. In fact, the price can sometimes be a good portion of the cost of a new pair.
If you want my advice stick with reducing space inside the Docs instead of using the shrinking methods and if that doesn’t work sell them and buy a new pair.
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