Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Leather boots and shoes are incredibly popular in fact around 33% of the footwear market is based on leather-based products. But leather can be expensive in comparison to other materials so protecting your purchase can be important, especially from the snow and rain. So can leather boots get wet without you damaging them or should you avoid wearing them in bad weather?
We are going to talk about what happens when leather boots get wet and what you can do to protect your footwear in wet conditions. This will hopefully keep your leather boots looking like new even when the weather is not necessarily on your side.
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Is It Ok To Wear Leather Boots In The Rain?
Leather boots and shoes can be worn in the rain without causing permanent damage to your shoes providing you have a good footwear maintenance regime. In fact, leather is one of the most popular types of footwear to wear in the spring and autumn when it is the rainy season.
Leather boots and shoes are able to hold up to wet conditions providing they are not getting saturated on a daily basis or being used to wade through pools of water. This is why leather boots are such a popular choice of footwear once the summer ends.
Wet leather shoes and boots however need to be looked after properly to keep them looking good. That means drying them properly to protect them from moisture damage and making sure they are properly stored before they are worn again.
Can Rain Mess Up Leather Shoes and Boots?
Whilst a little rain is probably not going to harm your leather shoes heavy downpours or saturated shoes are going to cause bigger problems.
Leather is generally water-resistant so this means that a little bit of water isn’t going to do much damage but when leather boots get incredibly wet then it is important to take the right steps to prevent them from becoming damaged.
Just some of the issues you might have with excess moisture include leather cracking, unsightly salt stains, and the breakdown of various shoe parts.
Remember that whilst the leather mild be able to hold up to water the glue holding parts of the shoes together may fail or the zips or insoles become damaged.
It always makes sense to think about the conditions you are going to be wearing your footwear in. Avoid wearing leather boots in situations where they are going to get completely saturated. If you are caught out then make sure you take the time to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again and condition them before wearing so that they don’t crack.
Water Damage to Leather Boots and Shoes
Can leather boots get wet? Well, when leather boots get wet in normal conditions they don’t necessarily absorb moisture especially if they have been coated with a water-resistant conditioner. That changes if the boots are worn in standing water or in conditions where they are never really getting a chance to dry out.
Boots need to dry properly before wearing them again. If you don’t do this the moisture will start to rot your boots and create mold inside and out.
You can also get problems if you dry your boots too quickly as when you remove all the moisture from leather it can start to crack. Remember that leather is just skin but without the capacity to add natural oils again. This means that leather needs to dry out naturally and when it is dry a product such as a leather conditioner or dubbin should be used to protect leather boots from any cracks or tears.
Salt stains are one example of problems that you might get as this leads to a tide mark around the shoe which can look unsightly.
To remove salt stains get a damp cloth and see if you can remove the stain just by rubbing it. If that doesn’t work try a mixture of 1 part vinegar to three parts water and use a cloth to rub the mixture onto the shoe to see if that will remove the problem.
For a professional product to help with salting on shoes you can use Moneysworth and Best Salt Stain Remover as a way of getting rid of the marks.
Water Resistant Boots Vs Waterproof Boots
If you regularly wear leather boots it might be useful to understand the difference between what is considered a water-resistant boot vs one that is waterproof.
Most leather boots are generally water resistant which means that they can repel water to a certain extent. This means that leather fashion boots and functional boots can generally perform well in wet conditions.
There is however a caveat and that is that whilst they can get wet they can’t tolerate excessive moisture for long periods of time. When that happens the leather becomes a more porous material and gets water stain. The boots will also absorb so much moisture that they become wet and uncomfortable to wear on your feet.
Waterproof boots offer a great level of protection for your feet. In fact, a waterproof boot should not let water in at all which means that they should keep your feet dry in more challenging conditions.
Waterproof boots are what you should consider wearing when your a dealing with more extreme conditions. Wolverine Floorhand boots for example are worn by workers who have to deal with less than ideal conditions both inside and out. As they are waterproof your feet should stay dry and the boots will stay looking good providing you maintain them with mink oil.
For day-to-day activities where you may find yourself in soggier conditions then you should look for waterproof wellington boots such as Carhartt Waterproof Rubber Boots. These are great boots that can be used in wetter settings or when you are walking the dog in less-than-ideal conditions.
