Leather boots can be expensive and if you want to make sure that you get the most out of your footwear, you need to make sure that you are taking care of them properly. One of the most important actions you can take to keep your leather boots protected is to waterproof them. Although some boots come out of the factory designed to withstand water and other elements, most boots need some type of treatment and those that are treated will still lose their protection over time. If you are attempting to waterproof your boots but don’t know where to begin, here is a comprehensive guide that will explain to you why the process is important and how you can do it on your own.
Reasons Why You Should Waterproof Your Leather Boots
You may be asking yourself, why do I need to waterproof my leather boots? Here are some of the biggest reasons why waterproofing your leather boots is the best thing that you can do for them.
1. Water and Other Elements Can Cause Major Deformities
You may have noticed that your boots have changed or fit differently than when you first purchased them and put them on. This is natural since leather boots were made to change shape and conform to your feet as you wear them. However, when water gets into them for an extended period of time, this water severely warps the shoe and changes it in a way that makes it difficult to wear. This type of damage is often irreversible, which is why it is important to take preventative measures before your boots interact with water.
2. Exposure to Water Can Cause Damage to Your Feet
Besides the damage that water can cause to your boots, the water that gets trapped within your boots can cause serious damage to the skin on your feet. If you are working, hiking, or walking for long periods of time in wet boots, you can end up getting something known as trench foot. Trench foot can cause blisters, redness and irritation, numbness, pain, and can ruin skin tissue to the point that it falls off. It is important that your leather boots have protection against the elements so that you can avoid these problems.
3. Waterproofing Your Boots Keeps Them Looking New
If you’re purchasing a pair of leather boots, you probably want them to stay as new-looking as you possibly can for as long as you can. As time goes on, the elements will start to have an impact on the shape and appearance of the leather. In order to keep them as good-looking as possible, you need to make sure that you keep them protected. Keep in mind, however, that some waterproofing methods may have an impact on the appearance of the shoe as well. It is important that you do a test run with your chosen waterproofing method before you start taking action on the entire boot. You also need to make sure that the waterproofing method you choose is made for the material of your boot.
How to Waterproof Your Leather Boots
Now that you have a better idea as to why it is necessary to make sure that your leather boots have protection against water, here are some ways that you can waterproof your leather boots on your own to make sure they get the protection they need.
Types of Waterproofing Methods You Have to Choose From
When you begin looking into the DIY leather boot waterproofing methods, you will notice that you have a few products to choose from. When you begin on your waterproofing journey, you will have the option to choose from pastes and waxes, sprays, or natural methods that will give you a quick fix if you only have a little time and need to waterproof your boots quick. Let’s take a look at each of these methods.
Waterproofing Your Boots Using Waxes, Pastes, or Creams
Let us first discuss the lifespan of the majority of these waterproofing treatment solutions before we dive into how you can waterproof your boots. Since the leather boots that you have purchased were not made to be waterproof, the solution that you use to make them waterproof will only last a couple of weeks at most. It is important that you constantly reapply your chosen waterproof method to protect your boots.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s learn more about waterproofing your leather boots using waxes, pastes, or creams. Waxes, pastes, and creams are one of the easiest waterproofing methods that you can use. To begin this waterproofing process, start by removing all the dirt and residue that has collected on your boots and remove your shoelaces as well. You can do this by using a specialized cleaning cream or by using a little bit of soap and water. Make sure that you have removed all the residue and that your boots are completely dry (Although some sources say that it is important to soak your boots prior to the process. Make sure to the read the directions on the product of your choice before you begin using it.)
Once you’re sure that your boots are clean and dry, grab a clean cloth and your choice of waterproofing product and begin applying the wax, paste, or cream to your boot in circular motions. Make sure that your cover every external area on your boot and also scrub your wax, paste, or cream onto the seams of your leather boots as well. After you’ve covered the area thoroughly, take another clean cloth to remove any excess material. Once you’re sure that you have completely treated your boots, leave them to dry overnight. Do not use them until you are sure that you have dried them completely.
When your leather boots begin to show signs of losing their ability to fend off water particles, which should happen within a couple of weeks of the first application, repeat the process again to make sure that your boots remain protected.
Waterproofing Your Leather Boots Using Sprays
Waterproof sprays are perfect for those who are pressed for time and who need a quick solution to keep their boots protected and dry. That being said, these sprays still tend to last as long as other methods and should keep your boots in good condition for at least a couple of weeks after application.
