How to Wax Your Own Clothing and Gear

Waxing your clothing and gear can be a difficult task. It is important to know the proper technique when waxing clothing so that you don’t damage it. This article will take you through how to use a service like Best Wax for this job, but if you need more information on where to buy or what products work best with each other, check out our guide here:

Oftentimes, people find themselves in a situation where they need to wax their own clothing and gear. This article will walk you through how to do so.

Vintage men wearing hats in forest.

Men had to waterproof their clothes and gear from the outside before the advent of synthetic materials with built-in water-resistant characteristics, utilizing a range of natural substances like as grease, tannins, beeswax, soap, and tar. Early seafarers had a particular interest in creating good waterproofing technologies for obvious reasons. Sailors in the 16th century used grease and fish oils to their sailcloths to make them more effective by catching and “reflecting” the wind rather than merely absorbing it. The seafarers would next cut wind and waterproof capes from the sail scraps, making garments that would save them from being drenched through when the waves splashed over the deck.

Filson ad advertisement.

Pioneers and adventurers of all sorts tried different waterproofing compounds in the field and changed their recipes as the decades passed. During the nineteenth century, a wax mostly consisting of paraffin (a petroleum-derived chemical) was produced that was exceptionally waterproof and windproof and didn’t grow rigid and yellow when fused with cloth as earlier waxes did. While the first waxed cotton goods appeared in the mid-nineteenth century, it wasn’t until the 1920s that manufacturers perfected the method. Waxed canvas was the material of choice for early twentieth-century outdoorsmen, who used it to make tents, Dopp kits, trousers, hunting coats, tool satchels, rifle cases, and sleeping bags.

Waxed fabric is still used in a wide range of apparel and equipment today, including coats, caps, bags, tents, and more. Waxing may give your gear an aged and old aesthetic in addition to the utilitarian advantages. Some really nice-looking waxed goods are sold by high-end clothing firms like Filson and Barbour, but they’re also quite pricey. You can perform your own waxing at home for around $15 and get windproof and waterproof clothes and accessories in the process.

This is how you do it.


A collection of denim.

  • Wax
  • a blow dryer (or heat gun)
  • Waxing clothing/gear – I used:
    • Jeans made of denim
    • AoM hat made of wool
    • Messenger bag made of canvas

A Word About Supplies

Wax – Using paraffin is the old school method of doing things, but it has its drawbacks. Filson, for example, manufactures a paraffin wax that’s designed to keep waxed goods looking good. Yes, you may use it on non-waxed clothes, but the results will be different, and the application will be more difficult and time-consuming.

Paraffin is a byproduct of fossil fuels that has been discovered to be harmful in various applications. It has been discovered that candles, for example, are a cause of indoor air pollution. When waxing with paraffin, make sure the space is adequately aired, and keep in mind that it’s a chemical you don’t want absorbed into your clothes.

Because of these factors, I chose Otter Wax (we have no affiliation, nor is this an ad). It appealed to me since it is the only natural waxing product available. It’s also carefully made to treat and waterproof non-waxed objects and, as you’ll see below, has the simplest application technique of any product on the market. It’s also the only wax that Huckberry carries and endorses, so you know it’s a winner.


While the wax is designed for canvas fabric goods (such as the bag seen above), it may be used on almost any material. It should go without saying, but waxing is not the way to go if you want an article of clothing to be breathable, since it seals up the fabric’s ventilation pores.

I tried three different fabrics, and although they all produced distinct aesthetic aspects, the overall result of being windproof and waterproof remained the same. Try it on flannel (warning: after waxing, flannel and wool will look quite different), canvas, your camera bag, or anything you wish.

If you’re concerned about how the wax may effect the item’s look, try it on a tiny, inconspicuous piece of cloth first.

Make sure your materials are clean and dry before you begin.

Step 1: Gently warm the wax and clothing.

Man using heat dryer on denim jeans.

Otter Wax’s instructions state that the wax should be rubbed on without any preparation. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t work out so well. I warmed up the wax by leaving it in the sun for a few hours, which made it softer. I also used a hair dryer to warm up the objects themselves. It made the whole procedure go much more smoothly.

Waxing is the second step.

Man applying wax on bag.

To use the wax, just rub it over the cloth as if it were a bar of soap. The wax transfers to the fabric because to the pressure and friction – you can see a line on this bag from one wax stroke. Depending on what you’re attempting to wax, you may need to apply more pressure than you think. I didn’t have to put much pressure on the hat. The more pressure applied to this bag, the better. Once you get started, you’ll be able to determine what you need to do to obtain a great even coat.

Man applying wax bar on bag zip.

To obtain those tiny, hard-to-reach portions of cloth, use the edges of the bar.

Man rubbing wax across the surface of bag.

After you’ve applied the wax, massage it evenly over the cloth with your hands/fingers to spread it out.

Bag with metal zipper.

On the metal parts, you can see how the wax will chunk up a little (buttons, zippers, etc.). Use a cloth or your finger to wipe such places clean.

Pink wool cap.

The headgear made of wool. It looks really different on wool vs. canvas, as you can see. It was more of a minor aesthetic shift with the green canvas bag. The wax on the hat gave it a whole different appearance.

Wax seen on light pair of jeans.

I waxed a lighter pair of jeans and saw almost no difference in the way it appeared. I put a dab of the wax on a darker pair of pants, and it made a big difference (it’s hard to see, but it’s the circled area above). How the wax will make your products seem is a crapshoot and largely depends on the cloth you’re dealing with, according to my own small experiment. If you’re afraid or intrigued, try a tiny, inconspicuous patch of the cloth with the wax to see how it appears.


Step 3: Reheat the mixture.

Man applying heat dryer on bag.

Heat the wax again after you’ve applied it and spread it out, then go over it with your hands to smooth and level it out.

Step 4: Allow to dry and cure

Denim collections.

Allow your goods to cure for at least 24 hours in a dry, warm location after you’ve waxed them. Until your products are completely cured, they will be somewhat gooey.

Step 5: Put Your Newly Waxed Items To Work

A convas bag of denim.

After curing and drying, the canvas bag. It provides a lovely aged and old effect, as you can see. It’s not a drastic shift on this fabric, but rather a gradual darkening and texturing of the bag.

On the cap, the wax had a much more visible aesthetic impact. There are a number of areas where it wasn’t applied evenly. I expected it to dry evenly, but it dried almost exactly as it did shortly after application. I’ll revisit those spots and reapply in a handful of them. This effect is comparable to how waxed flannel might seem.

Denim jeans.

The visual impact was zero on these light-colored jeans. But, since they’re water-resistant, they’re perfect for me!

Water dripping on cap.

I had to put it to the test in the name of science and manliness. You can see how the water beads up and drops out – it works perfectly!

How to Take Care of Your Waxed Items

  • To keep the wax’s performance, it’s advised that you reapply it every year or so. I’m not sure whether that’s a hard and fast rule, so simply reapply as required when the performance begins to deteriorate.
  • Hand-waxed goods should not be washed in the same machine as regular clothes. Wash them in a pail of cold water with mild soap, carefully washing any spots that need it. Allow goods to air dry.
  • You’ll notice a waxy odor after waxing your things; it faded gone after a few days on the pieces I waxed. The stench may be erased by freezing the goods overnight, according to Otter Wax.



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