When your shoes are making a squeaking noise while you walk, it can be a minor frustration that quickly snowballs into a confidence issue. No matter how much effort you have put into your own self-presentation, squeaky shoes can steal the attention or interrupt important conversations – and, on top of that, they are just generally unpleasant to deal with. But how do you actually get rid of squeaky shoes without throwing away the shoes themselves?
Here are some quick tips on how to stop shoes from squeaking, whether you are using them in the workplace or just want to stop the squeaking before it gets worse.
What Causes Squeaky Shoes?
One of the most common causes of squeaky shoes is moisture. It is entirely possible for air and/or moisture to get stuck inside different sections of your shoes, which can lead to squeaking when you take a step and different parts of the shoe rub together. Most of the time, these things get stuck inside the shoe due to natural wear and tear, especially if a thin layer starts to erode away.
There are also certain surfaces that are much more prone to shoes squeaking, especially a brand new pair of shoes that have not been broken in yet. Slick surfaces, like the floor of an exercise room or gym, can be a good example.
Preventing Squeaking Shoes
Even if your shoes are not squeaking right now, that does not mean that they will not eventually. To save yourself from having to fix them later on, there are certain measures that you can take to make the squeaking less likely or to try and completely prevent it from ever being a problem.
Throw away old shoes
The best way to stop your shoes from squeaking? If they are old and worn out, throw them away. This can seem wasteful at first, but you have to remember that shoes can be tough to repair, especially some of the highly specific designs used in leather shoes. It can save you a lot of time by simply throwing away any shoes that are already wearing down – the soles starting to wear away is a very common sign of major damage.
If you are walking in shoes and they feel like they should be squeaking (the soles feel less grippy, or you can tell that there is air trapped in the shoes), then it may be time to make one last decision and throw them away. You could always get replacements if you have the money spare for them.
Get them repaired
If you are noticing damage or the potential for squeaky steps in older shoes, you can always take them to a cobbler or cordwainer (people who create and maintain shoes). These are not as common to find these days, since most shoes are mass-produced, but it can be a good option for a shoe that you have a strong personal attachment to such as wedding shoes, fancy shoes inherited from a relative who has died, and so on.
Repairs might not always be cheap, but depending on the value of the shoes you are wearing, it can actually be cheaper than buying a replacement. This is especially true with old shoe designs that might not be in production anymore.
Sweat, water, and other kinds of moisture are the most likely cause of squeaking in every step you take. If your feet are likely to get hot or wet during the day, then make sure you have a chance to deal with the moisture yourself, even if you just take a moment to rub your feet down with a paper towel or cloth during a break. If you keep your feet dry, then the squeaking will not be as likely.
You may also be able to prevent the squeaking if you make sure that your feet are dry after it starts. You might even want to try drying your shoes out: sometimes the problem is trapped moisture, so if you can take some time to make them perfectly dry, it may stop.
Fixing Squeaky Shoes
If your shoes have already begun squeaking, then the previously mentioned methods could still help. However, if you need to stop shoes from squeaking after they have already started, then you might have to identify exactly what is wrong and why your shoes squeak in the first place.
Look for defects
If there is anything loose or defective about your shoes, you should try to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. A loose sole and/or insole can be a major problem in the bottom of your shoe since the insole is meant to support you and the sole is meant to protect you: even without the squeak, it puts you at risk of fatigue or pain.
It is not just about the sole and insole, of course. Making sure that you can identify the cause of any squeak sounds or other problems makes it much easier to keep the shoes comfortable and reliable. If you can’t find one single cause in that shoe pair, then there may be something more serious going wrong with them that you will need a professional to spot and fix.
Wear in your shoes
A new pair of shoes will generally squeak especially leather shoes. You need to break them in before this stops, and that usually just means wearing them until they manage to stretch out and accommodate your feet properly. In many cases, this “fix” takes a day or two at most, although it can be longer if you do not really have much of an excuse for wearing the leather shoes for a long period of time.
Wear down the soles
If your new shoes are not breaking in properly, then something is usually wrong with the bottom of each shoe. You can try to fix this by dragging the soles against rough, hard floors, like asphalt or concrete: this removes the smoothness but does not really damage the soles themselves. Be careful if your shoes are designed with a very thin layer as the sole. However: this is rare in most designs, but it can still be a concern.
