Linoleum is a low-cost flooring material that was very popular in the mid 20th century. It’s making a comeback recently as people realize how great it is. Don’t expect it to go away any time soon.
Linoleum comprises three parts: a jute backing, asphaltum (or glue), and powdered cork.
The friction created by walking on linoleum causes it to release gases which then react with oxygen in the air, creating the squeak noise we all dread.
It’s not just that we hate hearing it, it’s also kind of embarrassing. Especially if you’re in a professional setting and your shoes start squeaking. Or if you’re in a silent place where people are working.
While it might be tempting to throw your squeaking shoes away, realize that it is a natural phenomenon. It is fixable, so don’t act too hastily.
If you are sick of the sound of your shoes squeaking on linoleum, then this article is for you. We will go over the best tips to stop this acoustic torture.
Causes of the Squeaking Noise
There are a few reasons shoes squeak on linoleum.
- Friction-The most common reason is the friction between the shoe and the floor. This creates a gas that reacts with oxygen in the air, causing the squeaking noise. This is especially egregious when the oil used to make the floor shiny is new.
- Shoes Too Big-If the shoes are too big, your feet are going to slide within it, creating additional friction. The extra friction will make the shoes squeak more.
- Loose Laces-Another problem is loose laces or shoelaces that are not tied correctly, causing your foot to slide around in the shoe while you walk. This creates additional friction and thus makes them even noisier than they would be normally.
- Smooth Soles-New shoes’ soles are very smooth, which makes them slip over the floor when you walk. This causes friction and the squeaking noise to increase dramatically in loudness.
- Recently Lubed Floor-Similar to having smooth soles, the lube used to make linoleum shiny makes the shoes slide without catching any traction or gripping it for support. The gas created will be greater than usual.
- Water-Ever walked out in the rain, then got into a building and started a concert? The water that got into the shoes creates more surface area for the shoes to grip and create friction, which will make noise.
- Little Pebbles Stuck Within the Soles-If there are any little stones or pebbles stuck in the soles of your shoes, then they will cause even more noise when you walk on any type of roof. But especially if you’re walking on linoleum.
- Worn Out Shoes-When shoes start falling apart, it might be time to throw them away. This is especially true for soles, which are the main source of noise when walking on linoleum.
Good news: there is a host of fixes that are very easy to implement that will stop your shoes from squeaking. Yes, even if you bought a pair of shoes that is way too big for you.
8 Tips to Stop Shoes from Squeaking on Linoleum
There are a few ways you can stop the squeaks and start enjoying your shoes again. These will stop you from having those embarrassing moments where everyone knows you’re walking in.
Make Sure the Shoes Fit
The first step is to make sure that the shoes fit you properly in the first place. As we mentioned earlier, if your shoes are too big, your feet will slide inside them, creating additional friction. Friction is the chief reason of the squeak.
The second step is to make sure that the laces are tight. This will help reduce the amount of movement your foot can do while in the shoe, which will decrease the amount of friction created. If you’re using new shoes and they still squeak, try re-tightening the laces before doing anything else.
If you bought shoes that are too big, there is still hope for you. You can use an insole, which is a type of removable soles that you put into the shoe. This will take up some space and make your feet fit better, which stops them from squeezing around inside the shoes.
Don’t like insoles? Try a heel grip, which does basically the same thing. A heel grip is a thin, rubbery insert that goes into the back of your shoe. It helps keep your foot from slipping around inside the shoe and creates a tighter fit. This will help stop the shoes from making noise when you walk.
A last ditch effort is wearing multiple pairs of socks. This will shrink the free space between your feet and the shoe. However, it can be very uncomfortable and might not be the most aesthetically pleasing look.
Make Sure the Soles Are Clean
If your shoes are clean, they will have less surface area to grip onto the floor and create friction. This means that you’ll make less noise when walking in them. Regularly cleaning your shoes- both the soles and the rest of the shoe- is key to keeping them from squeaking.
We suggest using a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris that might be on your shoes. You can also try using a toothbrush if there’s anything caked on that you can’t get rid of with a damp cloth. If your shoes are really dirty, you can use a mild soap to help clean them. Just be sure to rinse them off with water when you’re done, so the soap doesn’t damage the shoes.
Dry Your Shoes Properly
If you allow your shoes to dry at room temperature, the rubber will harden up again. This means that they’ll have less traction and be more likely to slip around when you walk in them.
