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How to repair shoes

Learn some easy tips and tricks for repairing shoes. Shoes are design masterpieces, so we should really wear them for several years or more to keep your style sustainable.

Even though shoes are made for more wear and tear than most pieces of clothing, people still give up on them way too early. There are so many things you can do to repair your shoes--both with DIY tricks and with professional help--to improve your sustainable style. 

Shoes are also more expensive than most other items in your closet. By repairing older shoes, you can save a lot of money.  

You can even buy worn out shoes from the thrift store and revive them from their sad state. It’s so satisfying to take a flawed pair of Air Jordans or Doc Martens, and return them to the streets where they belong.  

Here’s how to repair your shoes to make them last a long time. 

Shoe sole repair on Adidas shoes

Replace the shoelaces

This seems so obvious it’s almost not worth mentioning. But you’d be surprised how much this can freshen up a pair of laced shoes. Plus you can flex your style by choosing a unique color or design of laces.  

Stretch shoes that are too tight

Sometimes leather shoes take time to break in. This can be a painful process leading to lots of blisters. You can avoid ankle blisters by using a shoe stretcher to stretch out tight shoes.  

Use shoe glue for the soles

Shoe glue on shoe soles

Shoe glue is most commonly used to repair “delaminating soles.” This is the problem when your shoe sole starts to look like the mouth hole of a puppet. Seal uncomfortable gaps, cracks or flaps shut with your favorite glue like Shoe Goo or Gorilla Glue. 

Before you apply the glue, clean your shoe with isopropyl alcohol and a clean, dry rag. Next, apply the glue to the part that needs to be repaired. 

After you apply the glue, scrape off any excess with a pallet knife, putty knife or old credit card. Then press the glued form into place with tape, clamps, or weights. 

When the glue has dried, you can sand off the excess glue streaks with sandpaper. 

Resole your shoes

If your shoe sole is completely worn out, you’ll need to add more material to the bottom of the shoe. There are plenty of shoe repair kits for sale online or you can check these parts and pieces to replace the bottom of your shoes. 

As with sealing gaps and holes in your shoes, you’ll need to clean the surface first and then apply shoe glue to the replacement piece, connect it to your shoe, and apply pressure to make sure it seals without cracks. 

Use leather paint 

Shoe paint for leather shoes

Angelus brand leather paint is a popular option for repairing sneakers and other shoes. 

You’ll need to prepare a clean surface before you start. Clean the leather section you want to paint with isopropyl alcohol and then let it dry. Angelus also sells a leather prep solution for cleaning your shoes, which you can try. 

If there are still smudge marks or leather coatings, sand off the rest with sand paper and blast your painting area clean with a handheld air compressor for cleaning electronics. 

Avoid getting paint on other parts of the shoe by covering them with painters tape. Otherwise, you’ll just need to use a small, flat paint brush and paint very carefully. 

For each coat, make sure you paint without creases by lightly feathering a flat paintbrush over the surface of the shoe. 

Most leather paint takes about 3 coats for an opaque finish, and you should apply a finisher of your choice for the final coat. Angelus offers a variety of finishes: glossy, matte, and everything in between. 

Get professional help

Cobbler repairing a high heel shoe

Cobblers know how to repair and reconstruct shoes of all types for long-lasting wear. For shoes that are worth a lot of money or difficult to repair, get professional help from a cobbler. 

Need a crafting outfit for your at home repair projects? Shop our Artsy Bundle for a layered look that comes with an apron. 


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