Imagine this scenario. You get new shoes that seem to fit you perfectly in a store. You wear them a little bit, and suddenly, they feel tighter than they did before. You may notice blisters on your feet or your shoes may not feel as great as they did when you bought them. This may leave you wondering do shoes shrink over time or did your feet grow? The simple answer to this question is a combination of both. Your shoes can shrink over time and your feet can change throughout the day and grow in size over time.
Read on to learn more about the mystery surrounding shrinking shoes and growing feet, why these changes occur, and what you can do to help ensure your shoes fit you properly, both now and a few months from now.
Table of Contents
- Did My Feet Swell or Did My Shoes Shrink? (Solved!)
- What Can Cause A Mysterious Shrinking Shoe?
- Does The Material Of the Shoe Make a Difference When It Comes to Shrinkage?
- Do Shoes Shrink When You Wash Them?
- What Causes Your Feet to Swell Throughout the Day?
- What Factors Can Affect the Way Shoes Fit?
- Can You Unshrink Your Shoes?
Did My Feet Swell or Did My Shoes Shrink? (Solved!)
When perfectly fitting shoes suddenly feel tight or small, you may immediately wonder if your shoes have shrunk or if your feet have grown. The simple answer is that it may be a combination of the two. Some shoes will stretch out and expand as you wear them. Other shoes can shrink as they are worn and exposed to the elements. There are also steps you may be taking that can cause your shoes to shrink without even realizing it.
On top of a shoe possibly shrinking, your foot size is constantly changing. As you age, the shape of your foot changes. Your foot begins to flatten out and the fat pads on your feet begin to change. This can alter the size of your foot. A person’s shoe size can increase by as much as two sizes between the ages of 20 and 70. Finally, your feet can swell throughout the day, especially if you are standing or walking all day. This means your feet can start the day one size when you get out of bed, and increase in size by the time you get to bed. All of these factors combined affect the way that your shoes fit your feet, making the shoes feel smaller.
What Can Cause A Mysterious Shrinking Shoe?
Your shoes can shrink over time as they are worn. If you have put shoes on your feet and they no longer fit properly, you may find yourself wondering why the shoes have shrunk. In some cases, some of the things you may be doing can cause your shoes to shrink. Washing shoes in hot water, drying them in a clothes dryer, or leaving them out in the direct sunlight can cause them to shrink. In other cases, they may shrink simply due to routine use.
Your shoes can naturally shrink a little bit as they are worn. When they are worn, they can get wet. They can get wet if you walk through a puddle while wearing them, walk across damp grass, wear them in the rain or even get moist as your feet sweat in them. The moisture causes the material of the shoe to slightly expand, but as the moisture dries out of the shoe, the shoe contracts. This contraction causes the shoe to shrink. If this happens one time, you may not realize it is happening. But, it happens over and over again as the shoes are worn, causing the shrinking you may experience.
Finally, some types of shoes can shrink simply due to the environment they are placed in. For example, if your shoes are stored in a warmer spot, they may naturally shrink a little due to the heat. As such, you should always properly store your shoes when they are not in use to prevent your shoes from shrinking and becoming damaged.
Does The Material Of the Shoe Make a Difference When It Comes to Shrinkage?
Now that you know that shoes can shrink, you may be wondering if this only occurs with certain types of shoes or if all types of material can shrink. One of the most common misconceptions about leather shoes is that they expand, not shrink. While leather can stretch as a shoe is worn, leather shoes can also shrink if they are exposed to moisture or heat. As such, leather shoes are susceptible to shrinkage.
Another common material that shoes can be made from is canvas. Just like leather, canvas shoes can naturally shrink if they are exposed to heat or moisture. Canvas shoes, or any cloth shoes for that matter, can be coated with a water repellant to help minimize the shrinking that can occur from exterior water sources, such as rain and puddles.
The last common material that shoes can be made from is synthetic materials. This includes items such as faux leather. Synthetic materials are the least likely to shrink. Some synthetic materials will not shrink at all, while others will only mildly shrink. While synthetic materials may sound ideal, since they do not shrink that much, they are not the best material for many types of feet, as synthetic materials do not breathe. This can cause your foot to expand, which then makes the shoe feel tight.
Do Shoes Shrink When You Wash Them?
Shoes may shrink if and when they are washed. If you have shoes that are dirty, it is strongly recommended that you spot clean the shoes. Spot cleaning involves filling a bowl with cool water and a squirt of a gentle liquid detergent. You can then use a cloth to dab the spot on the shoes until the spot or stain has lifted. The cloth should then be rinsed out and dabbed at the spot on the shoe to remove soap residue and the shoe will then need to air dry.
