We’ve all been collectively obsessed with clicking heels since before Dorothy Gale used her “there’s no place like home” trick. However, the reality of having your shoes make noise with every step you take is much less charming. So if you’d like to learn how to make your heels quieter, you’ve come to the right place.
There are plenty of reasons why you might need your heels to be less noisy. If you work in a quiet professional environment, you may not want to distract your colleagues. The same reason might be applicable if you work on a movie set or at a recording studio, where silence is of the utmost importance. Finally, you could just be sick of hearing the clicking noises follow you wherever you go.
No matter what your reasons are, I’ve found several ways to silence your heels for good. However, before I dive right into them, let me tell you why, exactly, your shoes are making that noise in the first place — and what you can do to stop it without spending a single dollar.
Clicking Heels: Empowering or Distracting
Whether you’re wearing tall stilettos or men’s shoes with a slight but tasteful heel, hearing that rhythmic clicking noise is definitely somewhat empowering. When you’re wearing your best dress shoes, your soles are bound to make a clicking sound. So when you think about it, we’re kind of conditioned to associate that clicking sound with our best outfits.
One thing’s for sure: a clicky heel is bound to attract attention. And to be fair, that’s a great thing for a lot of occasions. Strutting into a business meeting accompanied by your own clicking beat is truly something to behold. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll probably feel good hearing that sound, at least for a while.
However, that sound isn’t really appropriate in all situations. It can even be downright distracting, almost as much as a squeaky shoe. But unlike a squeaky sole, the clicking noise a heel makes is most often caused by the materials it’s made of.
Women’s heels and men’s dress shoes tend to have hard materials in the sole. They’re often made of wood, leather, and metal, although the manufacturers do throw in a bit of rubber from time to time to soften the blow, as it were.
Even the shape of the heel might determine how loud it’s going to be. So if you’re shopping for shoes online and you want to avoid getting a loud shoe, this next segment should help you choose a quieter model.
Which Shoes Are the Loudest?
There are so many types of shoes on the market, it might be hard to decide on a single model you prefer. Still, some shoes do send certain messages about ourselves, and sounds are actually often a part of those messages.
The most famous example of this is the use of Doc Martens and similar combat boots in youth subcultures. The stomping sound that the metal-filled boots produce is one of the best aspects of that type of footwear. After all, it means that the wearer essentially doesn’t care about the stir they’re creating. And that’s great — sometimes.
A similar, but more organic noise is produced by some thick wooden soles. For example, clogs have thick wooden heels, as do some wedges and chunky heels. None of these types of heels are ideal if you want to fly under the radar.
The reason why I’d call the noise thick wooden soles produce more organic is due to the acoustic properties of wood. It’s not particularly absorbent nor sound blocking, which is why we usually want to thicken it up with rubber or MLV when we’re working on soundproofing wood surfaces. However, since wood is much less dense than metal, it doesn’t make the same clanging sound against the ground.
However, arguably the noisiest type of shoe is an ill-fitting one. A shoe that’s too big for your foot will essentially clap as it slips from your heel. Actually, a shoe doesn’t even have to be too big!
Mule heels, a recent trend, also clap like this in many cases. What’s more, the sound worsens if the sole is wooden or, worse, metal. Still, no matter the type of shoe you’re wearing, there are certain steps you can take (get it?) to make any footwear less noisy.
How to Walk More Quietly
Simply adjusting your gait is a great way to make any shoe quieter. One of the first things you’ll want to do is make sure that you’re not walking as you would in flat shoes. So no “heel and toe” maneuvers here. Instead:
- Lower your whole foot so that the sole is parallel to the ground.
- Soften your gait overall, use less force when lowering your feet.
- Don’t lift your feet too high off the ground. Instead, slide them along an inch or two above the floor.
- Don’t buy shoes that are too big for you!
These tips could help you adjust your stride so that your walk itself is quieter even if you choose one of the heavier boots. However, if you have a choice, I’d recommend choosing quieter heels from the get-go. So if you want to make less noise when walking, make sure your soles are made of thick and slightly soft rubber.
The Best Products to Quiet a High Heel or a Hard Sole
Now, I’ve got several types of products you might use, from more subtle options to more effective but less attractive ones.
1. Use High Heel Caps
One of the most popular ways to quiet thin stiletto heels is to use a high heel cap. Plenty of stiletto heels also have metal bits in the heel, primarily to make them more stable and sturdy. However, those same metal parts make the shoes much noisier, especially if you’re hitting the ground heel-first, as we’re all used to doing.
There are high heel caps in many colors, shapes, and sizes — even ones that are wide at the bottom, to prevent heels from sinking into the grass. Personally, I recommend getting transparent caps like this set from Solemates (on Amazon).
There are 8 pairs of rubber caps in the set, so 2 pairs of each of the 4 sizes. The four diameter sizes range from a 0.27-inch one to 0.59-inch one. The caps have thin rubber on the sides and a thicker bottom to soften the impact of footsteps.
Since the caps are narrower toward the top, you can be sure that they won’t slip off the tip of the heel once you slide them into position. Although the caps are round, they should also fit square and U-shaped heels, as long as the size fits.
You don’t need any adhesive whatsoever to use this product, which is more than I could say for most of the other solutions on my list. However, the slight drawback of this method is that you are changing the look of your shoe, at least a little bit. Still, getting transparent caps should make the change way less noticeable than some of the other colors I’ve seen.
