Is Suede Leather Waterproof?

is suede leather waterproof

Suede leather is one of the most delicate types of leather. It’s prone to tearing and scuffing, so it needs special care in order to maintain its softness and durability. In this article, we’ll discuss if suede leather is waterproof and how to make it waterproof if it’s not.

So is suede leather waterproof? Suede is a porous material and because of that, it’s not waterproof. The leather is treated with finishes that makes the suede feel soft, velvety, with a nap surface but this also means that water will seep into the material when it come with wet conditions or damp surfaces.

To learn the details on why suede leather is not waterproof and how to make it waterproof among other tips and tricks, keep reading this article.

Details On Why Suede Leather Is NOT Waterproof

1. Suede Is Not Waterproof Because It’s A Porous Material

One of the main reasons why suede leather is not waterproof is because suede is a very porous material. Suede leather is porous because of how it’s made.

Suede leather is made from real leather that has been split to create a soft, velvety surface.

This means the grain layer is split leaving behind a porous fibrous layer of the leather – suede. The pores and hair follicles get opened wide to water and air.

This means water can easily soak into the suede leather when it comes into contact with wet or damp surfaces.

So the nature and structure of suede leather do not make it waterproof and that is why it’s important to treat suede leather so that it is waterproof.

There are also a few preventive steps that can be taken to prevent suede leather from getting into contact with water. Some of these steps may include wearing appropriate shoes or using the right products.

Also, applying a protective spray before going outside during a rainy or snowy day will help prevent stains and damage from occurring on your suede leather items.

2. Suede Leather Has No Coating

Another thing that contributes to suede leather not being waterproof is that suede leather is not coated and as a result, it will absorb water.

This means that if you wear suede leather shoes in the rain, those shoes would get wet and your feet can be soaked by what’s on the outside of the shoe.

Usually, most leathers that are not suede leather will have a smooth surface that helps to minimize the amount of moisture that gets soaked into the leather. But suede leather is not like that as all you have is a napped surface that is highly porous.

This lack of protective surface coating means that any moisture will travel deep into the leather without protection from an outer layer or barrier.

Also, although there are suede leather products that help to render suede leather somewhat waterproof, the nap or velvet surface of suede leather will not make it possible to easily apply waterproofing products.

3. Suede Leather Is A Very Soft Leather Material

Suede leather is also not waterproof because of how soft the suede leather material is. The softer the suede leather material, the more susceptible it would be to moisture. This means the easier it will be for water to seep through.

In this case, you can not include suede leather in a list of products that are waterproof. It is important to note that the nap or velvet surface of suede often renders it impossible for you to easily apply water-repellent materials onto your suede leather which would be necessary if you wanted them to become waterproof.

So even though there may be high-quality and durable items made from this material, they will not fully protect them against moisture because of how soft and highly absorbent they are.

4. Suede Leather Is NOT Waterproof Because It Is From Real Animals

Indeed, a suede leather item may not be waterproof due to the fact that it has been made from the hide and the skins of real animals.

And because of this, when the suede leather comes into contact with water or any other form of moisture, the suede leather will soak up the moisture.

Suede leather made from animal skins is porous as mentioned before. But also, there are suede leathers that are made from synthetic materials and these may not be quite as susceptible to moisture.

There are often called faux suede leather. These types of suede leather are made from synthetic materials and are not porous like those made from the hides and skins of real animals.

They will also be more durable than the usual animal suede leather because this type of faux suede leather is made from man-made materials that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

How to Make Suede Leather Waterproof

There are some methods for making your favorite pair of suede leather shoes, handbag, jacket, or other items completely waterproof so they do not soak up water or any other form of moisture. Below are some of my favorites!

1. Using Suede Leather Protectors

The most popular way to make your suede leather items waterproof is by using something like suede leather care products like Scotchgard Fabric Protector which has been specially designed to work on all different types of fabric but specifically works well on clothing made out of delicate natural fibers like suede leather.

The way Scotchgard Fabric Protector works is by protecting the fiber in your suede leather items like clothing from liquid, dirt, and other stains.

It does this by bonding a thin, invisible layer of protective film over the fabric which is what gives it its waterproof quality.

The benefit of using a product like the Scotchgard Fabric Protector or any other similar products is that it’s a non-toxic spray and not only protects against liquid but also dirt – which means your suede leather clothing item will stay looking clean and new for longer.

2. Using Suede Spray-Waterproofing Products

Another way to make your suede leather items waterproof is by using spray-on waterproofing products.

Spray-on waterproofing products work by coating your suede leather items in an extra layer of polyurethane which makes it water-resistant or even fully waterproof depending on the type you use.

The benefit to using this method is that if done correctly, you can make any material liquid-proof and it will last for a long time.

To make your suede leather items waterproof, you should first check the label to see what type of material is in the spray-on product.

If there’s any mention of silicone or adhesive then this could weaken the fabric too much and may not be worth using on your suede leather item. This can reduce the overall lifespan of the suede leather item significantly due to how much dirt suede materials attract dirt and dust – which will ruin them over time if they’re already fragile.

3. By Using Waxes

You can also make your suede leather items waterproof by using waxes which are designed to coat the fabric with a layer of wax that repels water.

The benefit of this method is you can use it in conjunction with other methods and your suede leather clothes items will be more durable as well as repelling dirt and liquid.

I find using waxes super helpful when it comes to waterproofing your suede leather items. Using everyday household items like beeswax, petroleum jelly, and liquid shoe polish can add significant waterproof quality to your suede leather items.

This method is effective because it coats the fabric with a layer of wax that repels water and will also protect your suede leather items from dirt and wear.

A disadvantage to using these methods however is that if done incorrectly then the result can end up looking patchy rather than smooth like the original material which defeats the purpose completely.

4. Using An All-Purpose Sealant

Another alternative way you could waterproof your suede clothing is by applying an all-purpose spray sealant on both sides of the suede leather item before using or wearing them for their first time out in wet weather conditions.

The advantage here is that you are doing away with any need for further application, which can be messy and time-consuming.

The disadvantage of doing this is that the sealant will wear off over time, so you have to reapply it frequently if you want your items to stay waterproof.

Furthermore, applying them too heavily may result in a buildup on the material’s surface that makes it stiff, sticky, and can also ruin the nap and the color of the suede leather – which again defeats its purpose since suede must remain soft for comfort.

If done correctly however this method should keep your clothes looking smart without any excessive use of water repellent sprays or other products.

It also saves money because spray treatments are more expensive than an all-purpose sealant application would cost.

Related Question

Can You Wear Suede Shoes In The Rain?

No, you cannot wear suede shoes in the rain because suede shoes are not waterproof. If you want to wear your favorite pair of suede shoes during a rainstorm, then those shoes must be waterproofed to help prevent the rainwater from soaking into the suede shoes and also help maintain the original nap, texture, and color of the suede leather shoes.

What Do You Do If Your Suede Shoes Get Wet?

If your suede shoes got wet, there are a few things you can do to help maintain their glossiness and texture. If the shoe is still damp from when it got wet, simply blot dry with a towel or let air dry naturally (don’t use any heat). Once they’re dry, apply your favorite waterproofing product to make sure that the moisture doesn’t get in again. You can also try applying petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) onto the parts of the shoe that were exposed to water as this will form an extra barrier against outside elements like rain getting inside them.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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