How To Waterproof Boots

While buying a pair of waterproof boots is the best option, it’s not something that everyone can afford. Waterproof items are generally known for being expensive. However, with the right knowledge, you can learn how to waterproof boots by yourself and take advantage of an older pair of footwear that you have lying around the house. The waterproofing process is not as difficult as you’d imagine, especially when you’re a ninja with mad crafting skills, such as yours truly.

How To Waterproof Boots

If you’re interested in knowing how to waterproof boots, here’s a series of tips we have for you.

How to waterproof leather boots

Even if leather is known for being naturally waterproof, it will get damaged over time as it will dry out and start cracking. This happens because moisture and natural oils are lost. You can use a product such as Dr. Martens shoe polish which is a natural wax formula which softens and preserves greasy, oily and waxy leathers. Dubbin adds a water resistant coating to leather. It’s considered to be ideal for rejuvenating footwear exposed to active outdoor wear.

If you’re interested in knowing how to waterproof boots made of leather, here are the steps you have to follow:

  • First, clean the boots as best as you can. If you’re an outdoor person, chances are your boots are filled with dust and dirt, so a thorough cleaning is mandatory before the waterproofing process actually begins.
  • Then, you can apply a small amount of Dr. Martens shoe polish on a dry cloth. Gently start rubbing your boots with the waxed piece of cloth all over their surface. If you notice that the wax is too hard and find it hard to apply it, you can use a hair blower to soften it.
  • Repeat the process at least one more time.
  • After that, leave the boots to dry for about 1 hour. Make sure you don’t try to force them to dry, because a source of heat (such as a blow dryer) will cause the leather to crack.
  • Using another dry cloth, buff wax off.

Conditioning Leather Boots

Even after you’ve waterproofed your leather boots, conditioning them is important in order to make sure they hold onto their waterproof capabilities for as long as possible. Using a product such as FRYE’s leather conditioner will help keep your boots suple. However, it’s important not to overdo it because walking boots are made to be supportive and not too soft. You should only use a leather conditioner when you feel that the leather is getting too dry or starts cracking.

The process of conditioning your leather boots works best when the boots are damp, because the product will absorb better. As the water starts to evaporate, the conditioner is pulled deeper into the leather’s pores. You can use either a clean cloth or your fingers to apply a small amount of conditioner on your boots. Make sure that you cover the welts and seams as you apply the coating. Compared to the waterproofing process, in this case, you only have to leave the boots a few minute to dry. Then, use a dry cloth to remove any excess conditioner.

How to waterproof suede boots

The process of waterproofing suede boots and nubuck boots is quite similar. You can use a waterproof spray which is especially designed for footwear to do the trick. Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Spray is a great product to purchase in such a case. Please make sure you don’t use dubbin wax for suede and nubuck boots because it’s designed for smooth leather and will ruin the “furry” feel of the fabric.

Everyone interested in how to waterproof boots made of suede and nubuck should follow these steps:

  • First, clean the boots as best as you can.
  • Using a spray such as Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Spray, start the waterproofing process. Hold the spray at a 5 cm distance from the boots and start spraying the entire surface. Make sure that you apply an even coat.
  • After that, leave the boots to dry for about 1 hour. Make sure you don’t try to force them to dry.
  • You can use a footwear brush to give the boots a final finish.

How To Waterproof Fabric Boots

To waterproof fabric boots, a product such as Mountain Warehouse Universal Footwear Proofer will come in handy. Here’s what you have to do:

  • First, clean the boots as best as you can. You will notice that fabric boots are harder to clean compared to leather boots, which have a shiny surface and car easily be wiped clean. However, you need to go the extra mile and make sure the fabric is properly cleaned before moving on to the next step. If there are any dirt particles left in the fabric, it can cause the fibers to decay and the lifespan of your boots will be shortened.
  • Compared to other materials, fabric can be proofed whether it’s dry or wet. However, if you apply the coating while the boots are dry, you will have an easier time noticing where you have already applied the spray. With wet boots, it’s harder to spot that. Even so, there are people who believe that damp boots will allow the coating to sink in better.
  • After you’ve applied the coat, leave the boots to dry completely before wearing them.

Cleaning your hiking boots

Now that we’ve established how to waterproof boots made of different fabrics, there’s one more thing I’d like to tell you. Since every waterproofing process starts with the thorough cleaning of your boots, let me go through the process of cleaning dirty boots, such as the ones you use for hiking.

  • The first step requires that you remove any excess dirt that might be stuck to your boots by dislodging it. After that, rinse your boots using clean water. You should never dip the whole boot underwater, as this will compromise the cleaning process by making it tedious and more difficult.
  • Next, remove any lace and footbeds that you boots may have, so that you can use a brush to remove mud and grime. You need a soft brush and a bowl of water.
  • The first thing you should know about the drying process is that it should never be forced. If you choose to apply heat to dry your boots, the outer layer is prone to deteriorate faster. You can stuff a dry newspaper inside the boots so that it may soak up the moisture. Remember to always to change the wet newspaper with a fresh dry one.
  • You should clean the inside of your boots from time to time. Salty sweat deposits are bad for fabrics such as leather, as they obstruct the waterproof membranes and won’t allow your feet to breathe properly anymore. Cleaning the inside of your boots is done with warm water. Remember to leave the boots to dry naturally.

Jenny Foster

I'm Jenny. I moved to rainy Ireland several years ago and I had to learn how to be prepared for the constant spring/fall that is the weather on the Emerald Isle. If you're always cold, always miserable because of the rain, maybe it's not the weather at fault (all the time 😀 ). A wise man once told me that there's no bad weather, just bad clothes. So I acted accordingly 🙂