How to Waterproof Fabric & Clothes: 3 Ways

Waterproofing fabric and clothes is a vital strategy to shield them from moisture, enhancing durability and utility. Whether you’re seeking to protect outdoor gear, clothing, or accessories, various methods offer effective solutions.

how to waterproof fabric

This guide explores three distinct approaches: utilizing waterproofing sprays for convenient application, wash-in treatments for technical fabrics, and wax-based methods for a classic touch.

Each method comes with unique advantages, catering to diverse needs. Discovering how to waterproof fabric ensures your belongings remain resilient against the elements while maintaining their aesthetic appeal and functionality.

Can You Waterproof Fabric?

Yes, fabric can be waterproofed using various methods such as waterproofing sprays, wash-in treatments, and wax-based applications. Waterproofing sprays create a protective barrier, wash-in treatments infuse fabrics with water-repellent properties, and wax-based methods provide a classic, natural waterproofing solution.

Each approach caters to different fabric types and intended uses. These methods not only shield the fabric from moisture but also extend its lifespan and usability.

Whether you’re aiming to protect outdoor gear, clothing, or accessories, waterproofing fabric empowers you to confidently face diverse weather conditions while maintaining your items’ aesthetics and functionality.

Can You Waterproof Any Clothes?

No, not all types of clothing can be effectively waterproofed. While many fabrics can be made more water-resistant using various methods, achieving complete waterproofing might not be feasible for all clothing items. Fabrics with intricate weaves, delicate textures, or natural fibers like cotton and silk can be more challenging to waterproof effectively.

However, you can enhance the water resistance of various clothing items to some degree. Here is a list of common clothing items that can often be successfully waterproofed or made more water-resistant:

  1. Rain Jackets
  2. Windbreakers
  3. Outdoor Pants
  4. Hiking Boots
  5. Backpacks
  6. Tents
  7. Umbrellas
  8. Gloves
  9. Hats and Caps
  10. Outdoor Accessories

It’s essential to consider the fabric type, construction, and the intended use of the clothing before attempting to waterproof it. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the chosen waterproofing method and test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the clothing before treating the entire item.

What Is The Best Product To Waterproof Fabric?

There are several effective products available for waterproofing fabric, each catering to specific needs and types of fabrics. Here are some popular options:

  1. Silicone-based Waterproof Sprays: Silicone sprays create a protective barrier on fabric surfaces, making them resistant to water. They are suitable for outdoor gear, tents, and clothing. However, they can alter the fabric’s texture and breathability.
  2. Polyurethane Waterproof Sprays: Polyurethane sprays provide a waterproof layer that is durable and flexible. They are commonly used on outdoor equipment and rainwear. Some formulations offer UV protection as well.
  3. Wax-Based Waterproofing: Wax-based products, such as wax bars or liquid waxes, are often used for canvas and heavy-duty fabrics. They require application through heat, like ironing, to melt and penetrate the fabric, creating a waterproof barrier.
  4. Nikwax and Granger’s Products: These brands offer specialized wash-in and spray-on treatments that enhance water repellency while maintaining breathability. They are suitable for various fabrics, including technical clothing and outdoor gear.
  5. Fabric Sealants: These are liquid solutions that create a waterproof layer upon drying. They can be applied with a brush, roller, or sprayed on, and are commonly used for upholstery and outdoor fabrics.
  6. DIY Mixtures: Some people create their own waterproofing solutions using a combination of products like mineral spirits, beeswax, and linseed oil. However, DIY methods might not offer the same level of consistency and effectiveness as commercial products.

When selecting a waterproofing product, consider the type of fabric you’re working with, the intended use of the fabric, and any specific requirements you have regarding breathability, flexibility, and longevity.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and testing, and consider doing a small patch test before treating the entire fabric to ensure compatibility and desired results.

