How To Make Shoes Smaller Without Insoles?

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Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly saw all these beautiful shoes and all you could badly want is to buy a pair, but eventually you found out nothing fits your exact size? It is indeed frustrating to see your dream shoes only to find out they don’t fit you properly. Fortunately, you have come to this page as I offer you solutions on how to make shoes smaller without insoles.

How To Make Shoes Smaller Without Insoles

You’re not alone, though; a lot of other people share the same dilemma of finding shoes that are a full size bigger than them. Sounds familiar? It may not be new to you to find a size ten shoe when your feet are size nine. However, it’s not the end of the world as the saying goes. You are still lucky enough if the shoe size is bigger because there are remedies to that. On the other hand, when the shoes are smaller than your actual size, then you have no choice but to find another one.

So whenever the shoes are bigger, you can make them feel ‘smaller’ by following these tips on how to make shoes smaller without insoles.

1. Fill The Toes Of Your Shoes

The cheapest and the easiest way to solve this problem is only to stuff the spaces at the tip of the shoes’ internal parts. You can use any material as long as it’s soft such as bathroom papers, tissues, or rags. This is the most basic solution because you can basically do this anywhere given the materials needed are on hand. By that, your feet will no longer slide back and forth which could have been caused by the excess room inside the shoe.

This method is best for close-toed heels, boots, and flats. However, this is not recommended for athletic shoes especially if you intend to use them for sports purposes because the stuff you put may hinder your efficiency and it can cause uneasiness after continuous and rigorous usage. You can only use this for other formal activities that may only last for a few hours or so.

2. Wear Thicker Socks or Wear a Double

Choose one; either is a sure-fire way of making yourself feel like your rather larger shoes fit your size. Thicker socks can undeniably make your shoes fit better than ordinary socks. So you might want to try a padded set of crew socks instead of choosing skin-tight socks. If thick socks don’t suffice, you are always free to wear another set of socks to double the layer. By that, the dual-layer distributes more surface area inside the shoes so they will fit perfectly.

This method is best for running shoes and boots. However, this is not recommended for people who have sweaty feet because it can cause discomfort; but if you can withstand the warm feel of thick socks, then this method can serve you well.

3. Use Pads For The Ball Of the Foot

An effective alternative instead of using too many insoles are using pads – a small cushioning device that sits directly under the balls of your feet. Their strategic location makes them ideal to fill up the excess space of a large shoe, consequently giving you an excellent fit. These pads can provide sufficient friction and a thin layer of support, making them perfect for heels that are large for users. Note that using this becomes possibly uncomfortable (depending on the user) if used with a full insole.

This method is best for heel shoes and flat shoes. What makes this more interesting is the different color variants which you can choose from. You can select the exact or closest color that compliments the color of your shoes so you won’t feel like there’s a difference from the original one.

4. Use An Elastic Band To Tighten The Shoe

This trick is an easy one. If you don’t want to use double socks or padding, and you don’t like stuffing your toes, then this trick could be the solution you’re looking for. The primary material, elastic bands, could be found almost anywhere so there’s no reason you couldn’t get one. Other materials needed include a thread and a needle; both of which can be conveniently found in nearby stores.

What you have to do is simply stitch some elastic bands inside your shoes and let the band’s elasticity pull the shoe material together. As a result, this gives a tighter fit.

Stretch the elastic band from the inside of the heel (or in any loose area) to the side of the back of the shoe. Sew the elastic bands in place and make them as tight as you can or as tight as you prefer. After which, you can use safety pins to secure it.

After you have sewed the band, gently release it and allow it to draw the shoe material. You can later pair it with the water shrinking method which is shown below.

5. Use Water To Shrink Shoes

Pouring water over your shoes and air drying them is an efficient way to ‘shrink’ your shoes. Water has properties that could make shoe particles compress; and in turn, make your shoes smaller. However, don’t expect your shoes to shrink a full size smaller; this method only makes the shoes smaller on a minor scale. But it’s still a big help.

Here are ways on using water to shrink your shoes

  • Make your shoes wet by either pouring water onto them or soaking them in water. This method is best for casual and athletic shoes. Other types of shoes that are not porous enough like the leather type are not compatible with this method.
  • Allow your shoes to dry under the sun. If there’s not enough sunlight, use a hairdryer on a low setting and blow the shoes until dry. Note that you should NOT place the hairdryer too close to the shoes because it can damage the fabric; just hover it at least 10cm away.
  • If the shoes are still big, you can repeat the process again.


There you have it. You already know how to make shoes smaller without insoles. Just choose one method that’s suitable for your shoe type and give it a try!

Pamela Couch

I am a designer, shoe-obsessed lifestyle expert, and founder of, a shoe boutique located in Downtown Atlanta. I love shoes and I love being able to share my passion for them with others.

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