There are a few possible reasons why you’d want darker boots. Maybe their color faded over time or maybe you’d just like to change them up a bit. Whatever the reason is, we’ll show you how to darken leather boots in the simplest way available to you.
You can darken your leather shoes in a few different ways. Some of the easiest ways to do it are with polish or dye. You can also use some things that you’re more likely to have in your home already. These methods might not work as well as polish or dye, but they’re a good starting point.
We’ll show you how to use these methods to get the result you’re hoping for. We will also cover some pros and cons of each of these. That way, you can be sure to choose the one that’s right for you. We’ll also give you some tips on how to take care of your shoes.
How to darken leather boots
Whether you want darker shoes, or their color faded over time, it’s good to know how to darken leather boots. While you’re doing it, you should know which method is best and which to use for your shoes. So, let’s see all the options you can choose from.
1. Veggie oils
You’re sure to have some kind of vegetable oil in your house. Veggie oils are great for a lot of things, and you can also use them to darken your shoes. All you need is a clean cloth and some oil. The best one you can use is olive oil, but other oils can work, too.
Just pour a few drops onto the cloth and gently polish your leather boots. You have to make sure not to use too much oil, though. If the leather soaks it up, it could start to smell horrible later on. You can always add a drop more if you can’t cover the whole shoe, but don’t overdo it.
The coat should be very thin. Once you’ve covered both boots, let them rest somewhere safe for 24 hours. After that period has passed, use a clean smooth cloth to polish the shoes again. This will also help remove any excess oil that might linger on the leather.
The biggest pro of using vegetable oils is that they’re cheap and you probably already have them in your home. This method is very simple and easy to do as well. However, it can have downsides, especially if done incorrectly. The oil might smell, develop bacteria or even stain if you use too much of it.
2. Insect-repellent spray
This is another very easy approach how to darken leather boots. You’re very likely to have some insect repellent spray in your house already, especially if you live in warmer areas. Even if you don’t, it’s easy to find and normally isn’t expensive.
All you have to do is spray an even coat over your shoes and wait for them to dry. It’s that easy! The reason why this method works is that the spray contains DEET (diethyltoluamide) which can also be used in leather dyes. So, your shoes will be both insect-free and darker!
The pro is that it’s a very easy method to use and it takes very little time. Insect repellent spray is also very cheap and easy to come by. The con is that it may not work as well as real leather dye or polish. You might need to cover your boots in multiple coats before you reach your desired shade.
3. Tea bags
If you’re a tea lover, then this is probably the easiest method for you. All you have to do is take a few tea bags and let them sit in hot water for anywhere from two to five minutes. Once the tea is done, remove the bags and let them cool off a bit, but not completely.
Then gently rub the entire surface of the leather using those tea bags. Once you’re sure you’ve covered them completely, you can drink your tea while you wait for the boots to dry. After waiting for around 30 minutes, you can wipe the shoes with a clean cloth to remove any excess tea.
The color difference should be visible almost instantly. However, it may not be as vibrant as the one achieved using polish or leather dye. Still, using tea bags is a very cheap and easy way to darken your leather boots. Plus, you get to have a drink along with it!
4. Coffee grounds
If you’re not really a tea kind of person and you prefer coffee, there’s a method for you, too. Next time you make yourself a hot cup, don’t throw out the coffee grounds. Take a wet cloth and rub them until they form a paste.
Then you can use the same cloth to spread the paste evenly over your leather boots. Leave them covered for 30 minutes and once the time is up, get a clean cloth. Wipe off all the grounds and enjoy your new, darker leather boots.
A huge chunk of the human population has coffee in their home. So, this really might be the most available thing to use for darkening your shoes. Of course, it doesn’t work as well as dye or polish. But, considering how cheap and easy it is to use, it’s a good deal.
5. Dirt or mud
It may not be the cleanest way to do it, but it is the most natural method. So, if you want a free and easy solution on how to darken leather boots, go with this one! The first thing you need to do is find some darker soil.
