Why Are My Shoes Squeaky?

Much like with “The Tell-Tale Heart,” that tell-tale squeak can become maddening after a while. So, what gives?
Put your tired old soles to rest.
Put your tired old soles to rest. / Tara Moore, Stone Collection, Getty Images

It’s never clear where the squeak is coming from at first. One looks around like someone whose phone is ringing in a movie theater, as if the sound emanated elsewhere. But when the shoe whines again, there’s no denying it. 

You glance down and watch helplessly with each step as your shoes turn into a cartoon against your will. How did this happen? These kicks have only been used on dry land, not for wrangling catfish deep in a Mississippi swamp.

While it can be tempting to attribute this annoying everyday occurrence to a tiny pixie or sprite stuck in your sneakers, there are a few common things that cause shoes to squeak. The culprit could be trapped air, moisture, or even friction between your sole and insole. Sometimes, it’s just because the shoe doesn’t fit properly (should have used that metal doohickey in the store, after all).

Excess moisture in and around the insole is often the leading cause. To go to war with that moisture, try to pluck out that hopefully removable insole and sprinkle on some baking soda or talcum powder, allowing shoes to dry in front of a fan for at least a day or so. Some will tell you to put that footwear in the dryer, but that advice is for people who don’t care about their shoes or their dryer, as doing so can cause damage to both.

Sometimes, boots and sneakers may get squeaky because they need some lubrication. To handle this, grab some shoe conditioner appropriate for the material that the shoe is made of and focus on natural creases in the shoe, which may be partly to blame. And while you’re at it, consider applying some coconut oil underneath the insole as well. Let the sneakers sit after doing this, and don’t put them on immediately, or it will feel really weird (or good, which is potentially worse).

How to Fix a Farting Shoe

Though squeaky shoes are a common problem, it can still be pretty humiliating for some. But in the realm of footwear, there is something potentially more embarrassing: shoe farting. Shoe farts are rough because they’re never silent and can’t be blamed on an adjacent dog. But the solutions are much the same as they would be with squeaking, as shoe farting is typically a sign of air trapped underneath the insole that goes poof when pressed on. In this case, farting may be a tip-off that your insoles are loose and ill-fitting. In this case, you’ll want to apply some shoe glue underneath them or buy a better-fitting set.

All of these are good approaches for dealing with farting and squeaking, and a bit simpler than avoiding noisy surfaces like tile and linoleum for the rest of your life. If your new shoes begin to squeak or fart as soon as you put them on, they probably just haven’t been worn in enough. Give it a few weeks before you rush back to the mall and return them. But if you’ve missed the return window, it may be time to throw that footwear over power lines, bury them underneath the floor like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” or, you know, go to a shoe doctor. 

A cobbler can make adjustments to the overall fit of your shoes—and once they’re all set, you can head outside and stroll confidently amongst your fellow walkers, each step as quiet as an ant passing through a Twizzler. All that’s left now is to get that pebble out of there.

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