The sound of shoes squeaking is irritating to most people. Sometimes the problem lies in the shoe soles, other times the shoes may not fit properly; old shoes tend to produce squeaking noises too, especially if you didn’t maintain them properly.
Many people won’t consider fixing their squeaky shoes, which typically results in the pair being thrown away or forgotten. The process of fixing shoe squeaking issues is quite simple, but to begin, you’ll first need to find the root of the problem.
If you’re wondering how to stop shoes from squeaking, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss the main causes of squeaky shoes, as well as suggest a few simple solutions that you can apply to prevent this issue from happening again. Without any further ado, let’s start from the top.
How to Stop Shoes from Squeaking
1. Soften the Soles with Sandpaper
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce the friction of rubber soles on new shoes. If you don’t want to put up with the annoying clapping sounds for weeks before the shoes wear in, you can use fine grit sandpaper to even out the rough parts and make the soles a bit softer. Applying a thin layer of fabric softener in combination with fine sandpaper could yield even better results.
Note that rubber soles on most brand-new shoes are fairly smooth to begin with. It’s important to be as gentle when sanding the soles, as going overboard could result in reduced friction; in turn, you’ll be far more likely to slip and fall. This is especially true for shoes that generally shouldn’t be used to walk on hard floors.
2. Apply Petroleum Jelly
Regardless of whether your shoes are new, old, worn-out, or barely touched, they could be squeaking because the insole could be pushing against the inside parts of the shoe. This is typically the case with poorly-built pairs, but even expensive shoes are sometimes stricken with this problem.
What’s peculiar about this issue is that it’s often confused with something else. You’d have to dismantle the shoe to see how well (or poorly) built the insole is, and how close to the shoe’s interior it is positioned.
A good way to determine this is by the level of comfort you’re getting from the shoes. If you’re feeling a slight pressure when you walk, there’s a good chance that the insole is rubbing against the interior of the shoe. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to make this effect less pronounced.
In the case of leather shoes, petroleum jelly could also be used to patch dents and smaller damages, although you’ll see better results by using super glue (or any other strong grip adhesive) instead.
3. Use Baby Powder/Talcum Powder
Baby powder is generally used to eliminate unpleasant odors from shoes. Aside from smelling great, baby powder is a drying agent. It can absorb high amounts of moisture quickly and prevent sweat from descending to the insoles.
Talcum powder could be used for similar results, but you should know that it contains silicon, so it could potentially reduce friction and cause slippage. If your shoes are squeaking on hard floors, such as vinyl, parquet, or laminate floors, consider applying baby powder instead of talcum.
Talcum powder is far more potent than baby powder, so if your problem with squeaking shoes is more serious than you’d expect, consider using it instead.
Both of these powders are great if you intend to sprinkle them on removable insoles. By removing them, you can easily coat the problematic areas; if not, sprinkle the powder on the sides of your shoes’ insoles. Speaking of babies, here’s how to fix loud baby swing noises.
4. Dry Your Shoes
Your shoes should be kept dry at all times. If you’ve been caught out in the rain, know that water will quickly work its way to the core of your shoes, and you should dry them as soon as possible, whether with a dryer sheet, cotton ball, or anything else.
If water went too deep, using crumpled newspapers and paper towels may not be as effective. Consider placing your wet shoes in a drying machine. This quick-drying option doesn’t come without risks, though. If kept in for too long, they could be damaged by the heat.
This isn’t the best idea for dress shoes. For leather shoes, check the exact type of material of your pair before throwing them into the drying machine. Certain types of leather aren’t as durable, such as suede or nubuck (all soft leather types, in general).
5. Use Saddle Soap on the Tongue
Saddle soap, generally speaking, is a type of leather conditioner that could potentially prevent your shoes from squeaking when used on the tongue of each shoe. It is both softening and protecting the material (leather) when applied. It’s smart to develop a habit of using saddle soap, even if your shoes aren’t making a squeaky noise.
Things to Consider When Treating Squeaky Shoes
Now that you’re acquainted with the possible treatment methods for squeaky shoes, we’d like to point out a couple of things that you may want to keep an eye out for.
Things you should avoid doing, as well as certain practices and habits that are worth developing for maintaining the pristine quality of your shoes, which could both preserve their durability and prevent squeaky noises from bothering you, such as:
What Part of the Shoe is Squeaking?
Are the soles squeaking, or is it the heels? The part where the squeaky noises are coming from will tell you which method should be used to get rid of this problem. In a nutshell, this is what you should do if:
- The outsoles are squeaky – use sandpaper with up to 220 grit rating to ensure smooth traction. Again, it’s important not to sand the outsoles too much, or else they could become too slippery.
- The soles are too slick – slippage is just one of the problems that slick soles can present you with. Use silicone spray to improve traction and make them better suited for walking on slippery or wet surfaces where they would otherwise squeak.
- The heels are squeaking – most people land on their heels before placing their feet on the ball-of-foot area, and finally the toes. This means that the heels are taking the bulk of the pressure in and that they are likely to fall apart and become flimsy over time. Use super glue or any strong grip adhesive to prevent the heels from squeaking.
Other parts of the shoe can squeak if the product is defective. Pay attention to the quality of the shoes you intend to buy while you’re still in the shop.
Most damages and issues that could potentially happen to a well-built pair of shoes can be mended. If the model is poorly built or designed, it’s usually better to buy a new pair.
