Whether they are boots or shoes, you may start to panic if your leather goods get wet. We all know the feeling of getting caught in a sudden downpour, wringing out your clothes, and emptying your shoes of water.
For whatever reason your leather shoes may have gotten wet, you might be wondering if this will ruin the material.
Here we are going to explore what happens to leather when it’s exposed to water and if the products are damaged as a result.
What Happens To Leather When It Gets Wet?
Moisture is needed in the leather to keep it supple. When leather is exposed to water, the oils in the skin bind to the water molecules. As the water dries or evaporates, this draws out the oils in the leather.
Essentially, this sheds the product of its natural oils and nutrients which causes it to lose the natural qualities that the material is wanted for.
When water damaged the natural moisture of the product is drawn out, causing it to turn stiff and brittle as a result. This can lead to cracking, tearing, and eventually, dry rot.
Will Leather Ruin If It Gets Wet?
Leather shoes and boots can get wet without causing permanent damage to them if they are cared for correctly. Leather can even receive a good soaking without being completely damaged.
However, if your shoes are repeatedly being exposed to a large amount of rainfall or water in general this can damage them over time if the necessary aftercare is ignored.
How To Prevent Water Damage To Leather Shoes
In order to prevent water from causing long-term damage, there are a number of precautions and preventive actions that you can take.
Create A Water Repellent Barrier
Removing the chances of the water being able to soak into the leather is a great preventative measure to stop your shoes from ruining.
There are a number of water-repellent sprays on the market that can be used on leather shoes.
Using a wax-based polish can help to seal the pores of the leather so the water rolls right off.
There are tons of options on the market that won’t cost you a lot of money and may mean you aren’t forking out for a new pair of shoes any time soon.
Currently, you can get a high-quality spray for around $10, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t much to pay.
Towel drying any water off of the shoes as soon as possible can help to avoid the molecules from sinking into the material.
Any old towel or rag will do for this. If you find there’s a bit of debris, you might want to use something old.
Most importantly, avoid using a hair dryer, although common sense dictates that this will speed up the process and it will also cause the leather to dry out. This may ruin the leather permanently.
Soaking Up Moisture With Newspaper
Using a towel or some newspaper, you can fill the inside of your shoes with these materials to draw out the moisture to avoid seeping further into the leather.
Further, this helps to prevent mold from growing in the shoe which I’m sure we all want to avoid. Gross.
Air Drying The Shoes
Once you’ve removed as much excess moisture as possible, air drying the shoes will help to remove any remaining moisture.
Putting the shoes in a cool, dry place where humidity isn’t likely to reverse all your hard work.
Placing the shoes on a towel in an upright position, against a wall or cupboard at an angle of 30 degrees best promotes drying.
This helps the soles to dry faster compared to leaving them parallel to the ground.
Extra Precautions You Can Take
When shoes are well and truly soaked, removing the laces and insoles (if possible) might be the best idea to remove moisture from as much of the shoe as possible.
Water is likely to get trapped between the insole and the bottom of the shoe.
The insoles can retain a lot more water than the laces, which increases the likelihood of them smelling or warping later on. Air-drying these separately helps to eliminate this.
For best results and most importantly to extend the lifespan of your shoes, use a combination of these techniques to keep the leather in good condition.
How To Treat Leather Once Dried
After the leather has dried you may notice some areas of the shoe that look a little different.
Certain marks won’t show up when the shoe is wet. Salt stains and watermarks are common and require additional treatment.
Treating salt marks is easy and can be done with a few household items. Mixing a solution of vinegar and water, you can use a rag to wipe down the leather to quickly remove these stains.
For oil and grease stains, baby powder or talcum powder can be used to draw out the grease which can then be wiped off with a damp cloth.
Use Leather Cleaner On Your Shoes
Purchasing some leather shoe cleaner can help treat the leather when dried out.
If you haven’t already and the store you bought the shoes from didn’t include a little freebie, purchasing some leather shoe polish is a great way to restore and protect your shoes from water damage.
These types of cleaners are inexpensive and very effective, helping to revive the leather by adding moisture creating a more supple product.
Always check the labels of any cleaners to make sure it’s right for your specific type of shoe.
Leather shoes can get wet without creating long-lasting damage. If the shoes are exposed to water consistently and aren’t properly cared for they can become damaged in the future.
Taking the necessary precautions is vital to preserving your leather shoes and making them last longer.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative and that you’ve gained a better understanding of how to protect your shoes in the future!