How to look after your tap shoes | Dancewear Central

Tap shoes, when looked after well, can last for many years. They don’t wear through as quickly as ballet and jazz shoes, and the sound of the tap plates can mature with age.

To make sure that you get the most out of your tap shoes, follow our five top tips to keep you tapping away!

Ida Laukkanen

1. Don’t go outside in your tap shoes

Going outside in your tap shoes will quickly damage the plates. Tap shoes plates are made of a soft metal, which will become heavily scratched when worn outside. These scratched plates will produce a poor sound in a tap class. It also risks damaging your dance studio floor, which will give you an unhappy dance teacher!

2. Clean your shoes

Tap shoes are easy to keep clean. If you have leather tap shoes, a standard leather shoe cleaner will both clean them and nourish the material to prevent it splitting. If you have PU tap shoes, then a wet wipe will clean them well.

3. Check the screws regularly

The screws in your tap shoes can begin to loosen as you dance (especially if you use a screwdriver to ‘tone’ your taps). Check that the screws are sitting below the level of the tap shoe plate. If they are above the level of the plate, this will mean that you are dancing on the screw head rather than the plate itself. Again, this will give you an unhappy dance teacher if the protruding screws start to take chunks out of the dance flooring. There have even been stories of tap shoe plates going flying across the room when screws have come loose!

4. Examine your shoes regularly for any problems

Check your shoes for any signs of wear and tear. When these problems occur, there often isn’t much that can be done and it’s usually a sign that it’s time for a new pair of tap shoes.

  • Check that the sole of the shoe hasn’t worn away, especially underneath the ball of the foot. This is most obvious on shoes that have a grip across the ball of the foot, which can wear away and turn shiny.
  • Check that the sole of the shoe isn’t pulling away from the upper part of the shoe. This is most obvious at the side of the big toe joint and/or little toe joint. It occurs with age and regular use.
  • Check your tap shoe plates for uneven wear, which can happen with time. It causes one side of the plate to become thinner, altering the balance of the foot. This can even cause the tap shoe plate to feel sharp along the thinner edge.
  • Check for the heel becoming wobbly, especially if you’ve been doing lots of work balancing on your heels. This is a problem particularly in higher-heeled tap shoes, such as Cuban heel or stage-shoe style. Check regularly for this problem in older shoes, because if it hasn’t been noticed, the heels can suddenly snap while dancing, risking injury.
  • Check your buckles/laces for any signs of wear.

5. Air your shoes regularly

Don’t leave your shoes in your bag throughout the week. Try to let them air and dry out, especially directly after class. This should keep the shoe inner much fresher.

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