Easy Waterproof Clothing




Introduction: Easy Waterproof Clothing

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While I was making my glow tie I realized that the solution I made to apply the glow power to the fabric was incredibly hydrophobic, which makes sense as it's silicone based. After some experimentation I found it was a great method for waterproofing all kinds of close knit fabrics, like tote bags and other large flat fabric surfaces.

I'm not that impressed with most commercial versions of waterproofing, and this method gives me full control of the efficiency of my waterproofing. Inexpensive, flexible, and easy to make, this homebrew solution is a great way to make almost anything waterproof.

Ready to waterproof all the things? Let's make!

Step 1: Supplies

Making your own waterproof solution requires 2 things:

You'll also need the following supplies:

The glow powder is added to a liquid medium which is then applied to the tie. The medium is made from silicone caulking which is diluted in mineral spirits.

You'll want to use 100% clear pure silicone caulking. Look for "silicone I" as "silicone II" has mold retarding agents, we want pure silicone. The silicone can be thinned with mineral spirits. You can find both the caulking and the mineral spirits at your local hardware store.

Step 2: Mixing Solution

To make a medium that can be brushed onto the fabric, we'll need to thin the silicone caulking with plenty of mineral spirits.

I started with a ratio of 5:1 - 5 parts mineral spirits to 1 part caulking. Put both into a mixing cup and mix thoroughly. At first this is going to look like too much mineral spirits and not enough caulking, but silicone is incredibly thick and after a few minutes of mixing the solution will begin to thin.

You're looking to achieve a very runny medium with no clumps, lumps, or anything even resembling the caulking. The GIF above should be the viscosity you are looking for, something like very runny maple syrup. It is also going to smell terrible, so make sure to work in a well ventilated area.

Step 3: Brush Onto Fabric

I used a bristle chip brush to apply the medium onto the tie. Chip brushes are meant for resin, acetone, and epoxy, so are a suitable choice for this application.

The brush was dipped into the mixture and generously applied all over the fabric. The fabric was hung to dry, making sure that the fabric was not overlapping anywhere - any overlapping fabric will bond together when it dries.

Special attention was given anywhere there were stitches, since this will be a weak spot in the waterproofing. After drying, multiple coats were applied to the fabric to ensure a good waterproof seal. Additional coats were put on seams and stitches to make them more durable.

The smell from the caulking is still pretty terrible even after a day of drying, but goes away after about a week.

Step 4: Hang Dry

The fabric was left to dry for an entire day after each coat, allowing the silicone to cure completely.

Step 5: Waterproofing Thoughts

This was a fun exploration into homebrew waterproofing. The process is simple, and the results are much better than commercial options. However there's a significant drying time between coats, which makes this a good waterproofing option if you prepare ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment.

Share your comments and results below.

Happy making!



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    130 Discussions

    My 97yo mother knits her own slippers and while they work well with carpet they don't work so well on tile. I put silicone on the bottoms but it's such a mess. Will try thinning with sprits and see how that works. Thanks for the idea.

    3 replies

    My grandmother knitted ankle socks/slippers...too slick for granite or ceramic, so I brushed on some PLASIDIP, the rubber stuff used for tool handles. GREAT

    You can also use liquid (natural) latex for this.

    What does this waterproofing do to the texture and feel and drape of the fabric? Sounds like it is suitable for upholstery and bags, but what about clothing? Will it make the fabric stiff?

    2 replies

    When I applied it to clothing it leaves a slick texture. It's not unpleasant, but certainly not like the original.


    "When I applied it to clothing it leaves a slick texture. It's not unpleasant, but certainly not like the original."

    Will it come to dry over time or in the hot sun? Or will the heat of the sun want to melt the solution? Or will it always be slick...if so great, snow and ice should not stick.

    TY Larry


    Question 18 days ago

    How do you think this would work with velvet shoes? ( not slippers ). Would it run off the sides and not cover?

    Hello Mike,

    Are you aware of a glue or tape that will repair a 4" rip in a tarp, the tarp material is smooth and shiny...and rather expensive, so i do think it must be roughed up a little prior to??????

    Thanks again Larry

    1 more answer

    Hello Mike,

    Look in a fabric store for iron on patches. Or at Walmart, some drug stores in the sewing notions department. Probably smaller than you need, but you can butt these patches together. I would iron on per instructions and then sew these down as the edges tend to peel up. Then waterproof well. There is also a product which bonds fabric to fabric. Unfortunately I don't know the name, but a search on the net would turn it up




    1 reply

    Hello Mike. Been a fan of your's for a long time.

    Q: This repellant should work on canvas type gazebo tops? My 8 x 8' gazebo is used year round, of course, the water, snow and rain and sun (uv) kill the fabric in less than two years.

    Is it a UV protectant as well or should some other (?) be added to the mixture???


    Regards Larry

    1 more answer

    This will work on canvas, as my test was on a canvas bag. Unsure how UV would effect this. There is exterior grade caulking that would likely be great. I'd love to know the results of your experiments - remember to test on some scrap before committing to your gazebo :)

    Thanks, Larry

    can I waterproof a backpack? Recently bought one with material I assumed was waterproof -as all my other backpacks were waterproof. However, I am in a poorer country where some products do not have information on their sales tags. So caught in a steady downpour with the result of 2 books getting soaked, as other minor items.

    Plus its new, don't want to ruin the whole look. The material is some thickish synthetic. Looks waterproof, but not. Also foam under straps etc., I don't want to dissolve any part of the backpack.

    Also will have to use a paint thinner to dilute the silicon. will that do? I don't need to worry about pieces sticking to each other as can apply it bit by bit to parts on the outside only.

    1 reply

    Experiment on a scrap of similar fabric before committing to your backpack. Good luck!

    It's a decent instructable, but spoiled by the use of a meaningless term for the solvent. The term 'mineral spirits' has no concrete scientific interpretation and may refer to a proprietry product you can buy easily in the US, but isn't sold under that name in the UK. Here we have water-immiscible solvents like turps and white spirit although what they are exactly I don't know. I guess they're products of the petroleum fractionation industry, just like petrol and diesel. Then we have water-miscible solvents like the various alcohols: methyl, ethyl, iso-propyl ( even butanol, I think ). The stuff we call 'meths' AFAIK is actually ETHYL alcohol with about 5% methy alcohol ( the purple colour is pyridine which stinks ) If you are able to buy 'alcohol' I think it's ethyl alcohol plus 5% water: pure ethanol isnt available to the public. And 'dry-cleaning' solvent is ( as the guy said ) trichlorethanol. The chlorinated alcohols are another brand of solvents, but I don't think they come from petroleum distillation. None of them is water miscible. So, what is mineral spirit?

    3 replies

    One of the pictures shows the label on the bottle of the mineral spirits used, that includes the brand name of the product. In the era of internet it should not be too difficult to find out, or at least to get a good idea what is in the particular product by searching the internet or obtaining the contact email of the manufacturer. You can derive some additional info from its MSDS sheet. The ingredients will not be clearly given there but you can find some answers.

    To defend the author - he used the actual name of the product as written on the bottle.

    I like this instructable very much personally. Good job and thank you!

    Mineral Spirits is a fancy name for "White Spirit", same stuff available all over the world. I used odorless white spirit and it worked like a charm.