How To Shrink A Leather Jacket?

Leather has been a fashion item that is pretty much always in style. It comes in brown and black most of the time. Leather pants may not always be popular, but leather jackets normally always are. What can you do though if you can’t find a leather jacket that fits you? Well, if you are tired of looking, then you can get one that is too big and try to shrink it. You can also shrink a leather jacket if you like the style of detail it has, and it is too big for you. In this article, we will explain how to shrink a leather jacket. Before getting into that though, we are first going to cover the risk of shrinking a leather jacket, so you can decide if shrinking a leather jacket is a right route for you or not.

How To Shrink A Leather Jacket

How To Shrink A Leather Jacket


Before getting into the different methods to shrink a leather jacket, you should first know the risk involved with shrinking a leather jacket. The main risk involved is damaging the jacket to the point that it is no longer wearable. One of the main reasons why shrinking leather is hard is because it can shrink at different rates. Leather is unpredictable when you shrink it. This means the inning could end up loose from being too big. Also, it means that the sleeves might shrink faster than the body making them too small. The lining could also end up too small. Theses are especially true if it is wool.

The kind of leather also effects how much it shrinks. For instance, horsehide leather shrinks naturally when worn in wet weather. Lamb shrinks and stretches the most while calf leather does not shrink much at all. Also, the texture of the leather can change. Normally it becomes softer as it shrinks, but it might get brittle and chip. This might be seen as the grain becoming more noticeable. Also, the edges may curl depending on how much you shrink the leather. The zippers may also not work as well after shrinking. Lastly, the color of the leather may change. The leather overall will probably develop a more distressed look. This might be desirable to you, but it is something to keep in mind if you aren’t going for that look when thinking about shrinking a leather jacket.

How to Shrink a Leather Jacket

So, now that you know the risk of shrinking a leather jacket, and what typically happens to the leather we can get into the methods of how to shrink a leather jacket. There are three main ways you can shrink a jacket, and then a fourth way that isn’t exactly shrinking it but has a similar effect. The three ways to shrink a leather jacket are…

  • Tub of Water
  • Washing Machine
  • Spray Bottle

Read on to learn how to do each method.

Tub of Water

The first method for shrinking a leather jacket is by using a tub of water and submerging it. You should fill the tub or at least a 33-gallon bind up with water. You might want to use a tub other than your bathtub because the dye in leather can stain things. Once you have the tub filled with water it is time to submerge the jacket in the water. Let the jacket soak in the water for five to ten minutes. As it soaks periodically use the sleeve of the jacket to rub the jacket. This helps make sure that all the jacket absorbs water.

Then after the ten minutes have passed, and the jacket is completely soaked take it out of the water. You then want to wring all the water you can out of the jacket. Once you have all the extra water out it is important to pull the leather around the zippers to prevent the leather from getting wavy.  After doing this you can lay the jacket down on a large towel and let it dry for about two days. Check the jacket every few hours to see how it is doing and replace the towel if it becomes too wet.

Depending on how shrunk you want the jacket you can modify this method. For less shrinking be sure to use cold water. If you want more shrinking you can use hot water. Also, if you want it to shrink even more, then you can put it in the dryer after letting it air dry for a bit. Make sure it is on low heat in the dryer and only let it go for about ten-minute intervals before checking it to make sure it doesn’t over shrink. Once it is the right size let it air dry the rest of the way. You can also use a hairdryer if you don’t want to put the jacket in the dryer.

Washing Machine

So, now that you know how to shrink a jacket in a tub of water we will move onto the next method, which is in the washing machine. The best way to shrink it in the washing machine is to wash the jacket on the cold and delicate setting by itself with no detergents. Once the washing cycle is done, then you can take it out and wring out all the extra water. Then you can put the jacket into the dryer and set it to medium heat. In the dryer, you probably should add a few towels to keep it from bouncing everywhere. Check it every so often and make sure it doesn’t shrink too much. Also, it is a good idea to run an empty load in the washer with soap to remove any dye.

The washing machine method is similar to the tub method, but the washer does the work. It also takes some of the control from you. The washing machine method is riskier than the tub method because you can’t control how long it soaks and it adds more stress to the leather from being tossed around. It is faster though and less work involved.

Bottle Sprayer

The last method is using a spray bottle to shrink a leather jacket. This is by far the safest method because you have all the control. You control what parts get wet, and how wet they get. To use a spray bottle method you first zip the jacket up and then spray it with warm water. Try to keep the lining, cuffing, and waist dry. You don’t want these parts to shrink. Also, spray just enough water on the jacket to get it wet, but not saturate it.

Once you have it sprayed down to put the jacket in a pillowcase and stick it in the dryer on the lowest setting. While it is drying check it periodically to make sure it is shrinking right. If it is drying irregular, then remove it from the dryer and let it air dry the rest of the way. Once the jacket is mostly dry remove it from the dryer and pull the leather around the zippers to stretch the area and prevent it from becoming “wavy”. To make the fit true custom you can wear the jacket out in the sun after spraying it down and avoid the dryer completely.


The last method that you can use to shrink a leather jacket isn’t your traditional sense of shrinking. That is you can take the jacket to a tailor and have them alter it to the desired size. This does make the jacket smaller and gives it the custom fit that you want, but it isn’t shrinking it in the sense that you might be thinking. However, if the jacket is important to you and you don’t want it messed up, then a tailor is hands down the best way to get the jacket the size you want.


No matter what method you choose to shrink your leather jacket though, you should always condition the jacket after doing it with leather conditioner. This will restore the luster and protect the jacket. All the mention methods will shrink a leather jacket, a tub of water, a washing machine, and a spray bottle. The thing is they all have risk too. It is important to think about the risk before choosing a method and realize that you can only shrink a jacket once. When shrinking a leather jacket it is best to take your time and shrink it slowly, so you don’t over shrink it. After reading this though you should now know how to shrink a leather jacket. One of these methods should work for you and your needs.

Ronald Bounds

My name is Ronald D. Bounds, founder and editor in chief here at The Rider Base. We are enthusiastic about speed and travel. This website is built to share the information for rider. We help you to choose motorcycle accessories for yourself without much time.

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