Ever take off your boots after a day out in inclement weather and find your socks are soaking wet? Nothing more frustrating than to expect your boots to be waterproof and find out they’re not. Here’s how to waterproof your boots and make sure leather, suede, and in-between type boots will hold up in wet conditions.
How to Waterproof Your Boots
Leather and suede boots are the most common material for quality boots. Likewise, they are the easiest to waterproof. Some in-between boot materials come already waterproofed. You should read the manufacturers care and warranty information on how to waterproof boots safely, that are made of materials other than leather or suede.
Make sure that they do not caution against using certain types of waterproofing agents on the boots. There are steps on how to waterproof boots that need to be followed, with various techniques and materials being a personal choice. Applying these suggestions on how to waterproof boots can be all you need to keep your feet dry in the wettest conditions.
Clean Leather & Suede Boots
For leather and suede leather, the first step is always to get them clean. There will be a difference in the level of clean you want, depending on whether they’re work boots or special dress boots.
For brand new leathers, it’s best to use a special leather cleaner, at least the first time. For work boots and boots that are well broken in, you can use saddle soap, or a diluted solution of mild dish soap. Saddle soap will provide a little conditioner for the leather, but it is not the most reliable waterproofing agent.
The least expensive method is some mild dish soap and a warm damp cloth. For tough stains, you can use a medium stiffness toothbrush to remove the spot. Wipe the boots completely; then towel dab them dry. Let the boots sit at least 24 hours to completely dry.
It is not recommended that you dry them in the sun, or over a heater. Let your boots dry naturally. When you learn how to waterproof your boots properly, you can put them in the sunlight to warm them up for applying wax, but it is not a good idea to dry them out that way, once they become wet.
There are some tried and true methods to waterproof your boots that are old standbys for leather lovers. Some waterproofing products are not recommended for canvas, fabrics, or in-between types of manmade materials.
There is a mention when a method is not suited for certain types of boot material. Canvas and fabric boots are not too common, but you can waterproof them against mild types of water situations. Here are some useful methods to waterproof your boots, starting with canvas, and then moving onto leather and suede leather.
#1. Silicone and Acrylic Co-Polymer Sprays
Sprays are the simplest method for how to waterproof your boots. They don’t require as much time as some other methods, but they also aren’t as useful for making repairs and providing long-lasting waterproof qualities.
However, some new products such as the acrylic copolymer sprays are excellent ways to waterproof new boots and designer dress boots. There isn’t much to learn about how to waterproof boots when employing one of the spray products. All you have to do is follow the instructions, and then be sure to let them dry completely before you wear them.
#2. Canvas & Fabric Boots
For canvas or other types of cloth, a neat trick is to take a clear wax candle and wipe it all over the outside of the boot. Using a hair drying, gently heat the outside of the boot, buffing the candle wax into the fabric. While canvas and boots made from similar fabrics are rarely noted as waterproof, this trick will repel rain and snow successfully, allowing you to keep your feet dry in normal situations.
#3. Lanolin Leather Creams
Seasoned lovers of the outdoors will stand by the tested method of using leather creams to waterproof boots. The cream method allows for the waterproofing agents in the cream to deeply penetrate the leather. It is a simple technique also that doesn’t require much more than a soft cloth and a little old-fashioned elbow grease.
Lanolin is the most common boot waterproofing cream. It easily spreads on the leather and works into the surface of the leather leaving it pliable and best of all, waterproof. Since it is an oil-based cream, lanolin is not recommended for suede or in-between manmade materials.
You use paste products the same way you apply the leather creams. However, the paste will take a little more effort to get deep into the grain of the leather. A small, medium bristle brush is a great way to really get the paste deeply worked into the leather.
This is an excellent technique for restoring older boots with marks and other blemishes. The brushing in of the paste often removes stains and makes other marks almost undetectable. Paste waterproofing products for your boots also come in colors, however clear is suggested if you’re not trying to change the original color.
The old-school method still recommended by leather experts for how to waterproof boots is wax. Natural beeswax is the most popular type of wax for providing a lasting waterproof surface to boots.
For the boots to accept the wax well, you need to set them the sun for a short period, but just enough to get them warm to the touch. This will allow the wax to penetrate the leather grain. Use the same medium-bristle brush technique to work the wax deep into the leather for lasting waterproof protection.
Each of these techniques for how to waterproof boots will do just that; provide a waterproof barrier. Don’t mistake a claim that a new pair of boots is water resistant, then find out the hard way the difference between water resistant and waterproof.
The final tip on how to waterproof your boots and keep them that way is to do it consistently. End each winter and summer with a good waterproof job, and you’ll stand a good chance of never ending up with soaking wet feet again.