How do I Fix Squeaky Shoes?
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.
I came across this post after searching for something and I just wanted to comment that I remember a running partner who once wore a pair of running shoes that would start squeaking a little bit after about 7 miles or so. You say that sweat from going sockless might be the cause of squeaky shoes. Well, that was most possibly true with her.
I was so disappointed when I received these ballet flats I ordered online from Neiman Marcus -- when I put them on they squeaked horribly. I was ready to mail them back, when I came across your article. I tried applying baby powder on and under the lining cushion and it worked like a charm.
My Reeboks squeak on carpet or hardwood floor. I am very disappointed. I thought it might be the new condition, but after a few months they still squeak. I think the squeak is caused by a grey textured area on the sole of the shoe. I guess they will go to a donation for the homeless.
I have found a way to fix my squeaky new Reebok DMX MAX's. I wear orthotic inserts, and and the orthotic was rubbing against the inside of the shoe and squeaking. This didn't happen with my older pairs of Reeboks, so they must have changed something in the construction of the new ones.
I cut a piece of chamois (which most people pronounce "shammy") cloth a little larger than the outline of my orthotic. I then carefully laid the cloth flat inside the shoe. It turned up a bit along the sides of the shoes, which meant that when I inserted the orthotic, it would be touched only by the chamois cloth on all sides. This stopped the squeaking. Now, if my orthotic moves about inside the shoe, it will rub against the soft chamois cloth instead of the stiff sides and floor of the shoe!
By the way, another thing you could try is those thin insole pads you can buy at the drugstore. I haven't tried one of those, but if you find cutting out a piece of chamois too involved, you could buy one of those and try it. If you do, be sure to let the rest of us know if it works!
@DylanB – It's unfortunate that many shoe stores have carpeted floors, isn't it? I wonder if they do this so that people can't tell if the shoes will squeak!
I regretted my decision to buy inexpensive shoes when I discovered how badly they squeaked on hardwood floors. I only paid $20 for them, and they looked great, but they must have been cheaply made.
I couldn't take them back to the store, because they had a no-return policy on clearance items. The insoles were permanently attached to the rest of the shoes, so there was no way to fix the squeak.
Every time I would get up from my desk at work and walk to another area of the office, I would squeak conspicuously with every step. It was as if I had just walked in out of the rain!
I just gave up and bought a more expensive pair of shoes. I made sure to go to a shoe store with hardwood floors instead of carpet so that I could check for the squeak before I bought them.
I put baby powder on my feet whenever I wear my leather slip-on sandals. This keeps my feet from causing a squeak as I walk.
I think that putting moisturizer on my feet would only worsen the problem. Dry feet make much less noise than wet ones, right?
I hate the feel of sweaty feet against leather. I don't want moisture of any kind inside my shoes.
Some kids wear squeaky shoes that were made that way on purpose. I am thinking of those fuzzy slippers with animal heads on them that make the sound of the animal when the kid walks. These were definitely not invented with the parents' sanity in mind!
I remember a girl in college who wore a pair of new Doc Martens. Their shoes had a squeaky sound to them. One day in the library, after we studied and went over some term paper ideas, I happened to mention something about her squeaky shoes. She liked the shoes, but agreed she did not like the squeaky sounds -- in the library.
The article mentioned that friction of a bare or sweaty foot rubbing against the inside of the shoes can cause the problem. I think this was her problem. She looked like she was not wearing any.
This is slightly different then what you were writing about, but is there a way to make childrens squeaky shoes temporarily unsqueaky?
My daughter has somehow managed to go through all of her shoes except for her squeaky tennis shoes, and we have to go to wedding this weekend.
The wedding is casual, so she doesn't need heels or anything, and I'd hate to buy her a new pair of shoes just for that -- but I'd hate for her to be squeaking around at the wedding.
Does anybody know a good tip to de-squeak girls squeaky shoes, preferably temporarily?
I agree, a squeaky shoe can make you feel so subconscious. I had heard of putting cornstarch in the shoes to make sure that they stay dry, but I had never even thought about putting moisturizer on the shoe -- I will definitely be trying that out the next time I have a squeaky shoe problem.
One thing I've noticed is that leather shoes tend to get squeakier more easily than other shoes. Do you have any idea why? Is there any leather/squeaky shoe connection, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Thank you so much for this article! I had had some squeaky leather shoes that were driving me insane -- I felt like a chew toy whenever I walked.
This definitely put me on the right track though. I'm going to try fixing the inner soles, since I'm pretty sure that's where the problem is, after reading this.
Now if only there were a way to fix those ridiculous toddler squeaky shoes...or at least make it so I don't have to listen to them!
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