Why Do Your Work Boots Squeak When You Walk? (Diagnostic & Fixing Tips)

We’ve all been there – approaching a peaceful room inside which everyone is quietly occupied.  You walk in hoping to go unnoticed but “SQUEAK, SQUEAK” your boots have other ideas and all eyes are on you. 

Not only can this be embarrassing but squeaky boots can become extremely irritating to our ears over time.

showing where the squeak in my work comes from. My KEEN work boots squeak from the bottom of the sole when I walk on smooth surfaces.

We’ll talk about it more in detail below but basically, your work boots could be squeaking because one of these reasons:

  • Friction between the insole and the rubber bottom of the work boot.
  • Friction between the rubber outsole and the surface you’re walking on (mostly flat, polished, or shiny floors)
  • Friction between the different leather parts of your work boots

Now that you know the most common reasons why your work boots squeak when you walk let’s see what you can do about it and if you can fix the squeaks.

But first, we need to identify where the noise is coming from and why it’s happening.

1. Squeaking from inside the boot

If the squeaking is coming from inside the boot as you walk it is likely being caused by friction between your insoles (the padded layer of fabric under the foot) and the rubber bottom. 

As you walk the insole is rubbing against the rubber underneath it and causing the squeaking sound.

A little talcum powder between the insole and the rubber bottom will create a protective layer and should quieten the squeak. 

An added bonus to doing this is that the talcum powder will also help to reduce moisture and absorb odor thus keeping your boots baby fresh.

Did your work boots get wet on the inside?

If your boots got wet or your feet sweat a lot, these could also be the cause of your boots squeaking. This happened to me a couple of times when I was wearing my Thorogood moc toe work boots.

You have to make sure your boots are completely dry before you go to work otherwise your boots will squeak especially if the materials inside the boot are smooth (as in leather on leather).

An easy fix to this problem is to put your boots straight on a boot dryer as soon as you get home. I have the PEET Original boot dryer and it works great for this.

one way to stop work boots from squeaking is to not wear them wet. So what I do I put my work boots to dry overnight on a boot dryer like the one we have in this image.

By the way, here’s how I waterproof my work boots in order to avoid wet feet.

Do you buy your own insoles?

If you buy your own inserts make sure they fit perfectly into your boots or if you have to trim them to size, don’t trim them too short.

When the insole is too loose it will move inside your boots creating an annoying squeak with each step you take.

It’s more common to hear the squeak when the insole is too short and the inside of the boot is wet, sweaty, or humid.

New work boots squeaking from inside?

A word of warning – brand new boots that squeak from the inside is likely to be a sign of poor manufacturing or bad interior glue therefore returning them before attempting to remove the insole to add talcum powder might be the better option as this will likely void your warranty.

2. Squeaking from the bottom of the boot

If the squeaking is coming from the bottom of the boot it is likely being caused by friction between the outsole and the surface you’re walking on.

This is even more common when you buy work boots with soft rubber outsoles (for example KEEN Lansing or Dr. Martens Icon). I had this experience myself when I was wearing my KEEN work boots on a shopping mall’s porcelain floor.

The floor was squeaky clean and because my Keen boots have a soft rubber sole it would make a lot of squeaky noise as I was walking on that surface. As soon as I was off the porcelain floor, the squeak stopped.

How to fix it?

Rubbing a tumble dryer sheet along the bottom of the sole will produce a light lubrication or rubbing sandpaper will add texture to the rubber. 

using sandpaper to help the boots topping from squeaking.

Both should quieten down the sound they make when you walk. Just be careful not to lubricate too much as this will make it slippy. Personally, I’ve used sandpaper on the Keen boots I mentioned above and that fixed the issue.

Boots that squeak when you walk on grass, dirt, or any other soft surface is possibly being caused by either a hole in the outsole allowing air and therefore moisture inside. Or the glue around the outsole not being airtight therefore allowing the same thing to happen. 

A shoe repair shop can easily rectify these issues.

With a faulty sole in mind be sure to check your boot and sole are not loose as the flapping caused by this when you walk can be mistaken for squeaking.

Whilst most boots have rubber soles some have leather soles which inevitably if paired with a leather boot will squeak as the two layers rub on each other. 

Not much can be done about this but an option could be to try oiling or conditioning the leather.

3. Squeaking from the top or sides of the boot

A very common reason for squeaking boots is friction between the tongue and the sides of the boot. 

This tends to happen more if the tongue is not stitched down. The majority (if not all) of the work boots I wear come with a gusseted tongue which avoids this problem but some work boots manufacturers don’t stitch the tongue down increasing the chances of you buying a boot that will squeak.

You have two options here:

  1. Either live with it for a little while until the leather softens naturally
  2. Or if your ears can not bear the constant noise give the leather a helping hand and condition the leather using saddle soap or oil

Summary

As the majority of our work boots are made from leather it is important we understand that it is common for leather to squeak when moved due to it being a natural textile made of tanned or processed animal hide. 

Leather once processed has a shiny texture that squeaks as it rubs together.

Also, with use, leather naturally softens over time and will also stretch (this will be minimal so should not affect sizing) but what this does mean is it causes the boot to shape to your feet which in turn should help to eliminate some squeaking.

Other boot materials like rubber and others also may cause squeaking for some of the reasons listed in this article but hopefully, after reading this article we have learned how to identify the cause of the squeak and simple tips to quieten the noise.


Team Members Working On This Page

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, taking care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!