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A Comprehensive Guide to Make Your Boots Waterproof

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Many people, such as hunters and hikers, require a great pair of hiking shoes to carry out their different activities at ease. They not only need them for their efficiency but also for the comfort they provide.

Imagine the discomfort that you have to suffer when traversing snow wearing cold, wet shoes. For them to do their job, theseĀ  shoesneed to be fully water-resistant, and the leather has to be intact.

Taking proper care of your shoes will extend their life expectancy and maintain their level of comfort and efficiency. This article will demonstrate how to properly clean, care, and waterproof your favorite shoes so that they will be durable, and last you for a long time.

How to Waterproof Your Hiking Boots

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Choose a Waterproofing Treatment

The treatment for you to use would have to be based on the type of leather shoes you own. Treatments for waterproofing are usually made for boots with 'rough' leather such as suede or nubuck. Also, you will have to make sure to read the instructions of the product so that you don't make a mistake and cause excessive damage to the application.

There are waterproofing treatments for wax-based leather. However, these variations are less common nowadays. Furthermore, if you plan to re-sole your boots, it is suggested that you don't use these treatments as the wax affects the coverage and overall efficiency of the treatment.

If your shoes has another type of water-resistant membrane, then no treatment is needed, and you can just clean the fabric with a soft cloth.

Prepare Your Boots for Waterproofing

Your shoes need to be prepped before applying the treatment to make it water-resistant once again. The shoes need to be cleaned as dirt can affect the diffusion and coverage of the treatment. Water also needs to be soaked inside of the exterior layer to draw the treatment fully.

To clean your shoes, first, remove the laces. Then, you can remove all the grit, dirt, and dust using a soft brush. For which you brush the boots gently in a back and forth or circular motion. Afterward, if they are still not clean enough, you can place them under running water and then add your selected shoes cleaning solution.

Apply the Waterproofing Treatment

To apply the waterproofing treatment, you need to make sure that they are thoroughly drenched in water. If your boots are still dry or just not wet enough, you can wrap them in a wet towel and let them soak for a couple of hours.

However, please note that running water over your shoes is not enough as water takes a while to soak into the leather. Once they are fully soaked, apply your waterproofing treatment.

The steps will differ based on the treatment you select, so ensure that you read and follow the instructions carefully to prevent any mistakes.

Drying After Waterproofing

When you have finished applying the waterproofing treatment, you will have to dry your boots to finish the process. Now, they should be dried at normal room temperature and in low humidity, so using a heat source is not advised. If you want to speed up the drying, you can use a fan.

Similarly, another method for quicker drying would be to stuff your boots with newspaper and change the newspaper if they get too damp. Also, they should be stored somewhere with regular and stable temperatures. Therefore, attics, garages, or any hot, tight, and unventilated place will not do.

Treating Leather Boots

First and foremost, the best thing that you can do is to wear your shoes. Take a walk around your house, the neighborhood, or even on a hike. You can do this as long as the weather isn't bad to break them in. You will see the next step a lot throughout because it is always the first step and a significant one at that.

Make sure to clean your shoes before applying the treatment, remember to use a brush to remove any dirt. Now before adding any treatment, ensure to remove the laces.

It is best to use wax treatments on smooth leather boots, oil treatments on new boots, and sprays would work well on both leather and synthetic materials. Note, however, that sprays don't work as well as the others, so you will have to reapply that treatment several times.

After applying the treatment, leave them to cure overnight, then wipe away the excess using a clean cloth. Place the boots in the sun to finish drying and to let the treatment really soak in. If it feels tacky, that means that it is not done, and the shoes will attract dirt rather than repelling it. This is why it is important to wait until it is fully done.

Best Ways to Waterproof Your Boots

There are many methods of making your boots water-resistant. You can use waxes and creams, sprays, or even home remedies. Your choice mostly depends on your needs, preferences, and time available.

