find your new favorite flip flops

6 Common Flip Flop Problems Solved!

6 Common Flip Flop Problems Solved!

By: Natalie Tull

how to fix a broken flip flop

We all have a favorite pair of flip flops that we refuse to give up on.  Long past their expiration date, we continue to wear them, pretending we don’t mind all their flaws.  We mindlessly make adjustments so we can keep wearing them, sacrificing comfort, safety and appearance.

We act like it’s not a pain in the butt to keep putting the toe post back in its hole when it keeps popping out.  If someone notices our straps are tearing away from the sides of our flip flops,  we just tell them that’s how all the cool kids wear them. Who cares if the sole has split apart so much, that it looks like it’s trying to eat the ground with every step we take?  We just change the way we walk, so we don’t trip over our hungry flops. Bonus: we have a new hiding place for money, keys and treasure maps.

And, of course, our “favorite flip flops” earn the additional title of “dirtiest flip flops”.   One day, we wake up and realize that the footbeds of our flip flops are grimy, blackened versions of their former selves.  We try to clean them with soap and water or throw them in the washing machine (avoid the spin cycle if you can!).   But, nothing seems to work.   At this point, it’s probably best to never take our flip flops off.  Then no one has to see our dirty secret.  That’s a sensible solution, right?!?

No.  No, it is not.

Luckily, there are some sensible solutions out there.   I’ve gathered some of the best advice and methods for common flip flops problems like loose toe posts, broken straps and peeling sole layers.  I also found some helpful tips for cleaning your flop flops and ways to store them.  And, I have included some suggestions about what to do with flip flops when you have to sadly say goodbye to them.  (It seems disrespectful to just throw them out like common trash.)  I hope you find some useful information and post some tips of your own in the comments.

Long live your favorite flip flops!!!

 

 

broken flip flop toe post

Grrrrr

Solution 1: How to Keep a Toe Post from Popping Out of Place

A toe post comes loose for a few different reasons. Usually, the hole in the footbed becomes too large over time. Once this hole gets too big,  the footbed can no longer support the stress of the straps when you walk and you end up with something like the picture on the right.

A tear surrounding this hole can also cause the toe post to slip through.  (You are walking and someone accidentally steps on the back of your flip flop and you feel the straps pop right out as they tear through the footbed….Noooooooo!!!!)

The base of the toe post, the round piece of plastic attached to the end,  can also break or erode. Then there is no barrier to keep the straps from slipping out of the hole and that’s just super annoying.

 

   Here are some really cheap, easy-to-do ideas to keep your toe post in place:

1.) Use a bread clip 

bread clip flip flop

Just slip the bread clip, with the slit oriented downward, around the toe post.  This creates more backing so the toe post doesn’t pull through the hole. (The base on the toe post needs to be there for this method to work. In the picture below,  the “base” on the toe post is the white circle labeled “R”.)

2.) Use a safety pin

safety pin flip flop

Push the safety pin into the toe post and close the pin.  Get the safety pin as centered as possible so you create a large base.  Voila!

 3.) Use a paperclip 

paperclip flip flop

Straighten out a large paper clip.  Push it through the toe post to create a wider base for the toe post.  (This one is a bit tough to push through.  Twisting it as you push seems to help.)

 4.) Use a bobby pin

bobby pins flip flop

Pull the bobby pin into a V and slide it around the toe post.  It may seem like the bobby pin will slide off the post, but your weight will keep it in place.  (Not a great long term solution, but a great fix for when you have a flip flop break on the go!)

The key to keeping the toe post in place is to have something bigger than the hole as the base of the toe post.

 

replace straps on your flip flop

Solution 2: How to Replace the Straps in Your Flip Flops 

I’m not a fan of broken flip flop straps.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on that.  So, I was pretty happy to find there is a way to replace the straps that is easy and cheap.   Below is a step by step guide on how to do this.

This method can be used to replace broken straps or to create a unique pair of flip flops.   All you need is fabric and a hot glue gun. You can use any fabric that will fit through the holes in the flip flop’s footbed.  For this guide, I used an old hair scarf I had and the same pair of flip flops I’ve abused through this whole article.

 

 

 

replace strap on flip flop

You will need enough fabric to have a piece that is 10″ x 1″ and another piece that is 25″ x 4″. And a pair of flip flops that still have the holes intact.

