How to Dye Leather Shoes? – A 10 Step Effective Guide

Ever looked at your old leather shoes and wished they had a fresh, new color? Great news!

Dyeing your leather shoes at home can give them a vibrant makeover and make them look brand new.

I’ve been there, staring at my favorite pair of leather shoes that just needed a little color boost. The process seemed daunting, but with the right approach, it turned out beautifully.

In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about dyeing leather shoes at home.

We’ll discuss the best dyes for leather shoes, key factors to consider, how long the process takes, and more. Let’s turn those shoes into something spectacular together!

How to Dye Leather Shoes Infographic

How to Dye Leather Shoes?

Dyeing leather shoes can be a fun and creative way to give them a new look. Here’s a general guide on how to dye leather shoes:

Step Name Description
1. Clean Shoes Thoroughly clean the shoes with a leather cleaner to remove dirt, oil, or residue. Allow them to dry completely.
2. Prepare Dye Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare the leather dye.
3. Apply Dye Apply the dye to the shoes using a brush or sponge, working in small sections for thorough coverage.
4. Dry Between Coats Allow the dye to dry completely between coats, usually 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the dye and leather type.
5. Additional Coats Apply more coats of dye as needed to achieve the desired color intensity.
6. Overnight Drying Let the shoes dry overnight to ensure the dye sets properly.
7. Buff Shoes Use a clean cloth to buff the shoes, removing excess dye and bringing out the shine of the leather.
8. Apply Conditioner Finish with a leather conditioner or protectant to seal in the color and maintain the leather’s quality.
9. Final Dry Allow the shoes to dry completely before wearing them.
10. Touch-Up  Periodically repeat the dyeing process to refresh the color or touch up any faded areas.

Always follow the instructions provided by the dye manufacturer and consider testing the dye on a small, inconspicuous area of the shoe before applying it to ensure compatibility and desired results.

Source: Willetta DeYoung YT Channel

What Is The Best Dye For Leather Shoes?

Choosing the best dye for leather shoes depends on several factors, including the type of leather, the desired color, and the finish you want to achieve.

Here are some popular options:

1. Alcohol-Based Leather Dye

Alcohol-based leather dyes are known for their vibrant colors and fast-drying properties.

They penetrate the leather deeply and provide long-lasting color.

Fiebing’s, Angelus, and Tandy Leather offer alcohol-based leather dyes in a wide range of colors.

2. Oil-Based Leather Dye

Oil-based leather dyes are another popular choice, especially for more intricate dyeing projects or when a deeper penetration into the leather is desired.

They provide rich, even coverage and can be buffed to a high shine.

Tandy Leather and Eco-Flo offer oil-based leather dyes.

3. Water-Based Leather Dye

Water-based leather dyes are a more eco-friendly option compared to alcohol or oil-based dyes.

They offer good coverage and are easier to clean up, but may not penetrate as deeply into the leather.

Eco-Flo and Angelus offer water-based leather dyes.

4. Acrylic Leather Paint

Acrylic leather paint is a versatile option that allows for easy blending of colors and customization.

It provides good coverage and can create various effects, including gradients and textures.

Angelus and Jacquard are premium brands known for their high-quality leather care products.

5. Suede and Nubuck Dye

Suede and nubuck require special dyes formulated specifically for their unique textures.

Brands like Angelus and Tarrago offer suede and nubuck dyes in various colors.

Factors To Consider While Dyeing Leather Shoes

When dyeing leather shoes, there are several factors to consider to ensure a successful outcome. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Leather Type: Different types of leather will react differently to dyes. Full-grain leather, top-grain leather, suede, and nubuck all require different dyeing techniques. Make sure to choose a dye suitable for the leather you are working with.
  2. Preparation: Properly preparing the leather is crucial for successful dyeing. Clean the shoes thoroughly to remove any dirt, oils, or previous finishes that may hinder the dye absorption.
  3. Color Choice: Select a dye color that complements the shoes and matches the desired outcome. Keep in mind that the color may appear slightly different on leather than on the dye container, so test a small, inconspicuous area first.
  4. Applicator: Choose the right applicant for the job. You can use a sponge, brush, or airbrush to apply the dye, depending on the texture and size of the leather surface.
  5. Drying Time: Allow the shoes to dry completely between dye coats. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and avoid rushing the process to prevent smudging or uneven coloring.
  6. Finishing: Once the dye has dried completely, consider applying a finisher or sealer to protect the color and give the shoes a polished look. Matte, satin, or glossy finishes are available depending on the desired final appearance.
  7. Durability: Consider using a dye specifically formulated for leather and designed to be long-lasting. This will help ensure that the color remains vibrant and does not fade or peel easily.
  8. Ventilation: Dyeing shoes can produce strong fumes, so work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful chemicals. Consider wearing a mask for added protection.
  9. Patience: Take your time with the dyeing process and allow each step to fully dry before moving on to the next. Rushing the process can lead to unsatisfactory results.

How Long Does It Take To Dye Leather Shoes?

Dyeing leather shoes can be a time-consuming process that requires attention to detail and patience.

The total time it takes to dye leather shoes can vary depending on factors such as the type of dye used, the color intensity desired, and the material of the shoes.

Here is a general overview of the time involved in dyeing leather shoes:

  • Preparation (15-30 minutes)
  • Dye Application (30 minutes – 1 hour)
  • Drying Time (2-3 hours)
  • Buffing and Polishing (15-30 minutes)
  • Final Touches (5-10 minutes)

Source: Evumies YT Channel


Dyeing leather shoes is a fun and rewarding way to breathe new life into your footwear collection and express your style.

With the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently dye your leather shoes at home like a pro and transform them into statement pieces that reflect your creativity and personality.

So, grab your dye and brushes, and get ready to unleash your inner artist as you embark on this exciting journey to revamp your leather shoes!

Resources Consulted

James Chiles

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