The Complete Guide to Shoe Repair [4 Simple Steps]

old shoe needing repair

One of the biggest bummers in life is when something breaks.  Sometimes, this isn’t that big of a deal, because it can be replaced.  But when it comes to your favorite shoes, this might not be the case.  Maybe they don’t make them anymore or you can’t find them anywhere.

No matter what the case might be, you would just really love to know that you can get them fixed, somehow, some way.  Today, we are going to talk about shoe repairs and all that you need to know about the subject.  We’ll help you decide if you should take your beloved shoes to someone to have them fixed or if you should go in at it alone and attempt to do them yourself!


Identifying the Problem

One of the first things we have to do is figure out what went wrong. This is fairly easy to do, but there are a few things that could have happened.  Your sole could have come apart and it needs reattaching.  This is a big problem and one that happens a lot.  A hole in the upper, the top part of the shoe, is another issue that is very common, especially nowadays with the use of mesh being so popular and preferred in order to keep shoes both breathable and light at the same time.  It could even be a small problem like fixing a faded color that need to be dyed again.  All of these have fixes, and we will look at some of them to help you out a little bit and to decide if you should do it yourself.


Fixing a Loose Sole

To fix a sole that has come loose, you will need a few tools.  This process begins by you wiping down the bottom of the shoe.  You want to rid the sole of any dirt or dust.  But more importantly, you want to make sure that the glue that was used before is completely cleaned.  If that has been done, then you can move on to the next step after letting the shoe fully dry off first.

Next, use sandpaper that is rated between 40 and 60 grit on the sole. This will give it scratches, which is where the next step comes in.  From there, apply shoe repair glue to the loose sole and the place where you had a hole.  The best way to apply it is to use a round paint brush, making sure to make an even layer on the entire surface of the loose sole.  Next, take a hammer, yes a hammer, and press the sole into the bottom of the shoe.  Do this a few times, making sure to move the hammer little by little to different places each time to make sure it is even all throughout the shoe.

Next, take a clamp and force the sole to stay put for 24 hours.  If you are repairing a huge patch of the sole, then it would be wise to use a couple of them or maybe more.  If you check it after 24 hours are up and it is not moving, then you have done a good job.  This is a good thing to try, as it will save you money if it works, and then if it doesn’t you can go elsewhere to have them fix the shoe for you.


How to Patch Holesold torn and worn leather boots

If the upper has torn, then you shouldn’t fret.  That, too, can be fixed with just a few tools.  First of all, you will need to clean around the hole, just as you did with the loose sole example.  Once it is clean, take a dry wash cloth or a paper towel and dry it off.  It shouldn’t take much effort at all to do this because of the materials because quicker to dry than soles.  Next, get the sandpaper and go to town over the hole until scratches begin to show.

The sandpaper this time should be 120 grit.  Like above, the scratches will give something for the glue to stick to.  The next thing to do is to remove the insole (hopefully they are easily removable) so that it doesn’t get ruined.  After that, take duct tape (it is good for anything) and make sure to cover up the entire hole with it.  The purpose of the tape is to prevent the glue from getting into your shoe.  The next step is to turn the shoe over and then use the goo.

When it gets hard, it is dry.  Make sure to apply it slowly and fully across the hole, as evenly as possible.  Once the hole is covered, stop squeezing it out and you are done.  To make sure it is even, you can use a cube ice to rub it out evenly.  This will not stick to the goo, allowing you to make it even all over.  Next, let is sit for 24 hours until it is dry.  If you rush this, the adhesive might not work as intended and it will let you down.  After waiting for the time to elapse, take your trusty sandpaper and brush it back and forth over the repaired hole again.  This will help you take any bumps out before you put them on and realize they are not so even, which will make you uncomfortable, to say the least.


A few notes about this process:

  • The hole will be covered, but it will be visible if you look really close
  • The best thing to use is called ‘Shoe Goo’ and it can be found at most shopping centers or online.


Fixing Simple Scuffs and Stains

 This process is much less complicated than fixing a torn upper or a loose sole.  If you have scuff marks on your shoes, you can always try a pencil eraser.  This seems to work very well on shoes composed of suede, and it is well worth a try to mark them out.  Just be gentle with it.

