October 16, 2013

How To Dye Your Leather Boots

OMG. Did you know that you can dye your own leather boots yourself? As a leather lover (and a DIY lover), you would think that little detail would be something I was already familiar with, but I had no idea that it was possible until a friend of mine mentioned it to me recently. The idea would have interested me anyways, but I was especially excited because I’d been complaining about not being able to find a black version of some weathered brown boots that I’ve had for a few years. Leather dye? Problem solved.

Here’s what my brown boots looked like before the transformation. I bought them years ago and they have definitely been worn quite a bit since then.

For this DIY you’ll need: Leather deglazer, leather dye, leather sheen finish, wool daubers, and cotton rags.

NOTE: This dye process is for tanned leather only, but they do make a dye for suede that I haven’t tried yet, so that is definitely a possibility too…

1.) Most leathers have a finish that needs to be removed before the dye is able to penetrate the surface of the leather. Use a cotton rag and rub the deglazer all over surface of your boot (I would do this step outdoors if possible, the fumes are really strong).

2.) While the deglazer is still damp, pour your dye into a small disposable container and dip your wool dauber into the dye. FYI, I would use rubber gloves during the dying process if you want to keep your hands in tact. Use the dye and wool dauber to completely cover your boot in the dye (I used a small paintbrush to paint the dye where the sole and heel meet the leather) and let dry for 30 minutes. Add a second coat of dye if needed and wait another 30 minutes before lightly rubbing off any excess dye with a cotton rag (just wipe gently, don’t scrub the leather).

3.) Once your dye is dry, don’t worry if your boots are looking rather dull and splotchy- that’s what this last step is supposed to correct! Pour some leather sheen onto a rag and buff the leather in small circles all over your boot surface. This should bring out the sheen and richness of the new color. That’s it- you’re done!

I can’t tell you how happy I am with the final product. I was really just hoping that the boots would be good enough to wear until I could find a better (and newer) pair of black boots, but they turned out so well and look so revitalized that there’s no need to look any further for a replacement. Not that I won’t buy any more black boots this fall in other boot categories (you know, like booties, ankle boots, flat knee-highs, over the knee, some with more studs, some with less studs..).

Black boots are to my closet as pizza is to my mouth- you can never fit enough in there. Now that I think about it, I do have a pair of suede camel colored boots that may be in store for a makeover as well…

xo. Laura

40 thoughts on “How To Dye Your Leather Boots

  1. Rosie W

    Amazing transformation! I work for a big handbag manufacturer in the UK so I see all the different leathers we get in and how easily they can be coloured – so pretty!

  2. Gigi @MyFabFitForties

    I would have never thought of dying boots myself! I’m trying not to think of all the great boots I got rid of because they were just looking tired. Thanks so much for this post – your boots look like they’re brand new – they turned out great! I’m definitely giving this a whirl!!

  3. Andi

    Wow they turned out amazing. I love giving new life to old pieces! Two quick questions: Does the dye rub off/transfer onto fabric (I had a pair of boots once that ruined my light colored denim)? How much did you spend on supplies? Thanks!! 🙂

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      Hi Andi! I’ve only worn them with dark jeans or a short dress, but it hasn’t rubbed off on my skin at all, and nothing comes off when I rub my fingers really had on the leather, so you should be ok with light jeans. I might not wear them in the rain with light jeans just to be safe though. Just follow the product links to see the total cost 🙂

  4. Ana Riley

    I really think it is a very bright idea. Thank you for the possibilidads. I have a question, do you think will be possible to day a hand bag too.?The problem is a very intricaded
    like a basket

  5. Taylor

    Hi! I came across a pair of awesome boots that I love, but the color isn’t right. They’re from a resale shop and unavailable for sale elsewhere. Thing is, they have metal bits on them and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do the process you outlined above with them (you can view them if you Google ‘Pamela Love Nine West boots.’ They are the red color and I’d love them to be black.)

    Did you have any issue with the metal ring on your boots getting tarnished when you dyed them? Thank you!!

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      I didn’t have any issues with the metal ring, but I did wipe off any excess from the ring pretty quickly. If they were just a cheap buy, I would certainly give it a try!

      Good luck!

  6. Michele

    I have white cowboy boots I would like to dye brown. what do you recommend. They are just going to waste and would love to wear them

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      I would just do the same thing I showed in this post but with a brown version of the dye. Good luck, hope it turns out!