Wellington boots don’t get water stains and keep your feet nice and dry and require minimal maintenance. That is why many people have a pair for day-to-day activities and save their other leather boots for work or walking on sidewalks in towns and city centers.
Using Galoshes, Overshoes and Silicone Boot Covers
It is worth noting that if you want to wear leather boots in rainier conditions and prevent them from getting damaged you could consider investing in some boot or shoe covers that protect them from the worst of the rain.
This is a halfway house solution as these can be carried around with you and put on when the weather is getting particularly bad.
Boot and Shoe over covers can be made from different types of material including PCV or silicone and are worn over your footwear to prevent excess moisture from getting into your boots.
These Tachitali Waterproof Boot Covers are made from PVC and come up to your knees. As they have a zip they can be easily pulled on and off when you need them. They also have elastic in two areas (the top and ankle) which keeps them on your feet when you are walking.
The great thing about these is that they have a rubber bottom which is non-slip so it means you can walk in them safely. The only thing you need to consider is buying a slightly bigger size than your normal boot size to make sure they cover your leather boots properly.
Whilst these may not be the most elegant of designs they serve a practical purpose. They can be used in unexpected thunder or rain storms, when you are out fishing, or even in the snow, and will make sure you have dry leather boots rather than ones that are soggy and wet.
What To Do If Leather Boots Get Wet
Even if you do take care to wear your leather boots in better weather it is inevitable that the weather forecast won’t always be right and your footwear will end up getting soaking wet at some points.
If you do end up with wet leather boots here are some simple things you can do to make sure this doesn’t cause them any permanent damage.
When you get home you can first check your boots to see if they have any dirt or grime on them. Your first step is to remove dirt with a brush or dry cloth so that it doesn’t dry on your boots or cause any staining or discoloration.
Your next step is to get your boots dry. Now whilst it is tempting to place them close to a warm heat source like a fire or super hot radiator this can dry the leather a little too quickly which leaves them prone to cracking.
Instead, you need to allow your boots to air dry naturally over a day or so to remove excess moisture safely. Start by leaving your boots somewhere where the air can circulate around and in them. When they have been doing this for a number of hours you can stuff them with dry newspaper to soak up any moisture inside the boot. The crumpled newspaper can be removed when the air drying process has finished.
Dry newspaper is useful not only to help remove moisture from the boot but it can also help to maintain the shape of the boot so that it doesn’t end with creases.
Air drying is a cheap and easy way to get your boots dry but if they are really saturated this process can take a few days. As an alternative consider using a boot dryer to do the job faster. Boot dryers are great products to use in autumn and winter as they can dry your footwear quickly after a day in the rain or snow so they are ready to wear the next day.
The DryGuy Boot and Garment Dryer is a great product that can dry your boots properly without the moisture being removed from them too quickly.
Protecting Leather Boots For Future Use
When your boots are dry you need to think about putting the right sort of moisture and oils back into them to help condition the leather. Unlike normal skin which will do this naturally, you need to apply conditioner or products to help stop cracking and to assist with making them water resistant in the future.
The Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner kit for example is a great set of products to buy to help you take care of your leather boots so they keep looking great well into the future. These products can be used on not only your boots and shoes but on leather furniture, car seats and leather jackets as well.
Mink oil which we mentioned earlier is also a brilliant product to use as it not only helps to soften and condition your leather but also helps to waterproof shoes as well. Mink oil usually needs to be melted slightly before use and then applied in a circular motion to all the leather parts of your boots. Wipe off any excess oil and then allow it to dry before wearing your boots.
What Boots Are Suitable For Rain?
So can leather boots get wet? Well as you have learned they are fine for wearing in normal conditions but not so great if you are going to be outdoors for long periods of time in soaking wet conditions.
You don’t want to ruin leather boots by regularly saturating them in rainstorms so it makes sense to have backup footwear to use when so that you protect your real leather boots.
There are plenty of rain boots available on the market from ankle boots to knee highs that can deal with harsher conditions. We particularly love Hunter Boots that have been used for years by people who like to walk a lot outdoors. They are stylish (even Kate Moss has a pair) are hard wearing and last for years if you take care of them.
If you are on a budget Dunlop Protective Footwear is a cheaper alternative and will do the job of keeping your feet dry when the heavens open.
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