How To Make Fabric Waterproof

Have you ever had an unexpected rainstorm that totally soaked your outdoor pillows or cushions? And then you couldn’t sit on them for days while they dried out? It’s the worst! But did you know that making fabric waterproof is as easy as spraying it with a waterproof spray?! If you’ve ever wondered how to waterproof fabric so you can use it outdoors, today’s tutorial will show you how in one simple step!

Did you know that making fabric waterproof is as easy as spraying it with a waterproof spray?!

I made these pillows for the painted Adirondack chairs at my parents’ house; I think the colors will be perfect with those chairs! But since the pillows will be outdoors, I decided that first I had to waterproof them!

The whole process took about ten minutes, plus a few hours of drying time, and now these pillows are ready for any weather! If they get wet, water just beads up on the fabric and rolls off, rather than soaking in. Plus it makes them super easy to clean; just wipe them off with a damp rag or sponge and the dirt will come off without soaking into the fabric!

How To Make Fabric Waterproof

Here’s what you need:


You can tell if your fabric needs waterproofing by dropping a few drops of water onto it. Does the water bead up and stay on the surface of the fabric, or does it soak into the fabric and turn it a darker color? If it soaks in and changes the color, your fabric isn’t waterproof!

But it’s easy to fix! Lay out your pillows (or whatever) on a piece of cardboard to protect from overspray.

How to make fabric waterproof in one simple step!

Then lightly spray the entire surface of the pillow with the waterproof spray, holding the can 6″ to 8″ away from your fabric as you spray. Make sure to slightly overlap each pass to make sure the entire surface is covered, but don’t apply it too heavily! You don’t need to saturate the fabric, just make sure it’s evenly covered everywhere!

The directions recommend you do a second coat, so after you do both sides of the pillows, let them dry for about four hours and then do a second coat everywhere. Let the second coat dry for another four hours, and then test it out!

How to make fabric waterproof in one simple step!-2

See how that water beaded up and is just sitting on the surface of the pillows rather than sinking in? That’s perfect! Now, if your outdoor pillows get rained on, they won’t get soaked! Just brush the beads of water off and the pillow will be good as new again.

Did you know that making fabric waterproof is as easy as spraying it with a waterproof spray?!

The Fabric Seal also helps protect the fabric from sun damage as well, so you get 2 in 1!

Want to share this tutorial with your friends? Just click any of the share buttons off to the left to share with Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.!

Here are the pillows in their new home (photo courtesy of my mom and her iPhone!) I just love how the fabric looks on those chairs! And you can’t see it in the photo, but there’s a bright red picnic table behind where she’s standing to take the photo, so the whole patio matches with those fun primary colors!

How to make fabric waterproof in one simple step!

Do you have any outdoor fabrics that could use some waterproofing?

If you liked this project, check out these other outdoor projects!

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Jessia Klosky says

    12 months ago

    I agree with you

  2. Connie says

    2 years ago

    What can you use to waterproof ribbon

  3. LarahChristine says

    3 years ago

    Would this work to turn some fabric that would be usable to make a swimsuit?

    Thank you!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      1 year ago

      No, it’s not meant to withstand that amount of “wear and tear”. It applies a waterproof coating to the fabric, but it would rub off after a while if it was worn against your skin like a swimsuit. Even with normal use (like with these pillows) you’re supposed to reapply the spray every once in a while to maintain the waterproof-ness. I reapply mine about once every 1-2 years.

  4. Norma Ray says

    3 years ago

    Perfect! I can now re cover my patio umbrella. I didn’t want to get a new one because the old ones are made so much better and slightly bigger than the newer ones. Also didn’t want to spend a fortune on it either.

  5. Kathy says

    3 years ago

    I have stair runners woven of cotton. I would love to use them on my front stair case but worry if it would make them slick with the waterproof spray. I have a dog who brings in dirty feet! I do dry her feet but something always come in with her no matter how hard I try. Thanks for your opinion .

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 years ago

      The waterproof spray definitely doesn’t make anything slick; it soaks right in to the fabric and makes it waterproof from inside the fabric rather than by coating the outside. It should work great for your stair runners! The only thing is, in high traffic areas you may need to reapply the spray more often (maybe every 3-6 months depending on how much wear and tear the area gets) because it wears off after a while. But it should definitely help keep the runners safer from the doggy feet!

  6. Rinkoo Aggarwal says

    4 years ago

    I have some large (wide runner type) cotton rugs that I want to use in my kitchen. I want to waterproof them, so that spills by me or my kids don’t ruin them. Do you think this would work? Thank you in advance.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Yeah it would definitely help! You do need to reapply the spray every once in a while when you notice that it’s losing it’s waterproofing ability, but that should only be once or twice a year.

