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Can chromexcel get wet?

Chromexcel leather is a type of leather that is commonly used for belts, bags, shoes, and other accessories. It is known for its smooth and supple feel as well as its durability. However, there is some debate around whether chromexcel can get wet without being damaged. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at chromexcel leather and examine whether it can withstand exposure to moisture.

What is Chromexcel Leather?

Chromexcel is a branded type of leather originally made by the Horween Leather Company in Chicago. It is created using a combination tanning process that includes chrome tanning as well as veg tan finishing. Here are some key features of chromexcel leather:

  • Made from naturally sturdy steers hides
  • Tanned using a combination of chrome and vegetable tanning
  • Contains oils and waxes that make it supple and provide moisture resistance
  • Able to be polished to a smooth, shiny finish
  • Known for its durability and scuff resistance

The main benefit of using both chrome and vegetable tanning processes is that the leather gets strengths from both methods. The chrome tanning makes the leather soft and flexible. The veg tanning allows it to develop a tight fiber structure, providing firmness and structure. It also enables the leather to take on oils and conditioners, giving chromexcel its luxurious feel.

How is Chromexcel Leather Used?

Chromexcel is valued for its unique combination of softness and durability. This makes it well-suited for a variety of leather goods including:

  • Belts
  • Bags
  • Wallets
  • Watch straps
  • Boots
  • Shoes
  • Leather cases

Many leather accessory makers pride themselves on using genuine Chromexcel leather sourced from Horween. The leather is often advertised as a mark of quality due to its reputation for durability and aging well over time. It develops a rich patina as it gets used, making each Chromexcel product unique.

Is Chromexcel Leather Water Resistant?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of chromexcel leather, let’s discuss the key question: how water resistant is it? Here are the key considerations:

  • Finish Matters: Chromexcel can be produced in different finishes, which impacts water resistance. Waxed versions offer more protection than aniline dyed leathers.
  • Some Protection: The oils and waxes provide moderate water resistance. However, chromexcel is not waterproof.
  • Can Withstand Light Moisture: Brief light exposure to moisture is okay. However, soaking or submerging chromexcel is not recommended.
  • Can Be Treated: Water protectant sprays and creams can be applied to increase chromexcel’s water resistance.
  • Prone to Water Spots/Staining: The leather’s porous surface can absorb water, leaving dark spots or stains.

In summary, chromexcel leather has some natural water resistance due to the oils and waxes used in production. However, it is not waterproof and prolonged moisture exposure can cause damage and discoloration. With proper care and treatment, chromexcel can withstand light rain or splashes. But submerging it in water is risky.

How to Care for Wet Chromexcel Leather

If your chromexcel leather item does get wet, here are some tips for proper care and drying:

  • Gently blot wet areas with a clean, dry cloth to soak up excess moisture.
  • Stuff wet leather items with paper towels or rags to help them hold shape as they dry.
  • Allow leather to air dry naturally. Do not use heat sources like radiators or hair dryers.
  • Use leather conditioner once fully dried to restore oils and prevent stiffening.
  • Avoid getting leather wet again until fully dried and reconditioned.
  • Use water protection sprays to help prevent future water damage.

With prompt drying and conditioning, chromexcel leather can recover well from light moisture exposure. However, repeated soaking or submersion can lead to permanent damage like hardening, cracking, or mold growth.

Does Chromexcel Leather Stretch When Wet?

Wet leather often stretches due to the added weight and absorbed moisture. Does chromexcel act the same way? Here’s a look:

  • Can Stretch Slightly: When soaked, chromexcel can stretch somewhat, especially at stress points.
  • Not as Pronounced: Veg tanning helps minimize stretching compared to pure chrome tanned leather.
  • May Relax Over Time: Stretched areas tend to relax back closer to original size as leather dries out.
  • Lasting Impact Unlikely: Light wetting is unlikely to cause permanent looseness or bagging.
  • Repeat Exposure Risky: Frequently getting leather very wet can allow gradual stretching over time.

In general, chromexcel’s veg tanned foundation makes it fairly resistant to stretching when wet. While slight, temporary expansion is normal, permanent bagging out or looseness is unlikely from occasional light moisture exposure. However, regularly saturating and drying the leather can lead to incremental stretching over time.

How to Waterproof Chromexcel Leather

If you want to use your chromexcel leather during wet weather, there are products available to improve its water resistance:

Product Description
Wax-based sprays Sprays containing waxes, oils, and silicones to repel moisture
Wax polishes Wax-based creams or polishes to protect and condition
Beeswax Pure beeswax can be gently melted and applied to provide protection
Waterproofing creams Specialized creams designed to seal pores and prevent water absorption

When applying any waterproofing product, carefully follow the instructions. Apply a light coat and allow to fully dry before adding any additional layers. Too much product buildup can actually impair the leather’s breathability.

Should You Avoid Getting Chromexcel Wet?

We can make some general recommendations about chromexcel leather and water:

  • Avoid Submerging: Soaking leather in water risks permanent damage.
  • Protect from Downpours: Take precautions in extremely wet conditions.
  • Treat with Waterproofers: Use sprays and waxes to improve water resistance.
  • Blot Wet Spots: Gently dry any moisture before it penetrates.
  • Stuff While Drying: Use paper to retain shape if soaked.
  • Condition Afterwards: Nourish leather and restore oils after drying.

With proper care, chromexcel can withstand the occasional splash or light wetting. But prolonged exposure to significant moisture can cause issues. Take steps to waterproof and protect your leather items whenever possible.


Chromexcel leather has a well-deserved reputation for supple softness and durability. Its natural oils and waxes provide some inherent water resistance. However, chromexcel is still prone to water spotting, staining, and stretching when soaked. While an occasional light wetting won’t ruin the leather, extended exposure to moisture is risky. With preventative waterproofing and prompt drying, chromexcel leather can continue looking and feeling great for years of regular use.