Leather is everybody’s favorite material when it comes to clothing, book bindings, upholstery, and even shoes. But it has limited usage as people prefer not to use it around water, especially when it comes to footwear.
We prefer to stow them away in the monsoon season as leather gets wet quickly. It has low water-resistance and also stiffens up after it dries up. But is water that bad for your leather shoes? Can you do something about it? What are the consequences of leather getting soaked in water? The following article will answer some of the many similar questions.
- 1 Does Water Ruin Leather Boots?
- 2 Are Leather Shoes Water-Resistant?
- 3 How To Protect Leather Footwear From Rain?
- 4 How to Waterproof Leather Boots?
- 5 Steps To Dry Leather Boots If They Get Wet
Does Water Ruin Leather Boots?
Leather is a flexible and robust material made from animal rawhide and skin. This makes the fabric porous. Its construction is such that it can absorb water quickly.
Yes, it has water-resistant properties but only till a certain point. Beyond that, the leather will end up absorbing the water and stiffens up after drying. This can cause cracks on the surface, ruining the overall appearance.
If the leather is exposed to a little amount of water, you can get away with it without any significant damage.
Besides the texture, you might also see changes in the color.
As there are varying types of leather, they react individually.
For example, when suede or aniline leather is exposed to sparing amounts of water, the water will get absorbed quickly. However, there will be little to no change in the color, and the leather will get dried just like any other fabric.
Even faux leather is known for its water-resistant properties. However, when it comes to genuine leather, it can absorb water quickly. Moreover, it leaves behind water stains and noticeable cracks.
There is also a possibility of the accumulation of molds and fungus. As leather is made from a dead animal’s skin, it ruins the material’s integrity on all levels.
Why is Water Bad for Leather?
It is well established that water is harmful to leather.
When leather is exposed to leather, the water molecules bind to the leather oils. As the leather starts drying up and the water evaporates, the oils are drawn out.
This leads to the leather getting dried out, and the fabric loses its softness. Furthermore, cracks are formed on the surface.
Different levels of moisture have a varying effect on the leather’s surface.
In case of an insignificant amount of moisture, the leather material will not be affected to a grave level. It might leave an easily removable stain.
A little amount of water, and you might see the color fading.
Lastly, if the leather is completely drenched with water, you might see shrinking and fungus accumulation. Moreover, other possibilities include the material puffing up and also tearing off. Therefore, there are more chances of a high level of moisture causing irreparable damage to the leather.
Are Leather Shoes Water-Resistant?
As mentioned earlier, different types of leather have varying levels of water resistance. The following are some of the most famous types of leather:
Full Grain Leather
Full or top grain leather is used to manufacture items like briefcases, weapon holsters, belts, etc. Such a type of leather is considered to be highly durable and water-resistant.
As it is made from the toughest part of animal hide, it is not easy for the quality to deteriorate.
It can be made waterproof by waxing or other spraying treatments.
As the name suggests, faux leather is not real leather, but it has plastic construction. Due to this, it is waterproof without any external or extra layer of protection.
Suede leather is considered one of the most sensitive types of leather as it lacks a rigid and concrete exterior. As it is made with the animal skin’s underside, it has a thin texture, making it more susceptible to water damage. It is not highly durable, and direct contact with sunlight can cause discolouration.
Synthetic leather has a thin texture. As it is not made from plastic, it can easily absorb moisture. You can make it water-resistant by spraying it with a protective layer.
When full-grain leather is buffed down, you get nubuck leather. It has significant durability along with water-resistance. However, it will require waterproofing with a special spray for overall protection.
How To Protect Leather Footwear From Rain?
Even though it is a known fact that leather does not work well with water, there is are certain unavoidable circumstances where you have to wear your leather boots even when it is raining cats and dogs. Whatsoever the reason, you can protect your leather footwear from the rain in the following manner:
The easiest way to protect your leather shoes from water or rain is to wear a waterproof cover over them. It acts as a solid layer of protection over your boots, preventing any water from penetrating through.
