Are Shoe Waterproofing Products Efficient?
If you live in a wet climate or are going to be in a situation where you’re going to be exposed to some wet conditions then waterproofing your shoes may well be worth your time. This is especially true if you’ve got a nice pair of shoes that you want to protect from the elements. The truth is no one likes wet feet.
But the process by which most people go about it seems almost too good to be true. Buy a relatively inexpensive product, spray on (or rub it on) let it all dry and there you go. Can it really be that easy?
Below we’ll explore the efficacy (or perhaps inefficiency) of waterproofing your shoes, and some tips and tricks.
The first and most important thing to do is to reassess our phrasing. It would make sense here to exchange the words waterproof with water resistant. No matter who claims it, it is very difficult to make a shoe 100% waterproof, and particularly hard when using spray on or other topical products. These are best thought of as guards but not foolproof ones.
Our experience, and a thorough trawl of waterproofing product reviews on amazon, leads us to the conclusion that there definitely is something to be said for these type of products. With varying degrees of success you can really change the ability to which your shoes repel water. But how?
Some common strategies and/or products are as follows:
Wax-based polishes – Polishes that are made from wax are intended to create a shine and by doing so they create a thin (albeit quite useful) protective layer. This layer can provide resistance to water and salt. The downside here is this method requires consistent reapplication of the product in order for it to fully work. Wax polishes are one of the oldest and most time tested methods of treating shoes for water resistance.
Specialty waterproof compounds – Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative and Sof Sole WaterProofer are just two examples of compounds whose main purpose is to give protection. One obvious benefit here is that they have a longer sticking period than polishes (you also don’t get the aesthetic benefit you would from polish), so when applied properly these are a great and long lasting solution.
Spray on waterproofing compounds – The solution that receives the most amount of guff is generally the cheap spray on solutions. Shoe aficionados will tell you that you run a good chance of damaging leather shoes with these products, and that they aren’t that effective. The argument runs like this: these compounds generally contain silicone and it will dry out the leather. Companies such as UGG make a water & stain protector that in our experience is safe to use on leather (and suede). Just spray it on and you’ll be ready to roll in under an hour.
DIY methods — Some folks like to do things themselves and take pride in thrifty solutions. For these types there is always the candle and a blow dryer method.
For this you’ll need the following:
- Candle or an ample amount of beeswax
- Standard blow dryer
- Your shoes (obviously!)
- Rubber gloves are recommended but not required
Once you’ve got your ingredients all you do is rub the candle or beeswax over the entirety of your shoe firmly. Then use your blow dryer to seal in the wax and melt it with the shoe for a nice congealed finish. Let it stand for at least five or ten minutes before wear your shoes. Do a quick test to see the difference and more likely than not you’ll be amazed by the difference. This method isn’t foolproof though. It takes a bit more time, and it also requires reapplication from time to time.
So as you can see, there is a relatively wide range of options out there when it comes to products for making your shoes water resistant. All have different degrees of efficiency depending on the type of shoe, compound used and method of application. Youtube is chock full of DIY tutorials, and amazon is overflowing with sprays, finishes and different polishes — so at a minimum you know you’ll never be hurting for options.
One quite obvious solution to all of this is to simply buy a pair of waterproof shoes such a boots, galoshes or ones made from Gore Tex or synthetic fibers. This can save you ever having to think about water proofing techniques.
In closing we’d like to add a few strategies if, god forbid, your shoes actually do become wet how to dry them out and protect them. This is particularly important for leather shoes.
- Take a spare rag and wipe excess water off of as much of the exterior of the shoe as is possible.
- Extract the moisture from the inside of the shoe. You can do this by placing a newspaper or a small dry towel inside. The key is to get some dry substance on the inside to absorb moisture. Be sure to change out this material every few hours as it can get waterlogged quickly thus reducing itse efficiency.
- Avoid the temptation to place the shoes right next to a heat source. This can crack and damage leather, and in an overall sense isn’t great for most shoes. You want your shoes to be in a dry area but allow them to dry at room temperature.
- Once the shoes appear dry (mostly applies to leather) be sure to give them another once over with the rag and recondition them with polish or whatever it is you use.
So that’s it, those are our best tips when it comes to waterproofing shoes — how do you typically deal with this problem? Let us know in the comments!