Whether your boots are steel-toed work wear or thigh-high fashion statements, you want them to be quiet. Becoming the center of attention because you sound like you are wearing wooden clogs or squeaking like you have 2 giant rats attached to your feet is not attractive. (Although in our “Look at me” world, I could be wrong.)
On the other hand, if you prefer smooth quiet entrances, here are some quick inexpensive fixes you can use to help silence your boots.
3 Pairs of Broken-In Quiet Boots – Composite, Leather, Rubber
Causes of Noisy Boots
It is not just old boots that can become noisy. New boots straight out of the box can also be noisy.
Much boot noise is caused by friction between the inner sole and the outer sole. The noise is usually more apparent when boot parts are wet. Boots that are not waterproof will allow any exterior moisture to penetrate the seams and get between the inner and outer soles. Feet that sweat too much will get the insides of the boots wet. This moisture will also work its way between the inner and outer soles. Any movement between the soles will then cause noise.
New boots–specially heavy leather boots–will almost always creak before they are broken in. Leather needs a little time and effort to conform to your foot and ankle. Leather boots–specially work boots or hunting boots–also need some time to soften up and develop creases in the proper locations. (If you have ever got up into a leather saddle, you will have some idea of how much leather creaks.)
Some other noise-making parts of your boots include:
- Hard Soles and Heels. Think hard leather cowboy boot soles and heels and walking across hardwood or tile floors. Absolutely no chance of a quiet journey.
- Broken Soles. Broken boot soles will make cracking sounds. If they are really bad they may start flapping.
- Uneven Wear. Many people walk on the outsides of their boots, or wear the outside rear edges of the heel down. Eventually these types of unevenness will cause you to make noise as you walk.
- Sloppy Walking Habits. Far be it from me to preach that bad posture will lead to sloppy, foot dragging noisy walking habits. Or that untied laces will clack against the floor and help you fall on your nose. Your mother probably mentioned these things.
8 Ways to Make Your Boots Quieter – Effectively
Making your boots quiet is usually not difficult or expensive. A little money, and patience will solve your problems. Keep in mind that shoes also can be noisy. For some ideas about fixing noisy shoe problems, please see our article How to Stop Shoes From Squeaking.
1) Break In New Boots
Boots come in a variety of designs, and shapes, and are made of all kinds of material. Regardless of all the variables, they have a few things in common. They are stiff. They do not fit your feet perfectly. And they probably make noise.
Soften and Preserve
There are many boot softening products available. Including Mink Oil, Saddle Soap, and Conditioning Oils. Whatever type of material has been used to make your boots, there will be a product available to soften, waterproof, and preserve them. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when purchasing boot conditioner. Also check with the sales person. They may have some good customer feedback, or personal experience that will help you make informed decisions.
Many of these products will be combinations of softener, conditioner, and water proofer. Use the proper product for your boots. Keep them well conditioned.
Wear Your Boots
The other part of breaking in boots is to wear them. As much as you can–every day. All feet are not created equally. The more you wear the boots; the more they will conform to your feet. Especially if you have made them soft and pliable first by using a good quality softener/conditioner.
It may take as long as 3 weeks to break in new boots. Wearing a pair of thicker, heavier socks during the break-in period can save you blisters and tender spots on your feet. 100% cotton or wool socks will absorb sweat and protect your feet.
Make sure you walk on all kinds of surfaces–particularly concrete. The concrete will rough up the soles and heels of the boots. This gives you better traction, cuts down on slipping, and makes them quieter. (Make sure you brush any grit off of the boot soles to prevent scratching floors.) Leather soles and petroleum based soles are particularly slick.
You may find that one, or both of your boots are loose, and that your foot sliding around inside is causing some of the noise. Instead of not wearing the boots, consider installing heel grips in them to tighten up the fit. These soft products help prevent your feet from moving inside the boot and from sliding up and down against the heel.
2) Dry Your Boots
Keeping your feet dry is one of the main reasons to wear boots. Unfortunately, wet boots can lead to more noise. Either the boots will be noisy when they are wet; or they will get noisier because of improper drying. Or they were not treated with waterproofing or conditioner.
You can find multiple styles and designs of boot dryers in a fairly wide price range. Most of them operate by having long tubes that the boots fit over. The tubes blow warm air into the boot. Most of these machines are equipped with timers and multiple temperature settings. They can also be used to dry shoes and as glove warmers and will sanitize as they dry.
