Care instructions for Gore-Tex-footwear

3. January 2018
Caring for Gore-Tex shoes

Caring for Gore-Tex shoes

Sometimes the best trips include some rough weather. Conquering a summit feels twice as good if you have made it through the elements. Modern equipment turns bad weather into something you can deal with. Gore-Tex footwear has really developed in recent years and should be definite consideration as you piece together your kit. Wet feet really spoil any trip!
But, what about when you are back from your trip. The shoes are filthy and are in need of some TLC. Here we pass on to you our notes from the last Gore-Tex training for Alpinetrek.

How GORE-TEX shoes work

If you would like to understand how GORE-TEX shoes work, it is good to be aware of the way a GTX-shoe is made. When you understand the way in which the different layers interact, quite a few things will become clearer to you. The basic construction of the three types of GORE-shoes (Gore-Tex Extended Comfort, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort and Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort) is identical. I’ll explain it using Gore-Tex Performance Comfort shoes as an example.
Please note: GORE-TEX itself does not produce any shoes. This part is done by manufacturers such as Garmont, La Sportiva, Salewa, Scarpa, The North Face or Salomon, among others. GORE ‘only’ provides the expertise of how to develop and produce the membranes.

Construction of a GORE-TEX shoe

Construction of a GORE-TEX shoe

The Gore-Tex membrane is the third layer from the outside. It is below the upper material (such as leather) and a protective knit. Between your foot and the Gore-tex is a insulation layer and the lining.
The membrane stops water from the outside from getting into the shoe. This means that the shoe is waterproof. At the same, however, sweat is transferred to the outside. Explanation: The size of the tiny drops that make up the moisture inside the shoe is significantly smaller than that of water drops. The framework of the membrane is constructed like a grid, through which the internal moisture can make its way to the outside. The much larger water drops, however, do not fit through. We will use one of our own products to explain how this works exactly. The two outer layers basically function to protect the membrane. Of course the outer material gives the shoe its look and significantly influences its breathability.

Cleaning and maintaining GORE-TEX shoes

In order to keep your shoes in good shape, you need to keep in mind that there is the upper material and the membrane. The membrane functions through its physical structure. Its place is between the other layers, which means you can’t actually reach it. So in fact, no special kind of treatment is required for it. And what’s more: according to GORE-TEX care products do not damage the membrane. No need for worrying.
When it comes to the outer material, GORE-TEX always refers to the care instructions of the manufacturers. They always include instructions on how to treat the material to give it the longest possible life span. Of course leather needs a different kind of maintenance than textile fabric. The fact that there is a GORE-TEX membrane two layers below the outer material doesn’t have any impacts on this. But in any case you can’t go wrong with removing the dirt from the outside layer of the shoes, using a piece of cloth or a brush and some lukewarm water. If you plan to recondition the dry treatment of the shoes, this is one of the absolutely necessary steps.
However, GORE-TEX recommends not to apply shoe polish with a fat or oil basis or special leather oils. Those do not damage the membrane (in fact you would have to rub in large amounts of oil very thoroughly to get through to the membrane). But they lessen the breathability of the outer material and clog the pores of the leather. These products help to keep leather shoes without a membrane waterproof. For shoes with a membrane, however, this means that the outer material cannot transmit the vapor from the inner part of the shoes to the outside any longer. The moisture would be caught between membrane and outer material.
But here the usual principle applies: Don’t panic. Everything is quite simple. No matter whether your shoe is a GORE-TEX shoe or not – the upper material should be treated according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.

Dry treatment of GORE-TEX shoes

Impregnation necessary?

Impregnation necessary?

There is still one frequently asked question: how can I waterproof my shoes? If you read through this post, you already know the answer: No matter whether you used some waterproof treatment or not, GORE-TEX shoes are completely waterproof. The membrane does not get worn off, even when you wear the shoes on a regular basis.
Despite this, all shoes normally have DWR treatment (Durable Water Repellent) in addition. This is applied to the outer material and makes its way into the fibres. Through the treatment you reduce the surface tension of the outer material. This means that water simply drips of the surface. The membrane does stop everything that makes its way through the outer material into the shoe, but the waterproof treatment has a number of advantages:

  • Large drops of water bead and roll off the outer material because of the treatment.
  • Along with the water dirt is prevented from penetrating the upper material more efficiently.
  • Since no water is being absorbed by the outer layer the shoes will not get waterlogged and become heavier.
  • The outer material is normally a part of the insulation concept and works more efficiently, if it stays dry.
  • By preventing the shoes absorbing water you prevent the likelihood of water transferring through the materials which might result in moisture making its way into the shoe. A classic example is protruding lining material, that sticks out of the cuff.