 

 STEP 1:

Cut or tear a piece of fabric that is 1 inch wide and 10 inches long.  Cut another that is 4 inches wide and 25 inches long.  (The 25″ piece will be longer than you need; the excess will be cut off at the end.  So, if you don’t have quite 25″, it’s ok.)

For simplicity, I will refer to the smaller strip and “Strip A” and the bigger one as “Strip B”.

IMG_1847

STEP 1

 

STEP 2:

Take Strip A and fold it in half long ways. (So the top and bottom of the strip meet.)

IMG_1849

STEP 2

 

STEP 3: 

Push Strip A through the toe post hole from the underside of the footbed so a loop forms on the top.

IMG_1850

STEP 3

 

STEP 4: 

Take Strip B and pull it through one of the bottom strap holes.  Leave a little fabric on the underside and tie a knot to anchor the strip in place.

 

strap pics step 4

STEP 4

 

STEP 5: 

Pull Strip B through the loop of Strip A on the top of the flip flop.

IMG_1853

STEP 5

 

STEP 6:

Pull Strip B through the last hole in the flip flop.  Put the flip flop on and pull Strip B until the flip flops feel secure on your foot.  Then, tie knots on the 2 remaining loose strands.

Step 6

Step 6

 

STEP 7:

Trim off the excess fabric on the ends of the knots.  Then, secure the knots into the holes and use a hot glue gun to make sure they stay knotted and in place.  There should be enough room in the holes from the original backings of the straps that you won’t feel huge lumps while you are walking.  Flatten the knots and secure into these holes as best you can.  

IMG_1857

Step 7

STEP 8:

Show off your one of a kind creation!

IMG_1856

Yay!!! You did it!

Take a look at this helpful tutorial for additional pictures and instructions.

 

 

shoe repair

Solution 3: How to Glue Flip Flops Back Together

A lot of the best flip flops out there have several layers – an outsole, midsole and footbed.  No matter how amazing the brand, odds are that these layers will separate over time.  It seems it would be simple to glue them back together, but that’s not always the case.  Depending on the type of material the flip flops are made out of, it can be hard to find an effective adhesive.  And that can be really frustrating. And a waste of money.

Don’t become prey to the vicious cycle of re-glueing!  There are several types of glues that can fix a broken flip flop. Which one you should pick depends on what type of material you are glueing and what you are glueing (the sole, footbed, straps, etc).  With this in mind,  I found some suggestions for which glues to use for varying types of flip flop emergencies.

Note: The term “curing” refers to the time it takes for a glue to reach maximum toughness.  “Dry” times refer to how long it takes for the glue to set.  You can take clamps, etc off after the dry time, but it is recommended you leave the item alone until the glue cures.

    • Contact Cement

      Contact cement is made of neoprene.  The key to contact cement is letting each layer dry before pressing them together.  It is known for having a really quick dry time and long lasting bonds.  For shoes,  contact cement is best used on cork and leather.  Check out this short tutorial about glueing the layers of a flip flop back together using contact cement. (I wouldn’t recommend it for glueing the straps or toe posts back into place.)  In the tutorial, they use Weldwood Original Contact Cement.  I found a newer product on Amazon that is a Contact Cement Gel by Weldwood.  It’s a little less messy to use and gets rave reviews on Amazon. They both cost around $14. But, any brand will work.  You do you.

      Tips for using Contact Cement:

      1.  Only apply to clean surfaces

      2.  Let each layer dry before pressing them together

      3.  Use a disposable brush, roller, popsicle stick, etc for smooth application

      4.  It dries in about 15 minutes – allow it to cure for 72 hours

      5.  Use clamps, rubber bands, a book, etc to keep the layers together as they cure

    • Shoe Goo

      From what I’v read from forums and Amazon reviews, Shoe Goo does not mess around.  It is a super strong adhesive and sealant with an equally strong smell. (You’ve been warned.) Shoe Goo is great for all sorts of jobs, and reviewers love this product.  Not only does it work wonders, but the results last for years. You can use it to reattach straps, glue layers back together or repair worn soles.  I would recommend plastic, leather and/or rubber flip flops be used with Shoe Goo. (One reviewer said they worked really well on his Vibram’s Five Finger shoes.)  You can buy either clear Shoe Goo or black Shoe Goo for around $7.00 for a 3.7 fl oz tube.

