How to Shrink Leather – 3 Easy Methods, Tips & Tricks

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If you have an oversized leather jacket or a pair of leather gloves that are a tad too big, you may want to first explore options to fix this at home rather than get it altered immediately.

Sometimes it may be a little difficult to assess the size of the material while purchasing it as leather garments are quite bulky. So you may have bought a bigger size by mistake.

This is very common, but leather garments are quite expensive. It is recommended that you try methods at home to get the right fit.

Leather can shrink by 10 to 15 percent by applying heat, but this has to be done the right way, or else you may end up ruining the garment.

In this article, you will learn some easy tips and tricks on how to shrink leather at home using household materials.

how to shrink leather

How to Shrink Leather – 3 Easy Methods

Method 1: Shrink Leather With Water and Sunlight

If you just want to shrink garments such as a leather jacket, the easiest thing to do is to wash it in warm water and dry it in sunlight.

To do this, fill your bathtub with hot water. For best results wash any stains in your garment before treating it for shrinkage.

Now immerse the clean jacket in the hot water tub. Soak it for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Wring out as much water as possible without squeezing it too much. Excessive squeezing could alter the shape of the garment.

Also do not hang it on a clothesline as that could stretch the garment thus defeating the purpose.

Press the jacket lightly and make sure all the water has dripped out.

Bring the wet jacket to a place where there’s sunlight in the house or outside on the balcony or near a window.

There should be mild sunlight for the leather garment to dry but not harsh enough to damage it. Avoid direct sunlight.

You may also place it under shade and let it dry over a couple of days. Experts suggest drying it on a table.

Place a towel under the jacket as you do this. When the towel gets wet, you could replace it with a newer, dry towel.

Keep changing towels and let the garment take its time to dry. Once it’s completely dry, try it on and repeat the process until it fits alright.

If you wish to use the washing machine for this purpose, you can do so by laundering the garment in the machine under a hot water setting.

Do not add any detergent, bleach, or chemicals. Wash it with plain hot water and wash it alone.

Once the washing cycle is done, put it through the dryer on medium heat. Once dry, try on the jacket and see if it fits. If not, repeat the process until it does.

Method 2: Using Rubbing Alcohol to Shrink Leather

If you are wondering how to shrink leather in cases of smaller garments with thin leather, such as gloves, you may not have to treat it with hot water and go through the entire process of soaking it in a tub, washing, drying.

To get this done faster, an alternative is to use rubbing alcohol.

To do this, mix lukewarm water and rubbing alcohol in a bowl at a ratio of 1:1.

The alcohol is said to help strip away a bit of the oil in the leather, so this way the warm water can penetrate and do its job.

Soak the gloves in this alcohol-water solution for a few minutes. Then get rid of the excess water by pressing the gloves so the water can escape.

Do not squeeze it too much lest that alters the shape of the gloves.

Put the damp gloves on a large dry towel and let them air dry on a table by the window or back yard.

If possible, you could include a step before letting them dry. Wear the gloves while they are wet (not dripping with water though).

Once you have wrung out excess water, wear the gloves and then carefully remove them — this is to ensure that the gloves retain some of their shape and will fit you better once they have shrunk.

Method 3: Spray bottle and Hairdryer

If you are wondering how to shrink leather in targeted places only, and not the entire garment, then instead of soaking it in hot water, you could work on those areas that you wish to shrink alone. For instance, just the areas around the sleeves or the wrist. For this, you would need a spray bottle and a hairdryer.

Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and spray only on those areas of interest to you.

The bottle sprayer method is also ideal if you do not want to damage buttons or any other special work with hot water.

Make sure that those areas are wet enough. Then place the jacket, gloves, or whichever garment it is, on a large towel on a table.

If you have a hairdryer, you can get the drying process done faster.

Set it to the lowest temperature and hold the dryer about 5-6 inches away from the garment.

Blow low-medium hot air on the required places by moving it up and down in a constant motion so as not to damage one part of the jacket by blowing hot air on it for too long.

Once it’s dry, put on the jacket or gloves to see if it fits.

These are some effective DIY methods on how to shrink leather. Try these methods right away. If these do not work, then you may have to consider getting them altered or replaced.

Can you make leather shrink?

Yes, you can make leather shrink by soaking the leather garment in hot water and drying it under the sun or exposing it to another non-harmful heat source.

This is because heat causes moist leather to tighten its fibers. This results in the leather shrinking.

Will leather shrink in the dryer?

Heat causes wet leather to shrink. When the leather garment in question is wet, putting it through the dryer on any heat setting will cause it to shrink.


Sometimes you may find that a leather jacket or a pair of leather gloves that you purchased recently turned out to be a little oversized.

Then in that case, if you are wondering how to shrink leather in the easiest way, you may follow a couple of methods.

Try soaking the leather garment in hot water and drying it under the sun.

Alternatively, you can soak the garment in a solution made of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water for a few minutes and then dry the garment to shrink it.

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