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How to repair rubber soles shoes with glue

Updated February 21, 2017

The basic mechanics of gluing a sole back onto a rubber shoe seems like an elementary-school-level project. However, shoe rubber is a tough material designed to withstand body weight, shock from walking and running, and extreme climate and temperature fluctuations. Shoe rubber requires the use of a strong adhesive designed specifically to provide a durable hold for polyurethane. Don Burke, founder of Australia's do-it-yourself gardening and repair show Backyard Blitz, recommends using thick solvent-based synthetic rubber as a rubber sole adhesive. RestoreMySneakers hails on YouTube the benefits of using cement and explains that cement is an adhesive of choice among cobblers as well.

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  1. Choose a well-ventilated area to work in.

  2. Put on gloves before handling glue or cement. This precaution is especially important if this is your first time repairing a shoe, as you may not be skilful enough to keep the glue or cement from coming into contact with your skin.

  3. Lift up the sole that is parting from the shoe. Use a dry toothbrush to vigorously brush away debris. This will allow the fresh application of glue and cement to stick better.

  4. Apply nail polish remover to a cotton ball. Apply the wet cotton ball to the area of sole separation to remove any old glue resin. This will also allow the new application of glue or cement to adhere stronger.

  5. Allow the nail polish remover to dry completely.

  6. Choose a small wooden stick for applying the glue, such as a toothpick, the side of a tongue depressor or a cotton swab with the cotton tip removed.

  7. Dip the stick into the glue or cement. Lift up the sole so that the area of separation is visible.

  8. Apply the glue on the stick to the shoe, not the sole. Cover the entire area. Spread the glue evenly.

  9. Press the sole down firmly onto the glue. Follow the glue or cement manufacturer's recommendations for curing time.

  10. Store the shoe in a cool, dry area during the drying time. The longer the glue is left to dry, the stronger the adhesive will become.

  11. Tip

    Try to find an adhesive that is free of toluene. Read adhesive manufacturer's precautions before use.


    Medline Plus explains that symptoms of glue fume poisoning include headache, runny nose and dizziness. According to the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine, inhalation of toluene-based adhesives is associated with pulmonary hypertension, encephalopathy and restrictive lung disease.

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Things You'll Need

  • Glue or cement
  • Cotton balls
  • Gloves
  • Toothbrush
  • Nail polish remover
  • Tongue depressor or toothpick

About the Author

Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.

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