How To Fix Boot Squeaking

This year I expanded my dress boots collection from traditional shiny-leather cowboy boots to include additional short men’s dress boots, such as Allen Edmonds Dalton boots.

Yeah, these boots are only seven inches high, but nonetheless, meet the minimum requirement for anything to be worn on my feet: boots. Further, my requirements for boots are that they be well-constructed of quality materials and craftsmanship, and made in countries that do not use low-wage labor working in sweatshops (i.e., China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines) to make them.

While maintaining high standards, I also look for a reasonable price, which for high-end dress boots is difficult, but not out of the question. Occasional sales are offered, or close-out deals become available. That’s how these Allen Edmonds Daltons were selected — a great deal for about half the full MSRP.

When I first pulled on these puppies and struggled to lace them up (generally I avoid laced footwear due to the time required to lace them right — I’m a guy who just likes to pull on his boots and go)… I was horrified to hear very loud SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK with each step. No way was I going to wear these things to the office and attract attention due to their awfully loud squeaking!

But I found a solution to resolve that squeaking once-and-for-all, and thought I would share it here… more after the jump.

The problem with high-end dress boots is related to how well they are made. These boots are lined with good quality leather and are made of fine calfskin. Unfortunately, when the tongue of the boot is compressed against the interior leather lining, these leather components rub against each other and produce a very loud, distinctive squeaking noise.

I went on line and to the Allen Edmonds website to find suggestions. The manufacturer showed complaints about squeaking on some of their comments, so I knew that I was not the only one experiencing this problem. The company representative who responded to some of the complaints recommended to apply leather conditioner and break the boots in by walking in them. He said that “eventually” the squeak would go away.

I’m a busy guy. I don’t have time for “eventually.” I want the problem fixed now. No way would I wear those things around the house to break them in and wait for “eventually” to happen.

Since I am a get-it-done-guy and also have experience with resolving squeaking leather from some of my leather jeans and leather motorcycle jackets squeaking, I realized that the squeaking was caused by friction of leather that is compressed together, sticking to itself, and then when enough pressure causes the leather to release from how it was stuck together, one would hear a loud noise — a high-pitched, nails-on-the-chalkboard SQUEAAAAAAAAKKKK!

So this became a physics problem. How to reduce friction. A-ha! Lubricant!

Leather conditioner has very little lubricating properties. Actually, the best leather conditioners add moisture to the leather to aid in retaining its soft, supple condition. That is not really what is needed to eliminate rubbing-leather squeaks.

After another few minutes of over-analyzing the situation, I took a break to prepare a waffle for breakfast. As I prepared the waffle iron for the batter, I looked at the can of vegetable cooking spray I was holding in my hand and using on the waffle iron and said to myself, “why not try this?”

I carefully separated the tongue of those Allen Edmonds boots from the leather lining, and pointed the vegetable oil spray at the interior leather lining and gave it a few very short sprays on both sides of each boot’s leather lining.

I rubbed a paper towel on the inside of the boot after spraying them with the cooking spray to remove excess and over-applied oil.

I sat down and ate my waffle. After that, I laced up those boots (struggling again to get the laces even over and over again)… and then took several steps. Quiet.

I walked around the house. Quiet. NO SQUEAKING!

Did something so simple really fix it? How long would it last? How long before that dreaded squeaking returns?

Well… I wore those boots to work and rode the subway into the city to attend and speak at a high-level briefing. I had to walk about 20 blocks from the Metro to the location of the briefing. Certainly walking 20 blocks would easily break in those short boots. And it did!

When I arrived home later that evening, my feet felt fine — the boots fit well and remained comfortable all day. (My regular cotton/wool/nylon thick socks helped with boot comfort when having to walk that much on city streets.)

And best yet — no squeaking! I have worn these boots to work about once a week since I treated them with vegetable oil spray, and these boots have not squeaked one squeak.

I’m sure the company would question using vegetable cooking spray like I did on their boots, but it works. Immediately — no waiting for “eventually.” So chalk it up to a “guy-thing” or the experience of a “boot and leather dude” who has studied physics.

Life is short: wear boots that do not squeak!

1 thought on “How To Fix Boot Squeaking

  1. Excellent solution. I’m going to try this on some Timberland chukkas I own. They squeak when I walk as your boots do. On dress down Fridays – if I wear them – everyone on the floor can hear me coming. Maybe… more!

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