How to Get Creases Out of Shoes: Step by Step Guide

6 min read

There are two ways to get creases out of leather shoes. One is to apply heat with an iron, blow dryer or other heat source. Another is to use alcohol or shoe stretcher spray to soften and smooth the leather.

You can hide smaller wrinkles by polishing over them. This hides creases instead of removing them but looks just as good.

Hi! My name’s George and I’m a shoe expert. Today, I’ll show you how to get creases out of shoes. Here’s a “before” and “after” of the last shoes I uncreased:

Cool, right? The pair on the right is smooth and beautiful. The one on the left is full of wrinkles and creases.

Below we’ll cover ironing, blow-drying, and polishing. I’ll explain how you can get rid of small wrinkles with alcohol and leather conditioner. I’ll also explain what to do with faux leather and suede.

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Table of Contents

1

Step - Unlace and Clean Your Shoes

To get creases out of shoes, you’ll need to work with the leather. This is impossible if laces, dust and/or dirt are in your way.

So first, unlace your shoes. Then get dirt and dust off using a horsehair brush and a wet cloth. If the shoe is really dirty, use a leather cleaning product.

Wait for the shoe to dry before proceeding. If it’s wet, take a dry, clean cloth and remove excess moisture.

2

Step - Stuff Your Shoes

Use tissue paper, old socks or a shoe tree to fill your shoe up. Run your fingers over the shoe with firm pressure. If you see any creasing, stuff the shoe some more.

If you’re going to use a heat gun or blow dryer, use a cedar shoe tree. Paper and plastic won’t work.

3

Step - Remove Creases with Iron or Blow Dryer

How to Get Creases Out of Shoes With an Iron

Take a damp cloth and put it over the area you’re uncreasing. If the material is thin, fold it to double its thickness. You could also use a thicker damp towel or washcloth.

Now take an iron. I like using a steam iron because it’s easier on leather. A clothes iron works too. Preheat the iron to 60-80 degrees fahrenheit or use its “medium” setting.

Start ironing the affected area. Be gentle and follow the shape of the shoe. The stuffing or shoe tree should help you do this.

While ironing, take a break every few seconds. During the break, make sure the washcloth is still wet and the leather – undamaged.

How to Uncrease Shoes With a Hair Dryer or Heat Gun

For this method, you must stuff the shoe with a cedar shoe tree. (Other woods work too, but cedar is the standard.)

Now take your dryer or gun and set it to “low”. Start with it about 10 inches (25cm) away from the shoe. Warm the leather up evenly; avoid staying in one area for too long.

Once the leather is warm, start massaging it. You can set your tool aside to do this. Keep massaging, applying heat and massaging again until the creasing is gone.

5

Step - Polish and Buff the Shoe (optional)

If your shoes are regular leather, polish them. If your shoes are patent leather, exotic leather, suede or something else, skip this step. 

Start by applying conditioner and waiting for it to dry. Once you’re done, apply shoe polish. When the polish dries, buff using a brush or microfibre towel.

Pay special attention to the toe box area. A smooth, well-polished one will make any leather boot or shoe look good. Other shoe sections might have a wrinkle here or there, but not the toe box.

To get detailed step-by-step instructions, check out our polishing guide here.

6

Step - Enjoy!

That’s it! Enjoy your smooth, wrinkle-free leather shoe upper.

To make sure you don’t get any new creases or wrinkles, see the “How to Prevent Shoe Creases” section below.

How to Prevent Shoe Creases

Shoes crease naturally. You can’t stop that from happening. The one thing you can do is prevent creases from becoming permanent. Here’s how.

1. Use Shoe Trees

A shoe tree keeps leather stretched and taut. It prevents new creases from forming.

Shoe trees are especially important for shoes you don’t wear often. Dress shoe pairs you wear once or twice a year are a good example.

If you don’t have shoe trees, roll up a small towel, some old clothes, etc. Anything is better than nothing.

2. Use Shoe Stretcher Spray Regularly

Apply shoe stretcher. Fill the shoe up with your feet, shoe trees or cloth. Do this every time you see a shoe that’s getting wrinkly.

This is my go-to method for creased sneakers and other inexpensive footwear. I just spray shoe stretcher on every week or two before going out.

3. Use a Sneaker Shield

A sneaker shield is a kind of shoe tree that fills up the toe box area. It’s good for preventing creased sneakers, which mostly wrinkle around the forefoot. To find a good sneaker shield product, check out Amazon.

4. Use Leather Conditioner and/or Oil Regularly

You’re more likely to get a shoe crease with dry leather. Keep it moisturized by applying conditioner and/or leather oil regularly. When choosing between polish types, try to use cream-based instead of wax-based products.

5. Pay Attention to Shoe Size

If your shoes are too big, they’re a lot more likely to crease. Make sure you get the right shoe size. Alternatively, get insoles for shoes that are too big.

6. Use a Shoe Horn

Putting shoes on can mean stepping on (and bending) the heel section. This is common with tight, stiff dress shoe uppers and some boots. A good shoe horn will nip this problem in the bud.

How to Uncrease Shoes Without Iron

You can stretch a shoe without applying heat. This doesn’t work quite as well for deep creases, but will get rid of smaller ones.

How to Uncrease Shoes with Alcohol and Conditioner

Get some rubbing alcohol. Mix with one part water. Massage into the leather, paying special attention to affected areas. This will soften the leather up.

Once the alcohol dries, treat the whole shoe with conditioner or leather oil. This will stop the leather from drying out because of the alcohol.

Now put a shoe tree (or your feet) inside the shoe. This will stretch and smooth out the leather.

How to Get Shoe Creases Out with Shoe Stretcher Spray

Shoe stretcher spray relaxes leather fibers, smoothing out creases. Just apply some to a creased area and fill the shoe. Old socks, shoe trees and tissue paper all work.

Some shoe stretcher products dry leather out. Others don’t. If the leather feels dry, treat with leather oil or conditioner after spraying it.

How to get Crease Out of Faux Leather Shoes

If you have faux leather, the heat treatments we cover above – ironing, blow drying – will work for you. The leather stretcher spray might not. There’s also another method that could work.

Put your faux leather in the dryer for 30-40 seconds. Make sure not to exceed 60 seconds. Once you’re done, stuff the shoes with shoe tree, cloth, etc.

Wait for the shoe to cool off. If you’re still seeing wrinkles, repeat the process.

How to Fix Suede Shoe Creasing

If you have a suede leather item, be careful. First, don’t use rubbing alcohol or smooth leather polish, oil or conditioner. Only use suede-specific products.

Mink oil is good. Shoe stretcher products made for suede are, too.

If you’re applying heat with an iron, heat gun or equivalent, be careful. Use a very slightly damp cloth or towel. Excess moisture will ruin any suede leather item.

For the same reason, be careful if you’re using a steam iron.

Conclusion

The most effective way to get creases out of leather is by applying heat. Pack the shoe and use an iron or blow dryer to heat the leather up. If you’re using a blow dryer, massage the leather manually.

Another method is to use alcohol, oil or conditioner to soften the leather. After softening the leather, pack the shoe from the inside to smooth it out.

Once you’re done, condition and polish the shoe. Conditioner will stop the leather from drying out; polish will hide any remaining creases. If you’re interested, check our our favorite shoe polish products here.

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Writer:

George P.H.

Last Updated:

April 29, 2022

George P.H.

George is the founder of Shoethority. He started testing and studying shoes after a series of sports injuries. He now shares his knowledge with Shoethority readers as a writer, tester and editor.