How to Waterproof Fabric & Clothes: 3 Different Ways

Waterproofing fabric and clothes is essential for keeping them protected from moisture and extending their lifespan. Here are three different methods for waterproofing fabric, along with step-by-step guides for each:

Method 1: Waterproofing Spray

waterproof fabric with waterproofing product

Waterproofing sprays are convenient and effective for various fabrics, including clothing and outdoor gear.

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Waterproofing spray
  2. Clean cloth
  3. Well-ventilated area

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Choose a well-ventilated area for the application.
  2. Clean the fabric thoroughly to remove any dirt or stains. Make sure the fabric is completely dry before proceeding.
  3. Shake the waterproofing spray can well.
  4. Hold the spray can about 6-8 inches away from the fabric.
  5. Spray an even coat of waterproofing spray onto the fabric, ensuring full coverage. Be careful not to oversaturate.
  6. Use a clean cloth to gently spread and rub the spray into the fabric, ensuring even distribution.
  7. Let the fabric dry completely as per the manufacturer’s instructions before using or wearing it.

Method 2: Wash-In Waterproofing

Wash-in waterproofing treatments are suitable for clothing, especially technical fabrics like rain jackets.

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Wash-in waterproofing product (e.g., Nikwax Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-In)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Clean the washing machine’s detergent compartment to remove any residue.
  2. Wash the fabric or clothing using a specialized tech wash (if available) to clean the fabric without damaging its waterproof properties. Follow the tech wash instructions.
  3. Without removing the fabric from the washing machine, add the wash-in waterproofing product according to the product’s instructions.
  4. Run an additional wash cycle using cold water.
  5. Dry the fabric or clothing as recommended by the product instructions or the care label.

Method 3: Wax-Based Waterproofing

Wax-based treatments are ideal for heavy fabrics like canvas and can provide a natural, vintage look.

How to waterproof fabric with wax

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Wax-based waterproofing product (wax bar or liquid wax)
  2. Clean cloth or sponge
  3. Heat source (iron or heat gun)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Clean the fabric thoroughly and ensure it is dry.
  2. If using a wax bar, rub it onto the fabric in a consistent motion, applying even pressure. If using liquid wax, apply it using a clean cloth or sponge in a circular motion.
  3. Once the fabric is coated with wax, use a heat source like an iron (on low setting) or a heat gun to melt the wax into the fabric. Keep the heat source moving to avoid scorching the fabric.
  4. The wax will darken the fabric temporarily, but it will lighten as it cools and solidifies.
  5. Allow the fabric to cool and dry completely before using or wearing.

Remember to always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the waterproofing product you choose, as application methods and drying times can vary. Additionally, perform a small test on an inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure compatibility and the desired effect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Turn Fabric Into a Waterproof Material?

The fact is that you can’t turn fabric into fully waterproof material but add a waterproof coating to resist the water. But don’t be depressed. Adding a waterproof layer or waxing is enough for resisting clothes. For reapplication of coating on waterproof cloth, use the DWR spray.

What’s The Perfect Way to Make Natural Fiber or Cotton Fabric Waterproof?

For waterproofing natural fabric, cotton fabric, denim, hemp, or canvas, waxing is the best choice ever. Stiff wax will darken the fabric and make it look good.

How Can I Understand That My Fabric Isn’t Waterproof?

While washing your clothes, if your fabric tends to change color, then it’s not waterproof. However, you can fix the problem with the above-mentioned solution.

Final Words:

Mastering the art of waterproofing fabric and clothes empowers you to safeguard your belongings from moisture’s detrimental effects.

By employing waterproofing sprays, wash-in treatments, or wax-based methods, you can tailor your approach to the fabric’s nature and purpose.

This preservation not only extends the lifespan of your items but also maintains their integrity and style.

Whether you’re embarking on outdoor adventures or simply navigating everyday life. The knowledge gained from these methods ensures that your fabric and clothing remain impervious to water, serving you well in the face of varying conditions. Protecting your investments has never been more accessible or rewarding.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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