      Tips for using Shoe Goo:

      1. Make sure it is at room temperature

      2. This stuff doesn’t have a very long shelf life and loses potency quickly  (Don’t buy in huge amounts)

      3. Apply evenly and liberally to both pieces that are being glued together

      4. Use clamps or rubber bands to hold the layers together while they dry

      5.  Let dry for at least 24 hours (Many people recommend letting it dry up to 72 hours for best results)

      6. If you buy the black Shoe Goo, it will stain and dries black, so use accordingly

      7.  It is very sticky.  Don’t glue your flip flop to your arm.  No matter how much you love it.

    • Gorilla Glue

      Original Gorilla Glue claims it “bonds virtually everything” and many people have it at home already.   It is a polyurethane glue that works by foaming and expanding into the pores of surfaces, bonding them together.   This process is activated when the glue is applied to a damp surface.  Based on customer reviews, it works best with foam, rubber, cork and plastic.  You can use it on leather, but since the surface has to be dampened before application, some people don’t recommend it.  It is 100% waterproof and dries foamy, with a tan tint. It costs about $7.00 for 4 fl. oz.

      Gorilla Glue wouldn’t be my first choice for shoe repair, but plenty of reviewers had success repairing their flip flops and shoes with it.  Just keep in mind that it dries hard, so any area you glue will probably become inflexible.  It also foams as it dries and can leave a tan, lumpy mess if not applied smoothly.   I wouldn’t recommend it for repairing cloth straps for this reason.

      Tips for using Gorilla Glue from their website:

      1.  Make sure the area to be glued is clean

      2. Lightly dampen one of the surfaces with water (don’t saturate; use a cloth or spray bottle)

      3. Use a disposable brush to apply the glue to the other (dry) surface

      4. Press surfaces together and keep together for 1-2 hours using a clamp, rubber bands, book, etc.

      5. Allow 24 hours to cure

      6. Gorilla Glue can dry out quickly by reacting with air that gets trapped in the bottle.  Make sure you squeeze excess air our of bottle and wipe clean with a dry cloth before recapping for longer shelf life.

 

 

rubber duck

photo credit: ducky via photopin (license)

Solution 4: How to Clean Your Flip Flops 

Flip flops get dirty and they can be hard to get clean again.  It’s a price we pay for foot freedom.  Soap and water or detergents can help, but the best way to get a pair of flip flops clean is to keep in mind what the flip flops are made of.  For the best results, you need to clean leather flip flops differently than you would rubber or foam flip flops. And the way you clean treated leather vs. untreated leather is also different.  Here are some easy ways to get rubber or leather flip flops looking clean again.

For Rubber Flip Flops:

(or foam or plastic flip flops)

 

1. Use baking soda

IMG_1799

 

What you need:

Baking soda

– Rag and/or toothbrush for scrubbing

Spray bottle  filled with water

 

 

What you do:

Spray flip flops with water bottle until throughly wet.  Then, sprinkle liberally with baking soda. Use a rag or toothbrush to scrub the flip flops with the baking soda paste.  Use the spray bottle to keep the baking soda moist and rinse as often as you want.  The toothbrush is great for the straps and for scrubbing thoroughly stained areas.

baking soda flops

after a few minutes of scrubbing…

baking soda clean flops

 

2. Put them in the washing machine

This method is best for all rubber, non-embilished flip flops.  It is recommended you use cold water with just a little detergent on the most gentle cycle on your machine.  Let them air dry on top of the machine.  If they still aren’t as clean as you would like, use the baking soda method described above.

3. Run them through the dishwasher

Like the washing machine, the dishwasher is not a place for decorated flip flops, but will do the job with plain rubber flip flops.   Make sure you use a cool dry cycle or take them out before the dry cycle starts.  Use a very mild detergent or some baking soda and vinegar.

4. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads

Inexpensive and easy to use, Magic Erasers are amazing at cleaning all kinds of things, including your dirty flip flops.  

For Leather Flip Flops:

Untreated Leather:

Use Saddle Soap.  It’s effective and easy to use! Take a damp cloth and put a dime sized amount of saddle soap on it.  Work the soap into a lather by rubbing the cloth together and gently rubbed the lather onto your flip flops. Then, wipe the soap away with a damp cloth and dry with a towel.  Let air dry afterward.  Use a toothbrush on hard to scrub areas.