If your shoes are really dirty, you may think about throwing them in the washing machine. Always read the manufacturers’ recommendations about cleaning shoes and research online to find out if the shoes you want to wash can be washed without damaging the shoes. Many mesh and canvas-based shoes can be laundered, while many suede and leather shoes cannot be.
If you do decide to wash your shoes in a washing machine, you should always wash them in cool to room temperature water. Hot water can lead to your shoes shrinking dramatically. Shoes should also always be air dried. They should not be placed in a clothes dryer, nor should they be placed in direct sunlight. Heat can cause shoes to shrink, as well as lead to the shoes fading and potentially being brittle.
What Causes Your Feet to Swell Throughout the Day?
In many cases, if your shoe feels tight, it is likely a combination of your shoes shrinking as well as your feet expanding. If your shoes tend to feel tighter by the end of the day, you may be wondering what causes your feet to swell or expand, and what steps, if anything, you can take to decrease the swelling in your feet.
As you sit or stand, gravity is at work. Blood circulates more in your legs and feet compared to the way it circulates when you are lying flat. This causes a slight expansion in your legs and feet. As your day goes on, you may notice more expansion. That expansion reduces when you lay down or raise your feet. As such, if your feet swell quite a bit throughout the day, you may want to try to put your feet up for about 10 minutes every couple of hours.
Another reason why your feet can swell and expand throughout the day is heat. The hotter your feet are, the more they will expand. If it is a hot day, your feet will fit in your shoes differently than if it were a cool day. The material of the shoes can also affect how cool or hot your shoes are, which ultimately can affect the way they fit.
Finally, water weight and salt intake can affect swelling in your feet. Pregnant women tend to have swollen feet as they have a higher water weight. Women may notice that their feet are a bit more swollen at different times throughout the month as their hormones fluctuate. And you may find, that your feet swell a bit and make your shoes feel tighter after eating a salty meal, such as fast food.
What Factors Can Affect the Way Shoes Fit?
While shoes can shrink and your feet can grow, these two factors alone may not be the only reasons why your shoes may feel tighter. There are a few other factors that can affect the way your shoes fit. First off, the way your shoes are laced can affect the fit. If your shoes felt tighter one day, you may have loosened the laces, or if they felt loose, you may have tightened the laces. You may need to adjust the laces regularly to ensure the shoes fit your feet properly.
Another factor that can affect the way shoes fit is the type of socks you are wearing. One day you may be wearing thin nylon socks, and another day you may be wearing heavy cotton socks. The thicker the socks are, the tighter your shoes will feel while wearing them. When possible, try to purchase and wear the same types of socks from day to day, so the fit of your shoes are not changed as you change socks.
Can You Unshrink Your Shoes?
If your shoes have shrunk, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to stretch them out or to unshrink them. There are a few tricks you can use to stretch your shoes out, though the amount that they may stretch will vary based on the material that the shoe is made from.
One of the fastest ways to unshrink shoes just a small amount is to put on heavy socks and wear the shoes. The thickness of your foot and the socks will naturally stretch both leather and canvas types of shoes. The downside to this option is that the tight shoes will be on your feet, which can cause blisters or discomfort.
Another way that you can stretch out shoes is to stuff the shoes with newspaper or tissue paper. Once the shoe is stuffed, use a blow dryer to warm the shoes up. Warming the shoes up causes the material to expand. Keeping newspaper in the shoes as they return to room temperature helps to prevent contraction that normally happens as the shoes cool, which may help to stretch them out.
The final trick to stretching out shoes is to take your shoes to a shoe repair shop or a cobbler. Many shoe repair companies offer professional shoe stretching services and use a shoe stretching device. A professional can help you determine if stretching will increase the shoes to a size that will properly fit your feet, and then stretch them out in a way that will not damage the shoes. This is the most costly option but often provides the longest lasting results.
If you have a pair of shoes the day you bought them but feel tight when you try to put them on, you may be wondering do shoes shrink over time, or did my feet grow? There are many factors that can cause shoes to shrink and your feet may also grow slowly over time or expand throughout the day. Taking the time to have your foot measured each time you purchase shoes, being mindful of the material the shoe is made from and if it expands over time, and avoiding actions that can cause a shoe to shrink rapidly are the best ways to minimize the shrinkage that occurs with your shoes, helping to increase the likelihood that your shoes will properly fit your feet.