Fabric Waterproofing Techniques Update 06/2022

I finished creating cushions for my outdoor furniture out of cotton this summer. I’ll have to bring them in if it starts to rain. If possible, I’d like to be able to leave them out all the time. How can I go about doing this, do you think? How can fabric be made waterproof?

To make fabric waterproof, coat it with a water-repellent chemical. It’s possible to buy products like Nikwax TX Director Thompson’s Water Seal for Fabric (Scotchgard) at stores. Natural items can also be found. Iron-on vinyl with beeswax and linseed oil can be used to keep water out.

In the following essay, I will demonstrate how to waterproof fabric at home. By following these basic precautions, you can prevent water damage to your outdoor products.

How to Make Fabric Waterproof

Why Do You Need Waterproof Fabric?

Allows us to spend more time outside in the rain. It doesn’t matter if it’s rainy or snowy outside. We’re all afraid of the water. When you’re squelching around in moist clothes, it’s not fun. Sitting on wet outdoor couches is another option.

It’s a depressing aspect of most summers. As long as you don’t plan on spending a lot of time outside. As soon as you see the storm clouds rolling in, the skies open and buckets of chilly rain pour down on you and your patio.

If you want to use your chairs again when the sun comes out, you’ll have to wait until the cushions are completely dry. A pleasant afternoon in the sun might quickly turn sour if it begins to rain.

The ability to leave patio furniture, cushions and even gazebos outside is becoming increasingly popular as people turn their patios into outdoor living spaces, especially in the summer. So there’s no need to be concerned about it getting wet. Or having to wait several days before they may be reactivated.

In the event of heavy rain, the fabric used for outdoor cushions and covers is completely waterproof. Even after a full day of rain, the products are still useful since they dry so quickly.

In addition, waterproof clothing can keep you moving in any weather. While visiting a national park or taking a trip through the woods, you don’t want to risk getting your clothes wet.

Additional advantages include protecting the cloth from stains and spills, thanks to waterproofing. With a waterproof coating, your outdoor clothing, coverings, and cushions will look as if they’ve just been washed and dried.

Can You Waterproof Any Fabric?

Can You Waterproof Any Fabric

Yes, it is possible to waterproof any type of material. However, you must be careful with the product you apply on the textile. When treated with chemicals, certain textiles react negatively; when treated with water, others don’t. If you’re going to waterproof something, it’s a good idea to first determine the fabric and fiber content.

Your cloth should be waterproof before you begin the process of sewing. Consider the role played by the cloth. Is it a tablecloth or a denim shirt that you’re wearing? Waterproofing isn’t required for all goods. With some, especially when it comes to clothing, it’s better to get soaking than to avoid getting wet.

Many reasons exist for leaving some of your clothing unprotected from the elements. The first is a matter of convenience. In order to protect your clothing, you must use any waterproofing solution.

For every coating, whether it’s applied as a spray or wax, the barrier against moisture is indisputable. Waterproofing fabrics have this drawback.

In both directions, this barrier will prevent water from passing through the fabric. The moisture-wicking characteristics of your cool cotton shirt will be lost in a deluge. Making you hot and sweaty as a result of perspiration being trapped near to your skin.

When it comes to waterproofing your silk blouse, you may want to think twice. Light and airy, silk is a favorite among fashionistas seeking a breezy look for the warmer months. Silk can become stiff when treated with a waterproofing chemical. Even worse, it’s prone to dulling. Waterproofing products can alter the color of textiles. This might be disastrous for your blouse, as silk is famed for its radiance.

In addition, waterproofing fabric might be a bit of a mixed bag. It doesn’t matter what kind of treatment you employ on a fabric that isn’t water-resistant. The degree of waterproofness is also not guaranteed. You may find that you’ve permanently altered the appearance of your garment, but the waterproof capacity is only shower-resistant at best.

All materials are waterproof able, but that doesn’t mean they should be. Linen and upholstery-weight cotton are good options for home decor. Using cotton canvas for waterproofing is a good idea because it is resilient, hardy, and doesn’t require much flexibility.

Only waterproof jackets, coats, caps, and shoes are necessary for clothing. Avoid clothing that restricts movement, such as shirts, dresses, pants, and skirts.

How to Make Fabric Waterproof

How to Waterproof Fabric

As a rule of thumb, most outdoor-oriented materials are already water-resistant. For example, your patio furniture may already be covered in a waterproof fabric like olefin. But what about your pillows? If they were created at home, they are unlikely to withstand the elements. As a result, taking them outside may be problematic.

