How to Make Hydro Dip Shoes

While browsing the internet, we often see videos of transforming old products and giving them a new look. It’s crazy how people mix and match some colors and create a completely new shoe. This trending process is called hydro dipping. You too can hydro dip shoes using some handful of ingredients and following some easy steps.

What is hydro dipping?

Hydro dipping or immersion printing is a unique process to get your desired prints on products. One can apply graphics to almost any three-dimensional object by this process of water transfer printing and hydro imaging.

This can be done on any surface and is widely used nowadays. It is safe to hydro dip a pair of sneakers and not wise to run this experiment on any other shoe. One shouldn’t hydro dip shoes which can get damaged in water.  

There are two ways one can hydro dip shoes. Both the process is almost the same with a difference in necessary ingredients and techniques.

Hydro dipping shoes with readymade kits  

Hydro dip kits are available in the market which is not that expensive. A basic hydro dip kit should contain:  

  1. Patterned film
  2. Hydrographic Activator
  3. Hydrographic Basecoat  
  4. Hydrographic Topcoat  
  5. Universal Primer  

Other than these the kit may include a respiratory mask, gloves, scuff pad, and instruction book. One can choose a pattern of their own choice from a huge range of hydro dipping kits. For shoe camouflage, floral and tie-dye patterns are the most popular ones. The pricing of the kits varies depending on the patterns and number of items included. One can customize their desired patterns from some custom dipping shops or websites. 

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Clean the shoes

 In most cases, people use an old shoe to run experiments like this. Old or new shoes, clean them properly. Brush off the dust and unlace the shoe.          

Step 2: Prepare a container

 Hydro dip kits will not come with containers. Choose a plastic or aluminum container spacious enough to submerge the shoes. The container must be long and wide enough to have an extra 5-6 inches of space between the surface of the container and the shoes.  

Step 3: Tape the shoe  

With the help of masking tape cover the areas you don’t want to keep plain. This step is completely optional and up to you whether you want to keep the side of the soles plain or colored. As the sides of the shoe get dirtier in comparison to other parts, it is wiser to keep it plain.  

Step 4: Prime the shoe  

Once your shoe is properly cleaned, spray the primer provided in your kit. Do not overspray it, in that case, the primer will start to run. Then take the base coat spray from the kit and apply 1-2 coats on the shoes. Let the shoes dry for one or two hours.  

Step 5: Prepare the film  

Meanwhile, take the patterned film and cut it as per the size of the shoe. Try to cut the film keeping extra 4-5 inches on each side. During this process, in no way the film can get wet. You have to carefully cut the film with dry hands.  

Step 6: Set up the container  

Take the container and fill 3/4th of the container with hot water. The water shouldn’t be boiling but at approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Now carefully pick up the film and bring the two ends together. Place the mid-bottom of the film onto the middle surface of the water. Then slowly place the film flat on the water.   

Step 7: Apply the activator  

Let the film hydrate and dissolve for sixty seconds. After 60 seconds, take the hydrographic activator from the kit and spray it evenly over the film. You’ll notice that the film starts to turn into liquid ink after 5-6 seconds.

Check for air bubbles and if there’s any blow on it gently for moving the bubbles off to the side. The activated film will have a glossy appearance and the design will seem to have expanded.  

Step 8: Dip the shoe

Put on your gloves before starting the whole dipping process. Submerge the shoes slowly into the water. Then, even out the angle by pushing it down towards the ink. After the shoes are submerged fully, take out the shoe carefully out of water. 

Step 9: Rinse with water  

Hold the shoes lightly and avoid touching their surface. Then rinse it with cold water for 3 minutes. This step removes PVA residue from the shoe.  

Step 10: Apply the topcoat  

Air-dry the shoes properly. Then apply an even coat of the topcoat spray on the shoes. Do not apply the second coating before the first coating gets dry completely.  

With all these easy 10 steps, you’ll have your shoes dripped in no time.

Hydro dip your shoes using spray paint   

You can hydro drip shoes with just a few things around you. If you don’t have a kit, arrange the following ingredients together:  

  1. Spray paint ( any color of your choice)     
  2. Container
  3. Gloves  
  4. Water
  5. Acetone
  6. Paint tape
  7. Clear coat aerosol spray    

Step 1: Prepare the shoe  

As the first method, you have to clean your shoes and untie the laces. Then cover the areas you don’t want to paint with tape. Wear your gloves and take acetone to rub on the surface of the shoe. This will give the shoe a base coating. Let it dry for 2 hours.    

Step 2: Fill up the container  

Take a container and fill up it in the same process mentioned in the above method. You can line the container with a plastic sheet if you do not wish to get colors on it.  

Step 3: Spray the paint on the surface of the water  

At first shake, the can of the spray paint well. Then hold the can 10 to 12 inches (approximately 25-30 cm) from the surface of the water. Then start spraying the way you wish until the surface is coated.

Switch between the colors and swirl it to make your own creation. Do not place opposite colors next to each other or else it’ll look messy. Take a wooden stick to stir the colors gently to get your desired color.  

Step 4: Dip the shoe  

Slowly dip the shoes into the container and submerge them fully. After the paint gets on the shoe take it off from the water. While pulling the object out, take another person’s help and part the paint on the water. This will save the shoe from getting repainted on its way out of water.  

Step 5: Apply the clear coat  

Let the shoe air dry for several hours. Do not touch the shoe before it’s completely dried. Then take the clear coat spray and apply it on the top. After the clear coat dries out, you’ll get desired finishing on your hydro dipped shoes.

Things you should avoid while hydro dipping the shoes   

Follow any of the above methods, you are going to get a pair of beautiful hydro dipped shoes. We will try to guide you about some common mistakes you should avoid.  

  • Do not forget to wear protective gear. One should wear masks and gloves before starting the whole process.  
  • Arrange all your products near you. Because once the process of hydro dipping starts it can get very messy if you do not have all the necessary ingredients at your hand distance.  
  • Do not try to hydro dip dirty, worn out shoes. Choose a pair that is in moderately good condition and clean it before starting the process.   
  • Observe the bubbles. Air bubbles can blotch the whole design. So to avoid this dip the product at a lower angle.
  • Try to dip the product in at a pace that is not too fast or too slow. Going too fast can break the image on the water.  
  • Do not double dip your shoe to give another coat when it’s wet. If you are not happy with the initial coating, wait for the shoes to dry.  
  • You can’t skip the topcoat or clear coat. This layer will protect the color of the shoe from being scratched away.  
  • While using a patterned film, put the water soluble side down into the water. Doing this wrong can ruin your hydro dipping completely.


Hydro dipping your shoes give you a flashy vibrant look and make you stand out. The color on hydro dipped shoes is protected with a top coating and they are resistant similar to any other paintings. The fun part about this whole process is that you can paint your shoes as many times as you want. Hurry up! Grab a pair of your white sneakers and make it your canvas.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Best Non Cycling Shoes for Cycling

Leave a Comment