By Rehan Iqbal
For the worker who’s on their feet all day, having the right shoes is a must. An important requirement for the working person’s shoes is for them to be non-slip. Whether you need to move quickly without fear of falling, or you work in an industry where there may be spills or hazards on the floor, there are many reasons why non-slip shoes can save you a moment of grief. If you’ve already got the perfect pair of work shoes, how can you make sure they’re non-slip and safe for your workplace?
In this article, I’ll tell you about six different techniques for making shoes non-slip, as well as other tips and considerations. Many of these solutions involve items you may already have in your house. Other solutions involve products specifically made to solve this problem. Keep reading to find the strategy that works for you!
Different Techniques for Making Shoes Non-Slip
Scuff Up Your Shoes
One easy way to make your shoes non-slip is to scuff up the soles. Usually, shoes are too slippery because the soles are too smooth. This is often true for brand-new shoes that haven’t had any wear. If the soles of your shoes feel too smooth, consider scuffing them up with a rough surface. There are multiple ways to do this with items you may already have around the house.
Rough Surfaces Like Sand, Gravel, or Concrete
If you have a gravel or concrete path outside your house or workplace, or ready access to sand, you can scuff up your shoes with it. Walk around on the rough surface for a while to wear your shoes down. You can shuffle your feet to scuff the soles faster. It may take a while doing it this way, especially if your shoes are brand-new. Another method would be to hold your shoes in your hands and rub them directly on the abrasive surface.
If you don’t have sandpaper, it’s usually quite cheap to buy at a hardware store. Make sure you have one with a low grit. Low grit sandpaper has a rougher surface, and high grit sandpaper has a smoother surface. Use the sandpaper to scuff up the sole a bit until it feels rough to the touch.
A nail file can achieve the same result as these other methods. Use a nail file that’s quite abrasive, since the goal is to rough up the sole of the shoe, not to smooth it out.
Use a Knife to Create Texture
Another option to scuff up your shoes is to use a knife and create a pattern of texture on the sole. The knife should be sharp, but take care not to press too hard, as you don’t want to cut through the sole! Use the knife lightly to cut a series of parallel lines along the bottom of the shoe. Then, make parallel lines going in a different direction to create a cross-hatching effect. This will give your shoes more texture which will make it easier for them to grip slippery floors.
Attach Something Grippy
Another method for giving your shoes more grip is to attach something to them to give them the extra traction you need. Once again, there are many different options you might already have at home! These solutions aren’t quite so long-lasting as some of the others, so keep that in mind if you decide to try them.
Rather than using sandpaper to scuff up your sole, you can attach the sandpaper directly onto the soles. You might want to use a higher grit of sandpaper for this, and be aware of the surfaces you’ll be walking on, as the sandpaper might damage them.
You can attach the sandpaper by gluing it directly onto the sole. It’s helpful to cut the sandpaper into strips and glue strips at different points along the shoe. You can also cut the sandpaper to size so that there’s a piece on the toe and a piece on the heel. These two places are the most likely to need extra grip.
Keep in mind that the sandpaper may wear out over time, so it’s important to check it regularly and see if you need to replace it.
Attach Nail Files
If you have disposable nail files, they can make effective grips as well. Attach two or three to the sole of your shoe with glue. Like the sandpaper, the disposable nail files might wear out over time, or fall off depending on the effectiveness of the glue you use.
Bandages or Masking Tape
Some people report using bandages as an effective temporary solution to increase grip on slippery floors. Simply apply two or three bandages to your sole, exactly as you would apply them to a paper cut!
You can also use an adhesive bandage roll, cut into pieces, to achieve a similar effect.
Other people have reported using masking tape to give their shoes some extra traction. Try a strip of tape at the ball of your foot and a strip at the heel. You can also try making an X across the entire sole with the tape.
If you use bandages or masking tape, check your soles regularly. The bandages or tape may wear down quickly or fall off, so you may have to replace them every now and then.
Use Kids’ Crafts
Yes, your kids might have the solution to your slippy grippy troubles! If you don’t already own these items, they are very cheap at craft stores.
As the name suggests, puff paint is paint that is, well, puffy. The puffy nature of this product can also make your shoes non-slip. Apply the paint in a series of dots all over the sole. You can space the dots out, or cluster them together, depending on the amount of grip you want. You might have to try a few different options to see which one works for you. Let the paint dry completely, then try out the shoes. If they’re still slippery, try applying more dots. Remember, the goal is to create texture on the bottom of your shoe.
Another option from the arts ‘n’ crafts section is to use a hot glue gun. Apply the glue in a zigzag pattern or a series of stripes and let it cool. This should give your shoe more traction. You can also combine this technique with the sandpaper one and lightly scuff the glue once it’s dry to create more traction. Just be sure not to sand the glue off again!
