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How to Make Shoes Non-Slip: 12 Proven Tips

If you live in a region where it rains and snows a lot or work in a place with slippery surfaces, then you'd want to know how to make shoes non-slip. Also, new shoes, especially those with leather or plastic soles, can be frustratingly slippery like older shoes worn smooth by years of wear and tear.

Slippery shoes can cause you injuries and damage items around you. Still, you don't have to dispose of a slick shoe because you can easily add traction to your shoes with just a few hacks.

If you struggle to make your shoes slip-resistant, Vessi shoes can be an excellent alternative. Our shoes are waterproof and provide the additional benefits of being lightweight and stable on wet and slippery surfaces. For instance, Vessi Everyday Sneakers have a slip-free Herringbone grip with etched grooves to keep out water and enhance traction on snow or wet surfaces for optimal balance and stability.

But if you already own a slippery pair of shoes, let's dive into how to make your boots slip-resistant.

How to Make Shoes Non-Slip

1. Breaking in outsoles

This method requires you to "damage" or alter your outsole to make it less slippery and improve the grip it can offer. If you don't mind scuffing your footwear slightly to make it non-slip, the following methods can be ideal for consistently enhancing grip.

a) Scuffing the outsoles on abrasive surfaces

One way to make shoes non-slip on smooth surfaces is to scuff up the outsoles. You can do this by walking or rubbing the shoes' soles against a rough surface such as concrete, gravel, rock, rough paving stones, solid dirt, or natural earth. Scuffing the rubber sole patterns with a rougher texture helps in improving traction and reduces the risk of slipping on smooth surfaces. This method is particularly effective on a new pair of shoes.

But you should use this method should with caution. Scuffing the outsoles too much will wear down the material and eventually ruin the shoe. The idea is only to wear down the sole a bit to create a texture giving you better traction and not compromising the strength or stability of your shoe.

b) Using sandpaper

Sandpaper can easily and quickly scuff the outsoles of shoes. Sanding creates a texture that gives additional grip when you walk on slippery surfaces with your shoes. All you need is a piece of about 50-grit sandpaper and your shoes.

Using sandpaper

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Here is how to use sandpaper to scuff the shoes' outsoles:

  1. Have a firm grip on the shoe.

  2. Rub the sole gently using the sandpaper. Do not press hard because you don't want to damage the outsole material.

  3. Keep rubbing, spending more time on the parts making contact with the ground till you obtain an even coarse texture.

c) Using nail file

A nail file might seem like a strange choice for scuffing a shoe sole, but it is also surprisingly effective. You can use a metal nail file to scrape the bottom of your shoe in the same way as you would with sandpaper. If you want to save time and have a more precise texture, a nail file is the best choice, as you can use it to scuff the outsole in areas that touch the ground most often.

To abrade your outsoles with nail files, rub the nail file gently on the sole's surface but with enough force to ensure you file the sole correctly. Coarse metal files are the best for this method because they are the most durable and convenient.

d) Scoring the bottoms

Scoring the outsoles of your shoes will give you a better grip when walking on slippery grounds. You can make minor scratches or cuts on the outsole's surface to create a rougher texture providing more grip. You will need a sharp object like a razor blade, knife, or box cutter to score the outsole.

Ensure you don't make deep cuts in the rubber sole. Also, we don't recommend this method for new shoes because there's a high chance of ruining the outsole.

Here is how to score your shoes' outsoles:

  1. Clean the shoe soles and let them air-dry completely.

  2. Hold your shoe firmly with the outsole facing up.

  3. Score the sole in diagonal lines. You can also use vertical lines or snake patterns.

  4. Score again in diagonal lines in the opposite direction.

2. Using adhesive bandages

Using adhesive bandages

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If you are looking for a less permanent way of putting traction on shoes, adhesive bandages are the answer. They are cheap and easy to use. By putting the sticky side down on the outsoles of your shoes, the rough surface on the band-aid helps grip the ground, so your feet stay on it!

