Nothing wreaks havoc on a pair of new boots more than a bucketful of rain. And while various winter-ready styles are designed specifically to battle the elements (work boots, for example), not all footwear is created equal. From dressy designs to Chelsea boots, some types of boots just can’t cope without a little help.
And that’s OK. This guide is going to take you through the best solutions to start waterproofing leather boots. It’s the easiest way to prep your waders for bad weather and keep them looking great for longer.
Continue reading for my top waterproofing tips, products, and methods that will see you through the rainy seasons in style.
In a world where unpredictable weather is a constant companion, a trusty pair of boots (and socks) can be your best defense against dreary conditions. However, as raindrops fall and puddles form, keeping your footwear protected is often easier said than done.
After poring over dozens of trusted sources, I’m pretty much an expert on the topic. Whether you’re a city dweller or an outdoor enthusiast, I’m going to teach you how to keep your boots protected. I’ll delve into the art of waterproofing leather boots, equipping you with essential knowledge and practical tips to ensure that your favorite footwear remains as resilient as you. You’ll also find my go-to products including Sof Sole’s spray and Wren’s dubbin wax.
Top Products to Consider
What Products Should I Use to Waterproof Leather Boots?
When it comes to waterproofing leather boots, there are several types of products available, each with its own advantages and considerations.
Which one you choose depends on factors such as the type of leather, the desired level of water resistance, and your personal preferences. Below, I’ve listed five key products that should work for a variety of footwear, from pull-on styles to classic black boots.
Why it’s great: This budget-friendly waterproofer spray will protect your leather boots from water while maintaining the fabric’s breathability. Easy to apply and fast-acting, a single treatment can remain effective for up to two months and also helps to prevent stains. When you’re not using it on your shoes, it can be sprayed onto hats, jackets, and various other leather garments.
How to use it: Ensure the can is in an upright position and give it a quick shake. For best results, spray evenly over your leather boots until all areas have been covered.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This waterproofer cannot be used on patent or vinyl leather.
Why it’s great: Dubbin wax has been used as far back as the Middle Ages. And while your ancestors wouldn’t have used Wren’s version, I’m sure they would approve. Besides reinforcing the waterproofing of your boots, this wax will help protect them from dirt and stain accumulation. Better yet, it’ll refresh the look of the leather by making it more supple.
How to use it: Before starting, it’s important to make sure your boots are clean. Then, you’ll need to apply a small amount of heat to the product to loosen it up before using a cloth to gently and evenly rub it onto your boots (use sparingly). Repeat the process if necessary and wait a minute to dry before buffing with a brush or cloth.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Dubbin wax is perfect for waterproofing your leather boots, but not for suede or nubuck materials. Avoid using dubbin on suede or nubuck leather, as these types of materials can be damaged by the product’s oily substance.
Why it’s great: A blend of mink and pure neatsfoot oil, this liquid softens, preserves, and waterproofs your boots to keep them looking their best for many years to come. While some types of oils (particularly those derived from animal fats) can turn bad pretty quickly, mink oil will last in storage for at least two years—sometimes much longer.
How to use it: Before applying any product, ensure your leather boots are clean and free from dirt, dust, and debris. Shake the bottle well and add a small amount of the liquid to a clean, dry cloth or an applicator brush (a little goes a long way). Begin applying the mink oil to your boots in a gentle, circular motion and then allow your leather boots to dry naturally.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Mink oil does tend to darken leather and it can be quite a difficult process to make it light again. Bear this in mind before you opt for this method of waterproofing leather boots.
Why it’s great: A must-have for the winter months, this beeswax-based product will protect your leather boots from rain, sun, snow, and salt. The formula dries to a solid wax that sticks to the surface of leather and makes it waterproof—filling natural spaces that absorb perspiration and insulate.
