We all kBeeswax and Lanolin Leather Sealant to waterproof fabricsnow how good of a job plastic does at keeping water out but can non-plastic natural materials be made water-resistant too? Absolutely! When making more plastic-free choices we are often opting for more natural materials, some of which are not typically known for being as reliably waterproof as plastic. There are however naturally water-resistant materials like beeswax and lanolin that can be used to protect all kinds of fabrics like cotton jackets, leather shoes, canvas bags, tents and more!

Otter Wax is one our most trusted suppliers. They make all kinds of natural fabric care products while considering their ethical commitment to people, animals, and the planet. They are Otter Wax Heavy Duty Frabric Wax to waterproof fabricsan inspirational company who believes wholeheartedly that “Mother nature has given us all the tools we need to create products for everyday life”. Their products are made with natural plant-based ingredients that are sustainably harvested with the lowest environmental impact possible. They also use beeswax and lanolin that has been humanely harvested and are passionately against animal testing and abuse. Their impressive ethical commitment has led to the creation of wonderful natural products in plastic-free containers that are low impact from cradle to grave.

Skip the aerosol cans, plastic jars and toxic chemicals and opt for one of the natural alternatives that are better for your health and better for the environment.


Beeswax and Lanolin Leather Sealant: For Water Resistant Boots

Beeswax and Lanolin Leather Sealant to waterproof fabrics

Nothing is more uncomfortable than soggy boots on a rainy day. Keep your old boots dry and your new boots unstained by water with a protective wax like this one. With Otter Wax Boot Wax, you won’t have to worry about your leather items being damaged by wet weather, consider them fully protected by this powerful all-purpose water-resistant treatment.

This heavy-duty boot wax is made from a carefully balanced blend of natural and humanely harvested beeswax and lanolin, which not only hydrates your leather boots and other leather items, but protects them from water and stains as well. Otter Wax Boot Wax goes on thick to provide a heavy-duty, long-lasting protective seal to ensure that your favorite leather items stay clean for many years to come.


Use Instructions:

Start by cleaning your leather and letting it dry completely. Use a soft and lint-free cloth to rub the wax into your fabrics. Let it sit for a couple hours, or even overnight to give it time to absorb. Once the wax has been absorbed, simply buff the leather with a flannel cloth or horsehair brush and you are good to go out in any weather!

Keep in mind that your items will get a little darker with the wax.


Heavy Duty Fabric Wax:  For Water-Resistant Fabric

Otter Wax Heavy Duty Fabric Wax to waterproof fabrics

What better way to protect your favorite fabric items from water damage than with an all-natural water-repellent fabric wax?

Otter Wax Fabric Wax is similarly made from 100% natural, sustainably sourced and Earth-friendly ingredients. Humanely harvested beeswax is used in these bars to help provide the maximum level of water repellency. This wax is completely nontoxic and made without silicone, paraffin, or petroleum.

 This fabric wax bar can be used to give everything from canvas shoes and hats to hemp rucksacks and cotton jackets long-lasting, reliable water-resisting protection. These products work best with natural fabrics, but can also be used on blended fabrics when the majority is made from natural materials.

It is healthy, harmless, effective, and easy to use!


Fabric Wax bar to waterproof fabrics

Use Instructions:

Application is a simple! Start by thoroughly cleaning and drying your item. Rub the bar back and forth into fabric to start creating some friction. This friction will create the perfect amount of heat to loosen the wax and spread it evenly into the top layer of fabric. Smooth out the wax with your fingers to create uniform seal. Allow the item to cure in a warm, dry place for at least 24 hour and voila you’re done! This can be reapplied as often as you deem necessary.


Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing: For Water-Resistance on a Larger Scale

Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing to waterproof fabrics

This wax is extremely effective at waterproofing just get ready to get a little messy. It is made of the highest quality beeswax and is a perfect blend of plant-based waxes and oils. It is also one of the only water repellent waxes that doesn’t use paraffin, silicone, or other petroleum-based synthetic ingredients.

The heat-activation component allows the wax to penetrate deep into the fabrics and procure fantastic results with a shorter curing time (24-48 hours). This is ideal for multi-layered coats and jackets and for giving your fabrics that factory-waxed look.