Follow these steps to use this method the right way:

  1. Clean the shoe's outsole and let it air dry for two to three hours.

  2. Peel off the adhesive bandage's protective coverings.

  3. Stick the adhesive bandages diagonally across the outsole and one across the heel.

  4. Press down on the bandages firmly for a few minutes to ensure they are securely attached.

  5. You can use the shoes immediately, but it is best to let the adhesive bandages sit for a few hours or overnight before wearing them.

3. Using grip pads

Using grip pads

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Investing in grip pads is one of the best options if you are looking for a non-damaging way to make your shoes non-slip. These small anti-slip pads stick easily to the shoe's outsole and provide a good grip. They are made of rubber or have grit to keep your soles safe. Also, they don't require any changes to the sole's structure and are suitable for old and new shoes.

Here is how you should use grip pads:

  1. Clean the shoe sole and let it dry completely.

  2. Remove the adhesive backing of the grip pad.

  3. Stick the grip pads to the outsole of your shoe on the heel and toe grips in front.

  4. Press down on the pad firmly for a few minutes.

  5. Leave the shoes for 12 to 24 hours for the grip pads to adhere properly.

Grip pads come in different shapes and sizes, so ensure you get the right ones for your shoes. If the grip pads peel off over time, you can use a shoe adhesive to re-apply them. Just ensure you remove all the old adhesives before applying the new layer.

4. Using hairspray

Hairspray is another quick and easy way to make shoes non-slip. It contains a chemical solvent to make the outsole tackier, increasing traction. While hairspray can be a good temporary fix, it can be messy and may not be the most effective way to add traction during wet conditions as it rinses off easily.

Here is how to use hairspray to make shoes slip-resistant:

  1. Clean your outsoles and air dry.

  2. Spray a generous layer of hairspray onto the outsole of your shoes. Please avoid spraying it on the upper part of the shoe.

  3. Let the hair spray dry and become tacky.

5. Using traction spray

Traction sprays or grip sprays are another fantastic way to increase shoe traction. They contain chemicals that increase friction between the shoe and slippery surfaces. Traction sprays are perfect for wet and icy conditions, especially during winter. Still, the sprays are not permanent and will eventually wear off, so you might have to stock up on large amounts if you plan to use them regularly.

Using traction spray

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You can use traction spray on dress shoes, sneakers, or winter boots. Ensure you read the instructions before applying it to your shoes, as non-slip sprays can be dangerous or damaging if used incorrectly, and ruining your shoes is the last thing you want.

Here is how to use the traction spray:

  1. Clean the outsole of your shoe correctly.

  2. Spray the sole with the traction spray evenly. Do not overspray!

  3. Let it dry for three to four hours.

6. Using puff paint

Puff paint is a type of paint generally used in arts and crafts to create a 3D effect. It comes in different colours, and you can use it on rubber, metal, fabric, and wood surfaces.

Using puff paint

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You can use puff paint to create patterns or designs on your outsoles. When the paint dries, it creates a rough texture, which is ideal for adding grip to your slippery shoes. Also, it is a fun way to personalize your shoes.

Here is how to use puff paint:

  1. Clean the outsoles to ensure they are free of dust and debris.

  2. Let them dry completely.

  3. Apply a thin, even layer of puff paint. Avoid getting the paint on the upper part of the shoes. But there are safe ways to remove paint from shoes if you accidentally get paint on the upper parts.

  4. Let the paint dry for a few hours or overnight before wearing your shoes.

Even though puff paint might last longer than hairspray, you'll need to re-apply it at least weekly for maximum effectiveness

7. Using ice grips

Using ice grips

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If you are looking for the best way to never slip in extreme conditions such as rugged mountain roads, frozen and hard ground, or muddy ground, ice grips or snow grips are your best choice. Ice grips are shoe accessories used to provide traction on ice or slippery surfaces, especially in icy or snowy conditions. The Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) material and iron spikes give you excellent anti-slip performance and are durable.

