Re-Waterproof Your Walking Boots
Cleaning and waterproofing your boots will keep your feet dry and make your boots last longer. You should clean your boots after every trip, but how often you waterproof them depends on the material, how often you use them, and in what environment you use them.
When to waterproof or re-waterproof your boots
You should waterproof your boots after every long hiking trip. If you use them on a more casual basis, you can waterproof them after every 5-10 hikes. But if they get incredibly muddy and wet, they might need another waterproofing after you give them a good clean.
You can get away with waterproofing suede boots just once a season if you use them casually in mild conditions, but leather boots should be waxed more often to prevent drying and cracking.
Waterproofing boots with different materials
Leather will naturally keep the water out, but Dubbin wax is a waterproof wax that actively repels water and protects the leather. You can also apply specialist leather conditioner to them for extra protection.
- Remove the laces.
- Clean the boots thoroughly with a damp cloth.
- Get into all the seams and the tongue of the boots.
- For those hard-to-reach places around the soles and the seams, you can use an old toothbrush, but don’t use a stiff one or scrub too hard, or you’ll scuff the leather.
- Wait until they are dry before waxing. Never apply heat to dry to leather boots, as they can crack.
- If you want to condition the leather, you can do this while they are damp because the conditioner will be pulled deep into the pores as the water evaporates. The conditioner will restore natural oils and moisture to leather, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Use a small amount of conditioner, and rub it in with a clean cloth or your fingers in an even coating. Get into all the seams and folds. Let the boots sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature then buff the excess conditioner off and let them dry.
- After the boots are completely dry, apply the wax. Rub in the Dubbin wax with a cloth. If it is too hard you can use a hair dryer to soften it up (but don’t use the dryer directly on your boots). If you apply the wax with your fingers, your body heat can help soften it.
- Let the boots sit for 30-60 minutes, then buff them with a cloth.
Nubuck leather and suede boots
Do not use Dubbin wax on nubuck or suede boots. It will ruin the soft “furry” finish. The best way to waterproof them is using a specialist nubuck and suede waterproof spray from an outdoors store or shoe shop.
- If possible, clean the boots dry using a soft brush (or expert suede brush).
- If they need a more intense clean, use a damp cloth and try not to get them too wet as this can stain the suede.
- Wait for them to dry at room temperature before waterproofing.
- Spray the boots from a distance of 5cm. Cover them evenly, including the tongues. The boots should be damp from the spray, but not dripping wet.
- Let them dry naturally in an open area – the spray can get a bit heady in an enclosed space.
- Do not leave them in direct sunlight or near a heat source.
- A suede brush can restore the original finish once the boots are dry.
Fabric boots, usually canvas, can be harder to clean because dirt sinks into the fibres. Rough cleaning can reduce the life of the boots. The good news is that waterproofing will make them easier to clean in the future.
- Clean the boots using a wet cloth. You can put them in the washing machine, but this can damage the fabric if done too often.
- You can reproof fabric boots dry or wet. It is easier to see which parts of the boots have already been sprayed if dry, but some people believe the proofer sinks in better if they are treated while damp.
- You can use a spray or an aerosol. Aerosols are quick and easy to use, but some people prefer to use a spray re-proofer because it is more concentrated.
- Apply the reproof evenly over all of the fabric.
- Leave the boots to completely dry overnight.
- Stuffing lightly scrunched newspaper in will help the boots hold their shape, so they dry evenly and quickly.
*Tog 24 will not assume responsibility for any damage to items including, but not limited to, shrinkage, discolouring, deformation, rips or tears.