Waterproofing your leather shoes (as well as some types of cloth shoes) is essential to surviving winter weather, since water can damage or completely ruin leather. All waterproofing solutions work similarly to create a thin barrier on the surface of your leather that cannot be penetrated by water.
Before you begin the waterproofing process, take a close look at your shoes and determine what type of leather and other materials it is made of. Check the shoe box for any special cleaning instructions that you will need to keep in mind. Then select a waterproofing product that is made for your type of leather.
For waterproofing shoes, you may select either a spray or a semi-solid wax product. Sprays are easier to use, but may not be able to provide a good thick waterproofing coat. On the other hand, you should not use a spray (which usually contains silicone) on thin, delicate leathers. The manufacturer of this leather may recommend a basic semi-solid product for waterproofing shoes.
Before you begin waterproofing, do a “spot test” on a small, hard-to-see area on your shoes. A good spot is somewhere inside the shoes, such as on the underside of the tongue. If you notice any color or texture changes, or any damage, stop and do not use the product. Contact the manufacturer of your shoes to know how to proceed.
If all goes well, you can begin waterproofing leather. Some waxy products contain a brush, while others are rub-on. If using a rub-on product, get a smooth, soft, cloth. Read the directions first – most likely, they will tell you to rub in slow circular motions and to apply more than one coat for waterproofing shoes.
If you use a brush, the process is much the same, except that you will make slow circular motions with the brush, and try to apply a little bit of pressure so that the brush can get deep into cracks. However, make sure you are using a soft brush specially made for this purpose, otherwise you could scratch the shoes. Experts usually recommend that a brush be used for fabric waterproofing, as well.
Speaking of cracks, whether using a cloth or brush, you will want to spend extra attention on all seams, cracks, raised areas, and any imperfections in the leather. Slather a little extra on these areas so that it can really sink in, and rub copiously. Repeat up to three times if necessary to waterproof these important areas.