How to Make Something Waterproof

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To improve the longevity of leather or suede clothing items, use a waterproofing product to protect the item from the elements. You can also use waterproofing products to protect other types of clothing such as hiking pants, ski pants and other outdoor gear.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather, suede or nubuck clothing item
  • Waterproofing oil, wax or spray

Leather Boots

Clean off any dirt or debris from your boots.

Purchase a waterproofing agent for leather boots from a shoe store or outdoor store. Oils and waxes are typically best for heavy-duty boots used for work or hiking. Check the label to make sure the product can be used on your boots.

Do a spot check with the product by dabbing a small amount of the product on an inconspicuous area of the boot. Let the product dry overnight. After it dries, check to make sure no major discoloration has occurred. (Waterproofing products typically will cause some discoloration.)

Suede or Nubuck Clothing and Shoes

Be sure to purchase a product designated for suede. Waterproofing sprays are typically used on suede or nubuck items.

Remove any dirt from your suede clothing item.

Do a small spot check with the waterproofing product to make sure it does not harm your clothing.

Apply an even coat of waterproofing spray. Check the product's label to determine how far away you should hold the spray--typically you should hold the spray about 6 inches away.

Let your clothing item dry overnight.

Other Clothing Items

You can also waterproof other items, such as hiking pants or ski pants. Nikwax offers several waterproofing products, including wash-in treatments and spray-on products.

To use the wash-in product, place the clothing you want to waterproof in your washing machine and then add the wash-in treatment to your machine. Run a normal washing cycle.

If you have previously worn or washed the clothing item, use a Tech Wash (also made by Nikwax) and then use the wash-in waterproofing treatment.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on the type of product you use, you may need to apply it in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes. Check the label for warnings before starting the waterproofing process.

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