How Tight Should Shoe Trees Be? (Explained)

Shoe trees are pieces of feet-shaped wooden or plastic blocks used to retain the shape of leather shoes and absorb moisture.

If you have leather shoes, you must have come across shoe trees. Well, many people wonder how tight these should be.

So, that is what this article talks about.

Shoe trees need not be tight and should fit snugly into your shoe. If you need help inserting shoe trees into your shoe, it is not the correct size, and you must replace it. It would be best to use shoe trees made by your shoe manufacturer.

Shoe trees that are too tight are bad for leather shoes and can cause permanent deformities. In this article, I will explain the dangers of bad shoe trees and how long you can use shoe trees.

Can a Shoe Tree be Too Tight?

How Tight Should Shoe Trees Be

Yes, if your shoe tree is half or full size bigger than your shoe, it will be too tight and can put unwanted strain on your leather shoes.

You should know about shoe trees if you are a leather shoes and boots fan.

Shoe Trees are feet-shaped wooden or plastic blocks used to preserve the original shape of leather shoes and boots.

Shoe trees don’t just preserve the shape of the shoe they also straighten out creases and protect the shoe by absorbing excess moisture.

Ensure you select the correct shoe tree size before using it. If it is too big, it will strain the leather, and too small will not be effective.

If you plan on expanding your shoe by half or more, you can use a tighter shoe tree, but you risk damaging your shoe’s Internal and external structure.

How Long Should You Leave a Shoe Tree?

The time you can use a shoe tree depends on multiple factors. Shoe Trees require a minimum of 24 hours to absorb moisture and straighten out creases completely.

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You can keep your shoe trees in your shoes for weeks or even months, but you have to ensure no issues could negatively affect your shoes.

Things like the shoe tree, the amount of sweat in the shoes, and even the material your shoe tree is made of will affect how long you can safely use a shoe tree.

#1. Size of the Shoe Tree

The size of the shoe tree is one of the deciding factors that will influence how long you can use a shoe tree.

Big or oversized Shoe trees will stretch the shoe leather and cause it to be oversized.

Try not to use large shoe trees for more than 24 hours. 

Shoe trees that are too small will not be able to maintain the shape of the leather and absorb enough moisture.

Ensure you do not use small shoe trees for an extended period.

#2. Moisture Content/Humidity 

Shoe Trees don’t just maintain the shoe’s shape but absorb unwanted moisture from sweat.

If you sweat a lot, you need to use a shoe tree for more than 24 hours to allow it to absorb enough moisture.

Humidity also affects the total duration you can use the shoe tree; lower means shorter usage, while higher equals longer usage.

#3. Type of Shoe Tree

There are different kinds of shoe trees, and they all differ based on their form factor and the material used to make them.

We have wooden shoe trees that can absorb a healthy amount of moisture, plastic Shoe Trees that are cheap but not absorbent, and many more.

Here are the four main shoe trees and their average storage times.

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Types of Shoe Tree Recommended Fitting Time 
Plastic shoe treeLess than 24 Hours 
Natural wood Tree 24 Hours +, but less than a week 
Varnished wood Tree 1 Month +
Cedar Shoe Tree 1 Month +

Plastic shoe trees are the least absorbent of them all, while cedar shoe trees are the best.

Can You Size down with a Shoe Tree?

Sadly, you cannot size down shoes with a shoe tree. Shoe Trees are meant to retain the shape of a shoe and reduce creases in the leather.

Shoes that are bigger than the wearer’s feet are not comfortable and can cause different kinds of ailments.

When shopping for shoes, ensure you purchase the correct shoe size that will fit you without excess clearance or too small a space.

If you wish to size down your shoes, you should turn to other options.

#1. Full-Size Insoles

Full-size insoles are one of the cheapest ways to get slightly bigger shoes to fit.

You can purchase full-size insoles after ensuring they will be a perfect fit.

The insoles will reduce the distance between your feet and the top of the shoes and cause them to fit.

#2. Toe Inserts

Toe inserts are an arch support used to fill the space between the toes and the front of the shoes.

You can use the inserts for shoes that are a tad longer than your toes.

Toe inserts are made from highly breathable foam that can absorb moisture and keep the toes fresh and clean.

You can find them in women wearing high heels and men with leather shoes.

#3. Thicker Socks

You can wear thicker Socks to make your shoe fit and feel better.

Thick socks effectively reduce the distance between your feet and the wall of the shoes.

Try purchasing thick socks if your shoe is ½ or a full size bigger than your feet.

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#4. Cobbler Refit

The fourth and final push to fix oversized shoes is to take them to the cobbler.

The cobbler will loosen and retighten the entire shoe according to your preferred size.

It would be best to take your shoes to a skilled and certified cobbler, preferably one from the company that made them.

Can a Shoe Tree Ruin Your Shoe?

Shoe Trees are good for protecting and increasing your shoe lifespan but can also cause problems if you don’t use them properly.

 In some cases, shoe trees have damaged the inner lining of shoes because of abrasion, tearing the shoe leather, and even trapping moisture instead of absorbing it.

Here are some of the problems and damage shoe trees can cause.

#1. Plastic Shoe Tree 

Plastic shoe trees are the cheapest kind of shoe trees on the market, and that is not without reason.

Plastic isn’t porous and cannot absorb moisture from the surroundings, so when it is used as a shoe tree, it traps moisture instead of absorbing it.

The trapped sweat can cause mold and foul-smelling bacteria to thrive inside the shoe and ruin it. 

#2. Abrasive Shoe Trees 

Non-varnished shoe trees are a bit abrasive and can wear out the insides of shoes quickly with use.

Manufacturers reduce this abrasiveness by smoothing the wood but varnishing is the most effective way of preventing it.

You can reduce the wear on your shoe by doing shoe rotation and reducing the rate at which you remove and reinstall your shoe trees.

#3. Oversized Shoe Tree

An oversized Shoe tree is very bad for leather shoes and can permanently deform leather shoes.

Shoe trees should fit your shoe profile as much as possible and be smaller than its size.

Don’t attempt to use oversized shoe trees, so it doesn’t permanently stretch your shoes and cause them to be bigger than it is.

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