These days, more and more jobs are requiring workers to wear non-slip shoes, from restaurant workers to medical staff. Non-slip shoes can help to reduce your risk of accidental slips or falls, which are the second leading cause of accidental death worldwide. Here, we go over the various ways that you can give new or worn down pairs of shoes a non-slip surface.
Break in Your Shoes
You can create a better grip on the soles of your shoes simply by wearing them around on a daily basis. As you walk, the bottoms of your shoes will naturally gain wear and tear that gives them more texture.
It’s best to walk on rough surfaces such as asphalt or gravel when breaking in the soles of slippery shoes. Not only will tough terrain wear down the bottoms of your shoes more quickly but also give you more traction, making it safer to walk in smooth shoes.
Always be careful when breaking in new shoes with smooth soles. Without any grip, you significantly increase your risk of slipping and falling. Also, remember that it can take several weeks for the desired effect. You need to be diligent and remember to wear your shoes any time you know you’ll be walking on rough ground.
Scuff the Soles
If you don’t have weeks to spend breaking in a new pair of shoes, you can speed up the wear process by scuffing the bottom of your shoe. Doing this is a quick, easy, and effective way of increasing grip in just a matter of minutes. It’s also safer than walking around on untreated soles and doesn’t require you to find a rough surface on which to walk.
One of the best ways to wear the bottoms of your shoes is by using coarse sandpaper. This material will give them plenty of texture, allowing them to grip surfaces after just a few minutes of buffing. It’s best to use sandpaper of around 50-grit.
While it’s a good idea to scuff the entire sole of your shoe, you should aim to target areas that come into contact with the floor. The heel and the ball of the foot are particularly important areas, as we tend to place much of our weight on these areas when walking.
If you don’t have sandpaper, other materials can be used to create a similar effect. Emery boards and nail files can also add texture to most materials, and many of us have them lying around in the bathroom.
Sandpapering or using a metal file aren’t effective methods for all types of shoes. Doing so works best with a thick, durable material such as rubber or plastic. However, the cardboard texture found on the soles of many flats and sandals is resistant to scuffing.
Scoring the Underside
Taking a blade to the bottoms of your shoes can produce a similar effect to sandpapering. What’s more, it can be quicker and require less elbow grease. However, you need to be careful when making incisions and avoid slicing all the way through the sole of your shoe.
In slow, smooth movements, carefully make cuts diagonally across the sole of your shoe. Then, cut again in the opposite direction to make a grate or lattice pattern. Doing this will provide grip in multiple directions as you move.
It’s crucial that you make the scoring as even as you possibly can. This isn’t just for aesthetics. Close, even scoring will give you better traction than wide or uneven lines. You may want to measure and pencil in lines as a guide before cutting.
The scoring should be shallow enough to leave plenty of material under your feet, but deep enough to offer traction on smooth surfaces. If you’re worried about accidentally ruining your shoes, you can find adjustable box cutters for more control over how deep you score.
Add Grip Pads
You don’t necessarily have to change the sole of your shoe permanently. If you’re concerned about aesthetics or resale value, you can avoid the razor blades and sandpaper, and instead stick on an adhesive pad for enhanced grip.
You can find specially designed grip pads with an adhesive side and a side covered in a durable, rough material. These textured pads give you plenty of grip from the get-go, regardless of how smooth the soles of your shoes are.
Some grip pads are designed to fit on just about any shoe. You can find those small enough to fit on the ball or heel or your foot, making them ideal for shoes with heels. There are also larger options available that you can trim down to fit the exact shape of your footwear.
Before applying an adhesive pad, you need to make sure to clean the bottom of your shoe, even if they’re brand new. Doing this will get rid of all the dust, dirt, and grime that might affect how well the adhesive sticks to your shoe. Simply wipe the sole down with rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth in preparation.
If you want to improve adhesion to the sole of your shoe, spend a moment or two heating the sticky side of the pad with a hairdryer. This will improve bonding, meaning that your grip pads will stick better and last longer. You should always wait at least 24 hours after applying the pads before wearing your shoes to ensure the bonding agent has enough time to set.
Use Grip Spray
Grip spray works in a similar fashion to grip pads, adding artificial texture to the bottoms of your shoes for better grip. Grip spray is often more expensive than pads, but it’s also quicker and easier to apply to the sole of the shoe.
With a spray, you don’t have to worry about dealing with heels or unusual shoe shape. You can apply it to the bottom of any shoe style in just a matter of seconds. As with pads, you should clean your shoes first with rubbing alcohol to ensure that the spray sticks.
The main downside of grip sprays is that they can be messier than other non-slip options. If you accidentally get any on your clothing, floor, or furniture, it can be nearly impossible to remove. You should make sure to protect yourself and your work area before getting started. It’s also a good idea to wear a face mask to protect yourself from breathing in any dangerous aerosol.
There’s also a chance that you end up accidentally spraying the top of your shoes if you’re not careful. You should mask material you want to leave uncovered with tape, plastic wrap, or another protective material to make sure that you don’t accidentally ruin the aesthetic of your footwear.
If you don’t want to apply grip spray permanently to the soles of your shoes, you can opt to use hairspray instead. This is a simple, quick-fix solution that women have been relying on for years to make it through the night in slippery heels. It’s also cheaper than many alternative options.
After cleaning the soles of your shoes, apply a generous coating of hairspray to the bottoms. Allow the layer to dry for about a minute. Polymers such as polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), vegetable gums, and gum arabic found in common hairspray brands make the bottom of the shoe tacky, helping it to stick to the floor. What’s more, hairspray is clear, so it won’t ruin the look of your shoe.
Many of us already have hairspray sitting around in our bathroom. You can also find affordable options in just about any drugstore or supermarket. You don’t necessarily need to opt for an expensive brand. Just about any hairspray should do the trick.
