How to Waterproof Shoes

You probably know that your low profile trainers and other types of canvas shoes are not made for wet weather and are prone to damage when they come into contact with water.

Well, this is no reason to replace them with a pair of waders as you can easily waterproof them and make them even more comfortable and durable in all kinds of weather. Using a reliable waterproofing spray, wax, or cream, you can protect any textile footwear within a short time and make it serve you better for longer.

You’ll also be doing your feet and toes a big favor when you protect your shoes from the accidental dunk in a pool, drizzles, and occasional drips.

We'll go over the two best ways to waterproof shoes, however, we highly suggest going with the second method.

Here's how to waterproof shoes.

waterproofing shoes

How to Waterproof Your Shoes With Wax (or Beeswax)

This is a simple DIY shoe protection method. You’ll need a chunk of beeswax or a colorless candle as a source of wax. Natural beeswax works best and is sold as a lubricant in most hardware stores.

If you can’t get beeswax, you can use a colorless and odorless paraffin wax candle. Whichever wax you use, ensure it is not dyed to avoid staining your shoes.

Here's the beeswax we suggest.

Skidmores Premium Beeswax Waterproofing cream

Skidmore's Premium Beeswax Waterproofing cream

  • Deeply penetrates fabric and leaves a durable waterproof seal
  • Made from natural ingredients, no harmful/toxic chemicals
  • Protects your shoes from rain and snow

 I use this to add extra waterproofing to my winter riding boots and it’s amazing!!! Completely repels not only water, but the thick mud in the pasture that normally sticks like glue

1. Start by Cleaning Your Shoes

Make sure to clean the shoes properly preferably using a damp cloth. The wax will only settle properly if the surface is spotless clean. So wipe the shoe properly to remove dirt, dust, and debris. For old pairs of shoes that have seen plenty of action, you may need to put them through the washer and dryer before you start waxing them.

There’s a good reason to clean your shoes before you wax them. If you wax them without cleaning, the dirt will be trapped under the wax and make it more difficult to clean them later as they’ll already be waterproof.

Your shoes should also be completely dry before you start waxing them. In wet weather, you could wash them a day in advance and give them time to dry completely before waxing. Here's a video on how to clean your shoes (the right way).

2. Test Before Applying

There are different types of textile-based shoes so it may be wise to test how the wax works on an inconspicuous section of the shoe before you apply the wax all over the shoe.

You could rub a spot of wax on the sidewall or any lower part of the shoe closer to the outsole and check the effect. Make sure the wax doesn’t stain or ruin the good looks of your shoes.

Colorless wax works well on all types and colors of shoes but if you are using colored wax, run a small test on a small part of the shoe to ensure that the wax matches the color of your shoes.

3. Apply the Wax

Applying the wax is just as simple as rubbing it everywhere on the outer part of the shoe, except the outer sole of course.

Take time to rub the wax vigorously all over the shoe to create a thick layer on every part of the shoe that you want to protect from moisture. Rub it back and forth for the best results. Make sure the areas around the toe, laces, heel, and sidewalls where water is likely to seep in are properly waxed.

Double check after you are done with one shoe and look for missed spots that could later be vulnerable to water leaks. You’ll notice some discoloration as the wax builds up but don’t panic because the discoloration will disappear when you dry the shoe.

4. Dry the Wax Using a Hairdryer

Once you’ve applied the wax evenly on the shoe surface, the next step will be to dry it using a hairdryer. Grab your hairdryer, switch it on, and allow it to warm up for a moment before sending a blast of hot air to the waxed shoe.

The higher the temperature you use the faster the wax will dry and the quicker it will melt into the shoe fabric. Start with moderate heat and keep the hairdryer nozzle closer to the shoe to ensure a better concentration of heat on the shoe.

Dry the wax gradually by waving the dryer over the shoe in front to back motions. Turn the dryer as needed to reach every part of the shoe. You’ll notice the wax starting to fade immediately as it dries up. Work on one shoe at a time and continue waxing until all the wax is gone.

As the wax melts, it becomes integrated into the shoe fabric and seals all the tiny openings that would otherwise be allowed in moisture. The wax will then re-harden back as a colorless protective barrier against moisture.

You can test the results of your waterproofing by pouring a cup of water on the toe area of your shoe. The water will form beads and roll off harmlessly.

For visual learners, here's a video of how to waterproof your shoes with beeswax.

Waterproofing Your Shoes Using the Rust-Oleum 280886 NeverWet Spray

How about cutting the entire process discussed above by more than half by just spraying your shoes to make them completely waterproof without changing their look? You can do it using Rust-Oleum NeverWet Shoe Water Repellant Spray.

Rust-Oleum NeverWet Boot Spray

Rust-Oleum NeverWet Shoe Spray

  • Repels and protects from damage caused by water
  • Sprays on clear
  • Works on leather, suede, nubuck, canvas and other shoe material

 I sprayed my lug nubuck boots with it and let it sit outside to dry overnight in early spring. I put them on the radiator to dry another day and a half and you couldn’t get any liquid to stick to them.

This is an effective superhydrophobic coating that is easy to apply and keeps your boots and other types of footwear dry in wet weather. The spray works by creating moisture repelling barrier on your shoes without altering the look and feel of your precious footwear.

The Rust-Oleum NeverWet shoe spray is invisible and won’t change the color of your shoes fabric. It is a one-step waterproofing spray that can be used on all types of shoes including work boots, trainers, tennis shoes, and suede boots. It works perfectly well on all types of fabrics including leather, canvas, suede, Nubuck, and many more.

How to Apply the Rust-Oleum NeverWet Spray

  • Start with a test spray on an inconspicuous part of the shoe to get the feel of the spray pattern
  • Hold the bottle at least 8 to 12 inches from the shoe surface while spraying
  • Use the spray outdoors or in a well-ventilated room
  • You can re-apply the spray again later when its repellency seems to be diminishing.

The Rust-Oleum NeverWet Boot and Shoe Water Repellant Treatment not only protects your shoes from moisture but also allows the fabric to breathe better, is safe to use on most shoe materials, and preserves your footwear from damage caused by water.