If you have experienced walking, working, running, hiking or doing whatever else with your feet completely soaked, then you could possibly agree that this is a very miserable experience.
This guide is to help you avoid such situations by properly waterproofing your boots.
Why do you need to waterproof your boots?
It is necessary not only to keep your feet nice and dry at all times, but also to help prolong the life of your footwear and thus saving money. The better care you take of your footwear, the longer it will serve you well. This is crucial, especially for high quality and expensive leather shoes.
If you have a favorite pair of leather boots or shoes, keep in mind that leather can never be 100% waterproof, but it can be treated, so that it leaks as little water as possible when walking in wet conditions. Even though it is a very strong, natural material, being made out of animal skin, leather tends to crack and dry up, when not taken care of on a regular basis.
For textile shoes, such as breathable hiking shoes, not cleaning them from the dirt after a hike can lead to damage to the textile uppers and can actually block the waterproof membranes. Of course, the methods and the regularity of waterproofing your boots very much depends on the material they are made of, as well as the weather conditions you live and wear them in. Different waterproofing is required for leather, suede or textile materials. If you are to spend a lot of time constantly wetting your feet, you might find it more appropriate to look into our range of top quality waterproof boots.
Read on to find out how to choose the most appropriate waterproofing compound and which the best way to waterproof boots. Always remember to first test the waterproofing compound on an inconspicuous area such as the area on the tongue which is hidden underneath the laces, before applying it to the entire shoes.
Select a Waterproofing Compound
Using special waterproofing wax, paste or cream is probably the easiest way to waterproof your boots. The first piece of advice for successful waterproofing with one of these compounds is to perform it regularly (once in a couple of weeks, or more often).
To do that, you need to first clean all the dirt off your boots. Use dishwashing liquid or shoe cleaning cream and a soft brush to do that. Rinse off with some clean water. When the boot is dry, apply the waterproofing cream, wax or polish with a clean soft cloth. Treat the entire upper as well as all the seams. Rub the compound in with circular motions and then leave them to dry completely before wearing them.
Depending on the weather conditions, you may need to use the waterproofing wax, cream or paste before every wear or every other wear.
Waterproof sprays are even easier to apply. You don’t need to manually apply them and rub them in the boot. In fact, all you need to do is spray the boots. Before applying a waterproof spray though, you will need to clean the boots from any dirt. Use shoe cleaning cream or soapy water. Shake the spray bottle and spray them evenly from about a 6 inch distance. If required by the manufacturer, apply a second coating. Let the boots dry before wearing them.
For tight grained leather boots, it is recommended you choose oil or silicone based spray, for nubuck and suede shoes, you should use an acrylic co-polymer waterproof spray.
Specialty waterproof compound
The specialty waterproof compound products are made specifically for waterproofing boots and shoes, rather than for polishing them and offering general protection. They need to be applied on clean shoes, and need to be applied very often, because they quickly lose their effectiveness. Always let your shoes dry completely before leaving the house after waterproofing them.
Quick DIY waterproofing
These desperate waterproofing methods should really be used only as an absolutely last resort. Be warned, that they may paint or otherwise damage your boots and shoes. Plus, they are not as efficient as the waterproofing compounds sold in stores.
As a last resort DIY method, you can use: transmission oil, Vaseline or clear coat enamel spray.
How to waterproof different work boots
Here are some tips on how to successfully and safely do it depending on the type of material they are made of.
Being animal skin, leather is a natural water repellent, but don’t let this stop you from applying the proper care for your nice leather boots, and helping their waterproofness. Maintaining your leather boots is crucial to keep the leather from drying, cracking and being ruined faster.
To waterproof leather boots, choose the appropriate waterproofing wax, such as dubbin wax, or specialized paste, spray or cream. Of course, always clean the boots before treating them with the waterproofing compound. After applying it, always let them dry off naturally. Don’t place them next to a heater, because this can cause cracking and permanent damage to the leather. The same advice goes for drying leather boots which are already wet – never use direct heat on them, because the quick evaporation of the moisture from the leather can cause it to become too dry and to crack. Either get two pairs and rotate them, or use a quality boot dryer to help the boots dry slowly overnight.
Nubuck / suede boots
The best way to waterproof nubuck leather or suede boots is to use a specialized waterproofing condiment made especially for nubuck or suede. If you use dubbin wax, you can actually ruin the furriness and stain the uppers of your boots. The procedure for applying the special waterproofing spray is the same as for leather. Clean them, apply the spray or other condiment from the recommended distance, and then let dry naturally. You can use a brush to restore the furriness.
Depending on the type, hiking boots can have waterproof membranes or partially waterproof properties. In order to ensure that they remain waterproof during your next outing, always make sure that you clean them very thoroughly after each hike. The trapped dust and dirt can cause the blocking of the breathable waterproof membranes, and can ruin the upper and the waterproof qualities. The best waterproofing condiment for this type of fabric boots is a spray or aerosol made for fabric.