  7. Tammy says

    4 years ago

    Hi there! I recently painted a white banner for my organization and was trying to figure out a way to seal it for outdoor use at our events. Do you happen to know if this spray is ok to go over painted fabric?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Sorry for the late response! But yes, this will definitely work over painted fabric!

  8. Daleen says

    5 years ago

    I am thinking of putting this on my homemade kitchen curtains, as they can get pretty yucky. Would they still be machine washable?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      You can still wash them in the washing machine, but it would probably take the waterproof layer off. But you can easily reapply it if needed!

  9. J says

    5 years ago

    Hi, thank you for this! I was wondering if you think the spray would hold up well enough to repel (sorry for the gross question) a large amount of urine. I am trying to save a new (indoor) couch from a pet who pees.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      It should! But if it’s going to be indoors on a couch you use every day you’ll need to reapply it every once in a while because it will get rubbed away from use.

  10. Karen Welch says

    5 years ago

    Jessi,

    I noticed that the pillows have some white in them. Would this spray work on a strictly light colored fabric that would live on a sectional? I’ve heard that the Sunbrella fabric is good for outdoors, but is not entirely waterproof and will breakdown over time, especially in the sun/rain. This seems like great option for cushions and pillow on a sectional and would be a less expensive option. Storing the cushions away in winter would help preserve the fabric and if a re-treatment is needed could be done easily and cheaply the next season. I’m just worried about discoloration on the fabric with a light colored fabric.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      It shouldn’t discolor the fabric at all. I haven’t tried it on white or light colored fabric, but the packaging says it won’t discolor.

  11. Terrance Craig says

    5 years ago

    What is everyone’s experience now with this spray? The reviews are horrible as to how it only holds up for a matter of 1-3 weeks or not at all.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Interesting, that hasn’t been my experience at all! I did this project over a year ago and the pillows live outside 24/7/365 and they’re still totally waterproof! I haven’t even had to redo a coat of spray on them yet.

      • Terrance Craig says

        5 years ago

        Thank you for responding, I know you can only trust reviews to a certain degree but there were so many bad ones and I don’t want to ruin my cushions nor waste money. Perhaps I’ll just try one older cushion and then post my results.

  12. Grace says

    5 years ago

    Just curious, is the fabric on your pillows “outdoor” fabric? I realize that it’s outdoor fabric now that you’ve used the spray on it, but was it classified as outdoor fabric beforehand? I can’t find the perfect outdoor fabric for an outdoor furniture upholstery project but I’ve found an indoor fabric that is perfect! Maybe using this spray will transform the indoor fabric into outdoor fabric!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      It’s just regular upholstery fabric; it wasn’t considered outdoor fabric before I sprayed it. So, definitely yes, you can take any regular fabric you love and turn it into outdoor fabric!

  13. Sarina says

    6 years ago

    Could I use this spry for a backpack I’m sewing up? I want to waterproof it before I sew.

      • Beka says

        4 years ago

        Would you recommend spraying the fabric before or after it is sewn? I’m also trying to make a backpack.

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          4 years ago

          It works best if you spray it after it is all sewn together. If you spray it before sewing, the coating can rub off as you handle the fabric to sew it together. But if you’re making a backpack, you can just spray the entire backpack once it’s all put together!

  14. Ngaire Wood says

    6 years ago

    I live in Australia, but I have been trying to find out how to waterproof outdoor cushions for a long time. Is the suggested waterproofing product available in Australia? If not can you please suggest an alternative, that may be more widely available?
    Thank you
    Ngaire

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I don’t know if it’s available in Australia, but you could check on Amazon if the link in the materials section of this post doesn’t work for you! It’s called Thompson’s Water Seal Fabric Seal.

  15. John says

    6 years ago

    Hi

    Will the fabric still “breath” after this treatment?

    thx!

  16. Anne says

    6 years ago

    Just saw your post on Pinterest. I didn’t even know a waterproofing spray existed for something like this! I bought some cushions last summer for my outdoor chaise lounges, so I know they can definitely use this! Thanks!

  17. Lisa @ Lisas Creative Designs says

    6 years ago

    I have been looking for an outdoor fabric to make pillows for my patio and haven’t found anything I LOVE. I would love to know how well these pillows held up with the weather and sun? Did the fabric fade?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      The fabric hasn’t faded yet! It’s been about a year since I did this and the pillows live outside on my parents’ deck, which is in direct sun for about 4-6 hours per day, and then shaded the rest of the time. So they’re holding up pretty well!

  18. Stephanie Z. says

    6 years ago

    We use this for our tents…..life saver!!!

