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4 Easy DIY Shoe Repairs to Save Money

By Jacqueline Curtis

broken shoesAll of my friends know me as the “shoe addict” of the group. I have three pairs of blue heels for reasons even I don’t understand. But what can I say? I love the way shoes add to an outfit.

However, I don’t love when my pricey shoes end up with broken heels, scuff marks, floppy soles, or broken straps and I have to take them out of rotation. But since I never discard shoes, I’ve created a little DIY repair kit to clean up and do minor repairs at home.

Safety First

Shoe cobblers don’t exist only in fairy tales. They can help take care of broken shoes when the repair is too extensive to attempt yourself. Trying to fix a broken heel with some superglue could land you sprawled on the sidewalk, so when it comes  to major structural repairs, check your area for a professional cobbler.

Only attempt repairs yourself when it’s a minor cosmetic flaw. Your efforts combined with those of a good cobbler will extend the life of your shoes, and help you save money by keeping your favorite heels in steady rotation.

DIY Shoe Repair Tricks

Try some of the following quick fixes for minor problems, and then find your own shoe cobbler to take care of bigger issues.

1. Scuff Marks
On black leather, scuff marks are easy to camouflage. I’ve been using a black permanent marker to fix up scuff marks for the past 10 years. But this fix can work for any colored shoe as long as you can find a permanent marker that matches. Simply color in the scuff mark, dab with a tissue, and reapply. Do this a few times to make the fix water-resistant.

If your scuffed shoe is white, you’ll need to do a little more work. Cosmetic scuff marks can be taken off using a regular white art eraser. But if the shoes are torn, you’ll need to apply white-out to remedy the problem.

diy shoe repair can keep your shoes looking new longer

2. Floppy Soles
I have this amazing pair of white moccasins that I love to wear. Probably for this reason, the sole became detached from the bottom of the shoe. I definitely didn’t want to trash the shoes, so I headed to the craft store for some strong waterproof glue.

If you have a similar issue, peel back the floppy sole, clean it of any debris, and fill in between the sole and the bottom with a strong glue. Use a Popsicle stick or other flat implement to spread the glue evenly across the bottom – you definitely don’t want the glue to harden and create uncomfortable bumps. Then, press the two pieces together and allow to dry for 24 hours before you wear them. The bottom should be bonded and water-tight once you take to the streets.

3. Broken Strap
A heavy-duty sewing machine can punch right through the leather of a sandal strap. But if you don’t have one, hand stitch the broken strap back in place with a needle and thread, and make sure the thread color matches your shoe color.

Unfortunately, this fix is going to be apparent to anyone who takes a close look. In order to solve this problem, you’ll need to add accessories. I snapped a couple of cheap flower hair clips over the repaired strap, and my shoes now look like a new pair with a bit of flair. Plus, I don’t have to walk around nervous that anyone will notice my repair job. This could also work with ribbons or vintage brooches.

4. Old Leather
If your budget is tight and you can’t justify more clothes shopping, you need your current wardrobe to hold its own. Pumps, flats, and dressier leather boots respond really well to a quick coat of leather polish. Squirt a dime-sized amount onto a microfiber cloth and buff directly onto your shoes. Keep buffing until the shoe is completely dry.

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have leather polish handy, try baby wipes. I use them to polish up patent on the fly. Just don’t use them on suede or untreated leather – they’ll leave unsightly marks.

Final Word

It’s pretty rare for a shoe to be so damaged that it’s completely unfixable. Throwing out broken shoes throws your money directly in the trash. Instead, work to fix the problem or find someone who can keep you in your favorite heels for years to come.

What do you do to keep your shoes in the best shape?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Jacqueline Curtis
Jacqueline Curtis is an experienced style expert, and she focuses on getting high fashion on a tight budget. She writes for several online publications, including her own fashion blog, How Not to Dress Like a Mom, and specializes in fashion, finance, health and fitness, and parenting. Jae grew up in Toronto, Canada, but now resides in Utah with her husband, two kids, and prized shoe collection.

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  • BroSharp

    Great post–shoes are aan excellent investment piece for the wardrobe, as I’ve written about before. I find that adding taps to shoes for just around $4/pair extends the life of heels and soles for quite a long time. It’s simple enough to do yourself and you can buy them at a Rite Aid or CVS.

    Regarding tip #4 about polish, I would try waiting a while before buffing in. When you let it dry a bit, it gets easier to buff down and will leave a better shine!

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