It can be used on most fabrics but bonds best with natural fibers like cotton, canvas, hemp and others.

Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing to waterproof fabrics

Use Instructions:

Start by filling a pot with about 1.5 inches of water and putting it on a heated element. Remove the paper label and place the whole tin in the pot. Simmer on medium and let the wax melt completely. Dip a brush into the wax and brush into flattened fabric. Press with force and brush in small quick circles to decrease crusting. Use the back of your nail to scratch any excess wax off and use your fingers to rub the wax in.


From Personal Experience: Dressing a Cotton-Hemp Canvas Bag to be Water-Resistant

Chantal and I wanted to try these products first hand to speak from experience so we set up our working station and got to waxing!

We put the tin of wax in a pot filled with about 1.5″ of water and turned the element on. It took some time but finally all of the wax melted into one uniform clear consistency. The wooden brush  was great for applying wax as it really pushed the wax to penetrate into the fabric.  We tried a couple of ways of applying the wax but found that the best results were when we used a lot of pressure and brushed in shorter and quicker strokes. By putting a lot of pressure and brushing quickly in circles or in a small area back and forth, we really pushed the wax into the fabric which prevented it from crusting on the top. The image below shows how brushing the wax on lightly just essentially coats your fabric in wax rather than penetrated the fibers.

 Once the wax was brushed in, we used our hands to massage the wax into the fabric more and remove the little bits of excess wax that had formed. I actually found this process really therapeutic and needless to say my hands were well moisturized after! If you have some persistent little pieces of wax, use the back of your nail to help to scratch off excess wax in placed that crusted over a bit.

This fabric dressing really gave the canvas bag that factory waxed look. You can see this in the picture below that compares the bag before and after being dressed.

  before and after dressing image

The lighting in the above picture makes it appear as though the waxed version is lighter but it is significantly darker. Check out our quick video below to see the process from start to finish!

video how to waterproof a cotton bag

There you have it! These are just a few ways to make your fabric items more water-resistant at home with all natural ingredients in plastic-free containers. It’s almost too good to be true!


9 thoughts on “Waterproofing Without Plastic: Can Non-Plastic Natural Materials Be Made Water-Resistant?”

  1. Can the garments be laundered after the products are applied? In a regular washer? At what temperature. I’m interested in creating waTerproof table cloths. Do u have experience with that?

    So thrilled to see these products! The possibilities are endless!

    Thank you! -andrea

  2. Hi there!

    Thanks for the enthusiasm! That is a great question! I will fire it off to the supplier and get back to you 🙂

  3. Hi, I’m interested in using this profuct on natural outdoor clothing and my tent outer fly. Any thoughts? Yes, I am also interested if the items could be laundered in a front loader on an infrequent basis.

  4. Hello again,

    I asked our supplier Otter Wax if items could be laundered after waxed with any of the products mentioned in the blog and they responded with the following: “It is discouraged, since it will likely degrade the wax coating. Also residual wax left behind will make it difficult to dry out. We recommend spot cleaning with our Canvas Cleaner and Tampico Cleaning Brush for spills and stains, and then occasionally spraying down the inside of our jacket with Odor Eliminator to combat smells and stickiness from sweat, etc.” If you continue to their website, you will be able to find the cleaner they reference.

    Hope this is helpful, thanks for the question!

  5. Hi there,

    I think these products would be great for your tent and perhaps outdoor clothing like coats, hats, or boots that will not frequently be directly contacting your skin as it is waxy to the touch. As for the items being laundered, our supplier does not recommend this because it will degrade the wax coating and residual wax left behind will make it difficult to dry out. They have made some recommendations for cleaning products available on their Otter Wax site (more details in my previous response). Hope this info is helpful and these natural products can be useful to you 🙂

  6. What about eliminating the plastic cups at water fountains by using folded paper cups impregnated/coated somehow in beeswax?

  7. Hi there Steve!

    That’s a great question! Unfortunately we do not have any experience with this so we really couldn’t make a recommendation here. Your best bet would be to contact Otter Wax themselves as they would know their product and it’s purposes best 🙂 Hope this is helpful.


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