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Flip flops are the ultimate comfort footwear, usable in almost any context. But this level of popularity also means that they break from wear far more than any other shoes you’ll probably own. And because their design is so simple and straightforward, one break is all it takes for your favorite flops to go from being your constant companions to occupants of the donation bin.
If you’re going to be buying a brand-new pair immediately after throwing out these ones, you might as well take a couple of minutes to see if you could maybe fix your current pair. It’s good for your pocket; it’s good for the environment. Surely, knowing how to fix a flip flop is a win-win?
Read on to learn some quick tips and tricks on how you can get your broken slippers in tip-top shape with just a couple of adjustments.
How To Fix a Broken Flip Flop
How to Fix a Broken Flip Flop at the Plug
Even if you followed all the above tips to prevent breakage, you could still have a freak accident and accidentally ruin your flip flop — after all, anything is possible. So, if you somehow find yourself with a broken flip flop in your hand, worry not. There’s much that you can still do.
In most cases, the flip flop is ‘broken’ when the plug holding the strap in place (typically the middle one) slips through the hold. Most people just pop the plug back through the hole and go about their day, but that fix doesn’t last them very long.
Here are some quick tips on how to fix a flip flop at the plug long-term:
1. Bread Tags and Flat Washers
This tip is pretty effective, and something you can use to fix your flip flops on the go — but only if you keep bread tags on you most of the time. Once you’ve popped the plug back through its hole, push down on that central stem so that it is visible from your slipper’s sole.
Fix the tag around this stem between the plug disk and the actual sole. What this does, basically, is reinforce your sandal’s plugging mechanism, making it more difficult for the plug to slip through the hole if it ever desires to in the future.
If you want to go a bit more professional with your fix, you can substitute your bread tag with a metal flat washer. Once you’ve popped the disk through the hole in your flip flop, just squeeze it through the washer as well so that it ends up in the same place as the bread tag. While this alternative is a bit more expensive, it is also that much more durable. If you have a pair that you’re particularly fond of, this might just be the way to go.
2. Paper Clips and Safety Pins
Instead of preventing the plug from slipping back through the hole, another technique would be to instead keep the stem of the plug from moving within the hole — this is where paper clips come in.
Straighten out the paper clip and poke it through the stem of the plug on the sole end of your slipper, leaving some bits of the metal out on either end. These ends can then be poked into the walls of the hole so that you have a kind of bar holding the stem into place. When doing this, it helps to have someone wear the slipper before you lodge the clip into the hole so that you have an idea of how much leeway to give for your foot.
If you want to go for something a bit stronger, you can also try using aluminum wire. In this case, however, there is no trial and error. Once you’ve got it properly lodged into your flip-flops, removing it for any adjustments will just end up tearing the hole.
3. Hair Ties
If the plug hole has become wider overuse and that’s why your plug is slipping through, you might have to restructure the entire holding mechanism itself. Start by cutting the base of the flip flop strap off and tying a loop around the strap with one hair tie by essentially folding it over the strap and then pulling one of the ties through the other. The resulting extended loop should then be slipped through the plug hole. This knot isn’t going to hold itself, however, so you want to keep a pencil nearby to loop the knot around.
Once you’re ready with the second hair tie, take out the placeholder (pencil or whatever piece of stationery) and pull the hair tie through the loop made from the first one. Knot the second one as well to secure it into place, and once it’s fastened, add a second or third knot to make a ball a bit larger than the hole it’s meant to fill. That should renew your slipper’s plugging system once more.
Keep in mind that this trick is purely for wide, loose plug holes that the hair tie knots can settle snugly into. If you try to use this for a minimally worn flip flop, the knot will jut out from the bottom of your sole and make for a very uncomfortable walking experience.
How to Fix a Broken Flip Flop Strap
If you’ve had the particular misfortune of breaking your flip flop strap itself, fixing the plugging mechanism will do you no good. In such cases, the knowledge that you need would be on how to fix a flip flop’s line strap.
Start by removing the very tip of the broken stem with a pair of utility scissors. Because rubber or plastic can be denser than it looks, make sure to leave some space for error when cutting. Line an eight-inch zip tie beneath the strap line with the tail near the northern portion of the slipper, and fold it over the strap so that the zip tie ends meet.
Loop the zip tie’s tail and tighten so that the final loop sits on the inner side strap — this changes with the foot the slipper is supposed to fit. Make sure there is some room on this loop, and then cut off the extra zip tie.
Take a second zip tie and run it through a metal washer (ideally about 4.8 mm) before passing it through the hole in the flip flop and then through the loop you’ve set up on the strap. The order of these events is pretty important because otherwise, you’ll end up with the washer on the inner sole of your sandal than on the bottom.
Once through the first loop, turn the end back around and through the plug hole, all the way back into the washer ring, before finally passing it through the head of the zip tie. “Knot” the zip tie tight enough while having someone wear the slipper so you can make sure there’s enough space for your toes.
Tuck the main loop into the hole as well as the head end from the second loop into the plug hole before cutting off the extra zip tie from the second loop. This might be a tight fit, and you might even feel a bump while walking initially. But if you wear it out like with any other brand-new shoe, the plug hole will eventually get wider to fit all these additional apparatus.
How to Keep Flip Flops from Breaking
At the end of the day, damage prevention is a better friend than damage control — whatever scenario it may be. Now that you’ve got a fair sense of how to fix a flip flop, you also need to make sure you’re up to date on how to avoid such situations altogether. Turns out, it all boils down to how you plan on using your sandals and for how long.
For starters, use them gently. Don’t play sports in them. Don’t shift your weight to the balls of your feet in them. Use them to walk or possibly to hurriedly shuffle (in the case of emergencies), and nothing more. They aren’t designed for aggressive activity, so using them in those contexts is only bound to shorten their lifespan.
Secondly, don’t use them all the time. It’s a slightly different story if you use flip flops just for indoors, but if you’re the type to just slip them and see where your day takes you, make sure you give them space to decompress — literally. Constant pressure makes the base hard and inflexible, which in turn puts pressure on the strap, making it prone to breakage.
If you really want to use your slippers everywhere without ruining them, invest in some better-quality flops. Reefs, Crocs, Clarks tend to be a bit pricier than, say, an off-brand pair of slippers, but they also last significantly longer.
And there you have it! Follow the above tips to make sure your flip-flops have the longest possible life span, absolutely free of breakage. The next time you trip on a walk, you’ll know with confidence it was a pebble or a crack and not your flip flop giving up on you.