Is Leather Waterproof? Learn Which Leather Can Get Wet

Leather is one of the most durable, adaptable, and long-lasting materials, as any fan can attest. However, if it starts to rain as you prepare to hit the streets in a new pair of suede oxfords (or any other leather item), a major problem immediately arises: is the leather waterproof?

We have therefore taken the time to gather all the useful information on leather and water. This article will cover a variety of topics, including the effects of water on leather products and benefits.

Is the leather waterproof?

First, define "waterproof" and "water resistant " to determine if the leather is waterproof." Although these two words are often used interchangeably, their meanings differ. Generally, a material can partially resist water ingress if it is water resistant, but it will not be completely impervious to water damage.

For example, it can withstand a splash or a windstorm but is not exposed to much water. In contrast, waterproof refers to a material that has been treated to allow it to be submerged in water without issue or damage. It is important to remember that most waterproofing solutions are only effective temporarily.

Although leather has inherent water resistance, it does not mix well with water. Small amounts of water are sufficient, but since natural animal leather is a porous material, it can never be completely waterproof. Due to the porous nature of leather, excessive exposure to water will cause the material to become wet.

The water then evaporates, leaving the fibers dry. This explains why leather eventually becomes tough when exposed to water. If the water doesn't dry fast enough, the leather may also be more susceptible to rot because the lack of natural lubricants weakens the fibers and separates them more easily. These weakened fibers give dry and rotten leather a cracked and sometimes split appearance.

Inform individuals and bust myth

Although rainy weather is usually enjoyable, it is advised that leather items be kept free from water. If the leather is treated well, a thin layer of wax will form on its surface and protect it. Many people think that rain spots are part of the leather's color and do not affect its structural stability.

A leather item can also dry out after getting wet without being totally ruined. It's best to avoid getting leather goods wet in the rain, although a little drizzle probably won't hurt them too much.

Waterproofing leather: a brief history

Using excessive waxes has long been known to render leather impenetrable in the annals of leather tanning.

Tanning using fish oil and animal fat dates back to at least 1600 BC, when hides were filled and smoked till dry. Oil-tanned leather, one of the most water-resistant types available today, has been tanned in much the same way for a very long time.

In the 1600s, when new technology evolved, individuals developed chemicals that could be applied to leather goods in order to make them more watertight. Linseed oil, sheep fat, and beeswax were often used to seal leather.

Most leather is now waterproofed in the tannery, where manufacturers must balance water resistance, breathability, and a natural finish.

Variations in leather's resistance to water

  • Vegetable-tanned leather

Vegetable-tanned leather is one of the least water-resistant types of leather. Because of its porous nature, it takes on a black hue quickly. Vegetable-tanned leather rapidly darkens when exposed to dampness.

This leather might be damaged since it loses its structure when wet. Raw vegetable-tanned leather should be kept away from liquids in order to prevent dark markings.

  • Premium, chrome-tanned leather

Shoes, boots, backpacks, and jackets made from chrome-tanned leather are some of the most often seen. The water resilience of chrome-tanned leather is due to a synthetic layer. The plastic-like coverings make These leathers substantially less porous than vegetable-tanned leather.

  • Full Grain leather

Full-grain and premium leathers are often the most durable and water-resistant options because they're made from the strongest parts of the animal's hide (the outer part).

These qualities are transferred to the finished product. Full-grain leather requires spray and wax treatments to be as waterproof as possible because it is not completely waterproof in its natural state. However, if it is durable or strong, you can expect a leather product to be made from full-grain leather.

Full-grain leather that has been specially treated and rubbed to create a distinctive plush surface is nubuck leather. Unlike other finer leathers (like suede), nubuck leather now has a more durable and very smooth surface.

Many durable boots are made of nubuck; Although they discolor when wet, moisture will not permanently damage them. The water-repellent spray is necessary to improve protection despite the slight water resistance of the material.

  • Synthetic

Therefore, is faux fur waterproof? Due to plastic construction, faux and fake fur products are often waterproof. PVC and PU, two polymers derived from petroleum, are the most widely used.

Cactus leather and pineapple leather are two other eco-friendly options you can find. If you want to know is vegan leather waterproof, then answer is yes.

  • Suede

Suede is much more delicate than the other leathers on this list and is more susceptible to water damage. This is because it is produced from animal hides, which have a weaker grain structure and are less durable.

The suede is further smoothed by polishing, even the fibers, and gives the fabric a soft, "velvety" feel. Because suede is not as flexible as full-grain leather, it gets dirty and stains more easily.