2. Improve the Traction with Rubber Sole Pads
If you’ve fixed up your heel, but you still find your shoes way too loud, you may want to pay attention to the front of the sole. After all, the heel is often not the only thing that’s making our footsteps too resonant. The same materials that are used in the heel are usually in the front as well.
Because the sole is usually very smooth, especially if your shoes are brand new, it can make an ungodly amount of noise. You could actually be hearing the click of a heel and a tap from the front of your sole every time you take a step.
In order to deal with this new source of noise, you’re going to want to improve the traction of the shoe and add some thickness as well. Fortunately, you can do both if you get rubber grip pads like these ones from H88 (from Amazon).
As you know if you’ve read my article on anti-vibration mats, rubber is great at shock absorption. It’s also very easy to cut, and this particular product is also self-adhesive, so you can adjust it to your shoe. Best of all, this rubber pad also has a texture that will make sure that you can remain steady, even on the smoothest surfaces.
But if you don’t like this rubber pad or if it doesn’t fit your shoe shape, there are many other similar products. I’d look for something that’s a bit thicker, or at least textured. That should prevent the high-pitched squeak that comes from two smooth surfaces (the sole of your shoe and a linoleum or tile floor) rubbing together.
3. Keep the Grip With Gel Cushions
Obviously, it’s always ideal to have shoes that fit you well. However, many women actually feel compelled to get pumps that are a full size larger, to give their feet room to move. Well, that’s actually the worst thing you could do.
First of all, if you want to have a quieter gait, you need to get shoes that are your size. As I’ve mentioned earlier, your shoes will not only click but will also clap as they hang loosely from your heel.
Gel cushions are a product that can help you keep a grip on your shoe from the inside. They also keep your foot from sliding forward, eliminating the need to size up. And of course, the liquid-filled pads are also meant to soften the impact wearing heels has on your feet.
It appears that one of the best products in this category are Fancy Feet pads by Foot Petals. The pads come in packs of 3 pairs, so you’ll be able to keep them in all of your favorite shoes. But they’re also reusable, so you’ll be able to swap them out between shoes.
4. Wear Sound Booties
Alright, so I never promised that this would be pretty, although I hope the previous products I’ve recommended and the DIYs I’ll soon get to make up for it.
If you don’t want to make a single sound while you’re walking through a certain area, you can wear sound booties over your whole shoe. Sound booties are essentially textile slippers with an elastic opening that are used on movie sets and in music studios when they don’t want to mics to pick up the sound of shuffling (let alone clicking) feet. The soft cloth material of the booties is, obviously, reusable as well, and you can even make them yourself.
Still, it’s hard to imagine these things being useful in many environments outside of these professions. Well — maybe cat burglars would find this product useful as well.
5. Apply Duct or Gaffer Tape the Bottoms of Your Soles
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather make your own shoe pads than buy them. I totally get it. However, you may still need to get some things you don’t have at your home. So let’s start with the technique you may be able to do without leaving your house.
Many of us have duct tape or gaffer tape somewhere in our homes, right? Well, duct tape is certainly the more likely thing to have lying around. However, if you have gaff tape, I’d actually recommend using that one here.
It’s another thing you might find on a movie set. Since this type of tape is frequently made of fabric as opposed to vinyl. The fact that gaff tape doesn’t reflect light makes it easy to use covertly around a well-lit set.
It’s also more heat-resistant than duct tape. Better still, gaffer tape is very easily removed without damaging the surface. Textile tape might also give you better sound dampening results than duct tape.
Either way, you’ll want to begin by cleaning the soles. You should actually be doing that before applying any of the self-adhesive products I’ve listed. Then, cut the tape into tiny pieces and apply them to the bottom of the heel. You can layer them up to your desired thickness. As always, the thicker the better.
You can also layer up pieces of tape at the front of the sole. I’ve seen someone make a significant difference at dampening the sound of tap dancing shoes, so it definitely works.
6. Make Your Own Rubber/Silicone/Felt/Cork Pad
If you aren’t opposed to buying materials for your DIY, you can also make one of those pads you apply to the bottom of your shoe. However, you don’t need to limit yourself to rubber. Instead, you can try to cover your sole (and heel) with:
- Non-slip self-adhesive rubber foam (like this one from Amazon).
- Transparent rubber self-adhesive bumpers in various sizes (Amazon).
- Anti-skid self-adhesive felt furniture pads. These ones come in various shapes and sizes and also include silicone bumper pads.
- Round self-adhesive cork pads.
Depending on your needs, you should go for different materials. Cork and felt pads are great for dancing or walking on smooth surfaces. However, they’re horrible in wet conditions, unlike rubber. Actually, rubber and silicone products will definitely get you better traction and more stability if that’s what you’re looking for.
Final Thoughts on Making Heels Quieter
There you have it, all of the best ways to silence a clicking heel and the front of your sole as well. As long as you remember some of the basics of soundproofing, you should be able to handle every possible source of noise, even the one that keeps following you around everywhere you go.
Ultimately, all you need is a well-fitting shoe and a soft step. However, if you’re someone who walks with purpose, so to speak, you’ll be just fine if you try out one of the tips I’ve talked about today.
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