Making Fabric Water Repellent?

Two kids standing in the rain wearing colorful rain boots.
You can not always find water repellent fabric for craft projects or you may want to treat a piece of clothing. Perhaps the fabric or garment you have chosen can be treated and made water repellent. This is a page about making fabric water repellent.

2 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

June 15, 2009

How do you make fabric water repellent? I want to make the cotton/poly fabric of an outdoor canopy I made water repellent. Scotchgard is somewhat expensive for a spray can. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

By Marie


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
June 15, 20090 found this helpful

Back in the 1970's I remember reading an old Army Survival manual from WWII & they had an old fashioned waterproofing formula from the days before we had all these chemicals from the oils companies (like silicone). I must warn you that it sounds VERY flammable and somewhat dangerous to me & you'd have to be very careful & not barbecue or smoke around or under it. The recipe called for only 2 ingredients, Kerosene & Paraffin Wax.


They put the wax into the kerosene & waited until it melted. They then either dipped 100% cotton fabric into the well-stirred mixture or brushed it on with a natural hair paintbrush then waited for about a week for the kerosene to evaporate which left only the wax bonded to the fabric. I don't know the exact recipe of how much kerosene to how much wax but you may want to go to a large library & take a look at the old books. Or, better yet go to a large book store & look at the books that have ideas & survival recipes from the old days. Also, check out Army Surplus Stores & survival sites on the web like these below & also post your question there.. Another good idea would be to search the Mother Earth News site. They have listings of old articles. You can also Google "Tent Waterproofing".


Here's a great listing of info & survival web sites:
Mountain men:
Preparedness & Survival:
Native Tech:

PS. You may be able to find a large container of silicone then thin it down with rubbing alcohol (which will evaporate) then paint this silicone on to your fabric with a natural fiber paint brush.

June 16, 20091 found this helpful

I have used "Thompson's Water Sealer" for decks on all type of fabric for outside use. I have even used it on a tent and silk flowers I placed in my garden. Worked great for me! I just pour some in a spray bottle and toss out the bottle when finished with the project. Good Luck!

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January 7, 2012

Does anyone have an easy recipe for making polyester fabric water repellent?

By Santosh

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