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How Can I Waterproof My Shoes and Keep Them Looking Great?

How Can I Waterproof My Shoe using Aether Care Waterproofing Spray

Getting caught up in wet shoes can be uncomfortable in the middle of outdoor activities or during the rainy season. A waterproofed pair of shoes is important to keep feet free from foot odour and moisture away from the shoe fabric. This article will teach you how to waterproof shoes, the necessary materials, and long-term maintenance tips.

Understanding Waterproofing

What Is Shoe Waterproofing?

Shoe waterproofing is the process of treating shoes with materials that prevent water from penetrating the shoe’s surface. The treatment uses waterproof products, such as sprays and creams, to protect shoes from water, leading to structural damage.

Unlike conventional running shoes with an ultralight mesh upper, waterproof footwear has a Gore-Tex lining to stop water entry.

What Is the Difference between Water-Resistant and Waterproof Materials?

Water-resistant and waterproof materials are both designed to resist or prevent water penetration. However, they also have notable differences.

Waterproof materials are completely unaffected by water and designed to prevent water from getting through them. These materials are coated with a waterproofing material or have a special membrane, like polyurethane, that prevents the passage of water.

On the other hand, water-resistant materials can only resist moisture to a certain extent but not completely, comparable to sunscreen. Swimming on a water-resistant formula can protect your skin from sun rays. Gradually it will wear off, and you’ll have to reapply because it’s not “waterproof”.

These translate to water-resistant shoes that survive drizzles. On the other hand, waterproof walking shoes can be submerged in water for a few seconds. 

Types of Shoes That Can Be Waterproofed

Here are some common types of shoes that can be waterproofed. It’s important to test the product first on the boot’s shank or the side of the heel before applying it entirely. This is because some waterproofing products can cause discolouration.

Leather shoes

Leather is strong and flexible, making it an ideal choice for footwear that needs beating. Leather shoes must be waterproofed because they have seams, stitching, and other areas where water can seep. 

Canvas shoes

Canvas are light shoes made of canvas and a rubber sole. They are super trendy during summer and not designed to be waterproof. Besides, you don’t want your favourite canvas shoes wrinkled by rainwater or humidity.

Suede and nubuck shoes

Suede and nubuck shoes are only good for nice weather and a little rain will likely ruin them. Even after you’ve waterproofed a suede, it shouldn’t be walked in heavy rain.

This is because Suede and nubuck shoes are made with delicate materials. Harsh chemicals can easily damage them, so you should take extra care when waterproofing. 

Synthetic materials

Shoes made from synthetic materials tend to be undistinguishable from authentic leather. Although these materials are impervious to water, they can still absorb lots of moisture and are prone to dust.

Evaluating Shoe Condition Before Waterproofing 

Assessing shoe integrity

Before waterproofing your shoes, you should assess their integrity to ensure they are in good condition and suitable for waterproofing. Some things to look for when assessing the integrity of your shoes are the following:

  • Damage:check for cracks, holes, and tears in the shoes. If your shoes are not structurally sound and have significant damage, it could compromise waterproofing quality. 
  • Cleanliness:ensure the shoes are clean and free from dirt and debris because these can interfere with waterproofing.
  • Material:consider the material of the shoes because some materials, like leather and synthetic materials, are more suitable for waterproofing.

Addressing pre-existing damage or wear

Looking for pre-existing damage or wear ensures your shoes are in good condition and the waterproofing treatment's effective. Here are some ways to check for pre-existing damage or wear:

  • Clean the shoes:Use a soft brush or cloth to remove first and easily see any areas of damage.
  • Repair damages:If shoe parts are damaged, you should repair them before waterproofing. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may either repair them yourself or take them to a professional shoe repair shop. 

Essential Tools to Waterproof Shoes

Waterproofing shoes require a few essential tools to ensure the job is done properly and effectively. Here are some of the best waterproofing tools in the market you can try: 

1. Waterproofing sprays

Waterproofing sprays are liquid products that coat shoes and other items to protect them from the elements. They are specially formulated with chemicals that form a protective layer on the material's surface, preventing moisture from seeping through.

Waterproofing sprays fill the pores in the fabric. This can be leather, canvas, suede, or any material like silicone that repels water.

Here are our top picks for waterproofing sprays for shoes:

Aether Care Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray [Original]

Aether Care Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray | Shoe waterproofing spray

Aether Care’s Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray [Original] is a great solution for protecting your beloved sneakers. Its formula is laboratory tested and reviewed for purity and cleanliness. 

The nanospray contains superhydrophobic molecules 1,000 times smaller than human hair, making anything it's sprayed onto water & stain-resistant. 

The waterproof shoes spray's main ingredients are water-resistant polymer, citric acid, refined water, and a wetting agent. 

Aether Care Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray [Santalum]

Aether Care Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray Santalum | Scented Shoe waterproofing spray

Aether Care’s Sneaker Protector Impervious Spray [Santalum] is the first-ever scented water and stain protector. 

It is formulated with beautiful sweet notes of Santalum Spicatum, the Australian Sandalwood. 

This water and stain-repellent spray can protect your sneakers from water, stains, and other liquids.

