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Shoes squeak for a number of different reasons, and the first thing you should do when looking to fix the problem is to try to isolate where the squeak is coming from. If your shoes have a removable inner sole, friction between that area and the hard body may be the culprit; a crack in the shoe bed may also be to blame. Both of these issues can usually be fixed with a few household items and a bit of time. Sometimes you yourself may be causing the sound if you frequently wear your shoes with bare feet. In this case, wearing socks or lightly dusting your toes and arches with talcum powder may be the easiest solution. If the squeaky shoes are really bad, you may need a professional to repair to the shoe’s inner structure, which is hard if not impossible to do without specialized equipment.
Try to Identify the Cause
Figuring out why your shoes sound funny can be difficult, but the task is often a bit easier if you think about when the noise occurs the most. If you notice it more on hardwood floors than carpet, it may be a friction issue; if it’s usually only in the summer or when you’re going sockless, it may be a sweat or moisture problem. Squeaks that only happen when the shoes are wet may be a sign of a loose sole or a material that stretches differently when moist, causing cracks that air bubbles can get trapped in.
It’s also usually a good idea to take a good look at your shoes. Turn them over in your hands and look at the way the soles are connected to the foot beds, and stick your hand inside to observe how tightly the liner fits. This will help you spot any problem areas, loose connections, or cracks, which can make the source of the squeak easier to narrow down.
If your shoe has a removable liner or inner sole, try taking it out and dusting corn starch, talcum, or baby powder along the bottom of the shoe, then replace the liner making sure the fit is snug. These powders are known for absorbing moisture and may also reduce any friction that happens when the sole and liner rub against each other when you walk. This method may not work if the inner sole is glued down, but if that is the case internal friction is probably not your problem.
You may also hear a squeak if the body of the shoe stretches during wear to the point that it no longer fits securely on the sole. This is most common with shoes made of leather. Leather has a tendency to stretch and shrink in response to weather conditions and temperatures, and shoes that aren’t designed to anticipate and adapt to these changes may show it in the sounds they make. Applying a bit of shoe oil or mild vegetable oil to the seams of these sorts of shoes may help, though it’s often a good idea to be very sparing at first. Too much oil can stain the shoes or warp them, and any material other than leather, like canvas, should probably be spot-tested first so you don’t accidentally ruin or discolor the material. Footwear that doesn’t make noise but looks bad may not be the solution you’re going for.
Fix Cracks and Loose Soles
Squeaky shoes may also happen if part of the heel or sole is not fully attached to the rest of the shoe, and remedying this may be as easy as simply gluing or otherwise re-sealing things. Strong adhesives designed for rubber and leather are often the best options, but maximum strength craft or multipurpose glue might also work. It’s also important to look for loose attachments like tassels or heel plates and correct anything that seems out of place or weak.
Experiment With Socks
If you frequently wear your shoes with bare feet, your solution may be as simple as wearing socks. In these cases it isn’t usually the shoe itself that’s squeaking; the noise is actually caused by the way your foot is rubbing against the bed as you walk or run. Socks can add bulk, which may reduce friction, and they will also absorb moisture and sweat that can cause the skin to slide and squeak. Lightly dusting the feet with talcum powder might also work, and may be the best option for sandals or other footwear that wouldn’t look right with socks.
Get a Professional Opinion
Sometimes shoes squeak for no other reason than that they are poorly made. Problems with the internal structure of the shoe can’t always be seen or fixed on the outside. If this is the case and you notice it soon enough, your best bet may be to return the shoes to the store where you purchased them.
Most stores won’t accept merchandise for return that has been extensively worn or used, though. In these situations, you may need to get the advice of a professional shoe repairer. Cobblers often have ways of silencing squeaks that are more involved than anything you could do at home. Depending on how extensive the problem is, these services can be quite expensive.