Learn how to turn your non-waterproof cushions and coverings into water-resistant home decor accents in this section. Coats, caps, and shoes are examples of outerwear that can benefit from the following cures.

All of these techniques necessitate some level of fabric preparation. It is critical that the fabric be thoroughly cleaned and dried before applying the treatment.

The waterproof coating will be compromised if it becomes scratched or scuffed with debris. Water gets into everything, and even the tiniest crack or crevice will allow it to enter.

Working in a well-ventilated location is the next step. Or, if you’d rather, take your belongings outside to be drenched with rain. To avoid having your desired remedy blown all over you, pick a day that is dry and without wind. Wearing safety gear is always a good idea. It is strongly suggested that you wear goggles, gloves, and a face mask when using sprays.

Once the basics of safety have been explained, let’s look at some easy, do-it-yourself options for making your clothes waterproof. Take a look at the various how-to tutorials and pick the most appropriate one for your needs.

1. Alum Powder

Your local grocery shop carries alum powder. Baked goods and pickles can benefit from its use. In a nutshell, it’s an ingredient in food. It’s also available as a deodorant rock. Alternatively, it can be used as an antiseptic to treat sore skin after shaving.

Aluminum is the source of the word alum, and there are two types of alum powders on the market. Soda alum and ammonium alum are both included. For our waterproofing fabric, we’re interested in a pickling solution. Potassium alum, or potash alum, is the name given to it.

You’ll need the following:

  • Powdered alum
  • Heated water
  • a pair of tongs
  • Hand protection is provided by rubber gloves.
  • Laundry detergent that you normally use
  • No less than two huge buckets
  • One of the driest and sunniest days of the year
  • Clothesline
  • Pegs for clothing
  • a good friend of mine

The First Step

Fill a big bucket halfway full of hot water. Enough water must be present to completely submerge the fabric. With your laundry tongs, give the solution a quick swirl after adding the detergent. You’ll need a different amount of detergent depending on the size of your cloth. For every two gallons of water, you’ll need around a pound of detergent.

The second step

Put the fabric in a sink full of hot water and dish soap. Using your laundry tongs, lower it into the container. Because the water must be extremely hot, avoid using your hands. If pieces of the fabric begin to poke through the water’s surface due to trapped air, keep pushing it down. Soak the fabric until it is totally submerged in water.

The third and last step

Remove the soaked fabric from the detergent water while using rubber gloves. At this point, a friend’s assistance may be necessary. Open the cloth out until it is a flat sheet, then fold it in half. Pull the fabric until you and your friend are able to hold it flat between you.

Pegs at regular intervals are then used to hang it from a clothesline. Do not fold, wrinkle, or double up the fabric. The cloth must be dried as a sheet, with both sides exposed to the air, in order for this procedure to work. Allow the material to dry outside until it is completely dry.

The fourth and last step

Hot water should be used to fill your second container. The alum powder, which weighs half a pound, should be added next. The alum should be dissolved by vigorous stirring. Push the fabric into the alum-water mixture while wearing rubber gloves. Push it all the way down until it’s completely submerged.

The fifth step

Leave the fabric to soak for a minimum of 2 hours. To prevent air bubbles from forming, keep an eye on the material throughout the time period. This stage requires that all of the fabric be submerged at all times.

Leave the fabric to soak for a minimum of 2 hours. To prevent air bubbles from forming, keep an eye on the material throughout the time period. This stage requires that all of the fabric be submerged at all times.

For at least two hours, let the fabric soak. Check the material frequently to ensure that any air bubbles are eliminated as they arise. During this phase, all of the fabric must remain submerged.

2. Beeswax

Waterproofing fabric using beeswax may be one of the oldest methods. As a natural water repellent, it’s been utilized for generations.

This approach, however, carries some risk. It necessitates the use of hot wax, which is hazardous to children and pets alike. If you go with this option, make sure to keep them both out of the way.

Smaller waterproofing jobs are better suited to this method, which includes multiple types of wax. It can take a long time and cost a lot of money to do. Clean and dry materials are essential for all of these processes.

You’ll need the following:

  • Beeswax
  • Candle or paraffin wax
  • 12-pointed starburst
  • a metal bowl
  • A stainless steel fork.
  • Dryer
  • Hairdryer
  • Hand protection is provided by rubber gloves.
  • Saucepan

The First Step

In a pot, bring some water to a boil, then place your metal bowl on top. Chefs use a double-boiler to melt chocolate for sprinkling on cakes using this method.