Even though the name suggests it: DWR treatment does not stay waterproof forever. Wearing it on a regular basis, natural degradation, dirt and detergents reduce the efficiency of the dry treatment. GORE-TEX shoes are still waterproof but the upper materials will absorb more and more water.
Bringing the water resistance of outer layers back to life is, however, very easy. There is a variety of treatment products, which you can apply in a minute. GORE-TEX do not recommend one particular manufacturer. All manufacturers offer very similar products – and the technologies have similar capabilities. The GORE-TeX team also point out that labels like ‘…recommended for GORE-TEX…’ only indicate that the manufacturers – not GORE-TEX – suggest them.
We got only one recommendation from the GORE – TEX team: they see some advantages in using a waterproof treatment spray. While you actually need to soak the piece of clothing in some dry treatments, you can easily apply a spray to the outer layer. This way you need a smaller amount of the treatment and the inner fabric does not receive an unnecessary amount of it.
But also in this case: everything is simple. No extra advice necessary. Buy spray, clean shoes, spray it on and head outside for your next adventure. Here’s to dry feet.

If you have any further questions, our customer service team are happy to help. You can contact our customer service during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

GORE-TEX Shoes in our shop >>

Comments on this post

  1. Airidas said on 16. October 2018 at 12:49

    Hi i got, la sportiva tx5 gtx, and after cleaning like in instruction, water gets through, any ideas what should i do?

  2. Mischa said on 18. October 2018 at 10:12

    Hi Airidas, sounds like a warranty issue! I’ve responded to your email :) Mischa

  3. Susan said on 18. October 2018 at 18:27

    My new scarpa light hiking shoes are a combo of gortex and suede. How do I pretteat them before wearing being this combo. The company does not say.

  4. Mischa said on 19. October 2018 at 07:28

    Hi Susan, you don’t actually need to treat the shoe at all as it has a goretex liner which will keep it waterproof. If you like to improve the ability of the suede to shed water then you can use Nikwax Fabric and Leather spray, but this isn’t necessary as long as you keep the shoes clean so they can breath properly.

  5. Qoutdoors said on 6. May 2019 at 06:11

    Great, I have just got it. Thanks.

  6. Stella said on 9. October 2019 at 17:57

    I am told that ‘Hotter Shoes’ Protector spray will stop my Goretex shoes from drying out. In your Post Comments you mention that protection is unnecessary as long as you keep the shoes clean so they can breath properly. Will this spray stop them from breathing properly?

  7. Expert Marco said on 15. October 2019 at 08:42

    Hi Stella,

    the problem is, that every impregnation will have negative effects on the breathability of a membrane. But on the other hand, there is no way around impregnating your shoes every now then, because they would dry out and start falling apart at a certain point.

    Kind regards,


  8. Babs said on 27. October 2019 at 09:15

    My gortex Salamon walking shoes were submerged in very muddy water and are badly soiled inside and out. I have unsuccessfully attempted to clean them. Can I put them in the washing machine?

  9. Expert Marco said on 29. October 2019 at 14:03

    Hi Babs,

    unfortunately that wouldn´t be a good idea, what I would recommend doing, is soaking them in hot water with soap for some time, and try to brush the dirt away.

    Kind regards,


  10. D said on 6. November 2019 at 14:26

    Hi. Have just bought a pair of gore tex leather boots from Hotter. I am not sure if one of the above reply comments says to actually spray with the Hotter product for these boot or not. Could you please clarify.
    Many thanks

  11. Expert Marco said on 6. November 2019 at 15:35

    Hi Dorothy,

    yes it´s always a good idea to impregnate leather boots from time to time. After a certain period of use, you should also wax the boots to keep the leather smooth.

