How to Waterproof Boots


Regularly cleaning and reproofing your boots in the right way is essential to prolonging the life span of your footwear.

Post hike it’s important you remove all dirt as over time these small particles can wear away the fibres and cause the material to breakdown. Dirt can also block the waterproof, breathable membrane in the boots which can affect the waterproofness.

Depending on how often you wear your waterproof boots it may not be necessary to reproof after every wear but reproofing regularly will help ensure your feet remain dry. How you reproof your boots will depend on what material your boots are made from. Fabric boots will need to be cared for in an entirely different way to leather or even suede boots.

Full Grain Leather Boots

Leather is naturally water repellent but doesn’t mean you can’t aid this natural water repellency, dubbin wax can help restore waterproofness as well as condition the leather. Over time and without proper care leather can dry and crack as natural oils and moisture are lost, a leather conditioner will help soften it.


  1. Clean the boots thoroughly (see how to clean hiking boots or shoes for full details)
  2. Apply a small amount of the dubbing wax to a cloth and rub all over the leather sparingly. Dubbin wax should be used sparingly. If the wax is too hard to rub onto your boots then you can use a hair drier to soften it.
  3. Repeat as necessary.
  4. Leave to dry naturally for 30-60 minutes. Do not be tempted to apply direct heat to the boots to dry them quicker as this can cause the leather to crack.
  5. Buff wax off with a dry cloth.


Conditioning leather boots tends to work best when they are damp as the product will absorb better, as the water evaporates it will pull the conditioner deep into the leathers pores. A leather boot conditioner will help keep your boots supple; however it is important not to overdo it as leather walking boots are designed to be supportive and not too soft. Only condition when you feel the leather is getting dry or cracked, not every time you wear your boots.

  1. Using a very small amount of conditioner either on your fingers, or a clean cloth, work a light even coat into your boots, including the welts and seams.
  2. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
  3. Remove any excess conditioner with a cloth and allow to dry naturally. Do not apply a direct heat source.

Nubuck Leather and Suede Boots

A reproofing spray designed for footwear is ideal for restoring waterproofness to nubuck and suede boots, look for a specific nubuck and suede proofer. Do not apply dubbing wax to suede or nubuck leather boots. Dubbin is designed for smooth leather and can ruin the ‘furry’ feel of nubuck and suede and is likely to stain.

  1. Clean the boots (see how to clean hiking boots or shoes for full details)
  2. Choose an appropriate re-proofing spray that states it is suitable for use with nubuck and suede materials.
  3. Spray all over from a distance of about 5cm. Make sure that you have an even coating over the entire boot.
  4. Leave to dry before use. DO NOT try to dry your boots faster with a hair dryer or heat source. Allow the boots to air dry naturally.
  5. A suede brush can be used to restore the boot to its original finish.

Fabric Boots

Fabric boots can be harder to clean than leather boots but it’s worth making the effort to ensure they are cleaned properly. Dirt particles left in the fabric can cause the fibres to decay and reduce the lifespan of your boots. A spray on proofer or aerosol designed for fabric boots will help restore the boots waterproof capabilities.

  1. Clean the boots (how to clean hiking boots or shoes for full details)
  2. Choose a spray or aerosol reproofer. Some people prefer a spray reproofer over aerosols, as it is more concentrated it can be easier to see where has already been covered.
  3. Fabric boots can be re-proofed whilst wet or dry. You may prefer to clean and dry out your boots, apply the reproofer the following day and leave to dry overnight again before next use. Although this takes a little longer, you will be able to see where you have sprayed the proofer on much easier than spraying on to wet boots. Alternatively you can reproof your boots when wet, some people believe that the proofer will sink into the boots better when damp.
  4. Whether you apply to wet or dry boots, once the proofer has been applied leave to air dry until the boot is completely dry before wearing


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