How to Waterproof Boots & Shoes

Waterproof Leather Boots Shoes

Who hasn’t left the house early on a sunny morning, only to be surprised by a gloomy and rainy afternoon?
No big deal really -
EXCEPT if you’d decided to put on your favorite pair of suede boots, or even canvas sneakers!

Other than the unfortunate possibility of ruining your shoes, getting your feet wet you can cause other, and more serious, hazards. Wet shoes can cause:

  1. Cold Feet: Having wet feet will start by giving you cold feet, and if you have cold feet you will not be able to keep your body warm which can cause other cold-related health issues.
  2. Blisters: If your feet become wet, then your skin softens and may lead to the formation of horrible and painful blisters on your feet.
  3. Poor Hygiene: Dirty and bacteria-carrying street water can seep through your shoes!
  4. Discomfort: Walking around in wet shoes is simply just uncomfortable.

Although you might think it a better and safer to just waterproof all your shoes than have the possibility of getting them wet, I would stick to doing this on pairs that are most likely to be exposed to water. This is because waterproofing can cause shoes to get stiffer and have less breathability - which isn't so great, especially in warmer weather.

Additionally, if you expect a heavy submersion in water, I would rather recommend a pair of specialized waterproof boots for complete protection (like waterproof hiking boots, rubber rain boots or proper snow boots). If you are only worried about slight exposure from rain or street-water for example, then home waterproofing of your regular shoes will be ideal enough.

Once you are decided on waterproofing, you can pick from several options depending on the shoe type and what kind of products you prefer using. It is not a difficult process to waterproof shoes, and you can do this using products in wax, waterproofing sprays, or other waterproof assisting products that are available for delicate and genuine leather shoes.

  1. Wax
    Using wax is best to waterproof shoes that are canvas or fabric because the wax integrates into the actual material. Candle’s wax or beeswax are both option to pick from, but just like shoe polish, make sure it is either colorless or in a color matching to that of the shoes.
    Apply the wax to your shoes in a uniform and thick layer. After that, use a heat source (such as a hairdryer or heater) to help melt the wax into the fabric. Once done, wait a few moments before performing a moisture test.
    Waterproof Canvas Sneakers
  1. Waterproofing Spray
    Waterproofing sprays are a great option to protect your suede shoes, and are another option for protecting canvas and fabric shoes. These sprays are easily found at specialized shoe supply shops, larger supermarkets or even at the store where you originally bought your shoes from.
    It is best to follow the directions that are usually found on the product package for best results. In brief, you would do the following:
    1. Insert your shoe trees or newspaper into the shoes to prevent creases from forming,
    2. Spray the entire pair evenly from a slight distance,
    3. Blot the shoes with a dry cloth to remove any excess product,
    4. Keep the shoes to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before wearing them.
    applying Waterproof spray on leather boot
  1. Waterproof Assisting Products (for genuine leather shoes)
    You should be a little more careful with genuine leather shoes as the leather is more sensitive and may change or ruin if not treated properly. For this reason, it is recommended to first polish your shoes (you can follow the guide The Proper Way to Polish Your Shoes : A Guide), and then use a gentle waterproofing product.
    Again, it is best to follow the instructions on the product package for best results, but begin by cleaning your shoes and then applying a few layers of polish using a dry cloth (make sure to wipe off any excess product). After polishing, you can then use your selected specialized leather waterproofing spray to spray the upper.
    Waterproof Leather Boots Shoes

Before Waterproofing:
Like with any treatment, remember to always prep and dust your shoes before applying any wax or spray.
It is also crucial to test the product on a small part of the shoe to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolour the leather or fabric (just as in the steps to polish your shoes in our guide on The Proper Way to Polish Your Shoes : A Guide).

After Waterproofing:
It is a good idea to preform a moisture test once you're done the waterproofing process. You can do this by pouring a small about of water on the shoe to make sure the product has been absorbed and repels the water. If it does not, re-do the application and test again!
It is also important to break-in your shoes after waterproofing them (because the process stiffens the shoes a little). Finally, you will want to re-waterproof when the protection layer starts to wear off. This would usually be after several uses.

Even if the treatment you give your shoes does not completely waterproof them, the fact that they will be a little more resistant to moisture, dampness and rain will make it much easier to keep them in good condition for much longer.

And always remember that if you’ve bought a pair of shoes from the Rana Cheikha or Wander Collections, you can always get in touch for more tips to protect your shoes!

Signing-off: Rana Cheikha for The Shoe Advisor 


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