Creams, Pastes, Waxes

Of course, you will have to remove all dirt and mud first. You can use either a cleaning cream or you can opt for just soap and water. Use a soft brush to scrub them and make sure to rinse thoroughly afterward.

Then, use a clean cloth and apply a generous amount of the cream to your boots, rubbing in a circular motion, keeping in mind the seams. After a few minutes, use a different clean cloth to wipe away any excess cream and then leave the boots overnight to dry.

Waterproofing Sprays

The spray that you should use would depend on the type of leather your shoe are made of. If your shoes have tight-grained or smooth leather, then a silicone or oil-based spray should be used, or if they have full-grained or rough leather, then you should use acrylic copolymer.

Of course, the first step applies here, as well, so make sure to clean them using a cleaning cream or soap and water. Hold the spray container and spray the entire boot, preferably spraying many thin coats rather than one thick coat. Remember to read the instructions on the box carefully as sometimes they may require more than one coats.


If you are in a hurry and can't get the proper spray or cream at the moment, you can do it yourself; however, please note that these methods are temporary, and you will have to scrub your boots well before applying the proper cream or spray the next time. You can use transmission oil, clear coat enamel spray, or Vaseline cream.

  • Transmission Oil: Spread this all over the boots before you start your activities for the day. It will make them water-resistant. However, note that it might also turn your boots red.
  • Clear-Coat Enamel Spray: If you have this, you can spray some on your boots and go along your day, but it will crack and flake easily, so don't expect it to last long.
  • Vaseline Cream: This method should really only be used as a last resort. You can rub it in as you normally would for a water-resistant cream but don't expect it to last long.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Maintain Waterproof Boots?

Hiking boots are an essential item when going on a hike, hunting, or trudging through rough conditions such as snow or mud. They have to be taken care of, or else the waterproofing will wear down, and the leather will be destroyed. Also, maintaining them aids in the comfort and durability of the shoes. They can be preserved using creams, waxes, or sprays designed to make them water-resistant once again.

What are the Best Waterproofing Sprays?

There are a lot of waterproofing sprays that may work well with your shoes . The following sprays work wonders for protecting not only leather shoes but also other fabrics, from any liquid damage.

  • Kiwi Rain and Stain Protector: The Kiwi brand is devoted to making footwear protection sprays. It not only protects the shoes from water damage but also any other liquid.
  • Scotchgard Suede and Nubuck Protector: This protector not only defends against water-based damage but also oil-based stains.
  • Kiwi Boot Protector: Another great product from Kiwi and this one is explicitly made for suede and nubuck shoes
  • Rust-Oleum NeverWet Boot and Shoe Spray: This can be used for not only leather shoes but also any delicate footwear. It is colorless and silicone-free.
  • Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Proof Spray: As its name suggests, this product is fantastic for suede and nubuck shoes, shoes , or even handbags.
  • Crep Protect Ultimate Rain and Stain Spray: This invention works exceptionally well for the different weather conditions and works equally well on canvas, suede, and nubuck.

Can Suede Shoes Be Waterproofed?

Of course, suede shoes can be waterproofed. One of the best solutions is Collonil's Classic Waterstop. It is colorless and designed for leather shoes along with suede and nubuck. Simply clean the shoes and then spray them with the Waterstop for about four to six times in a well-ventilated area.

Spray the coats lightly and quickly and wait for a few minutes between each coat. Finally, wait about twenty minutes after the final coat, and there you have it! Water-resistant shoes.


Having water seeping into your shoes can be the worst, so you need to ensure that your shoess are treated and maintained regularly. No matter what the activity that you are doing, once you use your hiking shoes, they will be affected.

Over time they will wear down and become less effective in protecting your feet against rough terrain. Instead of buying brand-new shoes each time, just take care of the ones you have now, after each use.

Just follow the steps suited for your type of shoes, keep them clean after every use, select the appropriate treatment, and enjoy your water-resistant hiking boots.

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