Leather Care: How to Apply Dubbin to Leather Shoes


That gorgeous pair of leather boots you just got isn’t going to be the most indestructible thing in the world. Step into the treacherous outdoors and you might just find yourself in a pickle – the occasional storm, the unlikely drizzle – you can’t always predict the environment your shoes will face. Protection is always a good idea, and you can start with dubbin.

The wax product, which contains oil, tallow and natural wax, is used to soften, condition and waterproof leather, amongst other materials. If you wanted to make your own dubbin, you could, with a combination of fish oil, beeswax and lard. Other than giving your new fancy boots that desirable shine and suppleness, using dubbin to waterproof leather boots is an age-old method dating to as far back as the medieval ages!

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For the best results, try these steps:

  • Make sure your leather shoes are spotless and clean – applying them when they are brand new might help.
  • Heat helps to penetrate the leather more easily, but direct heat can prove harmful, causing damage to the leather. Use a hairdryer with caution, and leaving them near an open fire or radiator is not the wisest thing to do. Warming up the wax is an alternative way, especially if it’s too hard to rub in.
  • Applying dubbin on suede or Nubuck is heavily discouraged – just don’t do it! For other leathers, a small amount of dubbin will suffice. Just put it on a cloth, and rub it over leather evenly.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to rub it on more than once. Make sure the wax is always evenly spread and applied sparingly – you don’t want your shoe to look too greasy, even though the oily film dubbin leaves behind is what makes the shoes waterproof.
  • Ideally, you should leave the dubbin on for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Use a dry cloth to buff off.
  • Want an extra shine? Shoe polish is an optional finish.

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