How Do I Waterproof & Protect My Shoes?

a close up of a pair of feet standing in a puddle of water wearing lems umber brown waterproof boulder boots

Barefoot shoes are meant to be functional, and for many people that means they need to withstand wet conditions. While you can buy waterproof and water resistant barefoot shoes, I find it very useful to have some waterproofing agents on hand because all waterproofing technology fails at some point.

And even if you don’t plan on standing in puddles, these tips will also protect your shoes from scuffs, spills, and dirt. So here’s how to waterproof & protect your barefoot shoes.

  1. Make sure that you clean your shoes and let them fully dry before treating them. A dry brush or damp rag is usually sufficient.
  2. Choose your waterproofing products based on the material of the shoe. If I don’t want the look and feel of the shoe changed at all, then I choose a spray. If I want a more effective treatment and/or my shoe is unlikely to be affected by the treatment, then I go for a wax/oil based product.
  3. Test the product on a small, inconspicuous part of the shoe and let it dry for 24 hours to make sure you are happy with how it looks.
  4. Follow the product instructions to finish waterproofing!
  5. Reapply periodically. Sprays need to reapplied more frequently, waxes can go an entire season on one treatment.

Here are my preferred products.

Waterproofing Sprays

If working with suede, nubuck, fabric, or any light colored delicate material I use waterproofing sprays because it’s less likely to change the look and texture of the material. They do need to be reapplied every so often, especially after you clean your shoes or they get soaked .

  • Carbon Pro – The most effective without changing the material in any way! Works on everything, including vegan and fabrics
  • Nano Tech Waterproof Leather Spray – Have not used myself, but it comes highly rated
  • Nikwax Footwear Care – This is an ecofriendly spray, but it does slightly alter the look of suede/nubuck

Waterproofing Wax/Oil

These products have to be rubbed into the shoe and are more likely to affect the look, but they are often more effective as waterproofers. Best used on smooth leather/vegan leather products.

  • Renapur Leather Balsam – This conditioner is a gentle waterproofer, not as effective as the below options. But really great for restoring the look of your shoes and increasing their longevity!
  • Otter Wax – Works great.
  • Sno Seal – Very effective, but definitely changes the leather (unless you are dealing with a very glossy finished leather to begin with).

Additional Waterproofing Hacks:

  • Aquaseal – This is used to repair holes or seal up seams on your shoes!
  • Neos Overshoe – This overshoe can be worn directly over your shoes to make them waterproof and slip-resistant.
  • Waterproof Socks from Freet – Use code AnyaFreet10 for 10% off your order from Freet. Interesting idea to keep your feet, but not your shoes, dry!

*For the entire searchable FAQ list, visit Barefoot Shoes FAQ

*Disclosure – Anya’s Reviews is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

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9 thoughts on “How Do I Waterproof & Protect My Shoes?”

  1. I just got ZeaZoo dingo boots in black from your shop (super quick I might add!😊). I want to make them more water resistant and protect them. I have Kiwi Protect-all and Sno-seal water guard extreme. Do you have any advice on which I should use? Or any other tips?

    1. I just watched the Instagram reel. Thanks for posting. My Sno-seal product is different, a spray not wax. I’m still not sure what to do, wondering if I can apply a spray evenly enough? I don’t want to mess up the look of my beautiful new boots🀩

      1. Oh, interesting I didn’t realize Sno Seal had a spray product! I would test it on the heel first and let it fully dry (24 hours) to see if it changes the leather.

    2. The Kiwi is definitely a lighter product and won’t change the look, but isn’t as effective. I guess it depends on how you want to use them and what is most important!

  2. Which one did you use on your Steger Mukluks? They sell two proprietary ones, a silicone and a water based, or I could use one of the ones you suggested above. I’m getting the Quetico Talls.

  3. What do you recommend for Tracker II FG – I know they are waterproof but I would like to make sure they stay like that longer.
    Thank you

    1. Vivo sells Renapur’s leather balm – that is a good way to increase the water resistance. The most effective product I’ve used those is SnoSeal. You use it on the entire leather upper and it seals it quite well. Another options for spot treating a specific area that has lost it’s waterproof-ness is Aquaseal. That would be good if you want to seal up where the sole attaches to the leather.

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Picture of Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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