Shoes are a necessary part of our everyday lives. But if you’ve ever had a pair of shoes – whether new or old – that make noise, you’ve probably wondered how to stop shoes from making noise. Here’s a quick answer:
To stop shoes from making noise you first need to identify the source. This will often be the sole. Next, you need to either repair or resole the shoes or add some dampening material, such as mass loaded vinyl, to the bottom of the shoes. This should effectively stop most shoe noises.
In this article, I’ll look at the main sources of noise from shoes and the most effective ways to stop them. As much of this depends on the age and style of the shoes, I’ll go over some troubleshooting tips first.
Why Do Shoes Make Noise?
Before trying to stop your shoes from making noise, it’s first necessary to work out why they’re noisy. Is it a clicking noise from heels that you find distracting, or are the shoes squeaking as you walk?
The noise your shoes make will largely depend on a number of factors. These include:
- The sole unit (its materials)
- The age of the shoes
- Any damage (both visible and hidden)
- How they fit on your feet
Your best bet is to take a slow walk in the shoes to determine the type and source of the noise they’re making. While you might not be able to narrow it down completely, at least localizing it to an area such as the sole or heel will be enough.
Here are some basic troubleshooting tips for identifying the source and type of noise you’re trying to stop.
The Sole Unit
One of the major sources of noise from shoes is the sole unit. But this can be caused by a number of different problems. For example, pumps and other heels often click on hard floors because their soles are made from hard materials like plastic.
Then you have wedges and other shoes with wooden soles. Wood has poor acoustic properties, and wooden soled shoes will often be laminated or hollow. This can amplify any sounds they make.
Rubber soled shoes have a tendency to squeak, particularly on hard floors and when the sole is wet. This covers shoes such as sneakers and combat boots, although many formal shoes also have sole units made from EVA rubber or similar materials.
Age and Damage
It’s no surprise that shoes take a lot of stress during their lifetimes. Depending on the initial quality, some shoes can last years. But the more you wear them, the more stress they’re put under, which can lead to a number of noise complaints.
Loose parts caused by wear can be a big source of noise. Whether this is a detached sole flapping around or wear inside the shoe causing squeaking, older shoes will often cause more noise than newer ones.
Shoe noise can equally be caused by new shoes. Rubber soles are smooth when new, which can cause squeaking. New leather can also be fairly stiff, which results in noise too.
Similarly, damage can be a cause of noise. Water damage will often cause shoes to squeak, and it can take a long time to dry shoes out properly before they stop making noise.
Also, damage inside to the heel area can cause squeaking or farting noises as you walk. This is simply air being pushed around inside the shoe by movement, but you can try a few things to solve this.
How the Shoes Fit
Probably the noisiest type of shoe is one that doesn’t fit properly. Whether it’s the clapping noise it makes slipping off your heel or the scraping sound as it doesn’t lift up while you walk, poor-fitting shoes are a major source of noise.
This is true for shoes that are too big or too small; they each make their own unique noises. Shoes that are too big are much easier to solve, but the easiest solution is to simply buy the right size in the first place.
Poor-fitting shoes will lead to faster damage, both to the shoes themselves and to your feet. Finding a good fitting, supportive pair of shoes is not just important for the amount of noise they make, but also for your overall foot health.
Inspecting Your Shoes
Before you try any tips to stop them from making noise, start by inspecting the shoes. If they’re new, the source of noise should be fairly easy to identify.
But if they’re an older pair, take a walk in them and narrow the source down as much as you can. This’ll make the next steps much easier and more effective.
How To Stop Shoes From Making Noise?
Luckily there are quite a few things you can try to make your shoes quieter. Even better is the fact that none of them are particularly expensive.
However, if you’re not able to solve the problem with these options, you might be best to just buy some new shoes.
1. Condition the leather
If the squeaking noise is coming from the outside of the shoe, it’s most likely due to the leather rubbing on itself. This is a really easy problem to fix just by using some leather conditioner.
Some companies claim you need to use specific types of leather conditioner, but this isn’t true. Just be sure it’s good quality, and wax-based conditioners are often more effective.
The key areas to focus on are the crease over your toe joints and along the tongue under the laces. But applying the conditioner all over the shoe will keep the leather healthy and give you much more wear out of them.
Be sure to regularly reapply the conditioner depending on how often you wear the shoes. For daily wear, once a month is best. For less regular wear, every 3-4 months will be fine.
If they’re seasonal shoes, be sure to condition the leather before you store them over the off-season. This will prevent the leather from drying out and will stop them from making noise in the future.
2. Fix the insoles
Squeaky insoles are often caused by damage, which makes them come loose. The squeaking noise is usually due to air being pushed around by your feet combined with the movement of a loose insole.
There are a few ways to fix this:
- Stick the insoles down with some glue, being sure to bond them properly to the midsole.
- Sprinkle some talcum powder under the insole, or along the seams, if you can’t take them out. This will help soften the insole’s movement.
- Put some kitchen paper or similar under the insole to offer extra padding and dampening between the insole and midsole.
- Rub some coconut oil under the insole or around the seams as lubrication.
Any products that you apply under the insole will have to be reapplied every so often, again depending on how often you wear them.
3. Apply rubber grip pads
Rubber grip pads (Amazon) are mainly designed to give better traction on hard surfaces. But they’re also great for dampening the noise caused by hard shoe soles.
You could also try using a specific sound dampening product like mass loaded vinyl (Amazon). My only tip with this is to rough the bottom up slightly with sandpaper so you don’t slip over on hard surfaces.
This method will work best on heels and other shoes with hard soles, but will also work on sneakers and rubber-soled shoes.
4. Get your shoes to fit better
If you’re not willing to part with your ill-fitting noisy shoes, there are a couple of things you can try to improve the fit. These will largely depend on the source of noise and the problem fitting areas.
If your shoes slip at the back, try heel grips (Amazon). You can add in several sets if you need to, and they’re great at taking out a bit of extra room.
Alternatively, try insoles to take away the extra depth that’s making your shoes sloppy. While you can get foam or leather insoles, gel inserts (Amazon) will be your best option. They’re thicker than the other kinds and so will take out more room.
5. Fix water damage and wear
Fixing any damage to the shoes will be effective at reducing noise. Loose parts can be repaired with a bit of glue and some pressure.
You generally shouldn’t bother going to a cobbler, as they can only repair certain shoes. Sneakers and foam soled shoes have a single sole unit, which can’t be repaired.
For water damage, open the shoes and remove everything you can (such as the insole). Stuff with newspaper and leave somewhere warm for a few days. Dryer sheets also work well for this.
Some Final Thoughts
There are quite a few options for how to stop shoes from making noise. But if you try these and they still squeak, it might be best to replace them. Hopefully, some of my suggestions here will help you to fix them before it gets to the point of throwing them away.
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