If the shoe is made out of leather, a good option to use is a marker with  felt-tip.  Pay careful attention and make sure that the color of the marker matches the shoes, and then simply fill in where the shoe has lost its color.  Black is the easiest color to fix, but it is possible to fix others this way as well.

If there are scuffs to the leather, you can also try petroleum jelly.  Take a cotton swab and dip the end of it down into it.  Then carefully and gently rub the jelly into the scuff and watch as it just disappears before your eyes.  White vinegar is another idea to do this very same thing.  Take the corner of an already wet rag into a bowl of it and then run the soaked rag onto the stains until they are no longer appearing before you.


Other Options

 Maybe you just aren’t very good at fixing things, like I am, and you either don’t want to try or did try and failed.  Then what are you to do in order to fix your most favorite shoes in the world?  There are a couple of options that you can go to.  Going to a cobbler is one thing that would be very encouraged.

If you can’t fix them yourself, or you don’t have the confidence to do so, then they will not magically change just sitting around.  The obvious downside to going to a cobbler is that it is going to cost you more than doing it yourself, but you can usually count on them to do a great job and to fix it for you without you having to worry about it any longer.

If you don’t have the time nor the desire to go in person, there are now websites online that will allow you to go on them, fill out a form explaining the issues, and then mail them into them to be fixed.  The quality of this method has to be questioned a little bit, but if you are desperate, it might be your best choice depending on your circumstances.


Some Additional Tips to Keep in Mind

If you are thinking about getting your shoes repaired, think long and hard fully about them.  Do you like them that much?  Is the style suited to you and are they still in style, or does that even matter to you?  Are they worth the time and trouble to do so?  If they were expensive to buy in the first place, they might be very much worth repairing and cheaper than buying another pair.  But if you don’t believe they are as stylish as they used to be, then it would be a good idea for you to just buy another pair, as painful as that might be.

If you do decide to take them to a cobbler, then you should be ready to pay double digits in all likelihood, even if the repair is tiny.  This is just a fact of life for all but the most basic of services, so be ready for that.  Also, if your shoe is one that needs serious work on, then you will need to expect them to be in repair for a week, especially if you are dealing with a respected, experienced, and busy cobbler.

When talking about dress shoes, leather is usually a smart way to go with the sole.  The reason why is pretty simple: it can be repaired better.  Though leather isn’t as durable as rubber, it is very difficult for cobblers to fix rubber soles more than once.  So because of that, leather is a good material to help you avoid repeated trips to the repair shop.

Athletic shoes and other sneakers are going to be more difficult to repair for cobblers, but they are doable.  The reason they are tougher to fix is because they have more glue used and less stitching to them, mostly because they do tend to be mass manufactured.  This manufacturing helps produce a lot of pairs quickly, but it does mean that they have some drawbacks, with this being one of them.  Some cobblers might not have a lot of experience with these shoes, though, so you should always ask and get a quote from them.  With athletic shoes, it might actually be very much worth your while to just get a new pair, unless you just really love them and have to have them fixed.

There are many types of shoe glues out there, and a lot of them are very good ones.  The ones that seem to be the best and most popular for home use include the likes of Shoe Goo, Shoe-Fix, Gear Aid, and Gorilla Super Glue, to name a few.  Each will have its pluses and minuses, and you might want to look into each and read the reviews before you jump all in and make a choice on one of them.

After you have had your shoe fixed, whether by yourself or by someone else, you can do a few things to continue the care and make sure that they stay ‘safe’ for a long while.  One good idea is to buy a sole protector or a heel plate.  This will keep the soles protected better and might just keep them in use for longer, and they will also keep you from slipping around, too, so that is an added bonus!



Shoes of all kinds can make people very happy, but one of the saddest moments is when your shoes just aren’t what they used to be.  If they have taken a beating and are torn up, it’s not the end of the world due to shoe repair.  There are people out there, both in person and online that can help restore former glories to your favorite dress shoes or basketball sneakers.  Even you can get in on the action and look to repair your shoes so that they might live another few years!

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