Impregnation is one of the best-known types of shoe care. But what does this process actually do, what needs to be considered when caring for them and why should we impregnate our shoes regularly? Questions upon questions, which we have examined more closely in the following guide.
What is an impregnation?
During the impregnation process, a special impregnation substance is applied to a material. He is responsible for changing the material properties in an advantageous manner. In a nutshell, one could also say that the material is refined. This process is mainly used for textiles as well as artificial and natural leather. The materials experience a hydrophobic treatment and are thus made insensitive to dirt and moisture. The individual methods of treatment vary depending on the product in question. Nevertheless, they are always based on the same principle: a film-forming substance is applied to the material, making it resistant to dirt deposits and moisture.
That's why leather is hydrophilic!
Natural leather has pores. They are hydrophilic. In order to maintain the breathability of the natural material, not all pores are closed during tanning. That's why leather isn't waterproof, absorbs moisture and needs extra protection. But why aren't all the pores closed during the manufacturing process so that the material is optimally protected against external influences? This question is quickly answered: If this were the case, the material would not be able to absorb the nourishing substances that it urgently needs to maintain its natural radiance. The absorption and regulation inside the shoes, such as through foot sweat, could also not take place if the pores were closed. However, this positive effect also has a disadvantage, namely when sneakers are exposed to damp and cold weather.
What does impregnation do?
Leather is made hydrophobic, i.e. water-repellent, by impregnating the outer surface. The application of a special layer reduces the cohesive forces of the material and the cohesive forces of the water predominate. This process leads to the formation of droplets: the so-called lotus effect. The water can roll off the material without penetrating into the material and still retains its breathability. This has the advantage that impregnated shoes are protected all round, but can still absorb care and guarantee a sweat-free wearing comfort even in the cold time of the year.
Why is waterproofing shoes so important?
To ensure that your sneakers are protected against wind and weather, you should waterproof them regularly. To be honest, waterproofing is the most important measure to protect your shoes from external influences. Above all, open-pore leather shoes made of suede almost cry out for protection like this. Because they are extremely sensitive to dirt and moisture and would not survive long without precautions like these.
Regular waterproofing not only protects the surface of your shoes from moisture. The care also prevents the penetration of dirt particles, which is particularly advantageous in autumn and winter and extends the life of your favorite shoes many times over.
How do you properly waterproof your shoes & sneakers?
Unfortunately, the opinion that you can't go wrong when waterproofing shoes often proves to be untrue in practice. Because fogging them up superficially with any conventional means is simply not enough for perfect protection. The following tips will help you avoid mistakes:
The first thing to do is to remove dust and any dirt. After cleaning, let your shoes dry completely: Only then can they be perfectly waterproofed!
Apply the waterproofing spray evenly at a distance of about twenty to thirty centimetres. By the way: The shoe seams and laces also need protection!
You should repeat this process two to three times. For perfect impregnation protection, it is better to apply several thin layers than one thick one. Between each application, you must allow each individual layer to dry completely.
Finally, your shoes have to dry completely again.
Now they are perfectly groomed and nothing stands in the way of a walk in the rain or mud.
How often should you waterproof your shoes?
The following applies here: It is better to waterproof your shoes more often and sparingly than to glue them with a product from time to time. Important: New specimens also need protection before they are worn for the first time. If the material is then strained in everyday life, minimal collisions occur when walking and running. They and the external influences cause that the thin impregnation layer wears out over time and needs to be refreshed. For this reason, it is important, especially when it gets uncomfortable outside, to renew the protection regularly. Experts recommend repeating the waterproofing process after wearing the shoes ten times. If they got wet from a downpour or slush, you should even prepare your shoes again with the right waterproofing spray as soon as they are dry again.
Is waterproofing shoes harmful to the environment?
So that you can offer your shoes all-round protection and do not harm the environment, it is always advisable to choose sustainable products. They do their job with the help of natural home remedies and are free from questionable ingredients such as PFAS and harmful aerosols, which not only pollute Mother Nature, but also harm human health. For example, if aerosols get into the lungs, they can lead to nausea or even symptoms of poisoning.
Another problem is that when certain chemicals get into the lungs in the form of airborne particles, they can irritate the lower airways and trigger an asthma attack in asthmatics. The questionable ingredients can also be stored in our lung tissue and cause dangerous inflammation there. And let's be honest: Why should we use agents that cause irreversible damage with their ingredients? We have the choice and can fall back on products that not only provide full protection and care, but are also completely harmless to people, animals and the environment due to their natural ingredients?