Can Water Damage Cowboy Boots?

If you own a pair of cowboy boots, you must be aware of their durability and strength. They are water-resistant too.

However, if you leave your cowboy boots wet for too long, they can become moldy and ruined. As a result, it’s important to dry cowboy boots as soon as possible after they’ve been wet.

So if you can spare a few minutes of your time reading this article, we’ll clear your doubts on how water can ruin your favourite pair of cowboy boots and what can you do to minimize the damage caused by it. 

Yes, exposure to water for a long time can actually damage your cowboy boots. Since they’re mostly made of leather and leather resists water, but still they aren’t 100% water-proof. Even while your cowboy boots are designed to withstand heavy wear and tear, mud puddles and excessive exposure to moisture can impact their durability. 

Can Water Damage Cowboy Boots

So how does water ruin cowboy boots?

The oils in the boots’ skin bond to the water particles, so as the water evaporates and dries, the oils are drawn out.

This shedding of natural oils causes the leather to lose its flexible quality and become stiff and brittle, affecting the suppleness and durability of your cowboy boots. 

They can also become stretched, stained, worn out, wrinkly, and moldy if they are exposed to water for an extended period of time.

Water diminishes the leather’s quality, causing it to become damp and distorted, never to be the same shape again.

Now let us understand the type of materials used in the making of cowboy boots and how water impacts each one differently. 

1.) Grained/patterned leather- cowboy boots made with these leathers are usually treated with a thick layer of paint and a protective outer layer.

The water resistance is great and your boots are less prone to discolor or become damp when exposed to water.

2.) Vegetable-tanned leather- if your cowboy boot is made of vegetable-tanned leather, that is full-grain, know that it is manufactured from the strongest portion of the animal hide and retains the skin’s outer covering.

It absorbs water and stains more easily since its finish is frequently natural without protective coatings.

3.) Suede- cowboy boots made of this fleshy portion of the animal are sanded and buffed to give it a smooth, thin texture with a characteristic nap.

Because of this, it is quite easy to work with, and it’s perfect for more casual footwear. Suede is considered a delicate leather due to its sponge-like ability to absorb water and stains.

4.) Vegan/Synthetic leather- if your cowboy boots are made of synthetic leather, you should be aware that the base is composed of synthetic materials such as polyester, rayon, and nylon, which is then covered with wax and polyurethane, which makes the boot repel water but not 100% waterproof. 

Ways to prevent water damaging your cowboy boots

It’s crucial to look into treatments and sprays that contain natural oils to replenish the oil lost due to water damage and to help retain moisture. But before you begin:

→ Clean your cowboy boots properly with a dry fabric and brush.

→ Check with the boot manufacturer to see if they recommend a specific protector for their model.

→ Always test your waterproofing process on a tiny, less prominent section of the boot before applying it to the entire area. Oil-based products have a tendency to darken lighter leathers, so check for any discolorations or unwanted consequences.

Now let us have a look at some products that you can use to waterproof your cowboy boot:

1. Waterproofing sprays add a protective layer quickly

Waterproof spray can be purchased at a shoe store or online as well. The spray makes the job go by quickly and easily. It’s as simple as spraying the product on the shoe.

You’re ready to go with your newly waterproofed boots after it has dried. But after you’ve sprayed your boots, don’t touch them. Allow them to thoroughly dry before putting them on. 

Remember, if your cowboy boots are made of suede, make sure to get a silicone-free spray. It will help repel water, but if you are out in severe rain or your cowboy boots are in the water for an extended period of time, you will need to re-spray. When you stay in the water for a long time, the spray layer weakens.

Check this product by GRIFFIN (Western Water & Stain Repellent)- 

2. Petroleum Jelly is cost effective way to waterproof cowboy boots

Petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is substantial for making your cowboy boots waterproof temporarily. It is the cheapest way to waterproof it since almost everyone has it in their home. Petroleum jelly does not absorb water as water floats in the shape of bubbles on top of the jelly.

When petroleum jelly is wet, it does not stop the water from entering the boots that is why it should be dried for it to act as a thick seal for the shoes. It is so thick that it behaves as an additional layer of material for the boot. 

Petroleum jelly is silicon-free, making it suitable for suede shoes. It contains soft paraffin, which softens the boots and protects them from cracking and peeling as they dry out. As a result, your shoes will be both waterproof and conditioned.

3. Mink oil improves flexibility and water resistance of your cowboy boots

The most popular recommendation for waterproofing leather cowboy boots is mink oil. The fatty acids in the oil make the leather supple while also protecting it from scratches and moisture from the outside.

It takes a little longer to apply than a waterproofing spray, but it’s much better for the longevity of your boots. 

Simply massage the oil into the surface and warm it with a blow dryer on low heat or by exposing it to the sun. This softens the oil and allows it to penetrate the fibres and stitching. Allow the boots to dry overnight after wiping off any excess oil. 

It improves the flexibility and water resistance of your cowboy boots and is commonly used in the preservation of the world’s finest leather items.

4. Wax is the most effective way to waterproof

When it comes to waterproofing your cowboy boots, beeswax outperforms all other waxes. 

But if you don’t have any beeswax or are in a rush and can’t get your hands on some, use candles instead! But first make sure that they’re plain, colorless candles, else colored candles can give a really odd color to your boots. 

Melt the candles until they become wax. Then simply soak a cloth in the wax and rub it into the boots. Wait till it’s completely dry! 

Check out this product Obenauf’s Leather Conditioner- 

Generally, you don’t have to take your cowboy boots to a professional to get it waterproofed, you can simple do it at home by following a few easy steps:

1.) Examine your boots nicely to see if they are clean. Wipe your boots down with a moist cloth and using dry paper or a towel, absorb any excess moisture.

2.) Warm your boot but make sure not to the point of burning, by using a heat gun or a hair dryer. A heat gun is recommended as it heats things quickly as compared to the hair dryer. The hair dryer takes time and has to be used frequently as it doesn’t produce heat as much as a heat gun does. 

3.) Use a cloth or a brush to apply the product of your choosing mentioned above. Use your heating tool to ensure that the products are quickly absorbed by the boots. 

4.) Allow the boots to air dry. Remove the access product once they’ve dried. And put your boots to the test by dropping a few drops of water on it, if it dries up, you’re good to go!

Here are some of the recommended cowboy boots for use when you step out in water:

1. Ariat Hybrid Rancher Waterproof Boots

We recommend these boots because they’re waterproof and insulated which will make sure your feet stay dry and warm. 

2. Dan Post Albuquerque Waterproof Boots

These boots come with a rubber outsole for excellent grip, and the waterproof features ensure that your feet and boots are protected. 

3. Carhartt Wellington Waterproof Boots

These are high-quality, durable and comfortable cowboy boots that provide good traction and protection against any water damage. 


Cowboys boots are stylish and versatile, that means you can pair them up with almost anything and still look good. It comes with all the safety features that are ideal for a workplace and also provides comfort required in a casual outing. 

But no matter how durable and water-resistant your cowboy boots are, water can impact their overall performance and quality.

And that can be avoided if you take simple precautions that can go a long way to ensure durability of your favourite cowboy boots!

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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