Why should you protect your shoes? A pair of quality shoes is an investment—a well made pair can last quite a long time if properly cared for. However, one of the quickest ways to wear out your shoes is to allow them to be water-damaged. At TheShoeMart.com, we have a variety of waterproof shoes. However, if you’d like to protect shoes you already have, you can learn to make them water resistant below!
Always let your leather and suede shoes dry naturally and never put them near heat (fireplace, radiator, etc) to dry. Shoes that dry out quickly can crack if not treated well. To speed up drying to an appropriate rate, remove insoles and stuff shoes with newspaper, changing out for dry newspaper occasionally. The same way shoes shouldn’t lose moisture quickly (dry naturally), they shouldn’t intake a lot of moisture at once, either.
What materials SHOULD be protected, and what shouldn’t? Soft leather, silk, suede, fish and reptilian skin should all be protected from water damage. However, attempting to waterproof patent leather, shiny soft leathers, animal hairs, or sparkly artificial materials like sequins or glitter will only ruin the finish of your shoes.
Step 1: Make sure shoes are clean.
You don’t want to waterproof over dirt, dust, or excess polish, so be sure to clean shoes and remove excess build-up before waterproofing. A universal product like Collonil Clean & Care (Colorless) works on a variety of materials, including canvas/fabric, suede, nubuck, and smooth leather. Remove the laces before cleaning, polishing, or waterproofing. As with all products, test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous patch of the shoe to ensure it does not cause discoloration. Dry shoes as instructed above.
Step 2: Make ’em water resistant.
We suggest you follow the directions on whatever product you choose, but here are some tips:
1. Always do a spot test, just as you would with polish or cleaning products. Use the side of the shoe’s tongue where the laces will hide a mistake or the inner side of the back of the shoe.
2. Be sure to read all of the labels and ensure that the product fits the material. We have various products from Frye, Collonil, Skidmore’s, and Alden to help you protect your shoes from water damage:
Alden Leather Defender: Water-based spray for leather shoes and boots. Should not be used on suede or nubuck.
Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing: Penetrates leather leaving a waterproof seal. Leather only, no suede or nubuck.
Collonil Waterstop Spray (200 ML) is designed for a variety of materials, from leather to suede to canvas and fabric.
Frye makes a weatherproof spray for leather. You can find our blog on using Frye products here.
Step 3: Shake it off.
Now that your shoes are water resistant, take pride in their longevity. Waterproofing is no excuse to slack on shoe care, however. Be sure to maintain your shoes and create a rotation so that they have time to dry out in between uses.
In warm dry climates you can get away with weekly polish and waterproofing once or twice a year, but in rainy and cold climates you should polish and waterproof much more often, and possibly invest in a pair of waterproof shoes or galoshes to travel in.