We recommend that you take care of your suede products occasionally and take precautions when using them in bad weather, as the humidity in the air can also affect them. If you are thinking is faux leather waterproof, then the answer is yes.

Difference Between Waterproof and Water resistance

Many people most of the time use these kinds of terms conversely to describe things with any ability of waterproofing. These two phrases have completely different meanings. Items are water resistant but not waterproof.

If the surface of your bag is waterproof, it will be water-repellent but not necessarily waterproof. Only when a surface or container is completely impermeable, regardless of the amount of water saturation, can it be called impermeable?

Water-resistant items can withstand short bursts of rain, splashing water, and wet weather. When completely submerged in water, waterproof products must be able to protect their internal structure. Water and rawhide don't mix. Although the material has limited inherent water resistance, moisture has negative effects.

Because rawhide is porous, it can absorb moisture. The fabric will harden as it dries, ruining its beautiful smooth surface. If the leather doesn't dry fast enough and water remains, it will likely start to grow and develop bacteria levels that will eventually deteriorate.

Different leather processing methods provide different levels of water resistance. Leather cannot be waterproof because it is a natural and porous material. Generally speaking, the ability of a leather surface to repel liquids depends on its age.

The more a surface is treated with high-quality waterproofing chemicals, such as wood or other porous material, the better it will keep water out.

Treatments and sprays

It is important to protect any genuine leather. There are several treatments available that can help make leather water-resistant. One of the most popular methods is to use a wax-like to protect the leather from moisture.

Shoe polish is common because it is simple and effective on virtually any type of leather. Only select varieties of leather are suitable for waxing and "conditioning," as explained in more detail below.

The wax will damage the chamois. You must apply a special spray that develops an invisible water and oil-resistant layer to protect the suede. Leather with a perfectly smooth, fiber-free surface works best with wax.

Here is a brief description of how waxing works:

  • First, make sure the surface of the leather is spotlessly clean. Removing any stubborn stains or dirt as completely as possible is important, as this will prevent the wax from penetrating the leather.

  • The next step is to add wax little by little. It is recommended first to apply the wax to the cloth. Never apply a dollop directly to the leather. If the wax is too hard when opening or does not spread evenly, heat it with a blowtorch or hair dryer to make it more flexible. Proceed with caution to avoid burning the wax with too much heat.

  • It would be best to wait for the wax to dry naturally after applying an even layer on top. This should take an hour or less. You should store the leather item in a cool, well-ventilated place. Avoid using heat or direct sunlight to speed up the drying process, as this can damage the color and surface of the leather.

  • Once the leather completely dries, use a dry towel to remove excess wax. This will leave your leather with a beautiful protective shine that repels water, oil, and dust.

  • Waxing is great because it's simple and easy to use. Although the "conditioning" of the tissue is important in itself, it also provides a layer of protection to the skin's outer surface. Leather conditioner will keep your leather soft. Worried about your leather cracking or getting too hard? Next, conditioning is essential because more than simply applying wax will be necessary.

Leather care

Like waxing, conditioning is easy to do yourself. This will increase the water resistance of the leather, returning it to its pre-purchase condition. Over conditioning leather is generally not a good idea.

Leather is often chosen for its strength, especially when supporting the manufacture of shoes and bags. The more conditioning you apply, the smoother it becomes. Please don't overdo it; you don't want these products to lose their strength and shape. If you are thinking is pu leather waterproof, then answer is yes.

Here is how to condition the leather in detail:

  • Unlike waxing, conditioning requires wet leather. The leather will be able to absorb more conditioning treatments as the water evaporates from its surface. The leather does not need to be completely submerged, but you should ensure it is damp before using the conditioner.

  • You can apply the conditioner to the leather with a small cloth or fingers. When dealing with hard-to-reach places, get your hands dirty to ensure the conditioner is fully massaged into the leather.

  • Remove any excess conditioner before letting the leather dry naturally at room temperature.

What is the effect of wet leather?

Wet leather has many disadvantages, including odor, rotting, and changes in texture and appearance. As we know, the texture of leather changes as it gets wet, going from supple and soft to brittle and tough (and incredibly heavy).

Water seeps through the substance and combines with the leather's natural oil molecules, causing this process. Like human skin, leather needs oil for its moisturizing and conditioning properties. The result is drier because the water evaporates, taking those oil molecules with it. When leather becomes old and brittle, leather rot (also called dry rot) begins to develop.