Take a clean wet cloth and rub it into the soil. Once it forms a smooth paste, use it to cover your boots. Try to make the coat as even as possible to prevent any possible stains. Let it dry and sit for a few hours. Once it looks dry, you can wipe it off.
Use a clean cloth for this and once your shoes are completely clean, you can repeat this process. You can add as many coats as you’d like until you get the shade that you want. It might not be the prettiest method, but it is completely free.
6. Vinegar and rust
This is one of the earliest and most old-fashioned ways to darken your shoes. The mixture is usually called vinegar black and sometimes even vinegarroon. Despite being tried and tested, this method isn’t so commonly used nowadays.
This is because it’s very difficult to achieve, mainly because rust is hard to come by. You’ll need iron shavings, uncoated iron nails, or steel wool. So, if you’re hoping to darken your shoes quickly and easily, this isn’t the method for you.
If you do have the time, patience, and most importantly rust, here’s what you need to do. Prepare about half a gallon of vinegar and heat it up, then add the rust. This will form ferric acetate that you should store in a warm and ventilated container.
Let it rest for a week and then filter it out to get rid of the liquid. Before applying the mixture to your boots, make some black tea. Use the tea bag to coat the leather so it can absorb the mixture better. It will also prevent it from cracking.
Once you’ve finished the black tea coat, you can apply the vinegar black. Let it sit for a few hours until it dries. Once it’s completely dry, you’re done! It takes a very long time, but it’s cheap and tested. It’s 100% certain to work.
7. Leather dye
This is the best option for darkening your boots if you want it to last. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s the safest. You should be able to find leather dye in any sort of crafts store. Some are a bit more expensive than others, go for whatever seems to have a higher quality.
Follow the instructions from the packaging and apply the dye to the leather. How much you use will depend on the shade you want to achieve. Let them dry for as long as necessary, which should be written in the instructions.
This method will permanently darken your boots and the dye is pretty resistant. So, you’ll be able to wear them frequently without worrying about the color fading. If you don’t want permanent results, other, more natural methods will be better.
8. Black polish
Similar to leather dye, black polish isn’t the cheapest way to darken your boots. However, it’s very simple and lasts longer than other, natural methods. It doesn’t necessarily need to be black polish, but if you want a darker shade, it works best.
Apply an even coat and let it dry. You might need to cover the leather a few more times to achieve the shade you want. Once they’re dry and you have the color you desired, they’re good to go. The color usually lasts longer than when you use natural materials.
It’s not as cheap as natural methods, but it is easily available. You should be able to find it in almost any shoe store. The color isn’t permanent like the one achieved by using leather dye. But it does last long enough.
9. Synthetic boot mixtures
If you’re willing to put some more money aside for your boots, consider these. Synthetic boot blends were specifically made to darken your leather shoes. They cause no side effects, they’re waterproof, and give a nice shine as well.
Most often they’re made from vegetable or animal oils, waxes, tree sap, resins, or petroleum products. You’ll need a clean cloth to apply the mixture. Put a drop on it and then spread it evenly across your boots. Once you’re sure you covered the leather entirely, let it rest for 10 minutes.
These blends are completely safe for your shoes. They leave no unpleasant odor, and they don’t allow bacteria to develop. They are a bit expensive. But if you want a reliable method to darken your shoes, this is one of the safest ways.
10. Shoe wax or cream
Wax and cream are other examples of shoe products that could help. You can get them in almost all shoe stores. They’re not as cheap as natural methods, but they’re very easy to use. As with the rest of the methods here, you’ll need a clean cloth.
Put some wax or cream on it and spread it evenly across the leather. Let them dry completely before wearing them again. This doesn’t change the shade drastically though. So, if you want a darker shade, you’ll need to repeat the process.
However, if you want a much darker color, you should consider other methods. The natural ones won’t be able to make a drastic change. Shoe products tend to be more expensive, but they can darken your boots a lot more efficiently.
