How to Darken Light Brown Shoes

by Melissa McKean ; Updated September 28, 2017

brown shoes isolated image by PaulPaladin from

If you have a favorite pair of brown shoes that you would wear much more if they were a darker brown, consider dying them. It is easy to darken light brown shoes to make them more versatile in your wardrobe and more resistant to showing stains. All you need to dye leather shoes is a deglazer to remove the previous protective coatings on the leather, and leather shoe dye in the desired color. With a little preparation, you can transform your lighter colored shoes to dark brown in no time.

Pour deglazer into a dish and dip a damp sponge or rag in the solution. Massage the deglazer into the leather of the shoe in a circular motion, covering all parts of the shoe. Allow the shoe to air-dry completely. After the shoe is dry, you may notice that the shine and color of the leather are duller; this is normal.

Shake the bottle of leather dye well, making sure that all of the pigment that has settled in the bottom of the bottle has been mixed thoroughly. If necessary, take the lid off of the bottle and use the stir stick to mix the color well.

Squeeze the dye onto another sponge or rag and apply it to the shoe. Rub a small spot of dye on an inconspicuous area of the shoe, such as the heel. Allow the dye to dry so you can see how the color will turn out. Once you have determined that the dye is the correct color, cover the entire shoe, letting the dye dry completely before applying a second coat. Continue to apply coats of dye until the shoe reaches the shade of brown you want.


  • If you find that the color is too dark after doing the spot test, add water to dilute the color. If the color is too light, mix a little black paint in with the brown to darken it.

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About the Author

Melissa McKean is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. McKean has an expertise in web and SEO copywriting and has worked on both B2C and B2B lead generation and e-commerce websites to improve search engine rankings and usability. McKean has a bachelor's degree in advertising from Kent State University.