How to Redye a Shoe

by Chance Henson
Breathe new life into faded shoes with an at-home dye solution.

Breathe new life into faded shoes with an at-home dye solution.

When your favorite shoes are too faded and old to wear in public, but still luxuriously comfortable, it seems a shame to throw them out. Unable to part with your precious footwear, it's tempting to throw the beloved shoes in the back of the closet to gather dust for another year. However, you can revitalize your old shoes for a fresh look or even a new, eye-catching color with rejuvenating do-it-yourself dye treatments.

Fabric Shoe Dip Method

Wear plastic gloves and line the work area with newspaper or plastic covering to prevent spills.

Fill your sink with 3 gallons of hot water. In plastic bucket, mix half a package of powder dye or half a bottle of liquid dye with 2 cups hot water. Stir until the dye is thoroughly mixed and add it to the sink filled with water.

Remove laces from fabric or canvas shoes and cover the rubber soles with masking tape. Fill the second bucket with enough clean, hot water to cover shoes completely and soak the shoes until wet. Transfer the shoes to the dye solution in the sink. Stir the solution constantly for 10 to 30 minutes.

Remove shoes from the dye solution and rinse with warm water. Steadily lower the water temperature until it is cool and the dye no longer bleeds from the shoes.

Remove tape from the rubber soles and wash the shoes with warm water and a mild laundry detergent. Rinse with cool water. Allow the shoes to air dry in a clean, dry space or dry in an electric dryer on low.

Clean your workspace. Wash sink, bucket, counter tops and stirring utensils with chlorine bleach.

Leather Shoe Sponge Method

Put on plastic gloves before you begin preparations. Thoroughly clean your leather shoes with shoe cleaner and a cotton washcloth to remove dirt, scuffs and polish residue.

Cover your workspace with newspaper or plastic to protect against spills. Remove laces from shoes and cover the rubber soles with masking tape.

Open your container of leather dye and stir with a plastic spoon or disposable stirring utensil until thoroughly mixed. Dip sponge brush into dye and carefully apply an even coating to the shoes. Press the sponge to the surface softly to avoid streaks and runs.

Allow the dye to rest for 30 minutes to an hour, or until it is dry. Apply a second layer of dye to the shoes to ensure even coloration. Allow shoes to air dry in a cool, dry space overnight.

Items you will need

  • Plastic gloves
  • Newspaper or plastic liner
  • Masking tape
  • Hot water
  • Sink
  • 2 buckets
  • Liquid or powder fabric dye
  • Stirring utensil
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Shoe cleaner
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Liquid leather shoe dye
  • Disposable spoon
  • Sponge brush


  • Always read the care instructions for shoes before attempting a dye treatment.
  • Always exercise caution when using hot water.
  • Only use dip method dyeing on shoes that are washable.

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

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images