The product’s main ingredients are water-resistant polymer, a wetting agent, citric acid, and refined water.

2. Waxes

Waxes and wax-based waterproofing products are ideal for protecting your shoes from moisture. There are several different types of wax available. Most wax-based options are better suited for canvas shoes and trainers than leather or suede.

3. Vaseline

Vaseline is a great temporary waterproofing option if you have trouble with leather shoes. It can temporarily waterproof your shoes after cleaning them. Simply apply a coat of Vaseline, and it will do the job.

4. Beeswax

Using beeswax for waterproofing is a technique that has been used for many years. It can be successful; just ensure you use good quality ones. However, wax can leave marks on a shoe’s surface, and the heat needed to apply can damage the leather.

5. Creams

Creams are good options for waterproofing soft leather. Shoe stores often offer special water-repellent creams, either emulsion or organic types.

Emulsion, with various chemicals, can be used in the warm season. So, if moisture gets on the shoes, the skin does not crack from direct sunlight.

Preparation for Waterproofing

There are important steps before applying waterproofing products to your shoes. By following these steps, your shoes will be ready for waterproofing and the products will adhere well to the surface. 

Step #1. Cleaning the Shoes

Before waterproofing shoes, it’s important to clean them thoroughly to remove dirt, dust, and debris on the surface. Use a sponge or damp cloth to wipe down the shoes or a shoe cleaner. It’s recommended to read about cleaning guides specific to the types of shoes you will clean for the best results. 

Step #2. Removing dirt and stains

You may need a stain remover if there are stubborn stains or dirt marks on your shoes. Ensure that the product is safe for your shoe material.

Step #3. Drying the shoes properly

Once your shoes are clean and dirt-free, you’ll need to dry them properly before applying waterproofing products. Stuff them with newspaper or paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Then, leave them to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid using a blower, as the heat can damage the material of your shoes. 

Waterproofing Techniques for Different Shoe Materials

Different shoe materials may require different waterproofing techniques to ensure effective protection from water damage. Here are some techniques for the most common shoes: 

Method 1: Waterproofing Leather Shoes

  • After laying a newspaper or an old cloth, use a boot brush to clean dirt and residue. 
  • If using a spray type of product, lightly spray on the boots. Test a small area first. 
  • Spray lightly and steadily from a distance of 8 to 12 inches from the boots.
  • Let it dry for about 20 minutes. Don’t use a heating appliance to avoid hardening or cracking. 
  • Spray a second layer of light coat and let it dry. Do this monthly as needed when stomped on too much water.

Tip:Avoidusing products with ingredients like lanolin and beeswax because they can dry out leather.

Method 2: Waterproofing Canvas Shoes

  • Remove shoelaces and lay the shoes on a newspaper or cloth
  • Shake the can well and test the inside of the shoes first to ensure it won’t cause discolouration.
  • Spray evenly from a distance of six inches from the shoes.
  • Let it dry for a few minutes
  • Apply a second coat
  • Let it set for one day before using

Method 3: Waterproofing Suede and Nubuck Shoes

  • Clean the surface
  • Use a suede care kit with a scuff block and brush to remove stains and restore the texture of the suede.
  • Spray from a distance of four to six inches between the suede surface and the spray nozzle. 
  • Spray lightly each time to avoid oversaturation. Apply four to six coats to ensure you don’t miss any spots.
  • Let the shoes dry for a few minutes after spraying each coat layer.
  • Let it dry for 20 minutes after spraying the final coat.

Method 4: Waterproofing Synthetic Materials

  • Clean your synthetic shoes using water and detergent.
  • After drying, take out your shoes in an open space.
  • Spray a silicone water guard from a distance of seven to eight inches.
  • Spray evenly until you have covered the entire surface.
  • Air dry for 24 hours until the silicon water guard goes odourless
  • Let the silicone water guard cure completely for three days

Long-Term Care and Maintenance

Long-term care and maintenance of waterproofed shoes help ensure they remain intact over time. Here are some tips to help you care for your waterproofed shoes:

Periodic Reapplication of Waterproofing

Waterproofed shoes will eventually lose their effectiveness over time and with use. It's important to periodically reapply a waterproofing treatment to protect your shoes from moisture. The frequency of reapplication will depend on how often you wear your shoes and the conditions they are exposed to.

Cleaning Tips for Waterproofed Shoes

Regular cleaning is important to keep your shoes looking and performing their best. Use a boot brush to help reach into thin folds and crevices. Avoid harsh chemicals, detergents, or bleach that may damage the shoes’ waterproofing properties.

Storage Considerations

Long-term care and maintenance of waterproofed shoes are important to ensure they remain effective over time. After waterproofing your shoes, keep them dry and away from direct sunlight and dampness. Let the shoes break in before wearing them because they stiffen after waterproofing.

Additional Protection for Specific Activities

Waterproofing Athletic and Running Shoes

When waterproofing athletic and running shoes, it's important to use a product and coat them with a seal. This helps avoid compromising the shoe's breathability.

Look for a waterproofing spray or treatment specifically designed for athletic shoes. These products are formulated to maintain the shoe's breathability while protecting it from moisture.

