How to Use Dubbin for Boots and Shoes

What is Dubbin?

Dubbing wax – also called ‘dubbin’ in short – is a classic care product made from oil, tallow and natural wax, traditionally used to soften, condition and waterproof leather. As far back as the Middle Ages, people were using dubbin to lift the look of their worn-out leather items, extend their lifespan and restore their shine and suppleness.

Besides reinforcing the waterproofing of your boot, dubbin is designed to protect boots from dirt and stain accumulation, as well as refreshing the look of the leather by making it suppler.

How to Apply Dubbin on Boots and Shoes

In order to achieve the best results, use our fewer-than-10 simple steps below on how to correctly apply dubbin/dubbing wax to your boots and shoes:

  1. Clean your boots. Before starting the treatment, clean your leather boots or shoes thoroughly and ensure they are completely dry.
  2. Heat up the Dubbin. Apply a small amount of heat to both your boots and the dubbin to loosen it up and aid the wax’s penetration of your leather boot. A hairdryer works great for this, but take care! You don’t want to apply too much direct heat onto the leather surface.
  3. Rub in the Dubbin. Use a cloth to gently and evenly rub a small amount of dubbing wax to the surface of your leather boots or shoes.
  4. Use sparingly. Dubbing wax will always leave an oily film on leather surfaces, so it should be used sparingly to avoid making a mess. Too much treatment slathered onto the boots may also negatively affect their quality. It’s better to apply very thin coatings, one at a time, so you can control how much dubbin ends up on your boots.
  5. Repeat. Repeat the gentle rubbing process for as many times as you deem necessary.
  6. Wait. Leave the dubbin on to dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Buff. After you’ve checked that the surface of the boots is dry, use a new dry cloth to buff off the dubbin to bring out the shine.
  8. Polish (optional). If you’d like to go a step further in the maintenance and boost the shiny new look of your boots, why not opt for a coating of leather-friendly shoe polish.
  9. Head outdoors! Now that your boots are rejuvenated and looking as good as new, it’s time to head outdoors to show them off and to enjoy the benefits of your dubbing wax treatment while out walking or hiking.

Not For Suede or Nubuck!

Dubbin is great for leather boots, but not for suede or nubuck materials. Never use dubbin on suede or nubuck leather, as these types of material can be damaged by the oily nature of dubbing wax. You might even cause them irreparable damage (you have been warned!). There are alternative cleaning and proofing care products for these specific types of leather, which you can use freely.

Make Your Own

You could even make your own dubbin concoction using ingredients which can be found in any supermarket. By combining fish oil, beeswax and lard, you’ll get a natural mixture whose composition is very similar to that of standard dubbing wax. You can use this to rejuvenate an old pair of leather walking boots or buff up a pair you’ve newly purchased to give them an additional layer of preventive protection.

If you’d like more helpful advice and DIY tips, check out
our walking advice page for more handy how-to guides.