    Kind regards,


  12. Rob said on 25. November 2019 at 20:52

    Dorothy says she purchased a gore tex leather boot. Expert Marco says to apply wax. I thought in this article it previously said. Applying something like wax would stop sweat vapour from escaping, causing it to get trapped between the layers. Could you clarify please?
    Thank You.

  13. Expert Marco said on 27. November 2019 at 08:06

    Hi Rob,

    the problem is, hat there is no perfect solution, when it comes to leather boots with GTX. Leather will start to deteriorate no matter what, so you need to apply wax to keep the leather smooth. This will affect the breathability of the membrane, but there is no way around that.

    Kind regards,


  14. JEREMY PAUL RAVEN said on 17. December 2019 at 11:34

    Hi Marco,

    Some time ago, I purchased a pair of Dubarry country boots , lined with Goretex, and have treated the “upper material’ with ordinary shoe polish – the uppers are conventional shoe leather i.e NOT NUBUCK.
    Through the process of time, the uppers have creased significantly along the area where I bend my feet, and in order to protect the upper leather more vigorously I have resorted to DUBBIN,in order particularly to repel water, thinking back to my boyhood days when we applied DUBBIN to our football boots.

    At about this time, my socks have begun to feel damp, and I have assumed that this the result of water penetration through the creased upper , and in turn through the GORETEX membrane.

    I have returned the boots to Dubarry, who would appear to assume that I have not looked after this footwear properly.

    Reading your post, it would now seem to me that in applying DUBBIN, I have been preventing vapour from the inner part of the boots from escaping, with the consequence that this vapour is in turn making my socks damp.

    Am I right in my own diagnosis, and if so can I prevent this in future by returning to a leather treatment to the uppers, thus allowing internal moisture to escape.

    Also, if the upper is creased to the degree of the leather slightly splitting, presumably the boots will still remain waterproof , because of the GORETEX lining.


  15. Expert Marco said on 17. December 2019 at 12:17

    Hi Jeremy,

    as I mentioned in my comment below, there is no real perfect solution für GoreTex footwear with leather. On the one hand, you wull definitely need to a plly some sort of impregnation on the boots to keep the leather smooth. This will in turn affect the breathability of the membrane after a certain time. One solution can be to not aplly classical wax but simply impregnate the boots with a leather spray from Nikwax or comparable. These are better suited to keep the breathability intact.

    Kind regards,


  16. Sotiris said on 27. April 2020 at 16:47

    Hi there, i recently purchased adidas terrex free hiker gtx. The right shoe seems to have an an/off stain of moisture on the part wherw i bend the shoe while walking. Water does not penetrate but the stain appears regularly and then after some time undee the sun it disappears. What should i do??

  17. Mischa said on 28. April 2020 at 07:49

    Often with GTX shoes the upper material can absorb water, which then sits against the membrane which it can’t penetrate. It sounds like this is what is happening with your shoes considering they dry in the sun. I wouldn’t worry about it – sounds like the GTX is doing its job!

  18. Sue said on 19. June 2020 at 19:41

    I recently purchased some Berghaus Hillwalker Goretex Leather walking boots. In the past I would have covered them in dubbin/wax. I have read your really helpful article and am now at a loss at what to do!!!! I appreciate I should not use the wax as it will impact on the breathability of the boots however surely the leather needs some sort of waterproofing!!!! Useful suggestions would really be helpful, thanks

  19. Expert Marco said on 23. June 2020 at 07:41

    Hi Sue,

    as I mentioned in my comment below, there is no real perfect solution für GoreTex footwear with leather. On the one hand, you would definitely need to a apply some sort of impregnation on the boots to keep the leather smooth. This will in turn affect the breathability of the membrane after a certain time. One solution can be to not apply classical wax but simply impregnate the boots with a leather spray from Nikwax or comparable. These are better suited to keep the breathability intact.

