The Best Method to Dye Leather Shoes

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You can purchase leather dye from most craft stores.
You can purchase leather dye from most craft stores. (Image: Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Leather shoes work with almost any outfit and form to your feet over time, becoming more comfortable with wear. However, if you own a pair of leather shoes in a color that you dislike, the comfort of wearing them can be outweighed by their appearance. Rather than discarding your leather shoes, change their color to something you find more appealing so you can get some use out of them. To dye leather shoes, you will need a few supplies and a couple hours of spare time.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Leather soap
  • Masking tape
  • Spray bottle
  • Leather dye
  • Paintbrush
  • Leather finish spray

Wash the leather shoes with a soft cloth and leather soap to remove any dust or dirt from their surface. Dust and dirt will interfere with the dyeing process and result in a splotchy, unprofessional outcome. Allow the shoes to air dry for 1 hour.

Cover the shoe’s soles with masking tape to prevent them from getting dye on their surface. Cover any area on the shoe you do not want dyed with the masking tape. If you would like to dye the sole along with the leather, skip this step.

Spray the surface of one leather shoe with warm water. Set the shoe on a flat working surface.

Dip a paintbrush, or the sponge brush that came with the bottle, into the leather dye. Paint the dye onto the shoe’s surface in even, smooth strokes. Continue painting until the leather’s entire surface is covered. Repeat with the other shoe and allow them to dry for 4 hours.

Repeat the painting process if the shoes are not as dark as you desire. Otherwise, remove the masking tape and wash the shoe once more with a soft cloth and leather soap. This removes excess dye from the leather’s surface.

Coat the shoes in an even layer of leather finish spray to seal in the dye and keep them looking well-kempt. Allow the spray to dry for 12 hours.

Wear the shoes frequently for the first two days following the dyeing process. This prevents the leather from hardening and keeps the shoes comfortable to wear.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dyes often look much darker on the leather than they do in the bottle. If you are unsure of how the dye will look, test it on a hidden area of the leather before dyeing the entire shoe.
  • Shake the dye before opening the bottle to ensure the color is even.

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References

  • "Leatherworking Handbook: A Practical Illustrated Sourcebook of Techniques and Projects"; Valerie Michael; 2006
  • "Complete Leatherwork: Easy Techniques and Over 20 Great Projects"; Katherine Pogson; 2009
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