How To Repair Your Own Shoes?

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Shoes are extremely important. They impact your posture, how you walk as well as you present yourself. However, the lifespan of your shoes decreases with time, the more you wear them, whether they are boots, stilettos, loafers or your favorite pair of dress shoes. Every year, people throw away millions of shoes, even when some are still in good shape. Just because your favorite pair of work boots have a cracked sole or a scuffed upper, doesn’t mean that you should throw them away. You can still repair worn out or damaged shoes and extend their lifetime. While it may seem old-fashioned to repair shoes, your wallet and your feet will be thankful. Here are some tips on how you can repair your own shoes and prolong their lifespan.

Resoling Shoes

For most shoes, the outsole tends to wear out faster before the upper, due to the constant pounding on different pavements. The life of an average pair of outsoles will depend on various factors such as how frequent you use those shoes, the body weight, the terrain they are used on as well as your walking patterns. The good news is that outsoles can be replaced, through a process known as re-soling. Resoling is an affordable means of extending the life of your shoes. Worn out outsoles don’t provide as much traction as new outsoles. Furthermore, if the outsoles are damaged, you are exposing your feet to all forms of harmful elements. Also, worn out outsoles have less shock absorbency, which means that the impact is passed to your knees, ankles, back and hips. And this impact can lead to pain and discomfort, especially for people who spend a considerable amount of time standing or sitting. So, when do you know it’s time to resole your shoes? Here are some signs to watch out for.

  • Holes in the outsole: If the soles have already developed some holes, whether they are large or small, then this is a sign that they need urgent repair. The outsole protects your feet against various elements such as harmful liquids, sharp objects and abrasive surfaces. Therefore, if the outsole has some holes, then it means that your feet are exposed to all these harmful elements.
  • Soles splitting: If the sole unit has separated from the upper parts of your shoes, you should have them re-soled. If you fail to fix this problem, they might become unwearable when you are in the middle of a hike, a jog, or when you are working. Have them resole as soon as you notice this issue.
  • Lost shock absorbency: Soles provide a certain degree of shock absorption. If you suddenly start to feel as if you are walking barefoot, there is a high chance that the soles are already worn out.
  • Lost traction: When the outsole wears down, you are highly likely to slip on soft, uneven and wet surfaces.

If you’ve observed any of the above signs, it’s time to have your shoes resoled. However, you should note that not every pair of shoes can be resoled. The construction of a pair of shoes will determine whether they can be resoled or not. Shoes that come with cup soles and those with Blake Stitch cannot be resoled. On the other hand, shoes and boots featuring the Goodyear Welt construction can be resoled. During the resoling process, the cobbler will first remove the old stitches and then detach the outsole from the other components of the shoe. The shoes will then be cleaned to remove dirt, especially around the area where the stitching will take place. A new outsole will then be attached. The cost of resoling will depend on the model, brand and construction method used. Generally, resoling will not cost more than $100.

Replacing Insoles

If the insoles of your boots wear out before the upper and the outsole, it doesn’t mean that you should throw away your boots. Instead, you can extend their life by simply replacing them. Apart from extending the life of your boots, replacing your worn-out insoles will enhance the comfort of your boots. If the insoles are worn out, then most of the bodyweight will be transferred directly to your feet, leading to pain and discomfort. Furthermore, wearing shoes with comfortable insoles is important for physically active individuals, whose feet can take quite a massive pounding. Also, replacing worn-out insoles can help to fight unpleasant foot odors, which tends to build up with time. So, how do you replace your worn out insoles?

First, remove the old, worn-out insoles from both shoes. Most insoles are not glued or attached to the bottom of the shoe, which means you will remove them easily. However, if they are glued to the shoe, make sure you remove them carefully so that you don’t rip them or damage the shoe. Once you remove them, make sure you carry them when you go to purchase a new pair. You can either buy a new pair of insoles on an online shop or from a store near you. You will find numerous options on the market.

Make sure you choose a pair of insoles depending on the level of cushioning that you need or the type of shoes. For instance, if you are purchasing insoles for walking shoes, then they will need more cushioning as opposed to insoles for dress shoes. You should also note that insoles come with different levels of flexibility – from rigid to highly flexible. Once you’ve purchased your preferred pair of insoles, you simply need to slide them into your shoes and then adjust them. Make sure they are seated properly from the heel to the toe area. In case the insoles don’t fit your shoes properly, you can just trim their edges. You should use the old insoles as your guide when you are trimming the new ones. After that, your new insoles should be ready.

Fixing Scuffs and Stains

Removing scuff marks and stains on shoes is also part of the repair process. Just because your favorite pair of boots is plagued by some scuff marks doesn’t mean you should throw them away and buy a new pair. Instead, you can remove those scuff marks,  increase their lifespan and save money, using some quick fixes. The materials need for this task are toothpaste, baking soda, dish detergent, erasers, nail polish remover, and petroleum jelly.

If your shoes are made of canvas, you can remove the scuff marks or stains by wiping them with some toothpaste. You can also use toothpaste to remove scuff marks from patent leather, faux leather, synthetic leather, and full-grain leather. And if the toothpaste didn’t produce the desired results, you can mix it with baking soda, and some warm water and then wipe the affected areas using that solution. For suede, you can use a gentle brush to wipe the dirt that might be lodged on the fabric, and then wipe the scuffed areas using a regular pencil eraser. And if your shoes are made of patent leather, wiping them with some petroleum jelly will leave them looking as good as new. For rubber shoes, you can simply remove the scuff marks using a non-acetone nail polish remover. Once you’ve removed the scuff marks, you should apply a protective spray on your shoes, to prevent further scuffs.

Taking Care of Shoes

While you might have purchased the most expensive pair of boots you can afford, how well you take care of them, will determine their longevity. The good news is that shoes – whether they are dress shoes, work boots, hiking boots, combat boots or running shoes – are quite easy to maintain. You just need to follow some simple procedures, and you will get maximum lifespan for your shoes.

First, treat your shoes well. Don’t just toss them anywhere once you arrive at home from work. Make sure you either line them on the floor or store them on a shoe rack. Make sure each pair of shoes has ample breathing space. Also, ensure you keep them away from direct sunlight and moisture since these elements can damage your shoes. Second, clean your shoes with care. Just because your shoes are made of fabric, doesn’t mean that you can wash them using the washing machine. The washing machine will ultimately destroy the fabric, thus reducing the lifespan of your valuable shoes.  Make sure you clean your shoes regularly and allow them to air dry.

Third, store your shoes using shoe trees. As your feet sweat throughout the day, the interior lining and the leather will absorb that moisture. If the shoes are not allowed to dry properly, that moisture will not only destroy the leather but it will also cause unpleasant odors. Storing the shoes with a shoe tree will help them to maintain their shape while allowing the moisture to escape. Shoe trees are inexpensive and readily available. But if you don’t want to spend your money on them, then you can simply stuff your shoes with some packing paper.

Closing Remarks

It’s a huge financial burden to purchase a new pair of shoes, just because your current pair has a cracked sole, a scuffed upper or the insoles are worn out. If your current pair of shoes look worn out, don’t throw it away yet. Repairing them will not only prolong their lifespan but you will also enhance their protection and support capabilities. Besides, you will save some money that can go to your holiday savings account.

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About the author


Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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