Does Silicone Damage Leather Boots? 

When hiking up and down mountains or through muddy fields, your expensive hiking boots can very quickly get ruined. That is where silicon sprays come in. Silicone sprays provide waterproofing and protection to working and hiking boots, helping them stand the test of time, and stay looking their best for longer. However, does Silicone damage leather boots? It is always worth researching what does and what doesnt.

Leather can be very sensitive, and for this reason, there is no good way to waterproof your shoes without damaging the leather truly. There are many types of spray protectors available, most of which contain silicone, which can dry out protein bonds in the leather. Not only that, but silicone can also damage the glue used on the seals of leather hiking boots.

Good quality hiking boots can be expensive, so you want to ensure you take care of them, more than just cleaning them after use. Cleaning is the first stage, but you can go through specific steps to ensure the boots are waterproof after cleaning. And then let them dry properly.

How to maintain and waterproof leather boots?

You need a little time and a few simple tools to waterproof leather boots. Do this regularly, and you can maintain your shoes in mint condition, ready to face any challenges on the trail.

The main steps for cleaning and waterproofing boots involve:

  • Choosing the right treatment for your boots
  • Ensuring your boots are clean
  • Applying the treatment
  • Leaving your boots to dry

The Right Treatment

Ensure that the treatment you choose to use is suitable for the leather type of your boots. Also, check if the manufacturer has any cleaning requirements or recommended products for your shoes. And the description of the products you buy to make sure the product is safe for your leather type.

Cleaning Your Boots

Cleaning your boots is a vital stage in the process, as you don’t want any dirt compromising the treatment coverage.

  1. Take off the laces on your boots if they have any.
  2. Remove any visible dirt with a soft brush or sponge.
  3. Use a lint-free cloth in a circular motion to remove any settled dust.
  4. Use a boot cleaner and water to remove any more stubborn dirt.
  5. Finish with a damp boot, which helps the treatment penetrate the material.

Apply Your Treatment

It is then time to waterproof your boots. Leather boots work best with a wax-based waterproofing product rather than silicone. Silicone works better for nylon blends, but some people use it on leather boots too.

  1. Apply the treatment as soon as you are done cleaning, so the boots are still damp.
  2. Once you are sure that the water has soaked adequately into the leather, follow the instructions on the packaging of whatever treatment you have decided to use (Wax, Oil, or Silicone Spray).
  3. If you are using wax, you will have to work in layers, gently rubbing the wax into the leather.
  4. If you use a spray, spray the treatment over the boot evenly.
  5. If your hiking boots are a mix of leather and fabric, it might be a good idea to cover the leather part of the boot when you use the silicone spray on the fabric part.

Dry your boots

  1.  You shouldn’t use a heat source to dry your boots; this can damage the leather. 
  2. Just place the boots in a dry place and let them air dry.

After treatment

Once you have waterproofed your boots for the first time, the care does not stop there. Ideally, you should re-waterproof your shoes every few wears to halt any deterioration and wear and tear. It may seem like a lot of product and hassle, but it is worth the effort, and your boots will last for a long time.

Types of care and waterproofing products for leather boots


This used to be the most common type of leather treatment but has recently fallen in popularity. This type of treatment works but can cause issues if you ever want to resole your shoes later. It has several purposes but has good protective effects and will keep the shine on the boots for a long time.  

Wax will maintain the breathability of your leather, will keep the shine, make the leather supple and keep it waterproof

There are different kinds of wax available in the market, the most common is Carnuba wax. It is the hardest natural wax available and will keep your shoes looking new for a long time. Other types are Beeswax, Lanolin, etc.

How to wax the boots


Leather oil should be used on hardened and dry leather, as these tend to need a more potent dose of moistening. Because these tend to be liquid treatments, it penetrates well into the leather and ensures it retains the correct levels of flexibility.

There are different oils available on the market for leather, some of them are Mink Oil, Neatsfoot Oil and some other oil products. Some people even use oils like olive oil and vegetable oil for their boots. But they might cause more harm than help.

Using Mink oil to waterproof shoes

Silicone Polymer Spray

Silicone sprays can be easier to work with than wax as they don’t take long to apply. They effectively waterproof the boot but might damage the leather in the long run.

How to Clean and Waterproof Leather Boots

Why should you regularly maintain leather boots and care for them?

If you want to get the best performance out of your leather boots for years to come, it is worth investing in quality products to maintain and care for them. 

Wet conditions can easily damage your boots if they have not been waterproofed. As a result, you will end up buying a new pair much sooner than you may have liked.

As leather is a natural material, over time it will lose natural oils and moisture. Following these simple steps regularly will refresh the shoes and they will hold up longer. Caring for them will not cost much, and the returns will be more than worth it. 

Is silicone safe for leather?

Yes and No, silicone is not always safe for use on leather. Some Silicone sprays can have the effect of darkening lighter leathers and can also leave residue stains. If possible, you might want to avoid using it on more delicate leathers and look into alternative methods.

Another recommended method is to use Mink oil first to condition and waterproof the leather, and then use the Silicone spray on top of Mink oil.

Final word

Although Silicone is not entirely safe for use on leather, many people still use it as their waterproofing method on hiking boots as Silicone sprays are very convenient. Other similar methods include wax and oil, and you should always read the product label for safe application. 

Emily Winters

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