To begin using your waterproof spray, make sure that you clean that your boots thoroughly to remove any excess dirt and debris. Again, you can do this using a special cleaning cream or you could use soap and water.
Once you’re certain that all the dirt has been removed from your boots, you can begin applying the spray. If you have a boot that is made of a smoother leather, use a spray that oil-based or silicone-based. If you have a boot that is made of a rougher material such as nubuck leather or suede, use a spray that contains an acrylic copolymer.
Once you’re sure that your spray matches your boot’s material, begin applying the spray over the entire surface of the boot. Make sure to hold the can approximately six inches away from the surface of the boot and apply a couple of thin, even coats. Once you’ve done this, leave your boots to dry overnight. Before application, make sure that you read the directions to see if you need to apply more than one coat before you can begin using your boots.
Waterproofing Your Leather Boots Last Minute Using DIY Methods
Although this is heavily recommended against, there will be some occasions in which you will need to waterproof your boots in the event of an emergency. If this is the case for you, here are some of the methods that you can use.
Transmission oil– Transmission is known to be able to repel water and keep your boots protected. As stated above, this method is not something you should use unless you need to waterproof your boots in a pinch. To use this method, simply apply transmission oil over the entire area of your boot before you wear your boots outside. Be careful not to use this method too often as it is known to discolor the leather of boots and make them appear red.
Clear Enamel Spray- Another quick waterproofing method, clear enamel spray will provide your leather boots with a quick reprieve from moisture. To use this spray, apply a couple of coats prior to going outside. This method will not last you very long and you will begin to notice that the spray is wearing out when it begins to crack and flake off.
Vaseline– Similar to the creams mentioned above, vaseline will give you a temporary waterproof coat on your boots. Make sure to clean your boots prior to application as you would when applying a normal cream and then rub the vaseline into your boots using a clean cloth. Remove any excess vaseline and wait for the boots to dry before you use them.
Candle or Beeswax– Using a candle or beeswax on your leather boots is one of the more well-known and popular methods for DIY waterproofing. To use this method, rub a candle or a piece of beeswax across the entirety of your boot. Once you’ve done this, use a blow dryer to melt down the wax onto your boot’s surface and let it sit for five minutes. This method will last a little longer than the methods above and is the best choice if you need to DIY waterproof your boots. If you don’t have access to a candle or beeswax, another great alternative recommended for DIY waterproofing is an oil such as lavendar or tea tree oil. However, you must make sure that these types of oils are organic and sold by a reliable vendor so as not to ruin your boots.
Safety Tips for Waterproofing Your Leather Boots
Whether it’s you or your boots in question, safety is extremely important during the application process and also during the drying process depending on which methods and materials you use. You might think that you can just slap on the waterproofing and that’s the end of it. But how you do this can be the difference between having an adequate covering on your boots with no adverse health impacts, or leaving gaps and having burning skin or lungs. Here are some safety tips to remember that will keep you and your boots protected.
1. Don’t Make Direct Contact With Chemicals
Most waterproofing methods will contain chemicals that are flammable or harmful to your health. Although this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, it’s important that you don’t come in direct contact with any of these chemicals. If you should end up with waterproofing material where it shouldn’t be, wash the affected area and seek medical help if necessary.
2. Don’t Speed Dry Your Boots
Boots made of leather are not meant to dry quickly. This means that any type of direct heat will do more harm than good. When you apply too much heat to leather, the leather will begin to crack and ruin the surface of your boots. This damage is irreversible and you will no longer be able to waterproof your boots once this happens. Let your boots air dry when you need to dry them to keep this from happening. If you do need to rapidly dry your boots, use a fan to keep the heat levels down.
3. Leave Your Boots in a Space With Plenty of Ventilation and Cool Air
Even when your boots are fully dry, they are still susceptible to heat and can become damaged if there is not enough ventilation in the space where you are keeping them. When you do put away your boots, make sure that they are in an area where they do not receive direct sunlight, where there is plenty of air coming through, and where moisture won’t build up in them.
Waterproofing your boots is a simple process that will protect your leather boots and make sure that they retain the quality that they were in when you first purchased them.
Using the tips and tricks that are mentioned above, you should have no issue keeping your boots in perfect condition as you continue to use them.
Remember, once you begin to see signs that your waterproofing methods are wearing off (which can be seen once water starts to be absorbed rather than sliding off of the surface of your boots), repeat these processes to ensure the protection of your boots. As long as you follow your product’s directions as stated and take good care of your boots, they should provide you with plenty of water-free use for years to come.