How to use ice grips:

  1. Put the toe cap into the sign on the front.

  2. Stretch up the heel to fit your shoes.

  3. Pull the strap across the other side of the crampons and tighten it.

While ice grips don't work for all shoe types, for instance, heels, it's an excellent way to transform any fashion or rugged boot into a winter boot, especially when participating in winter sports.

8. Using sand and adhesive spray

Sticking sand to your shoes' outsoles is another way to create friction and make your shoes less slippery. Still, sand can be messy as it will eventually come off the footwear and end up all over the place. It is also not effective in wet and snowy conditions.

  1. Clean the shoe's outsole and let it dry.

  2. Spray the adhesive spray on the bottom of your shoe.

  3. Sprinkle sand over the adhesive coating. The sand should be clean and free of debris.

  4. Let the adhesive dry for a few hours.

9. Using salt and rubber glue

When added to your shoes, the salt and rubber glue mixture creates a rough surface to increase traction. This mixture is an excellent method to use on wet surfaces.

Here is how to use salt and rubber glue:

  1. Clean the outsoles of your shoes and let them air-dry completely.

  2. Pour rubber glue and salt, in equal parts, into a bowl.

  3. Mix them thoroughly until well blended to have an even mixture.

  4. Use a small paintbrush to apply a thin layer of the mixture over your shoe's soles.

  5. Allow it to dry thoroughly before wearing. 

10. Using masking tape

A masking tape can also be your go-to solution for increased traction. But, the tapes can come off easily on wet surfaces. Also, it will lose its adhesive quality over time, and you'll have to replace it.

Here is how to fix slippery shoes using masking tape:

  1. Clean the outsoles and let them air-dry completely.

  2. Cut two strips of tape.

  3. Stick them on the largest part of the bottom of your shoe in an X pattern.

11. Using ankle straps

The smooth shoe soles are not the only reason shoes slip on smooth surfaces. If your footwear fits loosely, you can lose your balance and slip even if you wear non-slip shoes. This is a common problem for footwear like heels, clogs, and sandals.

Ankle straps

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Attaching ankle straps to your shoes provides a tighter fit, keeping your ankle and legs at proper angles to prevent the shoe from slipping off your foot. Most ankle straps have adhesive pads to stick them onto the heel counter. Other common types of ankle straps available in the market include elastic, Velcro, and buckles.

12. Go to a cobbler

If you have high-quality shoes or a pair you treasure so much and don't want to hack, consider taking it to a shoe repairer or professional cobbler. These professionals will fix your shoes by replacing or modifying the outsoles. Still, their services can be expensive depending on the quality of your shoe and the difficulty of the fixing process, but it is a good investment to make your shoes non-slip.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make Shoes Non-Slip

How to make shoes slip-resistant

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1. How do I make my slippers less slippery?

Slipper soles are not as strong as shoe soles, so non-damaging methods are the best tip to make them slip-resistant. You can use a hot glue gun to glue even lines or evenly spaced dots. You can glue the whole sole or around the heel and the toe front, then let it dry. Another method is to use puff paint to draw patterns on your slipper sole and wait until it's completely dry.

2. How do you fix slippery heels?

The best way to make your heels slip resistant is to use a grip pad on the forefoot and apply hot glue to the heel. You can also use hair spray or scuff the soles using a piece of sandpaper or a nail file.

3. How do you make rubber soles slip-resistant?

Even though rubber is naturally slip-resistant, rubber soles may become slippery after long use. To make your rubber soles less slippery, you can use several tips such as hair spray, traction spray, hot glue gun, or slightly abrading the soles with sandpaper.

4. How do I make tennis shoes non-slip?

Tennis shoes require a high level of slip resistance; high-quality tennis shoes are usually slip resistant. If your tennis shoes are no longer slip-resistant, consider scuffing the soles, taking them to a cobbler to extend their lifespan, or buying a new pair.

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