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How to Reproof an Oilskin Coat

Lynne likes to find ways to save money by doing DIY projects at home.

Outback Trading men's Pathfinder jacket.

Outback Trading men's Pathfinder jacket.

How to Extend the Life of Your Favourite Waterproof Wear

If you own an oilskin coat, then you most likely rely on its waterproof qualities above all else. One of the best things about an oilskin coat is its water-repelling ability as well as its durability. It is an investment that, if looked after, can last many years if not decades. For this reason, it is useful to learn how to reproof your oilskin coat.

Reproofing your coat will inject it with a new lease of life and extend its useful life. If you are wondering how to reproof an oilskin coat this page will take you step-by-step through the process. Oilskins make great raincoats and are terrific in cold and windy conditions as well but the proofing needs to be replenished every so often.

The good news is that once your oilskin coat has been reproofed it will totally rejuvenate it and you'll think you're wearing a brand new coat. Don't leave it too long though. Your coat will benefit from regular reproofing.

This old coat desperately needed reproofing.

This old coat desperately needed reproofing.

The Old Oilskin Coat Before Starting

My husband has had this oilskin coat for more than 20 years. We first bought one for each of us when we decided to embark on a whitewater rafting holiday back in the mid 1980′s. These coats have served us extremely well as waterproof outerwear for all this time. I gave mine away not so long ago as I finally accepted I was probably never going to wear that size again. A few months ago my husband decided to wear his to one of the kids' soccer games on a particularly wet weekend and came back drenched. It was then that we realized that the coat needed re-proofing.


  • A tin of re-proofing wax (I used Otter Wax Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing)
  • A small saucepan
  • A small paintbrush
  • A place to work (outdoors on a warm day is best)
  • Floor coverings if desired
  • a clean rag
  • a hairdryer (optional)

Before You Start Reproofing Your Oilskin Coat

Remove any dirt and dust. Hose down the outside of the coat or wipe over with a damp cloth depending on how dirty the coat is and leave the coat to dry. Avoid getting the inside of the coat wet.

Step 1: Melt the Wax

  1. Place the tin of wax in a small saucepan and fill with water to come about halfway up the side of the tin.
  2. Place the saucepan over heat and bring the water to a boil. The wax will gradually melt and become a golden colour.

Step 2: Apply the Reproofing Wax

It’s up to you how you want to go about this but I found the best way that worked for me was to hang the coat over the back of an outdoor chair and start from the top.

  1. I started with the hood and then worked my way down the shoulders and the front and back panels.
  2. Lifting the shoulder flap, I applied the waterproofer to the area of the jacket underneath and gradually worked down.
  3. With one hand inside the coat, move the position around as you work so that you get to all areas of the coat. The wax sets quickly so you may need to stop and reheat it or work in stages.
  4. Once you have finished applying the reproofer, hang the coat to dry.

Step 3: Reproofing an Oilskin Coat

To finish off reproofing, your oilskin coat you’ll need to apply heat to work the wax into the fabric and give your coat a smooth even glossy look. This can be done in one of two ways. It is probably best to lay the coat on a flat surface with an old sheet or something similar underneath to protect the surface. You can either use a hairdryer or very hot water to do the next step. You’ll need a rag to work the wax into the coat.

  1. If using hot water, soak the rag and work it over the coat refreshing with hot water frequently.
  2. Using a hairdryer and a clean rag, use the same principle. Pay particular attention to the seams to ensure they are well sealed.

Watch This Video on How to Reproof Your Oilskin Jacket

© 2014 Lynne Schroeder

Do You Have an Oilskin? Would You Reproof It Yourself?

George on May 13, 2017:

I live in Vancouver BC and where is the best place to buy the waterproofing wax for my oil skin jacket ?