We waterproof shoes for a lot of reasons – to repel water, keep feet warm, get another 5 years of them, or maybe just out of habit. Whatever the reason, protecting prized footwear from the outside world is a great precaution. Plus, who ever says, “Man, I wish I didn’t waterproof these boots”? NO ONE!
Step 1: Start with a clean surface.
Wipe away dirt with a clean, wet washcloth. Use a gentle cleaner and soft-bristled brush when necessary.
Tips for cleaning nubuck & leather: Treat stubborn dirt/grime with a residue-free, leather cleaner and scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush. Do not soak.
Step 2: Select the right formula.
There many different fabrics and many different water repellents. Use the right product and you’ll maintain like new condition for years; yes even those UGG boots will look like new! Here’s a quick rundown on what to use when:
…want to maintain softness and those ‘up hairs’ of suede footwear, use a water repellent specifically designed for Nubuck and Suede
…love the original color and you don’t want the spray to darken it? Use a Nubuck Suede & Fabric Water Repellent.
…need to protect suede or nubuck from salt stains during cold winters (and other stains)? Use a Nubuck, Suede & Fabric Water Repellent.
…simply want to waterproof your Toms, Sanuks, Converse or other fabric shoes? Use a Nubuck, Suede & Fabric Water Repellent.
…want to keep water out of your hiking boots and still maintain breathability? use a Leather Spray.
…want to condition the leather to make it look rich again? Don’t mind spending a little extra time to get there? Use a Leather Gel Water Repellent & Conditioner.
…want to bring back the original shine and darkness of daily leather footwear like Danskos? Use Leather Gel.
…have you been applying wax for years and want to try something different? Use a Leather Gel.
Step 3: Apply, liberally.
NOTE: If you’re concerned with colorfastness, test an inconspicuous area first.
Apply water repellent directly to surface of your footwear (it can be wet or dry). Whether using a spray or gel, make sure you fully saturate the surface. Stuff newspaper into the shoe/boot to make it dry faster.
Step 4: Get the garden hose.
Once dry, test ’em out. This is the fun part – start with a few sprays or a light dribble from the sink. If you saturated those babies with water repellent like we recommended, they’ll be shedding water like a slip ‘n slide.
Like what you see? Don’t hold back, shoot’em with the garden hose…or not. Now go outside and have some fun!
Tell us about your experience. We’d love to hear your story and answer any questions you might have.
Originally Published: Apr 23, 2013