You have several methods available to waterproof your shoes. You can apply anything from beeswax to a professional waterproofing spray.
Not all boots and shoes can keep you dry in the rain. And since wet socks can lead to blisters, solutions are needed.
So today, we’re exploring ways on how to waterproof shoes. We’ll walk you through two DIY methods, plus a few extra good-to-know facts.
Here’s a quick look at how to waterproof shoes using a waterproofing spray:
- Clean the surface.
- Apply the spray.
- Allow it to dry overnight.
- Test it out.
- Reapply after seven to eight wears.
Can You Make Shoes Waterproof?
If you don’t want to wear your big rubber boots in the rain, fret not, you can make your shoe waterproof. It might come as a surprise, but waterproofing shoes and boots isn’t as complicated as it sounds, which you’ll see in a moment.
Waterproofing boots and shoes is also a fantastic way of protecting them from dirt. It creates a barrier that not only prevents water from seeping in but keeps dirt and stains from settling.
However, you should take care when treating certain types of materials. Leather, for instance, can become damaged if you apply the wrong product or don’t follow directions. For such materials, we highly recommend investing in a specialized product.
Some materials, like mesh, are trickier to waterproof since they consist of air holes. With this fabric, you may have to opt for a pair of boots when it’s wet outside.
If you don’t want to go through the process, take a look at our waterproof work boots for men review.
Two Ways on How to Waterproof Shoes
Below we’ve gathered two easy shoe and boot waterproofing tips.
1. Using a Waterproofing Spray
Using a waterproofing spray is probably the easiest way to keep water out. You can find a product for almost every type of boot or shoe. For the best results, however, it must be compatible, for example, don’t use a product for leather on your textile sneakers.
We will say that textured fabrics, such as canvas, suede and hemp, make the best candidates. These materials are highly absorbent and will hold the spray much longer than smooth surfaces, like leather. Please read our “how to waterproof leather boots” guide.
When you’re searching for a spray, look for ingredients like acrylic polymers or silicone. These block water from seeping in while preventing the growth of mildew, mold and other water-related deterioration.
Now for the step-by-step guide. Here’s what you need:
- A soft-bristled brush.
- A compatible waterproofing spray.
- Cloth or towel.
- Ventilated room.
This is what you’ll do:
- Begin by brushing off dirt and debris. A clean surface gives you better results. If your shoes are filthy, clean them properly using water and allow them to dry thoroughly before treating them.
- Spray the surface of the shoe or boot: Hold the spray can about 6 to 8 inches away from the shoe. Then apply a light, even coating. Cover every part of the upper and down toward the seam that connects to the outsole. Don’t saturate it—look for it to glisten once settled on the surface.
- Remove excess spray: Use a cloth or towel, and lightly dab off any excess product. Avoid using too much pressure—you don’t want to soak up the spray. Make sure you dab over every part, including seams, zippers and eyelets.
- Let sit to dry: Allow your shoes to sit overnight—even if the surface is dry to the touch. This increases the chance of success. Avoid using other devices like a hairdryer, open fire or space heater to accelerate the drying time. Doing this could meddle with the chemical process, which could create a fire hazard.
- Test it out: After 24 hours, you can test it out by spraying water on the surface. If moisture enters, allow it to dry and repeat the process.
If possible, hang your shoes to avoid spraying your hand.
For irregular materials, such as nubuck or suede, you may need to apply two or more coats for full protection.
When drying, avoid paper towels. The fibers are likely to shed, embedding them into the material.
Reapply your spray following seven to eight wears.
2. Wax or Beeswax
Using wax or beeswax is a natural and straightforward waterproofing for boots and shoes. This method is fantastic on textured fabrics, especially canvas.
Beeswax is definitely the most effective method, but if you can’t get it, simply use candle wax. Just make sure you use a non-colored candle.
Here’s what you need:
- Beeswax or a candle.
- Hair dryer.
- Cloth or towel.
- Soft-bristled brush.
This is what you do:
- Start by cleaning the surface: Get your brush and gently remove any dirt or debris. Follow up using a damp cloth or towel for stubborn stains. Allow the shoe to dry.
- Do a test: Find a less noticeable spot and test the wax to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or other damage. Keep in mind that some contrast is expected, but this will blend in once you melt the wax.
- Apply the wax: Get the wax and proceed to rub it across the surface in back and forth motions. Use some pressure to create a thick layer over the material with extra care around the toe, sidewalls, eyelets and heel.
- Melt the wax: Set your hairdryer to high heat—allow it to warm up for a few seconds before directing it toward your shoe. The heat will melt the wax, enabling it to seal the surface. Continue until all the wax liquefies and kind of seeps into the material.
- Allow it to sit before testing: Once the wax is no longer noticeable, allow it to sit for a while—one hour should suffice. Then take a cup of water, and pour it onto the toe box. If it doesn’t hold, you can repeat the process.
If your shoes can’t take high heat, avoid using this method. The wax requires very high temperatures to melt into the fabric, which not all materials can withstand.
For leather boots and shoes, beeswax may not be sufficient, so instead, try a product like Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof Waterproofing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will WD 40 Waterproof Shoes?
WD-40 is great for many uses, including as a waterproofer for boots and shoes. Once applied, it creates a barrier, preventing water and moisture from penetrating.
As well as being an excellent waterproof for boots, WD-40 can help you clean your footwear as well. Simply spray on a light coat, and use a cloth to wipe away dirt.
How Do You Waterproof Snow Shoes?
With snowshoes, you want full protection from rain and snow. Therefore, it’s best to utilize a waterproofing spray. Apply as directed above and reapply as needed. Ensure that you find a product compatible with your boots to ensure full protection.
For more information on snowshoes, read our review of the best insulated winter work boots.
What Is the Best Waterproof Spray for Shoes?
As we mentioned earlier, you have a wide selection of waterproofing sprays. One of the best, however, is the KIWI Boot Waterproofer. It’s a silicone-based spray, creating a tight seal on the surface, keeping all moisture out. The spray is suitable for leather and other fabrics.
How to waterproof shoes? Waterproofing shoes and boots is a fairly straightforward process. It’s also well worth your time. Not only will it allow you to wear your favorite kicks in wet weather, but you’ll protect them against dirt.
To waterproof your shoes, you can try either a waterproofing spray or beeswax. Both methods work with a variety of materials. However, if you have leather shoes, you may have to utilize a specialized spray.
Following the application, remember to reapply after every seven to eight wear, or as needed. With beeswax, you may have to repeat the process a few times.