How to Waterproof Expensive Leather Boots

by Kimberly Johnson
Before you even think about stepping outside in boots like these worn by Lara-Joy Korner, apply some waterproofing.

Before you even think about stepping outside in boots like these worn by Lara-Joy Korner, apply some waterproofing.

If you live where there's a lot of rain or snow, you know water can seriously damage boots. So as soon as you buy expensive boots, you'll want to apply a waterproofing agent. This not only extends the life of the boots; it makes them more comfortable. Waterproofing requires periodic application, since all products wear off over time and with exposure to the outdoors.

Clean the Boots

Remove any laces from the boots and set them aside. For fashion boots, cover any ribbons, gems or other embellishments using masking or painter's tape to protect them from damage.

Scrub the entire outer surface of the boot using a stiff-bristled brush, such as a vegetable brush. Use short, brisk strokes, concentration on any areas of dirt. If desired, you may also use a toothbrush to get into small crevices or cracks of the boot, especially near the sole and heels.

Fill a sink with one gallon of warm water and add the amount of boot cleaner specified on the package. If you don’t have boot cleaner, substitute two or three tablespoons of liquid dish soap.

Insert the brush into the soap solution and apply it to any discolored areas of the boots. Move the brush in circular motions to remove the stains. Continue cleaning until the boots are completely free of dirt and stains.

Dry all surface of the boots thoroughly with a clean towel to remove the moisture.

Waterproof the Boots

Dampen the exterior surfaces of the boots thoroughly by wrapping them with a soaking wet towel. Leave the towel in place for one to two hours. Although this may seem counterintuitive, damp boots absorb waterproofing agents better than dry ones.

Remove the towel and apply a quarter-size amount of waterproofing product to a lint-free cloth. Wipe the cloth over the surface of the boots, adding more waterproofer as needed. Some waterproofing agents come in a spray bottle you simply spritz over the boot surface.

Set the boots in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Once the boots are dry, reinsert any laces into both boots.

Items you will need

  • Masking or painter's tape
  • Vegetable brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Water
  • Boot cleaner or dish soap
  • Towel
  • Waterproofing solution
  • Lint-free cloth


  • To determine when it to reapply the waterproofing solution, perform a water absorption test. Sprinkle four to five drops of water on the boot and watch to see how long it takes to soak in. If the water beads up and stays there, the boots are fine. If the water soaks in within five to 10 seconds, it’s time for a fresh application.
  • Apply the waterproofing products to a small area of the boot first, to test for color fastness.
  • Purchase a waterproofing product made for the type of fabric your boots are made of. If the boots are smooth leather, opt for a silicone-based product.


  • Do not use bar soap or laundry detergent to clean boots, since these products can create buildup.
  • Do not soak boots.
  • Use different cleaning methods than these for suede boots. Consult your product specifications.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

Photo Credits

  • Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images