While spills won't necessarily dry out your leather goods, they can leave unsightly stains and watermarks. When dyeing leather, salt may sometimes be added. When the material is damp, internal salt can rise to the surface and leave salt stains.

Leather products can develop a musty smell when exposed to high humidity levels. Consider a leather briefcase made from vegetable-tanned leather with a rich, earthy scent. If, for example, it is not allowed to dry completely after being exposed to rain on the way home, mold can grow quickly over time. It will develop an unpleasant musty odor instead of its characteristic aroma.

How is wet leather repaired?

If your leather product gets wet, wipe off any excess steam before allowing it to air dry naturally until it is slightly damp. Never use artificial heat (like a hair dryer) on leather that has not completely dried.

Apply the leather conditioner with a microfiber cloth or soft bristle brush and let it sit for several hours. Through the pores of the leather, the conditioner replaces lost oils. Once dry, apply more conditioner as needed. Read our full guide on how to handle wet leather.

Why is it beneficial to waterproof leather?

An obvious benefit of waterproofing leather is that it keeps your premium leather wallet or backpack looking new for longer.

Leather treated with a waterproofing substance reduces the likelihood of water seeping through the surface and interfering with the natural oils that keep the material supple. Visually, this produces a healthier-looking product with a more consistent and natural shape and texture.

Another benefit of leather waterproofing is the extended life of a product. Because waterproofing treatments make leather less prone to drying out and cracking, it is stronger and will last longer. In addition, the risk of your leather accessories rotting is greatly reduced.

Finally, waterproofing your leather also improves your overall protection from the outdoors. For products intended for outdoor use, this is important. Bring a set of sturdy leather shoes.

Although they have some water resistance, extra care will ensure that your feet are always dry, neutralizing the effects of the weather.

What do you do if your leather is wet?

Here are some general care and maintenance tips for leather products that get wet. Read on to find out what to do if your leather gets wet.

  • Dry it

To reduce the amount of water absorbed by the product, removing all water from the leather as soon as possible with a dry cloth is necessary.

Drying the leather to the desired shape is important because, as we discussed earlier, leather tends to harden when exposed to water. You can wrap non-leather purses and purses with newspaper to help them hold their shape while they dry.

The best drying conditions are slow and at room temperature. Although it may seem boring and time-consuming, avoid trying to speed up the process using a heat source like a hair dryer, which can cause serious damage. Don't wait for it to dry completely; Just let it dry. You can move on to the next step as soon as it gets a little wet.

  • Wash your leather

Once it's slightly damp, you can wipe it down again with a soft microfiber towel. Ensuring the surface is clean helps prepare the leather for the next step.

When cleaning full-grain leather items like ours, you should use a light touch as this will remove any dirt or oil stains without discoloring the leather or causing other damage. After that, you can proceed to package the product for recovery.

How leather reacts with water?

Leather reacts chemically with water molecules when wet. As a result, the leather loses its suppleness, and when the water evaporates, the leather becomes brittle and releases the oils from the leather.

The first step to solving this problem is to condition the leather, which our leather cream accomplishes. The purpose of this homemade solution is to restore some elasticity to the leather fibers, thus preventing them from cracking and deteriorating.

Plus, it waterproofs your items, which is helpful if you are in a similar situation again. Thanks to Leather Cream's all-natural ingredients, your interior leather will be in optimal shape and condition like never before.

Can leather absorb water?

Leather is subject to water penetration. The oils present in the leather give it suppleness and durability. Oil interacts with water molecules as the leather absorbs moisture.

This is undesirable because the oils evaporate with the water molecules as the leather dries.

Can water harm leather?

Leather loses its natural oils when exposed to water; when damp leather dries, it often becomes brittle and dry. Although rain can damage leather, you can treat and repair water damage by following these procedures to protect your valuable leather garments.

How is leather waterproofed?

An alternative is a protective spray or other commercial leather-specific waterproofing treatment. The wax lotion is an additional option.

The leather has been successfully waterproofed using wax, a natural waterproofing agent.

Can leather resist water?

It's not a good idea to get the leather wet, although it can happen. When leather is wet, the main problem occurs when the leather dries out.

Leather oils bind to water molecules when wet. The oil precipitates with the water as it dries and evaporates.


Leather is one of the best materials used for clothing and accessories. Some of them are really waterproof, while some completely not. In the above article, we have talked briefly about is leather waterproof. We hope this content helped you a lot.

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