      Laura 🙂

  7. Kelly-Anne

    I wanted a burgundy leather bag, I found the perfect one in a tan, I stripped and dyed it and have been very happy with the results. I did it about 5 years ago and some wear on the corners etc shows the tan through but this just gives it a vintage look- I like it even more. I’ve dyes belts for my BF before and also bought natural leather belting and made my own belts- denim blue, grass green, silver, gold etc. Actually very easy to do. I buy all my stuff from Tandy Leather (I am in Australia but they are a US company). Am about to embark on dying mid brown cowboy boots to a gold colour, I am aiming for an uneven texture colour (so dab not wipe colour on) to make them look more worn and vintage. I keep an eye on eBay for cheap but good leather boots.

  8. mike moldovan

    I am very glad to know that when I decide to buy boots I might just start out with white and then buy the three step dye job I learned about on your website. Dam Good news for Salt Lake City, Utah boot fans!

  9. Shesher

    Hi, I have a pair of dark brown boots, do you think it would be possible if I would dye it into a lighter brown color?? Thankyou in advance

  10. Eileen

    Thanks for this how-to! I just dyed one of my brown leather jackets black, and love it! I skipped the leather deglazer though (out of laziness), and it worked just fine 🙂


  11. jennifer

    I found this very interesting, thanks for the info, but where did you purchase your products to do the dying process, and how much did everything cost? I could just order my shoes in black, but if dying them is cheaper I would consider it. thanks for your reply

  12. melanie

    OMG I am so happy to have found your post! I’m about to buy the supplies. Question — 1 dauber comes with the dye in the package I’m buying. Is it necessary to buy more or should 1 do the trick? (I’m dyeing a pair of riding-style boots)


    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      I would definitely get more than one! Buy a pack of ten or so just in case 🙂


  13. JoDee

    Hey, just wanted to let you know I dyed a pair of vintage cowboy boots and I also dyed the edge of the sole and the heels black and they look really great! I wanted the entire boot black.

  14. Elly

    Your boots look great! I have a question: Can dyed boots get wet, or will the dye leak? I’m thinking of dying cowboy boots black for my husband to wear in a wedding (he is the best man). It’s an outdoor winter wedding, and I can just imagine him standing in a black puddle at the front of the ceremony!

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      They should be able to get wet if you waterproof them with a waterproofing spray, those are pretty easy to find in the shoe care aisles 🙂


  15. Luis

    I’m looking to dye my boots to a sort of vintage brown. My boots are already brown, but I’m looking for a dark chocolate brown

  16. Melodye Buskin

    My brown boot situation the same. Looking online to buy a black pair. Way too expensive. Your solution looks great and cheaper than forking out a fortune for another pair in black.
    I’m gonna try your solution. Thanks! I’ll post my results here.
    May I suggest adding where one can find the items/products you used to dye your boots.

  17. Shelly

    Wondering if you have any advice…I dyed light tan leather boots to a medium brown, and there are spots on the top of the foot where the leather has taken on a metallic sheen. I haven’t conditioned them yet, only the dying step (using same products as in picture). Any advice? Wondering if I should “deglaze” that spot and try again?

  18. Elysia

    Now that they are black, how to they look when they are scratched or scuffed? Does it show previous brown color underneath? Also can you still use leather cleaner on them? Thanks!

  19. Sam

    Hi there..i know this is an old thread but hoping i can get a few answers: 1) was a 4ounce bottle each of the dye and deglazer enough for a pair of tall boots?
    2) Is it an oil dye you used? I could not tell from the picture.

    Thank you very much for the info….this is such a great DIY project for a fave pair of boots i have that are brown and I’d love them to be black (without paying a small fortune to a shoe repair place!)

    Sam A.

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      Hi Sam,
      I don’t know if it’s an oil dye or not but the bottles I linked were enough to do the tall boots I did. Hope yours turn out well!

      Laura 🙂

  20. Jessica

    I got a little ahead of myself and started dying with some wet spots still on the boots. I dyed them tan and the wet spots turned super dark and won’t go away now. Any advice?
    Thank you!

  21. Brandon

    In an earlier comment you said the 4oz bottles were enough to do the tall boots. Did you have any left over? I have 22 pairs ankle high boots that I wanted to do. Do you think one of each of the bottles will do the trick? Yours came out great. Thanks for the inspiration.

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