How to Waterproof Your Sneakers

Marathon runner in rain on city street
Prolong the life of your sneakers and keep your feet dry with waterproof spray. (Image: BÅażej Łyjak/iStock/Getty Images)

Sneakers are put through quite a bit of wear and tear, being the common shoe of choice for many daily activities. To prolong their life, it is important to waterproof them, to not only protect the shoes from conditions such as rain and snow but to serve as a barrier against damaging debris and stains. While this applies to all shoes, it is particularly important for sneakers, as they are most often made of canvas. Give your sneakers a second, more durable life with some DIY waterproofing.

Step 1

Remove the laces from your shoes. For clean, new sneakers, go directly to Step 9.

Step 2

Set canvas sneakers into a sink, and run hot tap water over them until fully dampened. If the sneakers are made of a more delicate material, like leather or satin, check with the manufacturer before using this method.

Step 3

Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of powder laundry detergent and 1/2 teaspoon of water in a glass. Stir until a paste forms.

Step 4

Dip a clean toothbrush into the mixture, and use it to scrub the shoes in a circular motion. Clean the entire canvas surface. This removes all debris, making it easier for waterproofing spray to properly adhere to the surface.

Step 5

Wipe down the shoes with a paper towel, removing all cleaner and debris.

Step 6

Rinse the shoes with cold water.

Step 7

Stuff newspaper into the shoes. This will keep the fabric upright, allowing for a shorter drying time.

Step 8

Allow the shoes to dry overnight. The length of time the shoes take to dry will depend on their material. For instance, fabrics such as polyurethane dry faster than canvas.

Step 9

Set the dry shoes on a sheet of newspaper, outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Step 10

Spray the shoes liberally with a waterproofing spray. Hold the can 10 inches away from the shoes, and apply continuously until the fabric is fully coated. Apply two to three coats for full protection.

Step 11

Let the shoes dry completely overnight. Repeat the process every three months or after the shoes have been exposed to excess rain or debris.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent

  • Glass

  • Toothbrush

  • Paper towel

  • Newspaper

  • Waterproof spray

Tip

Outdoor gear retailers typically sell the most heavy-duty waterproofing sprays, while shoe stores sell sprays for everyday wear. When selecting from either, look for a silicone-based spray that is formulated for the exact fabric of your sneakers, as this will yield the most long-lasting and effective coverage.

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