Before darkening your boots
Before you darken your boots with one of the methods we mentioned, you should clean them first. If your shoes are dirty or dusty, whatever you apply won’t stick as well to the leather. So, the first thing you need to do is get a clean cloth or brush and clean them well.
If your shoes have laces, you’ll want to remove them. They’ll block your access to the entirety of the leather, so you won’t be able to clean it properly. Be sure to thoroughly check all parts of the boots. Remove any specks of dried mud, dust, or dirt.
Making the darker shade last
Once you’ve applied your chosen product or mixture, you’d probably like to make it last as long as possible. Especially if you used one of the natural methods since they don’t tend to last very long. Unfortunately, there is no way for natural darkening to be permanent.
However, you can try to make it last longer by waterproofing your boots. This will prevent the shade to get washed out faster than necessary. It gives basic protection at least. The best things to use are waterproof creams and sprays.
If you’re using a cream, just take a bit and apply it to the leather. Spread it out as evenly as possible. Once it’s dried completely, your boots are good to go. As for the spray, it’s even easier, just make sure to spray evenly. Before applying either, the shoes need to be completely dry.
How to take care of leather boots
The reason why the color of your shoes faded might be because you haven’t been taking care of them. All shoes need proper care, but leather boots, even more so. Knowing how to take care of your leather shoes will make them last longer, too.
It’s always in our interest to get the most out of the shoes we bought, regardless of the price. Though we’ll be extra desperate to keep an expensive pair in good shape. So, we need to learn how to take care of them. We’ll show you everything you need to know!
1. Clean them frequently
The first step to taking care of any shoe is to clean it properly and regularly. Any sort of dirt, dust, or grease that stays on the leather for too long can damage it. So, whenever they get dirty, you’ll need to clean them thoroughly.
Even if you don’t wear them to particularly filthy places, they still need regular cleaning. We suggest using a damp cloth and a soft brush if necessary. Just make sure not to use water because it can damage the leather. Storing them properly is important, too.
2. Use conditioner
This step is especially important for thick and hard leather. Conditioner helps it become soft and supple. This will prevent your leather boots from cracking. Plus, they’ll be much more comfortable. You can use whichever leather conditioner is recommended for your boots.
Only apply it once the shoes are completely clean and dry. Make sure to spread it evenly across the entire surface of the leather. If you decide to use a conditioner, you should take the time to do this every month. Allow the shoes to dry completely before wearing them.
3. Polish them
Adding polish to shoes not only adds shine, but also a layer of protection. Once your shoes are clean and dry, you can polish them to add that finishing touch. They’ll look shiny and new, and they’ll be safe from outside influence at least to an extent.
4. Keep them dry or waterproof them
It’s no secret that leather is horrible when it comes to water. It easily gets ruined and cracks. That’s why it’s important to keep it dry or at least waterproof. Though you should keep in mind that even if you waterproof your leather shoes, they won’t be completely safe.
Still, it’s always good to be careful, so be sure to get some waterproofing cream or spray. Once you’ve covered them, try to avoid puddles and heavy rain. Aside from water, you should also look out for other possible dangers.
These include sharp objects, tight spaces, high temperatures, and similar. All of these can damage the leather and shorten the lifespan of your shoes. Always remember that the more effort you put into your boots, the longer they’ll last.
Darker boots to lighten up your day
It might have seemed impossible to darken your shoes, but hopefully, this article helped clear any doubt. Knowing how to darken leather boots is a very easy skill to acquire. It normally doesn’t take too much time and it’s super simple to do.
Not to mention that most of the methods we mentioned are also very cheap. So, you can have your shoes looking good as new without wasting money on a new pair. You can have your dream shade for very little money, time, and effort.
If you wanted something that lasts longer and you were okay with investing more, we have you covered there, too. There are plenty of great shoe products that can completely transform your faded leather boots. So now that you know how to darken leather boots, we just hope we managed to lighten up your day!