How to Shrink a Leather Wallet – Step by Step Instructions

shrunk leather wallet

Are you wondering how to shrink a leather wallet?  If you’ve found yourself typing in this search query, then you’re probably the victim of a wallet that’s stretched out to the point that your cards have begun to fall out…we can also guarantee you that it no longer holds the original shape it had when you first bought it. Well good news…it is possible. A wallet can be drawn back in a few degrees if it gets too stretched out and misshapen.

How to shrink your leather wallet (short version):

  1. Remove all your wallet’s contents
  2. Soak the wallet in lukewarm or warm water
  3. Re-shape the wallet after you remove from water
  4. Start the drying process (apply a little conditioner at this point)
  5. As the wallets continues to dry, check shape and apply more conditioner.

*Read below for specific details.

how to shrink a leather wallet

The reality is this, the reason that your wallet is all bent out of shape is because you cram too much stuff in there.  You see, that’s the thing about leather, it only stretches one way – out.  Here at The Wallet Shoppe, we’ve always encouraged our readers to carry as minimally as possible.  Things like removing gym membership cards, grocery reward cards and even health insurance cards can really go a long way in helping to minimize the damaging effects on your wallet (and also your back).

Things you’ll need:

  • Your stretched out wallet
  • A small bowl filled with tepid water
  • Hairdryer (optional)
  • Leather conditioner/softener – This is also optional, but you could end up with a rough/cracked wallet if you don’t use it. A lot of this depends on the quality of leather your wallet is made of as well.  This is our favorite leather conditioner – very reasonably priced as well.

01. Remove Everything

You’ll want to start this process by taking everything out of your wallet.  Now is a great time to think about what you really need to carry.  Don’t spend all this time working on your wallet to bring it back to life…only to stuff it full again.  This process works quite well, but it’s not something that you want to do over and over again…eventually, you’ll be out of luck.

02. Soak the Wallet

Grab the bowl of lukewarm water and soak your wallet for 10-15 minutes.  I know it seems counter intuitive to get your wallet wet, but you need to soften the leather at a cellular level for the shrinking to work well.  Don’t go overboard and forget about your wallet for an hour though or you might not be able to save it.

03. Shape the Wallet

This is a step that’s often overlooked, but it’s super important when salvaging a wallet that’s stretched out too much.  Take some time to actually re-shape the wallet.  Don’t take it out of the water and just forget about it or let it dry for 24 hours without attending to it.  We’ll go into that more in the steps below, but a few things you can do are to open and close the wallet a few times to loosen it up.  With the wallet closed, use your hands to press it together and work it around a bit as well.

  • We like to place one card on either side of the wallet to help it maintain its shape when the drying process begins. DO NOT place all of the items back in your wallet, or even place a single card in EVERY card pocket.  You only want to use one card to simply give the drying wallet a little guide as it shrinks.

04. Shrink the Wallet

The wallet will dry on its own.  That said, you can help it out, but you don’t want to speed up this process too much.  We usually recommend one of two options at this point 1) set the wallet near a sunlit window 2) set the wallet on a FLAT surface in the laundry room while the dryer is going

After the wallet has been drying for about an hour, grab some of the leather conditioner and rub it in to the wallet and reshape it again.  You want to use the leather conditioner sparingly at this point, because using too much will lessen the “shrink factor”.  We like to soften the leather at this point to minimize any rough spots or cracking that might occur.

* One thing you don’t want to do is set the wallet outside in the direct sunlight. Doing this, you are almost guaranteed to crack the leather on your wallet.

hairdryer to shrink leather wallet

**Some people like to use a hairdryer.  We actually don’t recommend it, but if you do decide to use one…just make sure it’s on the cool setting and you only use it to help speed up the drying a bit.  Don’t over-dry it with the hairdryer or guess what?  Cracking!

05. Condition Again

After 12 hours or so, grab the wallet again and condition more liberally this time.  We like to let the conditioner soak in for another 6-8 hours before filling the wallet with cards.

Remember, minimalist carry is more of a way of thinking. You’ll definitely get used to carrying fewer cards.  The cool part, is that pretty soon, you’ll realize you don’t even miss all the extra clutter.

If your wallet is just too far gone, we put together an awesome list of the 75 best minimalist wallets on the market right now.

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