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Can You Waterproof Leather?

March 08, 2022 5 min read

Waterproof leather

Waterproof leather might sound like an oxymoron; or, frankly, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow- we want to believe in it, but it's probably not there.


There are limitless possibilities for our leather goods to come into contact with water. Think rain, wet umbrellas, spilled bottles of water, snow, sprinklers turning on while heading inside the house, and the list goes on.


Therefore, we understand your desire to give your beloved bag a little extra protection!


So, do leather and waterproofing go together? Rather, CAN leather be waterproofed? No need to scour the internet anymore! We've got all the essentials on this to keep that brand new, or trusty and true, leather handbag and wallet looking its finest, even when it gets in contact with some water.

 

Waterproof leather again water


Is Leather A Waterproof Material?


Leather is not a waterproof material, but it can be made water resistant.


Leather items are not considered waterproof because of the natural oils and fats that make up the hide. When leather gets wet, these oils and fats pull the moisture in, and the item will eventually take on water weight and stretch. This is why you often see leather items with a water-resistant coating- to prevent the oils and fats from drawing in the moisture.


Additionally, leather is a natural material and, as such, is porous to some extent. Point blank, leather absorbs liquids, and if not treated, it can become waterlogged over time. If you're caught in a quick rain with your leather bag, the water will likely bead on the surface and eventually run off- but if you leave your wet umbrella in your bag, the water will eventually soak through.


Can You Make Leather Waterproof?


While it is not possible to make leather entirely waterproof, there are treatments that can be applied to increase its water resistance.


Water-resistant coatings and waxes are available for purchase, and some people also treat their leather items with a homemade mixture of beeswax, carnauba wax, and mineral oil. The combination of these three ingredients forms a seal on the leather's surface, which will help to protect it from water damage.


If you are going to be using your leather item in wet conditions often, it is important to reapply the wax or treatment every few months or as needed. Additionally, you should avoid exposing your leather to excessive heat, as this can also damage the material.


When you apply any water-resistant coatings, it could make your leather item stiffer and less flexible, so to be safe, test out the coating on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface.


Is There A Limit To How Waterproof Leather Can Be?


Leather can be made water resistant to a certain extent, but there will always be some level of absorption, and no coating will make it completely waterproof.


Think of a coating on the leather as a shield against the elements- it will not keep all the water away, but it will help minimize the damage. If you are using your leather item in very wet conditions, it is essential to take precautions to protect it as much as you can. Keep it as dry as possible, reapply the wax or treatment as needed, and try not to stress the material too much.


With a little extra bit of care, your leather items can stay looking great even when they get wet!


So, you want your gorgeous new soft leather backpack to have some water resistance? We've got a DIY just for you.


How Can I Make My Leather More Water-Resistant?


You can make your leather more water resistant by applying a coating of wax or a water resistant treatment.

 

Make leather water resistant - diy recipe for taking care of leather.

 

You can buy one of these at the store or make one yourself! If you choose to do a DIY recipe, we have one with only five needed items:


  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Ounces Of Beeswax
  • 1 Glass Jar
  • A Medium Sized Pan With Cold Water
  • A Soft Cloth You Can Use To Apply The Wax On Your Leather

To make your wax:

  1. Combine the olive oil and beeswax pieces into the glass jar and then place that jar into the pan of cold water.
  2. Heat the pan on the stove and stir to combine the oil and wax.
  3. Once it's thoroughly combined, take the jar out of the hot water and stir the mixture until it cools.

As it cools, it will stiffen- this is what you want! The cooling process can take 20 minutes, so be patient!


Once it has cooled, you can take a portion of the cream and apply it to your leather in an area that won't be openly seen to see how your leather reacts to it. If it takes well, apply the rest of the cream using circular motions over the entire bag. Let it dry at least overnight.


You should reapply the wax every few months or as needed, especially if your leather is in constant contact with water.


How Long Does Waterproof Leather Last?


The life of the waterproofing property in leather greatly depends on how often it is exposed to water and how much wear and tear it endures. Now, remember that leather will never be 100% waterproof, so, really, we are talking about how long the water resistance on leather will last.


If you are using your leather item in light rain or snow, the wax or treatment might last up to 6 months before needing to be reapplied. If you use your leather in wet conditions more regularly, you will need to reapply the wax or treatment every few weeks.


Keep in mind that, as with anything, the life of the waterproofing wax or treatment will be significantly increased if proper care is taken. For example, before you apply any waxes or products that ensure water resistance, check your bag is clean first, so it applies well and lasts the longest amount of time.


If you need some direction and guidance on how to clean leather, take a look at our blog post completely dedicated to tips and tricks on this!


In Summary


All in all, leather isn't waterproof, nor can you make it 100% waterproof. However, there are products on the market you can buy and apply to give your favorite handmade leather wallets and handbags protection against the day-to-day encounters with water they may face.


If you feel crafty or need to be a little frugal, we supplied you with a low-material and straightforward recipe to make your own wax mixture that can give your bag the water resistance it needs.


This application can give your leather a healthy water resistance for up to six months depending on your circumstances!


Once you click the check out button from your cart and get your magnificent new leather bag, make it a point to give it a line of defense against water.


So, how'd we do? We told you we'd give you all the basics about waterproof leather that you could ever need, and we'd say we delivered all those essentials!