How to Clean & Waterproof Shoes and Boots
Dirty, soggy shoes?
Over time, shoes and boots get dirty and lose their original waterproofing. Even if your shoes have a waterproof membrane, like GORE-TEX, BDry, or eVent, the outer material will eventually soak up water. If your shoes are wet on the outside, that means water vapor (foot sweat) can’t escape, and soon, pruney swamp feet will follow. Luckily, it’s easy to clean and re-waterproof your shoes and boots to keep your feet dry and happy.
Clean your shoes? Yes please. If you want to re-apply waterproofing, you need to do it on a clean surface. Brush off clumps of dirt and mud, and then scrub your shoes with Footwear Cleaning Gel. It is designed to remove embedded dirt particles, and prepare shoes for waterproofing.
Once your shoes are sparkly clean, apply the appropriate waterproofing product for your type of footwear.
- For fabric or fabric and leather combination footwear, use Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof.
- For textured leather like nubuck or suede, use Nubuck & Suede Proof.
- For full grain leather, use Waterproofing Wax for Leather. (See handy chart below to determine what type of shoes you have.)
Apply the waterproofing while your shoes are still wet. Let sit for a few minutes, then remove excess with a damp cloth. If you’re using Waterproofing Wax for Leather, buff out all excess by rubbing it into the leather much like lotion.
Let your shoes dry naturally.
Do not place next to direct heat, as it can cause soles to de-bond and leather to dry and crack. If you want to speed things up a bit, put newspaper or paper/cloth towels in your shoes to soak up excess moisture.