Treated Leather: 

You can tell if leather is treated by putting a little water on it.  If the water beads up, then the leather is treated.  Treated leather needs to be cleaned differently.  You can clean treated leather a couple different ways.

1. Use a soft cloth with water and vinegar to clean them.

2. Use moisturizing body soap or hand soap; lather soap on soft cloth and clean the flip flops.  Clean off soap with a new damp cloth and let air dry.

TIP FOR ALL FLIP FLOPS: Vinegar helps eliminate odor.  If your flops smell as bad as they look, a wet rag with some vinegar can help that problem. 

Check out this awesome website for lots of helpful cleaning tips (including a video on how to clean your flip flops with baking soda.)

 

 

unorganzied flip flops

photo credit: Flipflop via photopin (license)

Solution 5: Easy Ways to Store Your Flip Flops

Shoes and flip flops are a pain to store away when they aren’t being worn.  (I think they are bitter about it.)  But, they don’t have to be so difficult.  There are plenty of ways to store them.  Some of the items you need are already laying around your house.  Are you tired of a floor covered in shoes and flip flops?  Then take a look at some space, time and money saving ideas below!

 

 

 

1. Use a basket:

Baskets live to store things.  And they are good at it.

flip flop basket

Credit: www.glamorous-addiction.blogspot.com

 

2. Use wire hangers: 

A practical, easy and cute idea.  This helpful tutorial (and the photo below) show you how to turn wire hangers into pretty little flip flop hangers.

hanger flip flops

credit: listotic.com

 

3. Use magazine files:

This is a great idea for several reasons.  You can put them on varying surfaces like shelves, floors or dressers.  You can also color coordinate your flip flops and boxes. These files can be used to store all kinds of items besides flip flops (like, I don’t know, magazines.) So, you can have an organized way of storing all your hard to store things in one easy to access spot.  If you don’t have any at home, you can get a pack of 6 magazine files for around $20.00.

mag flip flops

Credit: www.hgtv.ca

 

4. Use an actual flip flop holder:

This Whitman clear flip flop holder  gets rave reviews on Amazon and only costs about $10.00.  It holds 18 pairs of flip flops or shoes and hangs in the closet to save tons of space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want one for the back of the door that is also a little fancier looking, take a look at the flip flop and sandal hanger by Boottique .  It only holds 6 pairs of flip flops or shoes, but has more design options if you are looking for something to coordinate with your decor and also costs about $10.00.

For more clever ideas for storing your flip flops, check out this website!
 

 

 

heart dumpster

photo credit: fpx052013-01 via photopin (license)

Solution 6: How to re-use or recycle your old flip flops

Don’t want to throw out your old flip flops, but you just can’t wear them anymore?  Give these ideas a shot:

1.  Use them as knee pads in the garden or around the house.

2.  Fix some problems with these DIY ideas:

  • Make little gripper pads to use under furniture legs to keep the furniture from sliding on smooth flooring
  • Or put a small piece under a table leg to keep the table from wobbling
  • Make flip flops stamps to leave tracks and designs in the ground as you walk (Fun for all ages!)
  • Cut them into little strips and use them for stuffing pillows

3.  Use them to remove pet hair from carpet and upholstery.  Slip the flip flop on your hand and rub the material in one direction.  You’ll have fur balls in no time.

4.  Cut them into wedge pieces to be used as a door stopper.

5.  Or cut a flip flop into slivers to keep a window from rattling on a windy day.  Just stick the flip flop bits between the window and the frame.

6.  Recycle or upcycle old flip flops.  Unfortunately, you can’t just throw them in the green bin at home and hope they get recycled.  Because of the materials used to make flip flops, they have to be processed differently. TerraCycle is a leader in turning the “un recyclable” into new products. They would love to have your old flip flops and other trash.  They want them so much that they will send you the packaging label and a box.  Easy Peasy.

(Get the whole gang involved in filling boxes for TerraCycle and earn some Old Navy coupons.)

 

I hope you were able to find the solutions to your biggest flip flop problems!  If you have any suggestions or ideas of your own, please share them in the comments.

Other Articles of Interest:

A Guide to Finding the Best Flip Flops for You

10 Best Flip Flops for Women

The Best Waterproof Flip Flops

Cute Flip Flops that are Comfortable

Durable Flip Flops for the Active Flopper

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