You can also just let them air dry, or set them in the sun to dry. Be careful about the amount of heat you use. Leather boots can shrink and crack if dried too fast or too hot. Making them too small, uncomfortable, and noisy.
3) Maintain Your Boots
When you hear the word maintenance, you probably think of changing oil in the car or sharpening the lawn mower blade. But properly maintaining most things will extend the life span and ensure better performance.
When it comes to boots, maintenance is the regular use of oils, conditioners, polish, and waterproofing products to keep them supple, clean, and dry. Your boots will just last longer if you take good care of them.
While you are at it, check for broken threads and gaps between the soles and boot properly. Check the heel caps and sole caps–if you have some. Replace all of them if they are displaying excess wear. If you do not have heel caps, consider getting some, if the original heels are wearing down.
Check the insoles for wear and tears. Replace them if necessary. Make sure the new insoles fit properly. Too loose and they will slide around and make noise.
4) Fix Noisy Insoles
Felt Insoles c/w Rubber Bottoms to Prevent Moisture Transfer
Much insole noise is caused by mis-sized insoles rubbing against the boot soles as you walk. The noise is usually worse when the insoles are wet. The more you sweat, the wetter the insole, the more noise. Here are some of the ways to fix this problem.
- Talcum Powder. Remove the insole and sprinkle talcum powder into the boot. Replace the insole. The talcum powder greatly reduces friction between insoles and the outer boot soles. Replace the powder if it gets lumpy from absorbing sweat.
- Reduce Sweat. Wearing thicker socks can reduce the amount of sweat that the insole will absorb. Of course heavy socks may cause more sweating. You may have to experiment a bit to see which works best for you. All cotton or wool socks will be the best choices.
- Dryer Sheets. Dryer sheets placed between the insoles and outer sole will reduce friction and absorb sweat.
- Petroleum Jelly. Petroleum Jelly applied between the insoles and outer soles will lubricate the area and eliminate noise.
- Glue. Gluing the insole to the outer soles will stop the rubbing and friction and noise. It will also stop you from easily removing the insole to dry or replace it.
The insoles in the picture are made of felt sewed onto rubber. The felt absorbs moisture and the rubber bottoms prevent transfer of sweat and movement inside the boot.
5) Soften Noisy Outsoles
New rubber and leather soles and boot heels are almost guaranteed to make noise on hardwood floors. They need to be softened up. One of the easiest and most effective methods it to wear them to walk on concrete sidewalks or parking pads. The concrete should not be smooth but have a broom finish giving it fairly sharp ridges capable to chewing up your boot soles–a little. This softens the boot bottom and eliminates some of the grip–making the boot quieter.
You can achieve the same effect by using 60 grit, or coarser, sandpaper to soften the soles and remove a little of the grip.
6) Install New or Replace Old Heel Caps
Heel caps and/or sole pads are generally made of rubber and attach to the bottoms of soles and heels. They will extend the life of your boots by preventing wear to the boot bottoms. Or rehabilitate worn heels–saving the cost of new boots. They will also help with quiet because rubber is much softer than most boot heels. Heel caps are made for all types of boots from work boots to spike heeled boots.
Most heel caps can be cut and customized to fit almost any boot. They also can be attached in multiple ways–peel and stick adhesive, screws, drill and insert, and more. They are not very expensive which makes replacing them when they wear an easy decision.
If you need a quick temporary fix, use a rubberized spray to cover the heel and boot bottom to keep them silent. Keep in mind that this is only a short term solution and will have to be renewed or replaced when it starts to wear off.
7) Practice Walking Properly
A significant amount of boot noise can be eliminated if people stand up straight, lift their feet, bend their knees, shift their weight, and walk properly. Instead of schlepping around like they are on the beach wearing cheap flip flops.
While breaking in your new boots, wear them inside on tile or hardwood floors. Practice walking quieter. Change your stride length. Change your gait. Keep your knees a little more flexible. When you find something that works to lessen the noise, practice it. This does not mean you have to try walking like a runway model.
Note: Yes, I know that I sound like your mother (or grandmother). And yes, I admit to a bit of a personal obsession about people dragging their feet when walking, or slamming their heels down like they are marching the goose step.
8) See a Cobbler
Most of these fixes are quite easy DIY projects that cost very little, but take some time and patience. If you are short on either time or patience, or can’t figure out what is making the noise, consider taking your boots to a professional cobbler. Showing is usually much better than telling. So if at all possible, wear your boots to the shop.