How to Reproof an Oilskin Coat

by Alexis Rohlin ; Updated September 28, 2017

Oilskin coats are often worn in shipping settings.

Joe Gough/iStock/Getty Images

Oilskin coats are Australian-style dusters or riding coats worn to protect the body from the elements. The outer shell is made from tightly woven two-ply cotton canvas cloth that is soaked with a hot solution of oils and waxes -- called a dressing -- that cool to create a waterproof. When the coat looks and feels dry, is stiff to the touch, or has seams that leak, it is time to reproof.

Items you will need

  • Wool-grade laundry detergent
  • Clothes hanger
  • Oilskin dressing
  • Clean cloth
  • Small bowl
Step 1

Rinse off your coat in a bathtub full of cold water. Add a wool-grade laundry detergent to the water. Swish the coat in the water for two minutes and then let it sit submerged in the water overnight. Rinse with cool water.

Step 2

Place the coat on a hanger and hang it over your tub to drip dry. Let the coat hang for a day or until it is completely dry.

Step 3

Set the coat in direct sunlight to heat the fabric. The heat from the sun will allow the dressing to spread on the oilskin and be quickly absorbed into the coat fabric.

Step 4

Place the can of oilskin dressing into a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes to melt as your coat warms up. If necessary, heat the water in the microwave first.

Step 5

Apply the oilskin dressing to the sun-warmed coat with a clean cloth. Rub the dressing into the coat a quarter-sized amount at a time, using a circular motion. Apply extra dressing to the seams of the coat to prevent them from leaking.

Step 6

Wipe off the excess dressing with a clean towel, then hang the coat up to dry overnight in a well-ventilated area.


  • If you are not in an area that gets very hot, or you wish to re-proof your oilskin coat during the colder months of the year, use a hair dryer to heat up your coat before applying the dressing.


  • When using toxic chemicals, work in a well-ventilated area.

Photo Credits

  • Joe Gough/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.