This post is about different ways to make your fabric waterproof, water-resistant, or water repellent with easy DIY methods. These are methods worth trying when you want to waterproof your outdoor clothes or outdoor upholstery like cushions, patio coverings, tents, etc.
Wikipedia describes the process as waterproofing – The process of making something waterproof or water-resistant so that it is mostly unaffected by water or resists water infiltration under particular conditions.
Some fabrics are inherently waterproof or water repellent or at least water resistant – they are made so that water will not penetrate them, like rubber, plastic-coated materials, tightly woven polyester, tightly woven nylon, etc.
If you are looking for already waterproof/water-resistant fabrics, here is a detailed post with the list of waterproof fabrics.
But if you are not using any of these materials but still need water protection, the next best method is to coat your fabric with a thin finish that will make them impervious to water.
Precautions to take before using your waterproofing products
- Begin with a fabric that is clean and dry.
- These externally applied products may change the color of some materials, so always test some unseen areas first before using it first.
- Always do your work in a well-ventilated area.
- Use these materials with caution near fire or heat. At the least, they may melt. At the worst, they may combust.
- All these methods may provide some water resistance and repellency to fabrics, but you have to be aware that non-waterproof fabric cannot be made entirely waterproof.
- These finishes may lose their effectiveness over time with wear and with laundering. So care and maintenance is very important.
How to waterproof fabrics
1.Waterproofing sprays and sealers.
There are sprays and sealers, which give a translucent layer outside the material to repel water. They are collectively called DWR coatings (durable water repellent coatings)
Using waterproofing sprays and sealers is the simplest approach to waterproofing fabric. You can buy Waterproofing Spray for Outdoor Fabric.
The majority of the sprays are suitable for use on synthetic materials, leather, nylon, and canvas.
The most common and popular method for waterproofing cotton fabric is to use Silicone Spray. Silicone-based sprays are the most effective at allowing water to simply slide off your clothes and shoes. Silicone is non-toxic and safe to apply. A can of silicone waterproofing spray can be found for a reasonable price on shop shelves.
Spray it on clean, dry items; otherwise, the spray coating will not adhere. You should also spray several light layers, rather than one thick layer.
Wax usually gives a thin coating on the surface without leaving a residue. But be aware that it may darken the fabric.
Natural Beeswax is the most preferred; it is also an eco-friendly choice. If it is 100% organic, you know the advantages. The best thing about natural beeswax is that it can make the material breathable yet impervious to water
If beeswax is unavailable, candle wax or paraffin wax can be used.
You should give your fabric a thorough rubdown. Wax melts and sticks to the fabric surface like a silk-like membrane.
To make it simpler to apply the wax, heat it with a hairdryer. To cover the whole surface and get the wax into the weave of the fabric, rub the beeswax across it in both directions—side to side and then up and down.
If the item has any embellishments, make sure to stay away from them.
With a blow dryer, set the wax in place. Because beeswax might stiffen the fabric, work in layers.
Waxed cotton is the commercial cloth made this way.
3.Linseed Oil & mineral Spirits
This is a very simple way of waterproofing fabric, a very old method. And a comparatively inexpensive method. The commercial fabric made in this way is called oilcloth.
First, combine equal parts mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil in a mixing bowl. After that, soak the fabric in the liquid until it is completely immersed. Finally, hang the fabric to dry for several days outside in a well-ventilated place.
After 1-2 weeks, the odor will fade.
4.With different layers of Fabrics
You can use several layers of tough materials to make your garment waterproof. The outside layer can be a Teflon or Polyurethane (PU). The next layer can be a tightly woven nylon or polyester. The inside layer should be made of a breathable fabric intended to improve the user’s comfort.
5.Seam sealing tape
Even if the material you have is naturally waterproof, the garment or product may not be waterproof because the seam stitching is not made with water repellent thread or there are spaces in the seam that allows water inside.
Seam sealers prevent water from seeping inside through the seams of your clothes. Seam sealing covers and seal all areas that let water in.
Seam Sealing Tape is an adhesive tape that is applied to the seams of clothes and other items to keep water out while reinforcing the seam stitching.
Related posts : Different types of tapes used in sewing; Fabric dictionary
Other questions on waterproofing
Which material can be made waterproof?
The regularly used material for waterproofing is cotton canvas.
What products are popular as a waterproof sprays?
Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield is the most popular. Fabric Guard – for outdoor fabrics by Sailerlite is another option.
Can waterproof fabrics be breathable?
As waterproof materials block water from entering inside, it may also impede breathability. But there are waterproof breathable materials available; they resist liquid from passing through but allow water vapor to pass through. These materials are in high demand for making waterproof outdoor sports clothing. The natural methods explained above, like wax and linseed, make the fabric breathable and water-resistant.
Updated on October 23, 2022 by Sarina Tariq