How To Waterproof Fabric

Waterproofing your outdoor gear offers several advantages, as it can keep the fabric dry and easy to clean, but it also extends the life of the fabric.

Even if the material were previously waterproof, a fresh coat would only increase its properties. The surest way to ensure that your gear is never wet is to use a waterproof spray.

There are different waterproof sprays available depending on the fabric you want to protect. The greatest waterproofing spray, regardless of form, should be simple to apply, leave no stains or odors, and keep water droplets from seeping into the fabric.

waterproof fabric

However, how to waterproof canvas is possible with another DIY method. For waterproofing fabric, you can do this using perfectly safe methods for repelling water without spending a great deal of money.

In our guide, you can learn all the ways and natural materials of waterproofing fabrics as one of your DIY projects. By the end, you can tackle nearly any gear from canvas sneakers all the way to your tent and a few items in between. (Learn How To Remove Glue From Fabric)

What Is The Best Product to Waterproof Fabric?

Here are some of the various ways you can carry out fabric waterproofing without using a waterproofing spray.

1. Aluminum and Laundry Detergent

Mixing the two compounds creates aluminum soap that makes your water-repelling coating, and thus your fabric waterproof.

  1. Clean the Fabric: If the fabric is unclean, you need to clean it.
  2. Mix detergent and water: Mix 1-pound of laundry detergent and two gallons of hot water in a large container to submerge the fabric.
  3. Soak the Fabric: Thoroughly soak the fabric, so it is completely saturated.
  4. Dry the Fabric: Air-dry the fabric and don’t fold or crease as you do.
  5. Mix Aluminum and Hot Water: In a separate bowl, mix half a pound of water-soluble aluminum powder (available from the grocery store) with two gallons of hot water. Ensure the powder is dissolved by stirring.
  6. Soak your fabric: Let your items soak for at least two hours, ensuring the fabric is totally soaked and completely submerged.
  7. Dry again: Air-dry the fabric using the previous hanging freely methods with no creasing.

2. Iron-On Vinyl

You’ll find this a great way how to waterproof fabric that is flat, or you wish to make fabric waterproof for something such as outdoor pillows with a waterproof coating. (Read Will Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach Fabric)

  1. Head to the fabric store for some iron-on vinyl. The vinyl does not affect the fabric’s appearance and is suitable for waterproofing baby bibs, outdoor cushions, and lunch packs.
  2. If using a pattern, get your fabric out but don’t cut.
  3. Make sure the fabric is clean and dry before using it.
  4. If you can’t wash the fabric, use a vacuum or a brush to clean it.
  5. Lay the fabric on a flat surface and iron it to make it easier to work with.
  6. Cut your vinyl to fit your fabric, yet if the vinyl is too narrow to match your fabric, you’ll have to cut it to length, and then you’ll need to slightly overlap until you fully cover your piece of fabric.
  7. Peel off the paper backing. You’ll see the vinyl has a smooth side and sticky side.
  8. Place the vinyl on the right side of the fabric and sticky side down, so it is evenly covered.
  9. Apply the paper backing to the vinyl, and the paper’s shiny side faces downward.
  10. Apply heat to the paper using an iron your iron set to medium heat to avoid melting the vinyl.
  11. Remove the paper, and the iron’s heat will have melted the vinyl’s glue and glued it to the fabric for your garden outdoor projects.

wax

3. Use Wax on Fabric

Begin with a piece of fabric that is completely clean. If the fabric you’re working with is filthy, wash it with a clean cloth and warm water, and let it air dry.

Canvas shoes are among the best-waxed material candidates for this waterproofing method, as is waterproof clothing for hunting to repel water. (Learn How To Get Super Glue Off Fabric)

  1. You can either buy a bar of natural beeswax or use paraffin wax instead.
  2. Blowing the wax and cloth with a hairdryer or keeping them out in the hot sun for a few minutes will help heat them. This will make the wax easier to apply. You can use a metal bowl as a double boiler to melt your waxes and make your fabric waterproof.
  3. Rub a thick layer of beeswax across all the fabric in all directions across the fabric to penetrate the fabric’s weave.
  4. For around five minutes, re-heat the item with a hair dryer. The wax will melt into the fabric. You’ll notice that the fabric has darkened slightly.
  5. Run your fingers across the fabric in circular strokes to smooth out any pools or puddles of wax. This will provide a wonderful finish to your piece.
  6. Check for any uneven spots and apply a second coat if needed to make it fully water-resistant.
  7. Set the item to cure in a warm, dry environment for 24 hours; then, your waxed waterproof fabrics will be ready to use after this time. You can notice the fabric is stiffer and darker than it was previously. This is normal, and it will soften as it gets closer to making fabric waterproof again.

4. Linseed Oil

Using traditional methods, here’s how to waterproof your fabric.

  1. Begin with a piece of fabric that is completely clean. If the fabric is soiled, it should be washed and dried fully.
  2. Linseed oil can be smelly, so try to work outside or in a well-ventilated area.
  3. To make your fabric taut, stretch it over a frame and fix it with clips. Make sure you’re outside or in a well-ventilated place.
  4. Coat your fabric in linseed oil with a paintbrush with stiff bristles. (the oil is too thick for a spray bottle).
  5. To ensure that the oil permeates the fabric completely, use a lot of it.
  6. You can mix beeswax to the oil to make it more durable; if you do this, use equal parts oil and wax melted together in a stove pot.
  7. Allow 30 minutes for the oil to fully absorb into the fabric and remove any excess oil.
  8. Allow the fabric to dry in a warm, dry location for 24 hours. You might need a second coat, but test the fabric to check if it has a water bead and repels water.

Waterproofing Sprays and Seam Sealers

As good as the above are, sometimes a water proofing spray and seam sealer are more ideal. Here’s a quick overview of how to use these spray-on sealers. (Learn How To Remove Candle Wax From Fabric)

  1. Waterproof your fabric on a dry, windless day. Spray-on sealers are humidity sensitive.
  2. Clean the fabric if needed.
  3. Make sure your fabric is dry. Sprays and sealers won’t stick to the wet fabric.
  4. Get a waterproofing spray and a sealer that offers UV protection.
  5. Keep the can of fabric spray around 6-8 inches from the fabric and apply a thin layer that will slightly overlap the previous stroke.
  6. After the first coat has dried, apply a second coat for the waterproof spray work its wonders. Most sprays dry in 4 hours, yet it can vary.
  7. Apply seam sealer to all your seams.

How To Waterproof Fabric (1)

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