Where are the Shoes Squeaking?
On which surfaces did you notice your shoes started squeaking first? Were you taking a stroll on the pavement, or did they begin squeaking on the laminate while you were still in the shop?
Certain shoes aren’t meant to be used on certain terrains. For example, you wouldn’t take your dress shoes on your mountaineering trips, just like you wouldn’t take hard-cap worker boots on an elegant event.
However, the flooring on which the shoes start squeaking is an indicator of the problem with traction. If it’s too weak, the shoes are likely to slip and produce clapping noises. If it’s too strong, the shoes will dig into the ground at certain angles and produce high-pitched screeching noises.
The shoe traction is often referred to as ‘grip’. There is a variety of ways to improve the grip of your shoes, which is very likely to resolve the squeaking issue as well:
- Use grip pads – these products can be purchased, but you could also make your own quite easily. With a piece of cloth and some grip wax, you could reduce the rate of wear and tear of your shoes while improving their grip considerably.
- Apply hot glue on the soles – it’s important to apply a very thin layer, or you may encounter adverse effects. Hot glue will prevent slippage, but if you overuse it, the shoes will be too ‘grippy’.
- Tape the shoes with gaffer tape – while this may not be the most aesthetically appealing idea, gaffer tape could reduce the grip of your shoes if their traction is too high.
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We’ve covered all the bases regarding how to stop shoes from squeaking, but you may still be wondering why they’re producing such annoying noises in the first place. This section is dedicated to answering some of the most common questions regarding the common reasons of squeaky shoes, so let’s have a look:
Why do my Shoes Squeak?
The list of potential reasons why your shoes squeak is quite long. Even brand new shoes can produce those annoying squeaking noises, and that’s especially true for old shoes. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons before we get to potential solutions to stop shoes from squeaking:
1. The Shoes are New
If your new shoes start squeaking as soon as you begin wearing them, there’s no cause for alarm. That could happen to most ‘unworn’ shoes, as rubber soles tend to be too smooth sitting in a box (or on a shelf). If you’ve bought your shoes this year and the squeaking sound is still bothering you, a good way to deal with the issue is to start wearing them a bit more often.
The solution for this issue is to ‘kick’ the shoes in, meaning wear them frequently, and the problem is likely to resolve itself. Don’t be afraid to walk over particularly rough terrains, as that will hasten the process and get rid of those squeaky insoles.
2. The Shoes are Old
Old shoes have seen a fair share of wear, and that’s one of the most common reasons why squeaky sounds occur whenever they’re worn. The precise reasons why shoe squeaking is happening with old shoe pairs, especially with leather shoes; thy are probably falling apart, which is exceptionally common with old rubber soles.
You could try patching them up and sprinkling baby powder or talcum powder on squeaky insoles, or you could take them to professional shoe repair shops. At the end of the day, consider buying a new pair if the problem persists.
The interior parts of old squeaky shoes can be patched up with candle wax or super glue while the outer sole can be fixed with a good rubber sole spray. If you want to save an expensive pair of shoes from both squeaking and durability problems, you can start applying these products on a regular basis as a part of daily maintenance.
3. The Shoes are Moist/Have Suffered Water Damage
Water can ruin pretty much any piece of clothing or footwear, and that obviously includes shoes. Whether you’ve accidentally stepped into a pool of water or have spent some time outdoors on heavy rain, you should refrain from wearing shoes if the weather conditions are ’watery’.
You could try leaving your shoes to dry for a few hours. Sprinkle the midsoles with some silicone spray, and place crumpled newspapers or paper towels inside. The newspapers will absorb the moisture while the gel will help contain the situation.
Will New Shoes Stop Squeaking?
The irritating noise of squeaking shoes is often unavoidable with new pairs. The best way to make them stop squeaking and producing unwanted noise is to wear them in – wear them at your house, wear them outside (if it’s not raining or snowing), and more importantly, wear them at the shop.
Observe how your new shoes react when worn over different surfaces. In some cases, the rubber soles won’t squeak when worn over carpets or fabrics, but they’ll usually squeak on hard floors.
What does it mean if Your Shoes Squeak?
It means that they’re either new, damaged, or soggy in most cases. If you’re unsure how to stop shoes from squeaking, the first thing you should do is find out what is causing them to do so.
For instance, if your shoes are new, you should expect them to squeak, and you can write off all the other reasons. If they’re damaged or old, they are more prone to water damage, so keep that in mind.
Toddler Shoes That Squeak When You Walk
While the sound of shoes squeaking is mind-numbing to most people, kids actually love it and could even feel motivated to walk for extended periods.
A certain type of toddler shoe was designed with that in mind; such pairs will squeak if the child performs a natural walking motion (from the heel to the toe), sending an affirmative signal and encouraging the toddler to repeat this action.
There are numerous reasons why shoes may squeak, but there are just as many solutions to fix this problem and go soundproof. Whether it’s traction, the design, or external factors that are causing these irritating noises, the mending process is usually simple. We hope that this article has helped you make your shoes squeak-proof.
Dave Pearson is a Canadian musician, sound editor, and audiophile. He is also the founder and owner of the website SoundProofGeek. On SoundProofGeek, Pearson offers advice and resources on audio equipment, including how to assess and improve audio quality, how to troubleshoot and repair audio equipment, and how to improve the music listening experience.
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