How to Unfade Shoes

by David Lipscomb ; Updated September 28, 2017

Unfading an old pair of shoes gives them new life.

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Fading leather is a result of inconsistent care and daily mishaps such as scuffing. Faded shoe coloring destroys the overall look and patina of footwear. Refurbishing fading shoe color serves to rejuvenate the leather, making the shoes not only better looking but buys them (or rather, you) a few more years.

Items you will need

  • Old towel or newspaper
  • Cedar shoe trees
  • Horsehair cleaning brush
  • Cotton balls
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pigmented shoe creme
  • Clean cloth
  • Shoe polish
  • Horsehair buffing brush

Cleaning and Prep

Step 1

Lay an old towel or newspaper across your lap. Set one shoe on your lap.

Step 2

Insert the shoe trees into each shoe. This helps the leather keep its shape, allowing you to clean and polish creases and crevices more effectively.

Step 3

Remove any old laces from the shoes.

Step 4

Brush the shoe with the horsehair cleaning brush, removing loose dirt and debris.

Step 5

Clean the shoe thoroughly with cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. This removes any old encrusted polish and wax, as well as any leftover dirt.

Color and Conditioning

Step 1

Swirl the corner of a clean cotton cloth in the jar of leather creme. Swirl the conditioner generously over the entire surface of the shoe, focusing on faded or discolored sections.

Step 2

Set the first shoe aside, repeating the process on the next one as the conditioner soaks in.

Step 3

After letting the compound sit for a few minutes, remove any excess leather creme from the shoes with the cloth.

Final Polishing

Step 1

Apply a matching shoe polish over each shoe, paying special attention to any scuffs or deeper discoloration.

Step 2

Work on the second shoe while the polish on the first shoe sets in.

Step 3

Brush both shoes vigorously with the horsehair polishing brush, creating a shine and evening the color.


  • You can also add edge dye to the sides of your soles to restore their hue.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.