In this guide:
- How can I make my shoes waterproof?
- Wax v Beeswax: which is the better way to waterproof shoes?
- How to waterproof leather boots and shoes
- How to waterproof walking boots
- When is a good time to waterproof my shoes?
Winter weather can be a nightmare for your shoes and feet. When wet weather strikes, it can completely ruin your shoes if they aren’t suitable for the conditions. So why not do the sensible thing and take action before the heavens open by waterproofing your boots, trainers and shoes?
How can I make my shoes waterproof?
While nothing will make your shoes waterproof forever, there are things you can do to make them more water resistant. These methods and products will coat and protect your shoes in the short-term.
- Waterproof spray. This can be used on lots of different materials as there are usually different sprays for different materials. Sprays are most popular for suede as they’re really the only method that works without damaging the soft material.
BEST FOR: canvas shoes and suede shoes
- Nikwax. This brand produces waxes and gels that can waterproof leather and fabric shoes. Its products act as a water repellent while helping revive your shoes’ appearance.
BEST FOR: leather shoes
- Silicone. Some waterproof sprays are silicone based, which are good for all types of shoes. This is handy if you have several pairs of shoes and boots that are made from different materials.
BEST FOR: all shoes
- Beeswax. Once you’ve found a solid piece of beeswax, cover your canvas shoes with it until you can see the product on your shoes. Then grab a hairdryer and work the product into the shoes for long-lasting protection.
BEST FOR: canvas shoes
- Candle wax. A candle makes a great DIY substitution for beeswax. Simply rub a candle over your shoes. You’ll want to do this until the shoe is a lighter colour from the wax rubbing off on the shoes. When the entire shoe is covered, take a hairdryer on the highest setting and warm the wax up. You will know this is done when the shoes have gone back to their original colour.
BEST FOR: canvas shoes & trainers
- Vaseline. If you’re having problems with your leather shoes, you can always use Vaseline to waterproof your shoes temporarily. You will need to clean your shoes beforehand, then simply coat them in a layer of Vaseline and it’ll do the job just as well.
BEST FOR: leather shoes
We’d always recommend testing out any waterproofing method on a small area of your shoe or boot before the full application. Some products and DIY methods may change the appearance or colour of the shoe, so do take care to test before you dive in.
Wax v Beeswax: which is the better way to waterproof shoes?
There are two main wax-based products for waterproofing shoes, each with its own set of pros and cons:
- Wax – will provide some weather protection for your shoes as well as helping them look shiny and healthy, but will need repeating often in order for your shoes to stay waterproof.
Beeswax – is a better barrier as the product forms a layer over the shoe rather than soaking in. However, beeswax will not provide the best shine or look, and after a few layers of the product it may alter the appearance of your shoe.
Choosing your product depends on what is most important to you – longevity, looks or performance.
Step by step: how to waterproof leather boots and shoes
Waterproofing your leather trainers and shoes is a simple process. Just follow these six steps every time you waterproof your leather shoes for the best results:
- Clean your shoes, remove the laces and wipe down
- Use saddle soap and water to rub away any scuffs
- Don’t get the leather too wet and don’t let shoes dry out in the sun
- Polish your shoes using a soft, clean cloth to apply the polish
- Use circular motions to go over the polish with a clean cloth to remove any excess
- Rub or spray your waterproofing method of choice into the leather
Step by step: how to waterproof walking boots
Walking boots need to be as waterproof as possible to keep your feet warm and dry in a downpour half the way up a mountain. Even if your hikes aren’t quite that strenuous, getting caught short with wet feet miles away from home is never a good look, so here’s our tips for making your walking boots waterproof.
- Thoroughly clean any mud and dirt off of your boots using a stiff bristle brush then wiping with a rag.
- Warm up the leather a little with a hair dryer, as warm leather absorbs sealant better.
- Apply the sealant with a rag evenly across the shoes.
- Buff the excess sealant over the boot and let it dry.
Dubbin wax is another good way to waterproof walking shoes. Again you need to follow the steps above, then instead of sealant, apply some of the dubbin wax to a cloth and rub all over the boots evenly. Leave the wax to dry naturally for as long as need, usually 30-60 minutes. To finish it off, buff the wax off with a dry cloth.
With fabric walking boots, it’s the same process although you will need to finish with a waterproof spray instead. The instructions on how to use the spray should be printed on the bottle.
When is a good time to waterproof my shoes?
It’s never too early to waterproof your shoes, as you never know when buckets of rain or snow are going to make an appearance. Make sure you and your shoes are always primed for the wet weather. Whichever waterproofing method works best for your shoes, repeat it every few months to stay dry whatever the weather throws at you.
For some inspiration on getting out and about in your newly waterproofed shoes, why not take a look at our top winter walking tips?