Repairing shoes is one of those things that seems to be reserved for professional cobblers and shoe repair shops. And it's fair to say that's still the case a lot of the time If your shoes are starting to look worn, you may need to take them to a cobbler to have them restored. However, cobblers aren't required in every circumstance In fact, there are a few quick and easy do-it-yourself shoe repair hacks you can use to give your shoes a brand new look without having to make an expensive trip to the store.
However, if we're going to attempt DIY maintenance, we'd like some guidance from an established professional. Sagar Mehra, Head of Restoration at ShoeSpa (a luxury shoe restoration store and online service), was consulted for his expertise in creating this helpful guide.
As Mehra puts it, "although we see the tail end of a lot of shoe emergencies (and are always happy to take care of your favorite pair professionally), if you can't get your shoes to us immediately, there are some things you can do to limit and lessen the damage." You can try some of these at home:
Mend the heels of your shoes.
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Whether or not heels can be repaired at home usually depends on the extent of the damage. If the damage is extensive, it's probably best to have a professional look at it.
- It's important to clean the shoe thoroughly before beginning any work on it, so be sure to give the heel and sole a good scrub.
- Get some sandpaper and some super glue that can hold up to some serious use:
- Then, roughen the material on both ends of the break (the heel's upper and the sole's underside) with the sandpaper. After sanding, the shoe can be reassembled with less glue.
- Then, cover both sides with a thick layer of superglue. Wait the recommended amount of time (some glues recommend waiting a few minutes to increase the adhesive qualities of the glue) before pressing the heel and shoe together.
- If you want to give the glue the best chance to set, you should press the heel and shoe together, hold for a few minutes, and then secure with elastic bands or a heavy object for 24 hours.
It's probably time to take your heels to the cobbler or a specialist if you've already tried gluing them and they still won't stay put.
Heels that have seen better days
Look in your closet to see if you have a spare pair of these little gems (also known as'shoe dowels' or'shoe caps') for heels that look worn and 'past their best':
They are in fact replacements for the heels of your high heels. Simply pry the existing dowel out of the heel with a pair of pliers and insert the new one. Then, carefully insert the replacement using your fingers to guide it into place before using the hammer to knock it firmly into position.
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Fear using pliers or a hammer on your prized footwear, but lack the necessary tools? Then, if you want a truly polished look, you can have a professional finish applied.
To clarify, this is only for high heels, but similar replacements for flat boots are readily available.
Methods for preventing heel pain
If you want to keep your shoes in good shape for longer, Mehra suggests two things:
- Equip your footwear with rubber 'taps. Heel wear is reduced and traction is increased thanks to the taps.
- There is also the option of purchasing clear heel guards. If you do a lot of walking in the city, these will come in very handy. Furthermore, you can always take them off once you get to the office, the dinner party, etc.
Guidelines for Spot Cleaning
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Naturally, wine and coffee are some of the most common stains we see; however, a quick rescue at home is possible if you don't want to take your shoes to a professional. How? Read on!
Shoes made of synthetic materials or leather
- If the spill is recent, use paper towels to blot the area and soak up as much of the liquid as you can. Always blot spills instead of rubbing, which will only spread the stain.
- Afterward, stuff newspaper into the shoes to keep their form while drying.
- Mix two cups of warm water with one tablespoon each of dishwashing detergent and white vinegar for a cleaning solution.
- Use the clean sponge to dab the solution onto the stained area in the hopes that it will absorb.
- To further loosen the stain, rinse the sponge, reapply the detergent solution, and scrub the affected areas once more.
- Then, blot the area again with a clean white linen cloth that has been dampened with water alone. The stain should begin to fade.
- Repeat the cleaning process until the stain is gone or you can no longer absorb any more of the liquid.
- When you're done, put your shoes in a dust-free, well-ventilated area to dry naturally by touching the surface with a dry white linen cloth.
Toecaps made of leather
According to Mehra, "Cleaning leather shoes can be tricky as you really have to determine the type of leather before getting to work on it." However, if you're in need of quick and easy results that work across the board, there is one method that can be used in almost any situation. If you have leather and want to clean it at home, try this. "
- Facial soap or very mild laundry detergent works well for this. If you want to avoid the possibility of getting sick from something in your tap water, it's best to stick to bottled or distilled water.
- Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to a clean white linen cloth or sponge. A word of caution: never spray directly onto the leather, as this can lead to oversaturation and damage.
- Rub the stain in the direction of the leather's grain gently. The grime, debris, and stains on the leather should be easier to remove after treating them with this solution.
- After that, let them air dry, taking care to reinsert newspaper into each shoe to ensure they retain their shape (cedar shoetrees are another great option).
- Give your shoes one last wet wipe once they've dried to make sure no dirt is left behind. It shouldn't take long for your shoes to look fresh and new.
Keep in mind that there are different cleaning instructions for suede and leather. To read our detailed tutorial on how to clean suede shoes, please click here.
Resoling a shoe
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According to Mehra, "Freshening up your soles every so often is a really good idea because it helps your shoes maintain their grip by preventing them from becoming clogged with debris, it improves their hygiene (especially if you wear shoes indoors), and it makes your shoes look almost as good as new."
- Mix half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of water until you have a thick paste to use on white-soled shoes (like trainers).
- Then, using the paste and a toothbrush, 'paint' the bottoms of your shoes by rubbing the bristles against the soles in a circular motion (or following the markings on the soles). You won't have to worry about any lingering residue thanks to the baking soda particles.
- When finished, simply wipe with a damp cloth. Simply put, it's that simple.
Don't risk ruining your shoes or washing machine by putting them through the wringer.
Putting glue on shoe bottoms
- Put sole cleaning first Similar to mending a broken heel, cleaning the soles of your shoes is a good idea before attempting any sort of repair. You can clean it with a disinfectant spray and wipe, a leather/suede cleaner, or just soap and water, depending on the material. Let dry in the air
- Then, separate the bottom of the shoe from the upper so you can dab superglue around the sole's exterior and inside the shoe (beneath the ball of your foot).
- After you have applied the glue, press the shoe's sole against the shoe for at least one minute.
- Leave overnight, weighted down with a shoe clamp or other heavy object.
When it's time to get new soles:
If the bottoms of your shoes are worn out or missing, you can simply order a new set from the comfort of your own home.
In order to accomplish this, please follow these steps:
- Separate the sole from the shoe with the aid of pliers. The soles of old shoes will often begin to separate from the uppers long before the pliers are needed. In this case, you should begin by pulling on the loose end. Sole removal can be difficult; a hair dryer set on low heat can help melt the glue.
- Once the insole has been taken out, you can use a cloth and some acetone to remove any glue residue from the shoe's bottom. Lie flat to dry
- To proceed, rough up the underside of your shoe and the surface of your new sole with sandpaper before applying glue.
- Use the glue that came with the new soles (or Shoo Goo) and adhere them according to the package's directions.
Equipment for mending shoes
To keep your shoes in pristine condition in between visits to the cobbler, you should get a good shoe repair kit if you don't already have one.
Here's a kit you can buy on Amazon that has everything you need to get started:
All repairs are done at the risk of the reader. Refer to the product's manual or seek the advice of an expert if you have questions.
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