A question that we get asked often; can leather boots get wet? All things considered, if you purchase and regularly wear a pair of leather boots, chances are you will get it wet whether you intended to or not.
Better questions that we will also address in this article; Should leather boots get whet? What can happen when leather boots get wet? What should you do about wet leather boots? Lots of questions, so let us dive straight into it!
In summary, most leather boots are designed to withstand exposure to water in the short term. However, prolonged moisture exposure can lead to your leather boots sustaining damage.
Common Reasons Why Leather Boots Get Wet
Let’s examine the most common reasons why leather boots can get wet. If you are aware of these circumstances, you might be better able to plan around them.
Rain and Weather Conditions
We can confidently wager that you had, at least on one occasion in your life, stepped out of the house when the sun was shining, not bringing an umbrella along with you, only to find it pouring a few hours later.
Weather can be unpredictable, and you cannot fully account for it. Even weather forecasts can’t be relied upon with absolute certainty. Unless you are holistically planning to wear your leather boots in indoor environments, chances are you will experience rain exposure, causing your leather boots to get wet.
A follow on the previous point, even if you are not wearing your leather boots out at the exact moment that it is raining, puddles of rain that had just passed will pose a ‘wet-threat’ to your leather boots.
It is not uncommon for rainwater to collect on uneven surfaces along a sidewalk, road, etc. Puddles are not only restricted to rain as their source formation. Underground pipe leaks, fractured irrigation systems, etc can be a common reason why seemingly random puddles form.
Unless you are on a consistent high alert watching out for puddles, it is understandable that you accidentally step into a puddle, wetting your leather boots in the process.
Have you ever worn your leather boots to a popular bar or club on a Friday evening? If so, I would be surprised if your boots didn’t get at least a little wet from drink spillages.
Needless to say, a club or bar isn’t the only place where this can happen. Have you accidentally dropped or knocked over a cup of coffee before? In addition to your shirt and pants possibly getting soiled, your boots are also a prime victim candidate here.
What Happens When Leather Boots Get Wet?
As previously mentioned, leather boots largely are treated to have a factor of water resistance. However, manufacturing treatments are not for forever and improper care can lead to undesirable effects being observed.
Please feel free to refer to our article on how moisture interacts and affects leather in general for a more detailed understanding of this front. If your leather boots are already damaged because of it, please read our guide on how you can treat water-damaged leather accordingly.
Leather Boots Can Stiffen
If you are not careful and your leather boots end up stiffening due to excessive water exposure, you might be in for an uncomfortable experience. Depending on the severity of the stiffening, you might find yourself with blisters.
This is especially pertinent if your leather boots are stiff from water exposure and you have not worn the boots for a considerable time.
Leather Boots Can Develop Unpleasant Odors
With prolonged and consistent exposure to moisture, coupled together with less than ideal storage conditions, mildew and mold can likely grow within your leather boots.
Due to the enclosed nature of a boot’s interior, this is especially pertinent as compared to many other leather and clothing articles. If you do not take action before it is too late, the mold and mildew can be a source of unpleasant odors.
If you find yourself with less than pleasant smelling leather boots, do feel free to read our article on how you can remove odors from your leather footwear.
Leather Boots Trimmings Can Rust
If your leather boots have metallic trimmings and are in constant contact with wet leather surfaces, an increased likelihood of rusting can occur.
If that happens, it might also be possible for the rust to spread onto the contact edges between your decorative trimmings and boots.
How To Dry Wet Leather Boots
Now that you have an understanding of the common symptoms accompanying wet leather boots, let us look at how you can look to mitigate the damage as much as possible.
The most direct step that you can take is to ensure that you dry our leather boots as quickly and as safely as possible. The best methods we recommend to dry leather boots are as follows.
1. Use Absorbent Cloth To Remove Excess Moisture
You can use an absorbent microfiber cloth or even paper towels to press against the surface area of your leather boots. The goal is to remove as much moisture as possible before we move on to the next step so that you can shorten the drying cycle as much as possible and reduce the likelihood of water-induced damage being realized.
2. Air Dry Leather Boots
Once you have removed as much moisture as you can, leave your boots in the open to air dry naturally. In this step, the most important thing to take note of is the environment in which you are drying your boots.
You’ll want to ensure that the environment is as ventilated as possible. This means that we do not recommend leaving wet boots in a shoe cupboard that is enclosed. You also want to ensure that you leave your boots in a shaded environment, as direct sunlight can also cause damage to the leather.
To maximize the impact of the air-drying process, remove the laces of your boots to ensure that as much ventilation is allowed into the inside of your boots as possible. We recommend air drying your boots in an ideal environment for approximately 24 hours before your next wear.
3. Use Shoe Trees
After air-drying your boots, we recommend using shoe trees that have drying properties on the inside of your boots. The outside of your boots will naturally dry quicker than the interior, and your leather boot interiors are particularly susceptible to mold and mildew growth.
4. Waterproof Your Leather Boots (Optional)
Although optional, we recommend waterproofing your leather boots if you frequently use them for outdoor activities. Simply choose a suitable waterproofing wax that is suitable for leather and apply it using the manufacturer’s recommended directions.
Take note that suede and nubuck leather boots require specialized products, as their fine texture may cause them to become glossy and polished when using standard leather waterproofing waxes.
Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill
I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!