If you do not wish to invest in a waterproof cover, you can hack your way through it by covering your shoe with some plastic bags.
Take a big enough bag that will cover the shoe and a part of your ankle. Tie it up with a rubber band. Ensure that it is snug and not too tight, or it might restrict the blood flow.
Wax your Shoes
Wax acts as a preventive layer over the leather. It protects the leather from water and moisture, thereby preserving your leather shoes from getting cracks or discolored.
Clean your boots with a clean cloth and apply a thin layer of wax. Let them dry before you start using them.
Leather conditioners and water-repellants work wonders for leather shoes. It not only retains the necessary moisture in the shoes but also keeps the excess water away. This also helps in maintaining the leather’s luster and shine.
You can also similarly use mink oil.
If you accidentally wear your leather boots in the rain or through a muddy surface, act fast and dry them quickly. Retain their original shape. You can do this by placing some crumbled papers inside. Let them dry out naturally.
Do not overexpose to heat as it could fabricate the material. Let the shoes dry out with natural sunlight and avoid using hairdryers. Moreover, do no place them near fireplaces.
How to Waterproof Leather Boots?
The following are some techniques and easy hacks that you can use to waterproof your leather boots:
Clean them Thoroughly
Once you get your shoes dirty or muddy due to rain, clean them thoroughly with a clean and dry cloth. Remove the loose dirt by gently dusting them.
After the shoes are cleaned of the dirt particles, let them dry. You can keep them in natural light or under the fan. Avoid using hairdryers to dry them faster. It might compromise the material.
Condition the Leather
You must condition the boots after they have dried up. Apply a thin layer of premium quality leather condition over your shoes. You can also use mink oil for the same.
Spray the Shoes
After conditioning the boots, spray them with silicone spray. Do not go over two to three coatings. Post that, leave them to dry overnight.
Wax the Shoes
If you want to skip the silicon spray, you can wax your shoes with wax sealants. Apply a thin layer and massage the wax with your fingers in circular motions. This will allow the wax to get well-absorbed in the material. Do not go beyond two coats.
Let the shoes dry, and you have yourself a nice pair of waterproof leather boots!
Steps To Dry Leather Boots If They Get Wet
Leather shoes can take some time to dry up, primarily if it has absorbed a significant amount of moisture. If you are in a hurry and need to dry them in in limited time, take a look at the following techniques:
Before that, ensure that you have followed the steps mentioned above for better and faster results.
Place them in a Ventilated Area
Ensure that you keep the shoes in a well-ventilated area. Do not keep them behind closed doors and place them in a room with wide windows. This will allow fresh air to come in. Furthermore, it will fasten up the drying process.
This method has no side-effects and easy to carry out.
Use a Fan
Place the shoes under a fan and increase their intensity. This will quickly remove the moisture from the boots.
If that isn’t working, you can place it under a table fan. As a table fan has more amount of intensity, your shoes will dry up quickly.
You can also hang your boots with a rope or hook to the fan to get faster results.
Stuff some newspapers in your wet leather boots and let them stay for some time. Once the papers start getting drenched, replace them.
Ensure that the newspapers are stuffed in all the corners of the shoes.
Cut an old yet clean towel into two pieces. Place one inside the shoe and another one over the boots. Let the towel soak in the moisture. Replace it if needed.
Even though this might be unconventional, it works effectively. Rice is an excellent absorbent that can be used to dry up your shoes.
Take a container large enough to accommodate your shoes. Fill it up with one-inch rice and place your shoes in the middle. Let it stay overnight.
You will find your shoes spotless and moisture-free in the morning.
If none of the home techniques seems to bring you the desired results, you can get yourself a boot dryer. These are highly effective and bring quick results.
The bottom line
Leather boots are a useful and stylish addition to your wardrobe that makes its high price-range worth it. However, in order to keep them in good shape, proper care is mandatory. Hence, the next time you get your leather boots drenched, remember the techniques mentioned above and preserve them for years!
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.