Salt or Sand and Glue
Another common solution to make shoes non-slip is to use a grainy powder like salt or sand and some sort of glue. Let’s look at each option more closely.
Salt and Rubber Glue
Combine equal parts salt and rubber glue in a disposable bowl and apply the mixture generously to the whole sole. You can use a paintbrush to spread the mixture, or a wooden popsicle stick. The salt creates a rough texture that will help your shoes grip the floor, and the rubber glue helps the mixture stay securely on the shoe.
Sand and Adhesive Spray
Sand has a similar effect to salt because of its grainy texture. For this technique, it’s helpful to spread the sand out in a shallow tray. Spray adhesive spray on the sole until the entire sole is covered, or only the parts of the sole that need extra grip. Then, tap the shoes onto the sand so that the sand sticks to the adhesive spray. Try to cover all the areas you sprayed with a coat of sand. Let this dry before testing it out.
Keep in mind that just like with the sandpaper, coating the soles of your shoes in sand may damage the floors you walk on. If your job involves a lot of walking on a finished floor like one made of polished wood, this solution isn’t the best one for you.
Try A Spray
There are shoe sprays specifically designed to give shoe soles more grip. Check a local sporting goods store, shoe store, or online for these kinds of products. Using the spray is simple – all you have to do is spray a generous amount over the sole of the shoe, then wait for it to dry.
If you can’t find a spray specifically for shoes, or if you’re looking for a home remedy, hairspray can achieve a similar effect. Spray the soles and let them dry, and they should have a bit more grip. You may have to respray every now and then, as the hairspray will get worn off as you walk.
Consider Ice Grips or Grip Soles
If you don’t want a spray, there are other products you can buy that are specifically meant for this problem. Look for grip soles at your local shoe store or online. Grip soles are little pads that you adhere directly onto your sole to increase their traction. Make sure to clean and dry the soles before applying the grip soles, or they may not stick.
Ice grips are another option. As the name suggests, they are meant to provide traction on ice, but you may find they help at your workplace, too. You can also find these online or at certain shoe and sporting goods stores.
Other Slip Resitance Solutions
If none of these slip resistance solutions work for you, here are a few other options for you.
Visit a Cobbler
A cobbler’s whole job is making and repairing shoes. They may be able to help you adjust your sole to be less slippery. Look for a cobbler near you and ask them to help you. They’ll likely have additional solutions and suggestions for you.
Consider the Type of Shoe You’re Buying
This may not help if you already have the shoes you need for work. However, for the future, it’s important to consider the type of shoe you’re buying. Look for shoes with rubber or gum rubber soles. These are the best option for non-slip shoes. It’s also important to look for shoes with a deep tread pattern. Just like how the tread of a tire is vital to help a car grip the road, the tread of your shoe is what helps your shoe grip the floor. A deep tread pattern won’t wear down as easily as a shallow one.
An Unusual Solution: Use a Wood Burner?
I’m saving this suggestion for last because it’s one of the more risky solutions. Some people have found success at using a wood-burning tool to carve their treads deeper. However, this solution can be hazardous. You’ll have to be careful not to burn through the sole completely. In addition, the fumes from melting the soles of your shoes could be toxic, so if you decide to try this solution, wear a mask that will protect you from inhaling these fumes. My recommendation is to try all of the previous solutions before considering this one.
Why Do Shoes Lose Traction?
Shoes can lose traction for multiple reasons. Some shoes are slippery out of the box – that’s why strategies like the ones I’ve shared here can help to “break them in.” But shoes also lose traction through regular wear and tear. Scuffing up your shoes again, or using one of the other solutions here, can revitalize your shoes. But sometimes, the solution is even easier than that!
Did you know that pebbles or dirt in your shoes can make them more slippery? If the treads of your shoes are clogged with pebbles, soil, or mud, they won’t do their job as treads and your shoes will lose their grip. Sometimes, the key to making your shoes non-slip is as simple as clearing out the debris in your treads! You can clean out your treads by hosing them down, scrubbing them with a cloth, or manually picking out debris with a toothpick or a flat screwdriver or similar narrow item.
If you work in a restaurant, supermarket, hospital, warehouse, or somewhere similar, you likely have to deal with smooth (and slippery) floors all day. It’s very important in working environments like these to have the right shoes, because slipping and falling isn’t merely inconvenient. It can be dangerous, too! So take the time to make sure your shoes are going to keep you safe.
Remember with all of these solutions that you should test them out carefully. What works for some people might not work for you, if your workplace uses different floors or requires more or less walking. If one solution doesn’t work for you, try a different one. You can even try combining some of the solutions. Good luck, and happy walking!