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How to Weatherproof Leather

Leather is a great material for shoes, clothes, bags, and more. It is tough and durable while also managing to look amazing, often looking even better as it ages and shows signs of wear. But despite its toughness, leather is still susceptible to water damage, and it can be a real pain having to worry about protecting your clothing from the rain. Luckily, it isn’t too hard to weatherproof leather, and today we are going to show you how.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Vinegar (for salt stains)
  • 2 ounces beeswax
  • Glass Jar
  • Medium pan of cold water
  • Clean, soft buffing cloth


  1. Mix your ingredients together - pour the olive oil into the jar and then add the beeswax, broken into pieces. Set the jar in the pan of water
  2. Place the pan on your stove and heat while stirring. Continue until the beeswax is incorporated fully.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and remove the jar from the pan (careful, it may be hot). Stir the mixture while it cools (10-20 minutes)
  4. Once the contents of the jar have fully cooled, test out the solution on a less-visible area of the garment. Clean the leather thoroughly, then apply your weatherproofing cream, using the cloth to gently buff the surface. Repeat a few times to create multiple coats - this is an important step to ensure effective waterproofing.

7 Tips for Weatherproofing Your Shoes

man wearing black leather shoes

1. Don’t Use Waterproofing Spray

It might seem appealing to seal out every drop of water from getting to your shoes. While it’s true that you can keep your leather protected this way, consider using a less extreme solution that will allow your shoes to breathe. In other words, go for water resistance rather than water proofing. Unless you are going to be submerging your leather in water for significant periods of time, water resistance will be enough. That way, you can avoid the hot, sweaty feet that often accompany the barrier created by waterproofing sprays.

2. The Kind of Leather Matters

Water resistant sprays and other products are not usually one size fits all. Just as there are many different kinds of leather, there are many different kinds of weatherproofing products. For example, If you have smooth leather shoes, you might opt for a wax, while a suede shoe would likely respond better to a spray. Make sure that, whatever product or recipe you use, you read all labels and warnings to make sure that it will not damage your leather. 

3. Make Sure Your Leather is Clean

As with most projects that involve applying a protective layer, you want to make sure that you are working with a completely clean canvas. If you try to weatherproof a dirty shoe, then you will end up trapping all that debris inside the water resistant layer, leading to a permanently dirty-looking shoe. Likewise, you should condition your leather before weatherproofing to prevent cracking. Once your leather is weatherproofed, it will be much harder to work conditioner into it. 

4. Get Rid of Salt Stains Easily

Getting through the winter without some salt stains on your shoes can be nearly impossible. Luckily they should come right out if you use a bit of vinegar. Distilled white vinegar diluted with water works well to remove these stains, thanks to vinegar’s acidity. Apply the solution and wipe it off gently to have your leather looking good as new. 

5. Use a Brush to Remove Dirt

Using a brush to clean the dirt from your leather shoes or clothes is a great idea before weatherproofing, but it is also a useful habit to get into in general. If you brush your leather often - provided it gets exposed to dirt and debris - keeping it clean will be easy as pie. If you let too much gunk build up on your leather, it can lead to stains and damage.

6. Take Extra Care to Seal the Seams of Your Leather

Even if you cover the whole surface of a piece of leather, one vulnerable seam or joint can be bad news. Make sure to take extra care around these openings and junctures to make sure water cannot seep in and cause damage. 

7. Be Careful When Applying Sprays

Although a “more is more” approach might seem to make sense in the case of weatherproofing, it is important to follow directions and refrain from soaking your shoes in solutions or sprays. Always read instructions, and, when in doubt, apply judiciously. If you end up using too much, you risk damaging the material you set out to protect.


And those are the basics of weatherproofing your leather. The method laid out here is a great way you can weatherproof your leather mostly using ingredients you probably have lying around already. But even if you choose to save yourself the effort and buy a premade solution, follow the above tips, and you are sure to have pristine, water-resistant leather for the winter. What are you waiting for?

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