In order for the bowl to rest on the outer rim of the saucepan edges, it must be tiny enough to fit within the saucepan. Don’t use a bowl that touches the bottom of a saucepan when making a sauce.

The second step

Cut up your beeswax and put it in the metal basin. Because of the rising temperature of the water beneath, you should see the wax begin to melt. Pour in your paraffin or candle wax and stir it all together until smooth.

If your project is large, you’ll need a larger amount of wax. A 50:50 split between the various waxes is ideal. 4oz of beeswax or paraffin wax is typically needed for most small to medium throw pillows.

The third and last step

Before applying wax to your fabric, it’s best to heat it up a bit. Leaving it in the dryer for around 20 minutes on a medium heat setting should do the trick. When the dryer stops, if the cloth is still cool, give it another ten minutes. Ideally, the material should be warm to the touch without burning your hands.

The fourth and last step

You can use the wax as soon as it has melted into a liquid. Get out your paintbrush and begin painting the fabric with the melted wax. Work systematically from left to right, starting at the very top. Using this method, you can be sure that all of the material is covered in wax. You’ll want to apply a lot of it. Rubber gloves should be used to keep wax from dripping onto your skin.

The fifth step

Dry the wax-coated fabric with your hairdryer. The wax is able to penetrate the fibers more deeply after being dried with heat. The object can also be dried in the dryer for this purpose. To avoid getting wax on the dryer’s interior, place it inside a pillowcase.

Finally, in Step 6,

Allow at least 24 hours for the item to air dry before using it. Using this method will assist to remove any lingering odors from your wax. It will also ensure that it’s entirely dry..

3. Commercial Products

When it comes to waterproofing fabric, commercial materials are the most convenient option. Scotchgard and Thompsons’ Water Seal for Fabric is two examples of waterproofing products made exclusively for textiles.

From Amazon to your local big-box store, you can get them. Most are sprays, so they’re easy to use.

You’ll need the following:

  • You select a commercial product.
  • A well-ventilated location is required.
  • Goggles and a mask are required.

The First Step

Make sure your fabric is thoroughly cleaned and dried before use. The next step is to determine the amount of fiber present. In some cases, chemicals can harm certain fabrics.

The second step

Use the product’s packing instructions to determine the best way to apply it to your fabric. The product’s instructions should indicate whether or not the product is safe to use on your specific material.

The third and last step

Put on your safety goggles and face mask. Do this in an open, well-ventilated location, or better yet, go outside and spray the product directly on your project. Ensure that the weather is calm.

Apply your product in accordance with the instructions on the can. As a general rule, this usually requires you to hold the can about 6 inches away from your object and spray it in an overlapping, sweeping motion from left to right.

The fourth and last step

Each side of your fabric should be done separately. Before moving on to the back, allow the first side to dry. A half-hour should be sufficient. After spraying the cloth on both sides, allow it to air dry for at least 24 hours.

4. Iron-on Vinyl

When using this procedure, there is no need for any kind of spray or melting of substances. You can safely use it in your home with children or dogs because it doesn’t require a lot of cleanup afterward. Vinyl, on the other hand, does not alter any of the fabric’s hues.

Projects that don’t necessitate regular cleaning are ideal for vinyl. Vinyl coatings are ideal for items that can simply be wiped clean. Tablecloths, lunch bags, and even shopping bags are on display. Many craft stores and fabric retailers, both online and off, sell iron-on vinyl fabric.

You’ll need the following:

  • a vinyl-coated iron-on cloth
  • Your iron is the best in the world.
  • Measurement with a tape.
  • Scissors
  • Cleaner for the vacuum
  • Machines for cleaning clothes
  • Laundry detergent that you normally use

The First Step

Make that your material is free of moisture and clean. The garment should be washed with your usual detergent and machine setting if there are any stains or particles. Vacuum up any remaining dirt if you choose.

The second step

Smooth out any lumps, bumps, or wrinkles by placing your item on a flat surface. Measure the area you intend to cover with the vinyl before you begin to apply it. The vinyl should be cut to the exact same size as the fabric. One side at a time is what you prefer. Make sure you don’t cut vinyl to fit around the item, because vinyl doesn’t flex very well!

The third and last step

To apply the vinyl, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There is usually a sticky side that needs to be placed on the fabric face down. Place the vinyl adhesive side down on the material and remove the backing paper. The backing paper should then be placed on top of the vinyl to complete the installation. Place the paper so that the shiny side is facing the vinyl.

