How to Waterproof Boots for Work | Leather, Suede or Fabric Shoes

best stuff to waterproof bootsWhen you buy a pair of boots you do not only want them to look good but you want your investment to last for a long time. Waterproofing your shoes is the best way of ensuring that no matter the weather, you will never suffer from soggy feet or even smelly feet for that matter.

It is however important to know how to waterproof boots the correct way and the materials to use so that your efforts are not in vain.

Naturally, leather is a water repellent material but when water hits its surface then the leather’s condition begins to deteriorate. This is because water damages its original luster and natural oils. This is why waterproofing is essential.

The method you use is dependent on the type of material that your boots are made of. Let us take a look at some of them bit by bit.

Waterproofing Materials for Boots

There are several brands in the market but they all go down to the materials below:

  1. Water and stain protectors
  2. Sprays
  3. Bee wax
  4. Oil paste

Who needs to Waterproof, When and Why?

If you own a pair of boots you definitely need to get them waterproofed. This process is essential for almost all types of boots but especially leather and suede boots.

If you want to overcome the elements of weather with great ease then waterproofing is vital. For instants hikers have to go through paddles which isn’t exactly an enjoyable thing especially for those who do not want wet and cold feet.

With waterproof boots you simply jump right in and splash around in the mud without caring much and get to have fun. All because your boots will be safe and will keep your feet both dry and comfortable.

You are also unlikely to suffer from frostbite. If you are the kind of person who likes to play during winter do note that wet feet also bring about blisters. Luckily, waterproofing keeps these blisters away.

What’s more? Waterproofing ensures that no place is inaccessible. You can cross shallow streams or even bogs and no need to jump from one stone to another. Simply wade in the water.

Most of the times when people are discussing about waterproofing their boots one aspect that seems to be thrown out with the window is breathability.

What is breathability?

Well, breathability is the ability of your boots to let out water vapor from your sweat while at the same time preventing water from external elements from getting inside ‘your boat’.

If your feet are normally clammy after wearing your boots then you can be assured that those boots are not letting out the water vapor. People wear their boots most of the times and they want to feel comfortable in them.

But you should also ensure that the boots are made from breathable material. This way even with waterproofing, your feet still roam freely inside out.

So waterproof your breathable boots if you want fresh and dry feet.

When and Why?
When is the best time to waterproof your boots?

The best time to waterproof your boots is before the bad weather comes knocking. So if you know that fall or winter is almost at the door then that would be the best time to get out your waterproofing gear.

You should however ensure that the boots you are about to work on have been broken into. Ensure that any dirt or mud has been removed because you do not want dirt trapped in your boots’ leather.

You should also ensure that the boots are properly dried before the waterproofing is done.  Why should you waterproof? That is quite obvious.

You do not want soggy feet plus you want your boots to last long.

The Process of Waterproofing

Leather boots are your best option when it comes to tackling both rain and cold. Not only are they sleek and warm but they have endured the test of time.

Moreover, you can have them on for any occasion not to mention work or business. Leather material is susceptible to weather change and this can cause it to discolor or even warp.

It is therefore important for you to seal off the moisture by taking the following steps:

  1. Scrub your boots. Remember you need to work with a clean pair. Wipe or gently brush any mud or dirt.
  2. Apply the waterproofing material. You can use wax or spray. Do this after inspecting and ensuring there are no damages to the boot. When choosing the proofing material just note that wax lasts longer than spray. If you will be using wax then you will need to get a clean soft piece of cloth. Apply a tiny bit of wax of the boot then in a circular motion, gently spread it out of the boot’s exterior. Pay particular attention to the nooks and crannies. Wipe off any excess wax then leave the boots to dry overnight.  For those of you who opt to use some spray then ensure that it is silicone or oil based. This is the only way to get a smooth and glossy finish after the waterproofing process. Simply hold the boot a few inches away from your body then spray evenly. Work with thin and even layers instead of one thick layer. Thin layers offer a tougher hold. Leave the boot to dry.
  3. Lastly, seal the seams. This is not necessary but do it if you spend many hours outdoors with the boots.

Suede/ Nubuck Leather
Suede is a velvety kind of leather. This material is delicate and therefore usually difficult to clean. Because of this reason you should try to avert any disaster by preparing such a pair of work boots for rainy days. To waterproof your suede boots, you need to take the following steps:

  1. You need to scrub the boots using a suede cleaning brush. Once you are through, take a clean cloth and wipe the boot.
  2. The next thing that you need to do is to stuff your suede boots with newspaper. This is to prevent the boot sides from folding in plus it allows you to move on the surface freely. If you do not have any old newspapers, you can opt for old rugs or simply something that is soft.
  3. With suede, there is no waxing. All you need to do is spray away. Ensure to go for a trusted brand as you consider waterproofing boot sprays.
  4. Once you are done, leave the boots to dry for a few hours.

Fabric boots are the hardest to clean because moisture gets trapped within fibers. Luckily you can keep the moisture out by doing the following:

  1. First and foremost, ensure the boot is clean by scrubbing it. If it means washing the boots so be it. Work the nooks and crannies. Next, rinse the boot’s exterior. After that leave the shoe to dry and because this is fabric, let it dry well.
  2. Once the shoes are well dried they are ready for spraying. You will need to use a spray waterproofing product. Ensure that it suits the fabric and color of the boot because a leather spray will not work for a fabric boot. Now hold the nozzle a few inches away from the boots and spray. Remember, thin layers work best.
  3. Leave your boots to dry. And for them to dry correctly, keep them in an area where air is circulating freely. You can add more layers of protection as you see fit after the boots are dry.

Full Grain Leather Boots
When it comes to full grain leather boots the first step is reproofing. Of course, cleaning is no exception. You can use a soft cloth that has been dipped in warm water.

In cases where the boot is heavily soiled, it is advisable to rinse the exterior with lukewarm water but do not dip the boots in the water. Then leave the boots to dry naturally. Do not use a hair dryer. It can damage your shoes.

Apply a small amount of wax to a soft cloth and rub sparingly then leave the boots to dry for at least one hour.


Ensure that your boots are always clean and free of mud. Do not leave them for long without cleaning.

If dirt and mud become too hard then removing them will be a tiresome process that could even damage the boots.

If the leather gets too hard then you will have to condition it first before doing anything else. Remember that you want your boots to serve you for a long duration. Give them the treatment they deserve and you can be assured of a great service. And learning how to waterproof boots, be they made of leather, fabric or suede is a good first step.