We suggest using a boot tree after every time you take off your shoes or sneakers. Boot trees are basically wooden pieces that hold open the shoe and keep it from shrinking after you’ve taken them off.
Warning: avoid using a boot tree since the wood will damage the shoe. Instead, we suggest stuffing newspaper into them when they’re not being worn so they keep their shape while drying out.
A similar tip is to place silica gel packets inside your shoes when you’re not wearing them. Silica gel packets absorb moisture, so they’ll help keep your shoes from getting too wet and developing bacteria.
If your shoes are still squeaking after trying these methods, it might be time to spray them with some silicone. This is a lubricant that will reduce the amount of friction between your shoes and linoleum, which should stop them from squeaking.
Another option is to spray the soles with rubber sole spray. This will create a slippery surface on the soles of your shoes, which will help them move more freely across the floor and stop them from making noise.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to test it out on a small section of your shoe before spraying the entire thing. This way, you can make sure that the spray doesn’t damage or discolor your shoes.
Warning: you need to be careful when using silicone spray because it can damage certain types of shoes or stain other things in your house. Make sure to read the label on any type of silicone-based product so you know how to use it properly.
Make the Shoes Smooth
If you can’t fix the shoes so that they fit properly or stop them from slipping around on your feet, you can try to make the soles less smooth. This will create more traction and grip against the linoleum.
Shoe polish can help for leather shoes. If you’re using an older pair of shoes that don’t fit as well as they used to, applying some shoe polish can help reduce the noise. The wax in the polish will fill in any cracks or crevices and create a smoother surface for your foot.
However, be careful not to use too much polish or it can make the shoes stiff and uncomfortable. We recommend using a shoe cream instead of actual wax if your shoes are already quite old- this will do the same thing as polish without damaging them further.
Consider lip balm too!
It’s All About the Lube
Linoleum is made with an oil-based compound that is used to make it shiny. When you first lube up your floor, this will be most prominent on new floors or ones with no previous waxing. The squeaking noise comes from the shoes sliding around, without catching any traction against it.
Sometimes it’s enough to wait for the lube used to make linoleum shiny to dry out a bit. This makes the surface less slick and will help your shoes grip the floor better.
If this doesn’t work, you can try using a commercial lubricant like WD-40 or Vaseline. Just be careful not to use too much, as this can make your shoes slippery and dangerous to walk in.
There are many types of lubes on the market, so experiment until you find one that works for both you and your shoes. Some people have reported using baby powder or petroleum jelly with success. Talcum powder is another option to curb the squeaking.
These work by adding more friction between the shoe and the floor. However, you need to be careful when using these products because they can make your shoes dirtier and increase how often you’ll have to clean them.
Change the Soles
In this extreme consumerism era we are currently living in, changing one part of a shoe instead of just replacing your pair sounds like lunatic ravings. But, hear me out.
If your shoes are still in relatively good condition and you don’t want to spend the money on a whole new pair, why not try changing the soles?
There are many companies that make after-market replacement soles for all types of shoes. You can find them at most shoe stores or online. There are also still some shoemakers around. They might seem like mythical beasts, but they do exist.
This is a great option if you’re having trouble with your soles sliding around or not gripping on linoleum. It can also be a good way to add some extra cushioning or support to an old pair of shoes.
Just make sure that the soles you’re buying are compatible with your type of shoe- not all replacement soles will work for every style.
You can try to walk differently. This is the hardest solution to implement and may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.
When you walk, do your best to make as much contact with the ground as possible. Try to use the entire surface of your foot instead of just the tips or heels. This will create more traction and will reduce the chance of slipping.
Walk with less force too- this isn’t a power walk in heels competition, so take it easy.
Get New Shoes
This is the most extreme solution, and one we only recommend if you’ve tried everything else.
If the squeaking is coming from your shoes, you might just need to buy a new pair. If they’re worn out or don’t fit properly anymore, then it’s likely that this will cause them to slip around on linoleum and create noise when walking.
There is no shortage of great articles to help you pick the perfect shoes for you.
Entering a building and starting an unpleasant musical is awkward. Although each of these tips will reduce your shoes’ noise, we recommend using a combination for the best results.
For example, you might want to apply some silicone spray before putting on your socks in the morning and use shoe cream when it starts getting low later on in the day. This way, you’ll have double protection against any unfortunate squeaking.
But we realize this isn’t always workable. Unfortunately, linoleum is just one of those materials that will always make shoes squeak a little bit. Luckily, by trying some of the tips in this article-especially if you combine 2 or more of them-you can minimize the sound.