The fourth and last step

Using a medium heat iron, adhere the vinyl to the fabric. Make sure the vinyl is securely attached to the cloth by peeling off the protective paper.

5. Linseed Oil and Mineral Spirits

Paints, varnishes, and wood stains all contain linseed oil, a common preservative for wood and concrete. When the flax seeds are ripe, they produce an oil that’s yellowish in color.

If you plan to use linseed oil, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Mineral spirits and boiling linseed oil have a high flammability.
  2. This type of oil should not be used near food.
  3. This isn’t a quick fix because after treatment, your fabric will continue to smell.

This waterproofing option is only suitable for hard-wearing and sturdy working materials. Things like tarpaulins, canvas, and tents for the outdoors. Your tablecloth will be ruined if you use boiling linseed oil.

You’ll need the following:

  • linseed oil that has been boiled
  • Spirits made from mineral sources
  • Big trough
  • A calm, cloudless day.
  • A area for air drying is provided outside.
  • Facemask
  • Hand protection is provided by rubber gloves.
  • a good friend of mine

The First Step

Put on your rubber gloves and facemask. In a bucket, combine the boiling linseed oil with the mineral spirits. Use a 50:50 ratio. This will depend on how much fabric you are dealing with. Once the fabric has been thoroughly submerged, remove it from the mixture and place it back on the loom.

Put on your rubber gloves and facemask. In a bucket, combine the boiling linseed oil with the mineral spirits. Use a 50:50 ratio. This will depend on how much fabric you are dealing with. Once the fabric has been thoroughly submerged, remove it from the mixture and place it back on the loom.

On with the protective gear: rubber gloves, facemask. Put the boiling linseed oil in a bucket with the mineral spirits. A 50/50 split is ideal. What you use will depend on how much fabric is being treated. Once the fabric is completely submerged, remove it from the mixture.

The third and last step

Mineral spirits and linseed oil can be safely disposed of. The used solution should never be poured down the drain! Because of its toxic nature, you must dispose of Linseed oil in a hazardous waste site.

6. Paraffin Wax

You can use it on its alone, or in combination with beeswax, to create a watertight seal. Paraffin wax, in contrast to beeswax, is a more affordable option that can be found in most food stores.

Aside from the fact that beeswax provides the object with additional flexibility, paraffin wax is sometimes blended with it. To be on the safe side, paraffin wax has a lower melting point.

This option should only be used for tiny things due to the paraffin wax process used to waterproof the fabric. Additionally, you’ll need a well-ventilated environment, as paraffin wax can be odorous until it’s completely cured.

You’ll need the following:

  • Pellets of paraffin wax
  • Oven
  • Sheet of baking paper

The First Step

Set your oven temperature to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your fabric on the baking pan while the oven is heating up. Sprinkle the fabric with paraffin wax pellets. Grate a block of paraffin wax into little pieces if pellets aren’t available.

The second step

Place the baking sheet in the oven and allow the wax to melt over the fabric until it is completely melted. Your fabric’s surface area may necessitate this step more than once.

The third and last step

Remove the fabric off the baking sheet once it is thoroughly covered and open it out. Dry it flat by removing any folds or creases.

7. Soybean Oil and Turpentine

Remove the fabric off the baking sheet once it is thoroughly covered and open it out. Dry it flat by removing any folds or creases.

Removing the baking sheet once the fabric has been fully coated is all that is necessary. Remove any folds or wrinkles by drying it flat and pressing it.

  • Soybean fat
  • turpentine in a tablespoon
  • Bucket
  • 12-pointed starburst
  • A cannister of spray
  • Facemask
  • Hand protection is provided by rubber gloves.

The First Step

Mix the soybean oil with the turpentine while wearing a face mask and gloves. You can use a spray bottle or a bucket to do this. Turps are not in short supply. The more you utilize, the better. You’ll need anywhere from a cup of soybean oil to a tablespoon of turps, depending on the amount of fabric you’re treating.

The second step

Lay it flat on the ground or hang it outside. Make sure there aren’t any folds or wrinkles in the material. Spray the fabric with the mixture of soybean oil and turps. To apply the combination to a surface, you can use a paintbrush and a bucket of the mixture. Concentrate your efforts on one side of the room at a time.

The third and last step

The first side of the fabric should be dry, so flip it over and repeat on the other side. The fabric should be dried flat. Since turpentine can be strong and cause dizziness, it’s better to do this outside.

