How to “Hack” Shoes for AFOs #2: A Coat of Armor to Extend Shoe Life

As my girl has gotten stronger and more capable with her walker, she has also gotten more creative with her walking. The recommended “heel-toe” walking gait (which I’m pulling my hair out trying to get her back to) just seems to frustrate her because it’s not getting her where she wants to go fast enough. As a result, she “runs” … which means moving her feet really fast and propelling herself forward using the inner sides of her feet.

This is REALLY hard on her shoes.

REALLY hard.

She hasn’t even had her current pair of sneakers two months yet, and she’s worn a hole in the right shoe. A hole through the pleather and rubber, almost big enough to put my pinkie through!

*Deep breath.*

Because she wears AFOs, this is extra frustrating because it’s not easy to find shoes that work over her braces. I’ve thought of buying multiple pairs of the same shoe once I find something that works, but that sounds expensive. Also,  people might start calling me the crazy shoe lady when they see me buying out Target’s inventory of Anna & Elsa sneakers.

*Enter the hero of the story.*

Shoe Goo - a magical substance for repairing shoesMy husband. Is awesome. He told me about a magical substance called Shoe Goo.

Shoe Goo is a special thick adhesive (glue) that dries into a rubber-like substance. It sticks great to shoes, dries clear, is tough & durable, and is a penny-conscious parent’s best friend. Turns out it is also super popular with professional skateboarders because the tricks they do abuse the heck out of their shoes.

I used it to repair Lily’s current shoes, and to pre-treat her new shoes, hoping to get ahead of the wear & tear.

Fixing wear on current shoes

Step 1: Clean all the dirt off the shoes. Let them dry.

I used Dawn dish soap on a wet paper towel to scrub off the dirt, then wiped off the soap with a damp cloth. Once they were clean, I let the shoes dry thoroughly.

Shoe Goo Hack - Clean and dry the shoes

Step 2: Squeeze the Shoe Goo onto the worn area of the shoe.

Squeeze Shoe Goo onto the shoe

Step 3: Use a plastic knife to gently spread the glue and smooth the surface.

Spread the shoe goo with a plastic knife

Step 4: Blend the edges of the Shoe Goo using the plastic knife. This helps the Goo take the shape of the shoe rather than having a glob of Goo protruding off the side.

Blend the edges of the Shoe Goo into the shoe with the plastic knife

TIP #1: If you want to repair a hole, place a piece of tape on the inside of the shoe before you apply the shoe goo. Let the Goo dry for 2 hours and then remove the tape. This will avoid having a “bump” of glue on the inside of the shoe.

In the picture below, you can see how the goo forms a thick seal over the hole. I also used the Goo to build up the part of the sole she’s worn off.

Shoe Goo - repairing a hole

Step 5: Place shoes, Goo-side-up (and NOT touching each other) on a flat surface in a well ventilated area. Let them dry for at least 24 hours before wearing.

Place shoes face up an let dry for 24 hours

Because my daughter’s shoes are small, I used a paper plate and wrote the time down so that I could remember the start of the 24 hour drying period.

Pre-treating new shoes

If you know where your child tends to wear through their shoes, you can also use Shoe Goo to reinforce those areas before they are even worn! I used the shoes in the repairing example (above) as my guide for where to place the goo on these new shoes. I also spent a little more money on a higher quality shoe in hopes the materials are more durable.

Shoe Goo to Protect Shoes

Shoe goo applied to shoe

Spread goo using knife

New shoes - protected with shoe goo

The hardest part for me is this 24 hour wait because (1) Lily keeps asking when she can wear her shoes, and (2) a day long dry time requires some significant pre-planning. However, it’s totally worth it.

Do your child’s shoes wear out fast like my daughters? What have you done to extend the life of their shoes?

I’ve had a few questions on where to buy Shoe Goo since this post went live. See below:

WATCHOUT: Shoe Goo comes in multiple colors. I use the clear because I want to see as much of the shoe as possible. However, it also comes in black which is good for repairs to shoes with a black sole.

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