The sole and insole are meant to benefit you, so if you find out that the insole in the bottom of your shoe feels off or the rubber outsole is squeaky, then there is an issue. You can sometimes remove an insole, but a rubber outsole will need a professional touch to fix, so you should not really try to do it yourself.
Use talcum powder
Talcum powder, or baby powder, is a great option for absorbing sweat. Since most shoes squeak because of issues with sweat and moisture, using talcum powder as a way to absorb the water or sweat can actually remove the squeak from your new shoes. Even better, it can double as an odor-remover, meaning that it is a great fix for days when your feet have been incredibly sweaty.
Sprinkle baby powder inside your new shoes to get around the problem of that bad ‘new shoe’ smell and avoid your feet overheating quickly. Baby powder may seem messy at first, but when you are walking around for hours at a time, it can make every step much more pleasant and reduce the chance of either shoe making extra noise.
If the sound is not coming from the soles, then it is coming from somewhere else. Sometimes, a polish can be all you need to get rid of the squeaky noise being caused by a shoe, especially a leather shoe that might be worn out or dirty and in need of some cleaning. Specific types of leather are much more likely to cause a squeak than others when they are dirty, too, as can various rubber soles or loose materials.
When you polish a squeaky shoe, make sure to go over the entire body with a soft cloth afterward, just in case. It helps to check the manufacturer’s instructions if you still have them because using the wrong polishing or cleaning products on something like suede can completely ruin a shoe in the long-term.
For some shoes, you can even use the dryer – some canvas shoes are especially good in the dryer since the sole is the only real solid part. Always check the tag or instructions beforehand, though.
Like polishing, restoring worn-out or damaged materials may make a big difference. Something like WD-40 can sometimes be a good way to clean outer layers, for example, since WD-40 is known for preventing squeaks while also oiling and coating most materials. Sometimes you need something more specific: a leather conditioner for certain leather types is a good example.
Whatever you do, remember to work carefully around any thin-layer materials. Worn or dirty materials can still be fixed, but if you completely crack open a rubber sole or another part of a shoe, then it is not easy to undo the damage that you might have caused.
Check the heels
The heel can be a very squeaky part of a shoe, and if part of the heel is loose, then you can expect those parts to rub together while you are walking and create a squeaky sound. Try to identify anything loose or damaged about the heel: make sure to check every part of both shoes since only one needs to be damaged for the squeak to start happening.
It is not easy to replace the heel, so you may need to go to a professional or get that pair replaced by another one. If you really can’t bring yourself to throw those shoes away, then you can get them repaired, but it may not be easy to track down somebody that can do the job in your local area.
What Else Can I Do?
Just because you know how to stop shoes from squeaking does not mean that it will work, unfortunately. Rubber soles on the bottom of a shoe can sometimes squeak on hard floors just because, and there is not always an obvious reason for why they keep doing it. Even a clean with a paper towel might not help, and the more you walk in them, the worse the problem can become.
Do another check
If you are desperate, use everything you can to try and identify what is wrong. Clean the bottom with a paper towel, swap a new insole into the bottom of the shoe, check the rubber on the outsole, and put appropriate chemicals on any materials that might be the cause of the problem. If you use everything, you could fix the noise without even knowing what was causing the noise in the first place, and the most mundane things can occasionally work really well.
Some parts of a shoe can be squeaky for no real reason, and it is not always the shoes themselves. If the noise stops when you stop walking on hard floors, then maybe the bottom of the shoe is simply squeaky on hard floors. It happens, and while it could be annoying, there is not always a good way to stop the noise unless you want to use different shoes altogether or avoid hard floors completely.
Buy new shoes
If all else fails, it could simply be a good idea to buy new shoes. If you want to put on your shoes and walk without a squeaking noise, then nothing could solve the problem faster than completely new shoes. You do not have to throw the ones you currently use away, but if they make noise every time you use them, then you need to not use them if you want to stop the noise.
Knowing how to stop shoes from squeaking does not make much difference if literally, nothing is working, but unfortunately, that is just the reality of the situation. If you are still convinced that a professional could stop shoes from making noise, then call them up or find their email address and see what they can offer.