How to use it: Clean, dry, and preheat leather boots or shoes using a sunny window, heat lamp, or hair dryer. Do not heat beyond 120°F. Rub the Sno-Seal into your footwear liberally to allow the product to melt and draw deep into the pores and fibers. Remove excess wax with a rag and buff with a brush for shine.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Sno-Seal will darken leather and it’s not recommended for suede. If used on suede it will darken and flatten the nap, often permanently changing the shoes’ appearance.
Why it’s great: This water-repellent offers unbeatable protection, creating an invisible barrier that prevents water and dirt from penetrating your boots (while still allowing them to breathe). Easy to use and suitable for a wide range of shoes and accessories, it’s the perfect addition to your winter survival kit.
How to use it: Shake the can well before use and hold it upright approximately 15 to 20 cm from the surface of your boots. Spray the entire surface evenly (don’t be shy) and let your footwear dry naturally at room temperature.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: You’ll need to allow a little time for the product to dry before walking in the rain. Plan ahead if you don’t want to risk ruining your leather boots.
How to Waterproof Leather Boots
Unless you’re already rocking a pair of water-resistant work shoes, waterproofing your leather boots is essential.
Not only does it keep them looking great, but it’ll prolong their lifespan and save you some serious dollars in the long run. To effectively waterproof your leather boots, follow the steps I’ve provided below:
Step 1: Clean Your Boots & Let Them Dry Completely
It’s very important to remove dirt and debris before applying your chosen waterproofing product. To get started, mix a small amount of mild leather cleaner or saddle soap with water and clean your boots using a soft brush or damp cloth.
Gently wipe down the boots, focusing on one section at a time. Use light, circular motions to lift dirt and stains from the leather. Allow the boots to air dry completely before proceeding.
Step 2: Read the Instructions for Your Preferred Waterproofing Product
Carefully read and understand the instructions provided on your chosen waterproofing product. This will give you a better idea of how to get the best results. Different products may have varying application methods and drying times.
Step 3: Seal the Seams
Pay special attention to the seams, stitching, and any other areas where the leather is joined. These are common points where water can seep in. If your waterproofing product includes a seam sealer, apply it to reinforce these vulnerable parts of your boots.
Step 4: Apply the Treatment
Apply your chosen waterproofing product according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This could involve using a brush, cloth, or spray applicator. Make sure you apply an even coat, covering the entire surface of the boots. In most cases, it helps to wait for each layer to dry if you plan on applying multiple layers.
Step 5: Let Your Boots Dry
Allow your leather boots to air dry naturally for a minimum of 24 hours after applying the waterproofing treatment. Avoid using direct heat sources, as high heat can cause damage to the leather. Proper drying ensures that the waterproofing product effectively bonds with the leather.
Why You Should Trust Us
As a writer at FashionBeans, my goal is to help improve every man’s lifestyle and, as a UK resident, I’ve seen my fair share of rain. I mean, it’s almost a daily occasion (cue the violins). And while it’s a real downer for my mood (and social plans), it does thankfully serve me in good stead for writing an article about waterproofing leather boots. I’m basically an expert.
Using first-hand experience and a little help from online reviewers, I’ve been able to round up everything you need to keep your boots in top condition. That includes the best products and the methods you’ll need to use to get the job done.
Maintaining the waterproofing of leather boots is a crucial step in preserving their quality, longevity, and functionality. By choosing high-quality boots, applying appropriate waterproofing products, and implementing a regular cleaning and conditioning routine, you can ensure that your boots remain fit to face various weather conditions while retaining their best appearance.
Remember, the choices you make in proper care and maintenance today will pay off years to come. So, whether you’re braving the rain-soaked streets or embarking on outdoor adventures, invest in sprays like Sof Sole’s and you’ll be able to keep your feet dry and your style intact.
Yes, leather boots can be waterproofed. Waterproofing leather boots is the best way to enhance their durability and protect them from moisture, rain, and other environmental elements. It also helps prevent water absorption, which can lead to damage, staining, and reduced lifespan of your footwear.