How to Waterproof Leather

Are you tired of your things getting destroyed by water soaking through, like your brand new leather bag? Or, if you’re like us, you don’t want to go into the house with wet feet after walking through the rain in leather boots, so it’s time to search for solutions! There are a few quick and easy steps that you can take to waterproof your leather so that you preserve your stuff.

We’ll tell you what waterproof leather is actually like, how to seal your leather items to prevent damage, and provide some helpful tutorials to make the process smoother. Stick around; we’ve got some good info coming your way!

Is Leather Waterproof or Water-Resistant?

The terms sound similar; however, there’s a slight difference. It is crucial to know whether your leather product is water-resistant or waterproof if you know it might come into contact with water. First thing’s first, what’s that subtle difference?


If the material is water-resistant, it means that it can naturally resist water saturation to a certain extent. However, it will not be fully protected from water, especially heavy contact. For example, it may not be penetrated in a light rain shower, but anything much more than that, and it probably won’t be protected at all.


On the other hand, waterproof refers to a material that has been appropriately treated and can withstand water submersion without any damage. The only caveat to this is that even the waterproof barrier can only last for so long. Should you leave the material submerged under the water for too long, the damage will still occur.

Now let’s talk about leather.

Which One is Leather?

The leather itself as a material without any treatment doesn’t go well with water. It does have some level of resistance (typically, the smoother leather finishes tolerate water better than the rough leather), but too much water will still make room for damage.

Additionally, the leather is porous, like we mentioned before. If it comes into contact with a lot of water, it’ll get hard and stiff as it dries. It will lose that soft, flexible, smooth, supple nature that you loved when you bought it.

It may even start to rot or get moist if you don’t dry it quickly enough.

Disclaimer: Remember that leather is sort of like our skin. It’s very porous, and because of that, it will always absorb some amount of water when exposed. However, while you can’t make leather 100% waterproof, you can make it more water-resistant.

Also, keep in mind that it’s harder to treat leather the older it gets. If done correctly, you can increase the leather’s lifespan and its capability to keep water at bay.

Making Your Leather Water Resistant

Though several treatments can make the leather more water-resistant, the most popular is using some form of wax. Waxing (using beeswax) is a pretty simple process that’s useful for most types of leather. You can also elect to use a waterproofing spray for your leather boots, bag, gloves, and more.

Different Types of Leather

It’s essential to remember that there are different types of leather, which may require various forms of treatment. Certain materials wouldn’t require any products, and some cannot use wax. Here are the most popular types of leather, with a brief explanation of how they’re constructed.

Faux Leather: Does not possess the same properties as natural leather. It’s made from polyurethane, a type of plastic, and this changes the need for waterproofing.

Synthetic Leather: Has a different feel than real leather in that it’s cheaper and lighter. It also easily absorbs water as genuine leather does.

Nubuck Leather:  What we would call a “watered down” (no pun intended) version of full grain leather. It looks like a fine type of suede, but it’s much more durable. Similar to your standard leather, nubuck is naturally resistant to small amounts of water.

Suede Leather: You can ruin suede so easily with water, seriously! A nice pair of suede boots can get destroyed in a light rain shower, so you want to be extra careful when waterproofing suede.
A product such as wax cannot be used to waterproof suede, as it would tarnish the surface. You’ll have to use a waterproofing spray on suede, and even still, you shouldn’t be wearing whatever product you have in rainy weather, near puddles, and the like.

Full-Grain Leather: Derived from the strongest part of the animal hide. That makes it the most water-resistant and, consequently, the most durable form of leather.

Which Products to Use on Certain Types of Leather

There are different types of leather quality available, and the better quality that you purchase, the better it will resist water after treatment. For more information on leather and how it responds to water-resistant products, as well as which products to use, read here.

Materials You Need to Waterproof Leather With Wax (DIY)

  • 2 oz. of Beeswax
  • 8 oz. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Cold Water (In a Medium Pan)
  • Glass Jar
  • Buffing Cloth (Soft and Clean)
  • Combine all of your ingredients: Pour the oil into your glass jar, and break off pieces of beeswax to add to the jar as well.
  • Put the jar into your medium pan full of cold water.
  • Heat your mixture: warm up your pan on the stove. Be sure to stir the wax mixture while it’s in the jar until the beeswax has melted into the EVOO.
  • Cool it down: Take the pan off of the heat, and be careful when removing the jar. Continually stir the wax until it stiffens after cooling down. This takes about 10-20 minutes.
  • Store the mixture in a dark, cool place until it’s time to use it for waterproofing your leather.

Step-by-Step Processes to Waterproof Leather

The following procedure is guaranteed to help seal your material as best as possible to avoid your things becoming damaged by water.

Wax Method

  1. First, make sure that the leather is as clean as you can get it. It should be free of any dirt and debris before you start to treat it. Dust and other foreign materials can negatively affect how effective the wax is on the leather.
  2. Use a small amount of wax, and add it to a cloth. It’s important not to run it directly onto the leather. Use the cloth and rub the wax into the leather by using a circular motion. The wax should be pliable and not too hard. If it’s hard, it won’t spread as well, so you may need to use a blow dryer before application to make it easier to rub into the leather.
  3. Repeat as often as needed.
  4. Allow the wax to dry naturally for about 30-60 minutes. DO NOT try to speed up the drying process by using something like a blow dryer or placing the leather product next to a heater. This may cause cracking or other damage.
  5. Once the leather is thoroughly dried, use a clean, dry cloth to buff off the wax.


In addition to waxing, it’s just as essential to condition your leather regularly to make sure it stays soft. If your leather is cracking or getting hard, it’s a great time to condition it to restore the quality. This action will also help to maintain the waterproof barrier on the leather product.

Conditioning is relatively simple; be careful not to over-condition because this can make the leather too soft. Products like boots or a suitcase/bag require a certain level of support, so you don’t want your leather to have an almost squishy texture.

Follow these simple steps to condition your leather:

  1. Unlike when you wax leather to waterproof it, conditioning the leather requires that it be wet. The reason behind this is because it’s permeable. Therefore, it will absorb the conditioning treatment better while wet.
  2. Add a small amount of conditioner to your fingertips or a soft cloth, and gently massage it into the leather. Make sure you don’t miss any nooks or crannies, and you should wipe away any excess conditioner.
  3. Let the leather dry naturally at room temperature.

Be mindful that these particular treatments only work on certain types of leather. There are varying degrees of being waterproofed that various types of leather can tolerate to different degrees.

Waterproofing Spray

This process is straightforward, and if you get the right product, after reading reviews provided by others, it’s a quick way to waterproof your leather.

  1. Begin by cleaning your boots thoroughly; no dirt or debris should be on them.
  2. Take your spray and stand back about one foot, and spray a thin coat on them.
  3. Wait for two hours and after they dry, spray another thin coat on them.
  4. After this, wait 48 hours before use. While this seems like a long time, you want to ensure that your leather has absorbed the product well and can stand up to water without being damaged.

The Last Drop

Remember that the type of leather you have will dictate how well it resists water with treatment. Do a patch test beforehand to know whether your leather will undergo any adverse reaction, such as a darker color or changed texture.

Store-bought products are good options, as are DIY products, because they’ll keep your leather protected at a fraction of the cost. Above all, protect your investment; no one wants to walk around with a soggy bag or shoes, right?

Happy waterproofing!