How to Waterproof Suede Shoes - Easy-to-Follow Guide

How to Waterproof Suede Shoes

Suede boots and shoes are made from delicate types of leather, often preferred for their aesthetic appeal. However, this type of footwear, including suede and nubuck boots, require careful maintenance to keep them water-resistant.

Many people are unsure of how to waterproof boots without risking damage to the material. With the correct approach and know-how, you can transform your regular suede shoes into waterproof shoes in no time.

Here are some effective methods to keep your favorite suede shoes dry and water-resistant:

Use a Commercial Suede Waterproofing Spray

waterproofing spray Stone and Clark

Get your waterproofing spray here!

Arguably the safest and most effective method to waterproof suede shoes is by using a commercial suede waterproofing spray.

These are products made specifically for your suede or nubuck footwear, designed to repel water and stains without damaging the delicate material.

  1. Choose a Waterproofing Spray: Look for a spray that states it's a stain and water repellent specifically for suede or nubuck. These types of sprays are typically reliable and less likely to discolor your shoes.
  2. Try First in a Small Area: Before applying the spray on the entire shoe, you might want to try it first on a small, less noticeable area. This will allow you to see how the spray affects the color and texture of your shoes.
  3. Prepare Your Shoes for Application: Use a suede brush to gently brush the upper part of the shoe. This helps to remove any dirt or debris that might interfere with the spray's ability to effectively waterproof your shoes.
  4. Apply the Spray: Follow the instructions on the spray can. Usually, this involves spraying a light, even coat over the upper part of your shoe and letting it dry.
  5. Use a Suede Eraser for Stubborn Stains: If you find any stubborn stains that won't come out after the spray, use a suede eraser to clean your suede shoes. Gently rub the eraser on the stained area until it disappears.

Check out Stone and Clark's Water and Stain Repellent Spray to keep your suede shoes looking as good as new. We also have a leather spray that is versatile for all other types of leather.

Use Wax Polish on the Welt

Read related article: How to Care for Suede Shoes

Once you're done with the upper, it's critical to waterproof boots and shoes by focusing on the welt, the area where the sole and the upper part meet.

The welt is usually exposed to a lot of water and moisture, and not waterproofing it can undo all your efforts on the uppers. Using a tin of wax polish and an old toothbrush can work wonders.

  1. Apply the Wax Polish: Scoop a little wax polish with your old toothbrush, and apply it to the welt of your shoes or boots. Ensure you cover the entire welt evenly with the polish, paying extra attention to areas that might be more prone to water exposure.
  2. Buff the Shoes or Boots: Use a clean cloth to buff the shoes or boots until the wax is thoroughly absorbed. This not only helps to waterproof the welt but also improves the overall look of your footwear.
  3. Allow the Boots to Dry: Finally, allow the boots to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. It is essential not to rush this process, as this could damage the material.

By following these steps, you can make suede shoes water resistant and significantly extend their lifespan. 

Use Vegetable Oil-Based Conditioner for the Sole

Now for the sole, you can use a vegetable oil-based conditioner to help waterproof your shoes. This method is particularly useful for hiking or work boots that are likely to be exposed to more water and moisture.

Oils like coconut, olive, or jojoba oil are all excellent options for this method.

  1. Clean the Sole: Begin by cleaning the sole of your shoes or boots using a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Apply the Oil-Based Conditioner: Use a clean cloth to apply the conditioner on the sole of your shoes, making sure to cover the entire area evenly.
  3. Allow to Dry: Leave the shoes or boots to dry for a few hours, allowing the conditioner to deeply penetrate the sole and create a protective barrier against water and moisture.
  4. Buff with a Clean Cloth: Once dry, buff the sole with a clean cloth to remove any excess oil and give it a polished finish.

Use Mink Oil for Your Black Suede Shoes

While it is not the best option for all colors, mink oil is an excellent choice for waterproofing black suede shoes. Just make sure your footwear is a dark color, as the oil can slightly darken the material.

To waterproof your suede shoes using mink oil:

  1. Clean Your Shoes: Begin by cleaning the shoes using a suede brush or cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Apply the Mink Oil: Using a clean cloth, apply small amounts of mink oil to your shoes, focusing on areas that are more prone to water exposure.
  3. Allow to Soak In: Leave the mink oil to deeply penetrate into the suede for a few hours. This will help create a protective barrier against water and moisture.

Stone and Clark Mink Oil Kit

Make sure to check out Stone and Clark's Mink Oil Kit which comes with everything you need to waterproof and condition your dark-colored suede shoes.

Additional Tips

Read related article: Suede Shoes Cleaning Tips

In addition to the methods mentioned above, here are some additional tips to keep your suede shoes clean and long-lasting:

  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Always keep your suede shoes away from direct sunlight. The harsh rays can fade the color and dry out the material, leading to cracks over time.
  • Skip the Dryer: Never attempt to dry your suede shoes using a dryer or any other direct heat source. It can cause the material to shrink and distort the shape of the shoes.
  • Use a Soft Cloth: Always use a soft cloth to clean suede shoes. It helps keep the material supple and prevents any scratches or damage.
  • Specific Products: Invest in products specifically made to clean suede shoes. Such products are typically gentle and protect the delicate suede material from damage.
  • Store Suede Shoes Properly: Store your suede shoes in a cool, dry place. Ideally, keep them in a shoe bag or box to protect them from dust and moisture.
  • Condition Regularly: Regular conditioning keeps the suede material supple and prevents it from drying out and cracking. Use products that are specifically made for suede conditioning.

The suede material is delicate and requires proper care to maintain its appearance and longevity. With these tips, you can easily waterproof your suede shoes and keep them looking great for years to come. 

Closing Thoughts

Proper care for your suede shoes is imperative to keep them looking sharp and extend their lifespan. Shoe trees can aid in maintaining the shape and ensuring they dry out correctly. Remember, don't let your precious suede be ruined by water.

Instead, use a waterproofing treatment that creates a protective barrier against moisture, keeping your feet dry and comfortable.

With the correct care and precautionary steps, you can confidently wear your suede shoes and boots, knowing they are well-protected and looking their best.

12PC Leather Shoe Shine & Care Kit for Men & Women

3.5 oz Mink Oil Leather Care Kit with Applicator

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