Little kid standing on the snow with his red snow boots

How to Winter-proof Shoes and Boots

Your kids’ favorite shoes don’t have to retire just yet, just because winter has come. Use a quality boot wax or spray to keep kids’ footwear winterproof-able. However, certain shoes cannot stand such preparation, and they simply need to go into hibernation. 

In this blog, we explained how to winter-proof shoes and boots of different kinds, including leather, canvas, and suede. We provided the exact items you need to use and how to use them. Let’s dive in. 

Why Winter-proofing Kids’ Shoes?

Winter-proofing kid’s shoes can be a great choice if you don’t have snowy and rainy winters. It’s a great money-saving option and, at the same time, very convenient. 

They are protecting your kids’ feet and, thus, health, as well as ensuring the boots maintain shoes’ good looks. After all, you want your boots to last a long time. Let’s check the benefits of waterproofing shoes:


Keep kids’ feet dry

While it may be annoying damaging kids’ shoes, it is much more troublesome to the risk of their feet getting wet or freeze.  When spending a lot of time outside in icy or damp conditions, it’s crucial to keep their little feet dry to protect their health.

Prevent deformation 

Shoes change their shape according to the feet as your kids wear them. This is especially applicable to leather shoes, and it’s also known as the breaking-in process. But if the boots are immersed in water frequently, the leather may irreversibly and accidentally deform. To prevent the leather from permanently deforming, waterproof their shoes and keep them as good as new.

Help in fixing the scratches

Some waterproofing products, including Otter wax, can condition leather and restore its appearance. They restore scratches and scuffs to the leather by conditioning it, making the shoes look brand new.


Save money

Buying a new pair of shoes each season can be a bit of an expense. However, kids’ feet grow so fast, so at the end of the day, sometimes that’s the only option. But the ones that are still a good fit, yet a little bit scratched or start to let water through, can still be saved. A much cheaper option is waterproofing the footwear. If you want your kid to use their leather shoes for many years to come, conditioning and waterproofing them yourself is the simplest and most economical alternative.

What Shoes Can You Winterproof?

Despite waterproofing sprays and treatments, some of the kids’ footwear simply aren’t made for harsh winter conditions. For instance, dress shoes or, in general, any elegant footwear your kid wears on special occasions require that extra-spiffy look. Such shoes shouldn’t be winter-proofed.

Those shoes are best to clean and maintain after each wear. This is because if you choose to use winterproof spray, you won’t always get the same shine. Aside from that, many times, shoe protector coats prevent polish from soaking in.

Winterproofing shoes are a great choice if you live in an area where there’s not a lot of snow or rain. However,  if you live somewhere where’s frequently rainy or snowy, no pair of standard shoes with the winterproof spray will work.  For those occasions, we highly recommend weather-appropriate boots for cold weather purposes. If you are unsure how to choose the perfect winter footwear for your kids, you can check out our latest blogs about winter boots and winter barefoot shoes for kids

How to Winter-Proof Shoes for Kids

Snow, rain, and other winter-condition weather could easily damage your kids’ shoes. Protect your kids’ footwear using the mentioned items:

  • Waterproofing waxes such as beeswax, candlewax, and paraffin wax;
  • Water-repellent spray such as silicone polymer spray for the different shoe materials;
  • Oils, for instance, mink oil or neatsfoot oil;
  • Different creams like lanolin.

How to winter-proof suede shoes

A great way of protecting your kids’ shoes is by using Nikwax. This is a very popular and respectable brand that produces waxes and gels for waterproofing leather, fabric, and suede shoes. In addition to repelling water, its products help revive the appearance of your and your kids’ footwear.

How to winter-proof leather shoes

The best way of protecting any kind of leather footwear is by using silicone. Look out for waterproof sprays that consist of silicone, which can help you protect your kids’ shoes. Silicone is especially useful when you have a variety of different-material shoes and boots. 

Here are six simple steps on how to easily winter-proof kids’ shoes:

  • First, remove the laces and remove all the excess dirt from them
  • To remove scuffs, rub saddle soap and remove the residue with a dipped cloth in clean
  • Be careful not the get the shoes too wet
  • Dry the shoes using a soft, clean cloth 
  • Apply the silicone to the shoes with the circular motions 
  • Use a clean cloth to remove any excess

Always test any waterproofing technique on a small portion of your shoe or boot before applying it completely. It’s important to test before you use anything because some products and do-it-yourself techniques could alter the shoe’s appearance or color.

How to winter-proof canvas and trainers

For canvas shoes and trainers, use vaseline. Aside from that, vaseline is also good for leather shoes to waterproof them temporarily. Don’t forget to clean kids’ shoes properly before you apply vaseline.  Once you do that,  simply coat them in a thin layer of Vaseline, and their shoes are ready to take some new steps. 

Aside from vaseline, you can also use candle wax for canvas shoes. It’s a great substitution for beeswax. All you need to do is apply a thin layer of candlewax over kids’ shoes and let them dry with the hair dryer. 

When applying the wax, ensure that the shoe is a lighter color from the wax applied on the shoes. Once the entire shoe has been covered with wax, use a hairdryer to warm it up. Once the shoes have returned to their original color, you will know this has been accomplished.

How to winter-proof different shoes

For all other materials for your kids’ shoes, you can safely use beeswax. Once you’ve discovered a solid piece of beeswax, spread it over your shoes until you can see the substance present. After that, grab a hair dryer and dry out the wax on the shoes for long-lasting protection. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you add traction to shoes?

You can try to scuff the kids’ shoe soles with a nail file, sandpaper or brick, gravel, or rock or with anything else with a rough surface. Pick the item and rub it on the sole of the kids’ shoes. Continue rubbing until you see the small grooves appear on the sole.

How can I preserve my shoes forever?

Each shoe has its own lifespan. However, we can prolong kids’ shoes while cleaning them regularly,  protecting the soles and the shoes with proper cleaning and sprays, keeping them in the preferable storage, and replacing the sole when needed.

Does cold weather ruin shoes?

Cold weather can ruin regular shoes because it has a detrimental effect on the cushioning and performance of the shoes. However, quality winter boots are specially crafted to withstand low temperatures and conditions, so they are much less affected by the cold weather than regular shoes. 

In Conclusion

If you live in an area where there are no heavy winters with a lot of rain and snow, adding a protective layer to your kids’ current footwear is a great idea!

Many parents are confused about how to winter-proof shoes, but the answer is very simple. Just choose the product for the specific shoe material, follow the simple instruction, and they are good to go! 

Remember that if you live in a cold area with strong winters, opt for high-quality winter boots rather than winter-proofing the current ones. 


  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.