Shoe Repairs You Can Do

Damaging your favorite pair of shoes can be a nightmare, especially if you paid big bucks and expected them to last a few years. Accidents happen, and whether it's a snapped heel or a scuffed top, shoes take a lot of damage before they're ready to retire.

In most shoe emergencies you've got two choices: toss or repair. But many shoe injuries are quite fixable, especially if the rest of the shoe isn't ready for the footwear graveyard. But finding a shoe repair shop may be difficult and, depending on the nature of the repair, you may pay almost as much as the shoe cost!

Luckily, many basic kinds of shoe causalities can be resolved at home using easily obtained items - some of which may be in your house already.

Cracks and Splits in Your Sole

If the entire bottom of your shoe is coming off, that may be a sign to consider a replacement, no matter how much you love your footwear. When you're dealing with a simple crack or split, home repair is an option. "Shoe Goo" is an easily found adhesive designed for shoes made from common materials - leather, rubber, some plastics.
If you know the type of material your sole is made from, check your local hardware store for material-specific adhesives. When bonding a cracked or split sole, allow it to set for at least 24 hours or longer, according to the adhesive's directions. You may need to apply pressure to the fusing pieces with some heavy books or a C-clamp.

The Broken Heel

If your new pumps suffer a heel snap within 30 days, you may have a defective shoe. Keep your box and receipt until you're sure the shoes are structurally sound - if not, it's back to the customer service desk for your flawed footwear.

If it's an old pair of your favorite high-heel shoes, as Groucho Marx said, "Time wounds all heels." Wear and tear on your shoe's heel will eventually cause breakage to be a potential emergency. Whether you're on the go or at home, heels tend to snap, so an emergency tube of glue in your purse may not be a bad idea when wearing older shoes.

Heels can break in two ways: detaching completely from the sole or snapping in pieces. If the heel detaches and was connected by nails, apply glue to the nail itself and the nail hole, letting the two reconnect and set as the glue dries. If the heel was originally glued on, scrape off the old glue and apply a fresh coat, holding the pieces together as they bond. Remember to be light in applying glue - if it oozes out the sides you've applied too much.
For snapped heels, coat one side with glue and fit snuggly with the chunk still attached to the shoe. If the snap resulted in multiple pieces, try piecing together all the parts into one large chunk before reattaching to the piece still attached to the sole.

If your shoe repair can wait until you're at home with more resources, use a shoe-specific repair compound like Shoe Goo. When reattaching a whole heel to a sole, use a piece of sandpaper to rough up the surfaces. This gives the glue more traction to hold the pieces together. Use some heavy books or string to hold the pieces together and let dry for at least 24 hours.

Scratches, Scuffs and Scrapes

With leather shoes especially, a scratch or scuff could spell disaster for the cosmetic look of your favorite pumps. The first step to tackling a cosmetic flaw on your shoe is determining what material the shoe is made out of. Most come with a small tag inside that notes the size and material, or if you still have the shoebox it should be printed there as well.

Once you know what kind of material needs repairing, it's time to find a suitable method. Many shoe stores, craft stores, and general goods stores carry a variety of shoe repair items. For leather shoes, "leather lotion" not only helps repair scuffs, regular use of it will moisturize the leather to prevent future cracking.

Suede is more difficult to treat, but there are many specialized products out there such as dry-cleaning bars, which are similar to an eraser. Many suede shoes come pre-treated for water resistance, but you may need a deep-cleaning spray or water repellent to reinforce that suede protection.
For athletic shoes and other synthetic materials, there's a plethora of special cleaning compounds that often come in handy wipe form. Many athletic shoe stores sell cleaning sprays or foams to use between workout sessions to keep your sneakers looking new.

Leaky Boots = Wet Feet

Winter boots are supposed to keep your feet warm and dry in northern climates. Unfortunately, small cracks near where the upper part of the shoe meets the sole can allow snow and slush to enter and melt, leaving you with damp socks and cold wet feet.

For leather boots, treating the outside with a good coat of mink oil will make them water-resistant AND soften the leather at the same time without causing discoloration. After the oil has set into the leather, use a water repellency spray, focused liberally around the seams of the boot. You should repeat this treatment every 3 weeks or so. Give your boots an extra boost by spraying their inside as well.

For all other types of materials, a water repellant spray for your kind of boot should help ward off leaks. You may want to reinforce the seams with some of the same compound used for repairing sole cracks.
With all shoe repairs, it's important to first consider the type of shoe material you're repairing. Using recommended shoe repair compounds and chemicals will produce better results than generic glues and cleaners. Your local shoe store should carry the necessary items, and can give you general advice on busted boots and scuffed sneakers. But for serious repairs, you may need to consult a professional cobbler.