Waterproofing Hiking and Outdoor Footwear

Hiking and outdoor footwear often require more heavy-duty waterproofing due to the harsher conditions they are exposed to. Look for a waterproofing treatment specifically designed for outdoor footwear, as these products are formulated to withstand more extreme conditions. Opt for shoes made with waterproof materials like Gore-Tex to prevent water entry.

Waterproofing Dress Shoes and Formal Footwear

Dress shoes are often expensive and prone to damage by water exposure.

Avoid wearing dress shoes in wet or muddy conditions whenever possible to minimize the need for waterproofing. This is because dress boots are designed for formal events, not for wading through puddles.

Treat functional boots regularly with waterproofing compounds depending on your environment and frequency of use.

Dealing with Wet Shoes

Drying Wet Shoes Properly

Properly drying wet shoes is important to prevent damage and odours. Here are some additional tips to help dry your wet shoes:

  • Use a floor fan:Place a fan near the shoes to help circulate air and speed up the drying process. Remove the insoles and airdry them separately. Then, open up the laces and place your shoes on the fan.
  • Use a shoe dryer: If you frequently deal with wet shoes, consider investing in a shoe dryer. These devices use gentle heat to dry shoes quickly and effectively. Remember to remove the insoles and open up the laces.
  • Dry in the sun:If it's a sunny day, place your shoes outside help speed up the drying process. Although it’s good for killing bacteria, it may cause discolouration. So, only expose them to sunlight briefly and leave them in a well-ventilated area afterwards.

Treating Water Damage and Stains

If your shoes have suffered water damage or stains, there are a few things you can do to treat them:

  • Use a stain remover:Pre-treat stains by applying detergent directly to the spot and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes. Clean the shoe with a sponge or cloth dipped in the detergent solution. If the stains are stubborn, use a stain remover specifically designed for use on shoes.
  • Stuff them with newspaper:Stuffing your shoes or boots with newspaper is especially useful when soaked in water. The dry newspaper will absorb moisture, maintain the shape of the shoes, and draw it out of the leather.
  • Reapply waterproofing: If your shoes have suffered water damage, reapply for waterproofing treatment to protect them from future damage.

Common Waterproofing Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to waterproofing shoes, people make a few common mistakes that can harm the shoes. Here are a couple of mistakes to avoid:

Overusing Waterproofing Products

Following the manufacturer's instructions when applying waterproofing products to your shoes is important. Using too much products or applying them too frequently can cause damage to the shoes. Overuse can cause the shoes to become stiff or hard, leading to discolouration or other damage to the shoe's exterior. Applying too much product can also block the shoe's breathability, leading to discomfort.

Neglecting Shoe Maintenance

Even if your shoes are waterproofed, neglecting regular maintenance can still lead to damage and wear. It's important to regularly clean and condition your shoes to keep them in good condition. Neglecting to clean your shoes can lead to dirt buildup, causing the shoes to deteriorate over time. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Waterproofing Permanent?

Waterproofing is not always permanent. It can wear off over time with use and exposure to the elements. The effectiveness of the waterproofing treatment depends on the product quality, the frequency of use, and the conditions the shoes are exposed to.

Can All Types of Shoes Be Waterproofed?

Most types of shoes can be waterproofed, but it's important to use a product appropriate for the specific shoe material. Read the manufacturer's instructions and consider the material of the shoe before applying any waterproofing treatment.

How Often Should I Waterproof My Shoes?

The frequency of reapplication will depend on how often you wear your shoes and the conditions they are exposed to. It's a good idea to reapply waterproofing every few months to maintain the effectiveness of the treatment. However, if you frequently wear your shoes in wet conditions, you may need to reapply more often.

Can I Use the Same Product for Different Shoe Materials?

It depends on the product. Some waterproofing treatments are designed for various shoe materials. In contrast, others are formulated specifically for use on certain materials. 

  • Aether Care Waterproof spray is best for all types of shoes, it's also good for canvas shoes and suede shoes
  • Vaseline and Nikwax are best for leather shoes
  • Silicone is great for all shoe types
  • Beeswax is best for canvas shoes
  • Candle wax is best for canvas shoes and trainers 

Are Waterproofing Sprays Safe for the Environment?

Many waterproofing sprays contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. Look for products labelled as environmentally friendly or biodegradable if you're concerned about the environmental impact. Additionally, dispose of any unused products and empty containers properly.

Maximise Your Shoe Investment 

Waterproofing is an essential aspect of shoe care that should not be overlooked. Water damage can quickly ruin the appearance and functionality of your shoes, leading to expensive repairs or replacements. Waterproofing your shoes can help protect them from the damaging effects of water and prolong their lifespan.

Protect your shoes by investing in high-quality waterproofing brands. Aether Care's collection of products for sneaker care can be valuable for those who want to keep their sneakers in top condition. The range of waterproofing products can help protect your sneakers from water damage. The cleaning kits and solutions can help you remove dirt, stains, and debris accumulating over time.

You can enjoy them for years and save money on costly replacements by taking proactive steps to waterproof your shoes. 

Fajar Sugiarto

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