Can You Dye Leather Shoes a Darker Color?

by Chance Henson
Easily dye light-colored leather shoes darker colors

Easily dye light-colored leather shoes darker colors

Trends change faster than a supermodel at fashion week, which is why the leather shoes that were so stylish only a few years ago are already walking the plank to an unfashionable doom. Don't be slave to fashion by tossing out your old leather shoes. Light-colored leather shoes are easily dyed darker with classic colors such as navy, black and brown. Take a few hours on your day off to give your dated leather footwear a new look. Your shoes will thank you.

Select a well-ventilated space to do work in and cover it with old newspapers or with plastic trash bags as a guard against spills. Avoid working on carpeted floors, which are easily stained, and in rooms that have poor air circulation.

Cover your hands with plastic gloves before you begin the dyeing process and arrange all of the necessary materials within easy reach.

Cover the soles of the shoes with masking tape to protect them from dye spills.

Dampen a clean cotton cloth with leather stripper or deglazer and vigorously scrub the leather portions of the shoes to remove dirt, oils and residual polish.

Use a small brush dipped in the stripper for areas that you can't reach with the cloth and give the shoes 5 to 10 minutes to dry.

Dip a small sponge brush into the bottle of dye, or apply the dye directly to the brush if the bottle is too small.

Brush the shoes with smooth even strokes until both shoes have a single layer of dye. If the dye manufacturer provided a brush with your purchase, use it for best results. Allow the shoes to dry for 1 hour.

Apply a second coat using smooth even strokes and allow the shoes to dry for another hour.

Apply a third, final coat of dye. Allow shoes to dry completely, about 2 hours.

Using short rapid motions, buff the shoes with a buffing cloth until desired finish.

Items you will need

  • Newspapers or trash bags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean cloth
  • Leather stripper
  • Small brush
  • Leather dye
  • Sponge brush (optional)
  • Buffer cloth
  • Masking tape


  • Read all instructions and warnings printed on the leather stripper and dye before opening the container.
  • Exercise extreme caution when working with toxic chemicals.
  • Seal and store toxic chemicals out of reach of children.

About the Author

Chance Henson earned a B.A. in English literature and a writing minor from Lamar University. While interning at the "University Press" newspaper and "UP Beat" magazine he received an award for news feature writing from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. Henson went on to serve as content editor for "CUSH Magazine," eventually leaving to pursue the development of an online secular humanist educational publication.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images