Spring is here and so are the usual showers. So, it’s an ideal time for extra leather protection to keep your shoes and garments waterproof. 

 

Water drop on leather

Most leathers for shoes and garments have already been made hydrophobic in the tannery to make them more resistant to weather conditions. But, in addition to the tannery waterproofing, there are also aerosols available at any department store or shoe shop that can help make the leather more water-resistant. 

Porous leather like suede, nubuck and aniline are especially sensitive to moisture and need that additional water-repellent protection. The waterproofing is usually applied as a spray.

The benefits of keeping moisture away from leather are mainly:

  • Keeping the leather breathable - porous leathers loose their breathability when they get wet
  • Keeping you dry - no one likes having wet feet or wearing a jacket or any other piece of clothing soaking wet against our body
  • Reducing water marks and stains
  • Maintaining the natural suppleness of leather - delicate leather often gets stiffer after drenching

        Water drop sinking in leather   Water drop sinking into leather   Water sunk into leather

It is important to remember that waterproofing never makes leather completely water repellent from surface staining. It protects only conditionally. Therefore, we should still try not to expose sensitive leather to all weather conditions.  

The most effective water-repellent agents are solvent based. These have to be applied several times and dried sufficiently between applications. 

By applying waterproofing, the breathability of the leather is reduced by about 5-10%. Since waterproofing is usually applied to very porous leathers, which are very breathable, this reduction is not very significant.  

The level of water-resistance achieved from spray cans is always better than the alternative products. In particular, water-based products can leave spots. There are also waterproofing products available in pump spray bottles, as foam or as a wash-in liquid product. Wash-in waterproofing is only suitable for leather items that can be washed.  

Water-resistant products are often assumed to be leather care products, but their only function is to increase water resistance. It can be considered leather care in the sense that it helps preserve the good condition of the leather for longer, but the leather will still require other care products in addition to a protection against the absorbency of water. Waterproofing should therefore never be understood as leather care, but only as a protection against moisture. For instance, the Colourlock Aniline Protector is a care product that contains UV-filters, antioxidants and pure synthetic oils that protect against fading and prevent dryness. This protection is important for sensitive leather such as suede, nubuck or aniline that can be seriously damaged by light and/or heat. It also refreshes colours on suede that have begun fading. It also maintains softness. Any water-repellent spray does not. 

On pigmented leathers, waterproofing isn’t necessary since the dye layer on the surface will already have some water-repellent properties. It is therefore sensible to treat dyed leather, depending on the type of leather, with a care cream, a leather oil or leather fat to maintain and waterproof.

 

                               Water stains on leather shoe     Water marks on aniline leather

Recommended products

Top tips!

  • The obvious one… keep water away from leather as much as possible!
  • Waterproof before you use - by applying a water-repellent to your leather item before using it you can prevent stains that are then difficult to remove.
  • Remember! A product to waterproof leather is not a care product. Your leather will need additional care products, especially if it is suede, nubuck or aniline.