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Can You Dye Leather Shoes a Different Color?

Leather shoes are durable, comfortable and can make a fantastic fashion statement. However, what happens if you are bored of the appearance? Throwing footwear away is a waste of money, which is why many people wonder if it is possible to transform the appearance of their shoes.

This guide gives you everything you need to know about dyeing your shoes a new colour, as they are not PU leather.

Is it possible to dye leather shoes another colour?

Yes, you can dye leather shoes another colour, but as with most things, there are a few caveats to consider.

Dyeing very light shoes to a dark shoe is easy

When dyeing leather, you can only dye it a darker colour, which is the case with leather shoes. It isn’t possible to dye a pair of black leather shoes into a pair of white shoes.

Work in very thin layers

A good comparison is that dyeing leather shoes is like wrapping a layer or coloured cellophane around the original shoe. It will get darker with each new layer.

Can you spray paint leather shoes another color?

Yes, spray painting is an option when changing the color of leather shoes. Leather dye is often used as a catch-all term for coloring shoes, and in addition to dye and spray paint, you can use leather paint, leather paste and even shoe polish to change your footwear’s appearance.

Can you temporarily dye leather shoes a different color?

Yes, if you are looking to make a temporary change to the color of your shoes, you can do so. If you are heading to a party or special event and want to coordinate your outfit, this allows you to create a stunning spectacle.

Shoe polishing in thin coats changes leather surface properties

Also, if you are undecided about permanently changing the color of your shoes, applying a temporary change will enable you to see what it looks like. If you eventually don’t like the change, you haven’t ruined a pair of leather shoes.

To temporarily dye your leather footwear, apply shoe polish.

Is it easy to dye leather footwear?

The easiness of the dyeing process depends on many factors, with the initial leather color influencing the amount of work you need to do.

The dyeing process should be simple and straightforward if the initial leather is a light color. However, if the initial leather is dark, it will likely take several coats to achieve the finish look you desire.

Always test a dyed surface with a thin layer

As with most jobs, it is best to test the dyeing process in a hidden area or on a spare piece of leather. If any problems arise, you don’t automatically ruin a good pair of leather shoes.

Can you dye leather boots?

Yes, you can dye leather boots, but there are the same limitations with dyed leather boots as any other dyed shoes.

It doesn’t matter what leather item you dye, be it clothing, leather furniture, accessories or anything else; you cannot dye it a lighter color.

Does leather dye work on all leather shoe types?

There are different types of leather, and some are more receptive to the dyeing process than others. If you have a leather shoe made of natural materials, it is far more likely to take the color in. This means you can change the color of full-grain and top-grain leather shoes.

Smooth leather shoes take a color better than textured or rough leather footwear

While it is also possible to change the coloring of shoes made from synthetic materials or footwear with a textured finish, it is often more challenging.

Can I use suede dye when dyeing leather shoes?

If you have previously dyed suede shoes and have leftover dye or paint, it is natural to question if the same materials and processes apply to dyeing leather shoes.

The two tasks aren’t quite the same.

Suede is made from the underside of the hide and has a unique texture and finish. Because of the porous nature of suede, it is more difficult to dye and requires a particular type of dye that can penetrate the material.

Additionally, suede is more delicate than leather, which means the dyeing substance isn’t suitable for more durable materials like leather.

If you have leather dye, do not use this to dye suede shoes; invest in dye or paint formulated with that process in mind.

Where should you dye leather shoes?

You can dye leather shoes anywhere, but remember that dyeing leather is often messy. This means you should carry out the dyeing process in a garage or outside.

You don’t want to dye leather shoes in a kitchen or living room where dye can ruin precious items or cause problems at home.

Add a soft cloth or two to your workflow with leather paint and dyed shoes

Even when you cover up surrounding areas, there is a chance of dye spilling or making a mess, so it is best to dye leather in a safe, clear and non-descript area. A soft cloth will be a useful addition to the dyeing process.

Also, it is best to dye in a well-ventilated space. This means going outside or opening as many windows and doors as possible if you dye in an enclosed space.

Dyed shoes look great but be careful with the dyeing process

Leather dye fumes can be dangerous if inhaled in large quantities. The fumes can contain toxic chemicals, such as solvents and heavy metals, that can cause various health problems, including respiratory issues, headaches, and nausea.

Prolonged exposure to leather dye fumes can lead to more severe health problems. It’s essential to use leather dyes in a well-ventilated area and to take appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing a mask or respirator, to minimize exposure to the fumes.

With natural smooth leather, you’ll find multiple coats applied in thin layers to give your shoes a new lease of life. While you cannot dye footwear a lighter color, you can dye darker and love the new look of your shoes.


Jeff Campbell