How to Waterproof your Boots, and Protect Them from Snow
How To
January 02, 2018

When it comes to general discomfort, one of the most aggravating feelings in the world has to be having wet feet while wearing shoes or boots. This becomes even worse when it’s freezing outside, leaving your feet ice cold as well.

While nobody wants their feet to be wet, cold and damp weather make this a reality for those who are unprepared. There are a few ways to stay warm and dry. One way involves never stepping outside… which of course is not realistic for most people. Another way involves wearing heavy duty boots that keep out water and the cold, but aren’t practical for non-outdoor wear. Since the aforementioned options aren’t ideal for most people’s daily lives, it’s important to learn how to protect your boots from the elements, and to choose the right boots for the weather. 

Prevent Leaks by Protecting Your Boots

Unfortunately, some boots that were previously resistant to water such as leather work boots will start to let more moisture in as they age. You can extend the life of your footwear and improve your boots’ ability to repel water by cleaning, protecting and conditioning them throughout their lifespan.

How to protect your Boots from Cold Weather and Water

Keep your Boots Clean

As simple as it sounds, keeping your boots clean can go a long way in terms of protecting the material.

Salt can be especially damaging to your boots, and if you’re in any type of winter climate, you will likely walk through plenty of salt as its spread to de-ice the roadways and walkways. Salt can be corrosive, but will also dry out the leather, leading to cracking and deterioration.

The best way to combat corrosion is to regularly clean your boots when they start to get grimy.

Warm water and a damp cloth can be surprisingly effective at removing dirt if one does not allow the dirt to build up or absorb into the leather. For more difficult stains, a leather cleaner may be beneficial. We suggest combining a quality leather cleaning solution with a horse-hair brush, which can help to gently remove stubborn stains and dirt. For suede boots, see our post on how to clean and protect suede shoes.  

Find leather cleaner at a DSW Store near you[GS1] 

Condition your Boots Regularly To Preserve Longevity and Prevent Moisture[GS2] 

All leather boots will benefit from periodic conditioning, but it’s important to know about the different types of conditioners and water / stain repellants as some of these may affect the color of your boots. The primary purpose of a conditioner is to moisturize the leather. Many conditioners add water or stain resistance to your boots as well. 

Leather Conditioner

Most leather conditioners are oils that naturally are absorbed by the leather. Commercially available oils and conditioners are recommended since they’re affordable and formulated specifically so that they are healthy for leather footwear.  

Find leather conditioner in your nearest DSW store

To condition your boots, make sure your boots are clean first (using the steps suggested above), then gently apply a light layer of conditioner / oil evenly across the boots. Once applied, rub the conditioner in gently, allowing it to work its way into the pores of the leather. Once the conditioner has been applied to both boots, let them sit overnight in the open. Make sure to read the instructions of the leather conditioner you purchase before applying to ensure proper usage.

How Often Should You Condition Your Boots?

To keep your boots in top condition, we suggest applying oil to your boots once every 10-20 wears. Increased exposure to harsh weather as well as dry heat (which is common indoors during winter weather) means you should be thinking of conditioning the leather on a more frequent basis.

Overall, keep a watch on how dry the leather is, and know that if you see any cracking, you are likely overdue for an application of conditioner.

Seal out Water and Stains by Applying Water Repellant Coating to Your Boots

Water Proof Spray

Once the leather has been adequately conditioned and has dried, we then suggest applying a water and stain resistant spray as a final touch. There are many such sprays available commercially, most of which work somewhat similarly. Follow the directions for applying the sealant (which will vary by product), and then leave your boots to dry once again. After this, your boots should be in tip-top shape, and ready to brave the elements while keeping your feet dry and toasty.

Find leather sealant and stain protectors in your nearest DSW store

Feet Still Wet or Cold? Consider Buying New Boots Specifically for the Weather

While sealing and caring for your boots can help keep water out and protect your feet, if your feet are still cold or still getting wet, it may be time to upgrade to a new pair of boots.

Consider the Following Categories of Boots for Inclimate Weather Conditions

  • Duck Boots: Duck Boots are hardy boots that work well in winter weather as well as cold weather. Their greatest strength is in their ability to keep water out by the nature of the iconic rubber bottom. Compared to winter boots, duck boots are typically lighter in weight, and aren’t as heavily insulated.
  • Heavy Duty Winter Snow Boots: Made specifically for trudging through snow, most heavy duty winter boots are made with lots of insulation to keep your feet warm. They will be naturally water resistant as well with a thick overall build and the use of water resistant materials. These boots are typically larger and heavier than duck boots.
  • Rain Boots: Rain boots are made for one specific reason – to keep rain and water out. Rain boots are full rubber boots that come in a variety of sizes. Rain boots are common in rainy climates, or during rainy autumn or spring seasons