The fourth and last step

Allow the treated fabric to air out so that any lingering odors can be eliminated. It’s now time to put your waterproof fabric to use. You must dispose of the turps and soybean oil mixture in a responsible manner. Avoid flushing it down the toilet or sink.

Are DIY Fabric Waterproof Methods Permanent?

Unfortunately, DIY methods for waterproofing textiles are not long-lasting. The only thing you’re doing is applying a water-resistant coating. The cloth itself is not water-resistant.

When it comes to DWR (for “durable water repellant”) the coatings can and do fade off. Even commercially available water-resistant sprays need to be reapplied after a certain amount of time. It’s normal to anticipate that the waterproofing will need to be renewed on a regular basis.

There are wax-based solutions that can be easily removed with hot water. Direct sunshine can also make wax sticky. Even with iron-on vinyl, there are still drawbacks to consider.

Vinyl is degraded over time. Because of the persistent friction created by constant sitting and standing, vinyl might be damaged. It is possible for the vinyl to peel off when exposed to direct sunshine.

There’s some good news, too. With any luck, you’ll be able to use the water-resistance for at least one summer. You should expect a 6- to 8-month lifespan, depending on how frequently the item is used or washed.

Make sure you only wash wax-treated items in cold water and seldom if you want to extend the life of your waterproof fabric. Protecting your patio’s wax and vinyl finishes from the sun’s rays is easy with a few strategically placed structures.

DIY methods can be easily reapplied if they begin to fail. You could include it in your yearly upkeep. It’s possible to make your fabric waterproof with a DIY process that will endure for years.

Can You Waterproof a Non-Waterproof Jacket?

Yes, a non-waterproof jacket can be waterproofed. There’s no chance of getting wet even if it’s constructed out of cloth Suede, for example, has a well-deserved reputation as a water-phobic fabric. The material can be ruined by even a small amount of moisture. When it rains, many owners of suede jackets are afraid to wear them.

However, that could be an issue. Suede coats are best suited for chilly, wet winters. Due to the chilly and rainy conditions of winter, it may be prudent not to wear a jacket until the weather warms up.

As long as you don’t get it wet, you don’t have to worry about damaging it. Using a suede-specific commercial product will protect it from unexpected downpours. Non-waterproof jackets are just as susceptible to water damage.

However, you must exercise caution when it comes to the finishing touches on your garment. No matter what type of non-waterproof cloth it is.

All waterproofing treatments are not created equal. Your non-waterproof jacket can be damaged by using the wrong one. There is the possibility of melted fibers as well as a dramatic change in drape and look.

Before using any waterproofing product, make sure you know what material your jacket is composed of. There’s no difference between utilizing a homemade solution versus a commercial one. Use a product that is appropriate for the material’s fiber content first.

What Fabric Items Can You Waterproof?

Almost any cloth item can be made waterproof. Consider how the cloth will be used before making a decision. Underwear or a shirt should not be protected from the elements by using a waterproofing agent.

The downside of waterproofing fabric is obvious. It can limit the textile’s mobility and overall flexibility. For example, a denim jacket can be waterproofed but not denim jeans. In spite of the fabric’s similarity, each piece of clothing has to move in a different way. Jeans made of waterproof material would be stiff and uncomfortable to wear.

Having said that, you can waterproof just about any cloth that you’d wear outside or as an outer layer. Throw cushions, beach bags, blankets for picnics, and shoes can all benefit from a waterproof coating.

Can You Buy Waterproof Fabric for Clothing?

Yes, it is possible to buy waterproof garment fabric. By the yard, half yard, and even bolt or roll are all options. Local merchants may not carry it, despite the fact that it is widely available online from a variety of sources, due to space restrictions or a lack of demand.

Ripstop nylon, marine vinyl, and waterproof canvas are some of the fabrics to watch out for. Waterproof clothes can also be produced from duck cloth or polyester ripstop. Olefin, the most waterproof fabric available, can also be used.

The price of the fabric might vary greatly based on where you buy it, the quality, and the thickness of the cloth you purchase. It’s also important to consider the fabric’s design or pattern. The cost of a camouflage pattern may be more than the cost of a plain green. Depending on the length of the fabric, you should expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30.


Waterproofing fabric is as easy as 1-2-3! Commercial sprays like Scotchguard and beeswax can be used, or you can do it yourself with beeswax. Even after the heaviest rain, you’ll still be able to enjoy your fabric outside.

Comment and let me know if you enjoyed it. Is it possible to waterproof your fabric? How did you go about it? What are your thoughts now?

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