    Kind regards,


  20. Stan said on 12. July 2020 at 21:54

    Hello. I bought my second shoes reebok with gore tex membrane and they both wasn’t waterproof, they neded just few splashes and they were wet inside… Are you sure they are completely waterproof? I bought second reebok because they were comfy not because of membrane but from my experience if I had a chance I would avoid goretex.
    Thanks for any explanation

  21. Mischa said on 13. July 2020 at 10:10

    Stan – Goretex membranes are completely waterproof (you could stand in a stream and it won’t come through, as long as it doesn’t come over the edge of the ankle), so if you find you have a defective pair then you should contact the company you bought them from (maybe it was us?) and they/we can sort it out for you under the product warranty :-)

  22. Michael said on 19. August 2020 at 11:30

    I have fabric-topped Gore-Tex walking shoes (look like trainers) bought a few years ago which have always been faithfully dry. But this year they have started letting in the heavy rain. I tried a spray but it has not helped.
    Would it be ok to machine-wash the shoes in something like Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-in (which did wonders for my elderly Goretex lightweight jacket) ?
    Or any other suggestions gratefully received !

  23. Expert Marco said on 20. August 2020 at 10:39

    Hi Michael,

    if the shoes have no leather it should be all right to put them in the washing machine. If the wash-in impregantion really helps if the membrane isn´t leakproof anymore, is doubtful, but it´s definitely worth a try.

    Kind regards,


  24. Steph hi said on 21. August 2020 at 07:42


    I have had a pair of nike gtx trail running shoes for 4 months that I use for daily walking shoes ( find them lighter than walking shoes)but my feet have got wet the last few times I have worn them in the morning with grass wet from the dew. Is this a manufacturing fault or should I have applied additional DWR after this amount of time?



  25. Expert Marco said on 21. August 2020 at 09:01

    Hi Steph,

    normally this shouldn´t happen, and would be a warranty case, if the moisture doesn´t come in from above or torn soles.

    Kind regards,


  26. Ben said on 26. August 2020 at 21:55

    Hi, I recently acquired some leather upper gore-tex boots which are in great external condition but smell quite bad. Do you have any recommendations on how to wash insides (considering the washing machine but not sure if this is a good idea)?

  27. Expert Marco said on 27. August 2020 at 08:36

    Hi Ben,

    please don´t put the shoes in the washing machine. I would recommend using a mild soap and lukewarm water, and clean the insides of the shoes with that.

    Kind regards,


  28. Jane Baron said on 8. September 2020 at 20:40

    I purchased North Face Gore-Tex boots but water is getting through, my friend bought the same ones and the same has happened to hers. We have been recommended Gore-Tex walking boots to guarantee dry feet but we are disappointed. Please can you help us?

  29. Expert Marco said on 10. September 2020 at 13:05

    Hello Jane,

    this would be a warranty case, and you need to declare this warranty through the retailer where you bought the boots.

    Kind regards,


  30. Brenda said on 28. October 2020 at 21:30

    I bought some Merrell Antona GTX trail shoes 2 months ago as Nordic walking shoes. They had a Gor-tex label attached … and were great… until I got caught in torrential rain. Both my socks were wet mainly at the toes. I took them back to the shop who said that the fabric part of the shoe wasn’t deemed as waterproof and I should have sprayed them!! Any comments please.. she’s kept hold of them to sit them in water to test!! No money back offered, but they’re obviously not fit for purpose… from Brenda

  31. Expert Marco said on 29. October 2020 at 07:29

    Hello Brenda,

    normally a GoreTex shoe should be completely water proof and if not, it would be a warranty case. In my opinion you should try to contact GoreTex directly:

    Kind regards,


  32. Michaela said on 16. January 2021 at 22:14

    Hi i want to ask you what about gore-tex and the snow?
    I had Salewa Trainer Lite Mid GTX and outside was the snow and I had wet fingers in boots. Need I use some spray?
    Thank you. M

  33. Mischa said on 18. January 2021 at 14:34

    Hi Michaela, goretex shoes should be waterproof without treatment so your boot may be defective – contact our customer service team if the boot is still within the two year warranty period.

  34. mim porter said on 4. April 2021 at 11:06

    Reading these comments saying gortex never leaks means that every pair of boots from any company I have bought have been faulty! In my experience, that in all gortex boots the gortex leaks at some point after a matter of months, and certainly no longer than a year. And yes I have proofed the outer fabric to try and reduce ingress of water.

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