While this is a cheap, quick, and surprisingly effective trick for making shoes non-slip, it’s only a temporary solution. The effects of the hairspray will only last for a couple of wears, at most. You’ll have to reapply the spray frequently if you wear the shoes often. Hairspray also doesn’t work well in wet conditions, as water washes the polymers away easily.
Use Puff Paint
Also known as dimensional fabric paint, puff paint is often used in DIY clothing projects to make designs and patterns. You apply it by squeezing it through a tube and allowing it to dry. Because puff paint dries in 3D, it makes an ideal material for adding texture to the soles of your shoes. It’s also slightly tacky, giving you a better grip on slippery and wet surfaces.
You can find all sorts of puff paint styles in an endless array of colors. This allows you to get creative with your non-slip design. You can write words, draw pictures, or create fun patterns on your shoes in your favorite colors. Paints that contain material such as glitter not only look trendy but can offer even more traction than smooth paints.
Puff paint is a long-term non-slip solution that works on just about any shoe type. However, it’s far from permanent. With daily wear and tear, the puff paint will eventually wear away and leave your soles smooth once more.
Break Out the Hot Glue Gun
This method is similar to using puff paints to add texture. Instead, however, you create texture using patterns made with a glue gun. This is an easy, inexpensive solution. Many of us already have hot glue guns with our art supplies, but if you don’t, you can find affordable models at any crafts store.
Since glue dries to be clear, using a hot glue gun can be more discreet than colorful puff paints, which can be a better choice for professional environments. It also lasts longer, as it bonds more thoroughly with the bottom of your shoe. You’ll have to reapply the glue less frequently than materials such as puff paints.
To make your shoes non-slip using a glue gun, first, prepare the gun by inserting a glue stick and allowing it to heat. You can then place lines, dots, or patterns over the soles of your shoes to add plenty of texture.
When using glue, you should wait until the material is mostly dry but not all the way set. It will still be malleable at this point. You can put on your shoes and walk across a flat, hard surface to ensure that the glue is even and won’t affect your gait. Doing this will also help to glue to bond better in the long run. Here’s a quick video on how to create a non-slip surface using glue:
Stick on Adhesive Bandages
Another quick, inexpensive, and temporary fix for slippery soles is to stick on adhesive bandages. Most of us have bandages readily available in the bathroom or our first aid kit. They have an adhesive side that’s able to stick to the underside of your shoe, while the other side is either rough or sticky enough to gain traction on smooth floors.
You should place at least one bandage along the ball of your foot, and another along the heel. If you’re looking for even more grip, you can also attach one vertically down the center of your shoe. Masking tape can also serve a similar function.
It’s important to remember that the adhesive in both bandages and tape can only withstand but so much stress. Over time, wear and tear combined with dirt and debris can cause the strips to fall off of your shoe. You’ll likely have to reapply frequently for best results.
If need be, you can always keep a roll of tape or some spare bandages in your purse, car, or work locker. That way, you’ll be prepared if you ever need a quick non-slip solution. Doing this also makes it easier to reapply strips as needed and reduce your risk of slipping and falling.
Mix Salt and Rubber Cement
Rubber cement can help to add texture to the sole of your shoe, but it tends to be fairly smooth and slippery. Adding salt creates a granular texture, which gives you more of a grip on surfaces underfoot.
You can create a mixture of salt and rubber cement to apply to the soles of your shoes. This is a cost-effective DIY solution that mimics the effects of grip pads and spray, but for a fraction of the price. What’s more, rubber cement is long-lasting, so you won’t have to worry about frequent reapplications.
You can either apply a coat that covers the sole of your shoe or, if you’re looking for something a little bit more discreet, you can create a pattern of dots or lines for traction. You should make sure that you apply in a thin, even layer for comfort when walking.
There’s no set ratio of how much salt you should add to your rubber cement. As a general rule of thumb, the more you add, the rougher of a surface you’ll get. However, you should be careful not to add too much. Doing this will ruin the consistency of the cement and make it a challenge to spread.
Combine Spray Adhesive in Sand
This is another non-stick solution that combines an abrasive material with an adhesive. Unlike with salt and rubber cement, however, spray adhesive and sand need to be applied in two separate steps.
First, spray the sole of your shoe with a heavy-duty spray adhesive. While it’s still wet, immediately sprinkle on a fine layer of sand. Try to keep it as even as possible. Afterward, allow the material to dry fully.
The sand will help to create rough soles for your shoes, giving you plenty of grip. However, it wears down quickly as the spray adhesive rubs off. You should aim to use a high-quality adhesive for longer-lasting results, and reapply as needed.
Add an Ankle Strap
Sometimes, slipping and falling isn’t an issue with the soles of your shoes. Styles such as clogs and mules, sandals, and more tend to sit loosely on foot, increasing the risk of them getting caught or tripping you up as you walk. What’s more, they can turn a bland pair of shoes into something much more trendy.
Ensuring that the bottom of your shoe rests snugly against your foot can help you to avoid accidents and injuries by making your footwear less prone to slipping. One of the best ways to do this is by securing a strap around your ankle to hold your shoe in place.
You can seek out the help of a professional, or add a strap with relative ease on your own. It can be as simple as a ribbon looped around the heel of the shoe, or as complex as adjustable buckles sewn onto the design.
Non-slip shoes can help you to avoid accidents and injuries at home and around the workplace. By transforming smooth soles into rough, textured surfaces, you give your feet more grip in just about any situation. You’re less likely to slip and fall, especially on slippery flooring. There are plenty of cheap and effective ways that you can make shoes non-slip yourself, from temporary solutions to long-term modifications that will make your days safer and more comfortable.