  19. Michelle brown says

    6 years ago

    how often do you have to apply it? Every season? Does it make the fabric feel plastic or starchy? And last question, sitting on it, would that break the seal? I’m thinking about doing this to my cushions for my outdoor furniture

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I sprayed it on these cushions over a year ago and it’s still holding up! You should reapply whenever the “waterproofness” starts to wear off, but when that happens is different for everyone. If they’re out in direct sun all day every day, the sun will start wear on the cushions faster than cushions that are left in the shade. But I expect for these cushions, which are in direct sun maybe 2-3 hours per day, they’ll last for about another 6 months to a year before I need to reapply! And the spray doesn’t change the feel or functionality of the cushion at all. After it dries you can’t even tell it’s there! The spray works inside the weave of the fabric itself, so you can keep using the cushions just like normal and it won’t change the “waterproofness”. I mean, I guess if you were hitting them with a baseball bat every day for a year it might wear off a little sooner, but normal wear and tear won’t hurt them! 🙂

  20. Kristin says

    7 years ago

    Who told you that Borax was “highly toxic”? It is added to some foods, also used on horse’s hooves. http://pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC34355#Toxicity

    Borax can cause nosebleeds by its mechanical action- not out of chemical or mysterious poisoning reaction. Borax is “scratchy”. One would have to consume an enormous quantity in order for it to be harmful. It is PERFECTLY SAFE to use around pets, children, plants. It is not “highly toxic”. In fact, I would be more suspect to use a spray product with unknown ingredients than a known, SAFE- product such as Borax (and no, I don’t work for nor own stock in Borax!)

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I don’t think anyone told me borax was toxic; instead I did my own research into it a while ago when I was making my own homemade laundry soap. I know that it’s used as an insecticide and an herbicide (and I’ve used it for both purposes and know it works!), and that it was labeled as “Danger” by the EPA, which is the highest level word they issue. There is also a reasonable amount of controversy over whether borax causes infertility issues and birth defects, and currently the EU requires that any products imported in that contain borax have warnings such as “may cause infertility” and “may damage unborn children”. As we don’t have kids yet, but plan to, that alone is enough to make me skip the borax when there are other solutions that work just as well.

      Obviously the lethal dose, or even the “toxic dose” for a human would be much higher than that of an ant or a weed in your garden, but the bottle of borax under my kitchen sink says “Hazard to humans and domestic animals. Caution: Haramful if swallowed or inhaled.” and on the back it says “Apply only in areas inaccessible to children and pets.” And it mentions some stuff about not using it in areas where food is prepared, served, or likely to come into contact with it. I imagine this isn’t much of an issue with outdoor pillows because I doubt anyone will be serving food off the pillows, but given the warnings on the bottle, I would be very reluctant to use this to waterproof pillows that my family (pets included) will be on and around.

      I imagine you see the same types of warnings on a bottle of bleach (the children and pets part, not the infertility part), but I also don’t use bleach in areas to which my cats have access. I probably seem overprotective in some people’s eyes, but on the other hand, I know plenty of people who are horrified that I even have a bottle of bleach in my house, so to each his own! Everyone is allowed to make their own choices about the products they want to use in their homes! If you want to use borax to waterproof your pillows, do it! I prefer not to, so as you can see from this post, I found a different solution.

  21. Kristin says

    7 years ago

    Why buy water-proofing spray when you can just soak the items in a Borax and water solution??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I have never heard of using borax to make fabric waterproof! I guess I would just be worried because borax is highly toxic to you or your pets, so I might be worried about using that on pillows or anything that we keep in the house or in the yard.

      • GC Rodriguez says

        2 years ago

        Borax is not highly toxic. I take it as a supplement in my coffee each morning. Where did you hear that?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          1 year ago

          As I said in the previous comment, I did my own research. You can read what I found in the comment above. And as I said in that previous comment as well, to each his own! Just because I don’t use borax in my laundry soap doesn’t mean you can’t have it in your coffee!

  22. Patti says

    7 years ago

    This a great idea. I am obsessed with all the beautiful fabric out now. Designers like Amy Butler and Heather Bailey have the cutest stuff. I’m thinking I could make pillows for my screened in porch which occasionally gets wet and use the fabric spray. Thanks.

  23. Courtenay @ The Creek Line House says

    7 years ago

    I’m fascinated with this stuff and I’ve gotta try it! I love living in modern times! P.S. This comment sounds super spammy, doesn’t it? I do love modern technology though, especially when it’s crafty! 🙂

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Lol, I know you’re no spammer Courtenay! But yes, it’s totally cool that you can pick out whatever fabric you want and just make it waterproof later! It means you’re not limited to the boring “outdoor” fabric designs; I love it!

  24. keri @ shaken together says

    7 years ago

    We live in super humid Florida and constantly have to replace our fabric pillows outdoors. Can’t wait to try this out!

  25. Karen Marie Kedzuch says

    7 years ago

    Jessi,
    I love your pillows and waterproofing any fabric. Great idea! That is letting your creative spirit dance in the rain!
    Blog XO
    Karen Marie
    Dragonfly & Lily Pads

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