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How to Darken Leather Boots: 3 Proven Ways

How to Darken Leather Boots
Written by Benedikt Meyers
Last Update: August 23, 2023

The process of darkening leather boots can be tricky but it doesn’t need to be a hassle. You may want to darken your leather boots as their gorgeous color is fading away with time and is piled up with dust and dirt. Perhaps your new leather boots are lighter than the shade you looked for. Or simply you just want to experiment with shades and pigments on your leather boots.

There are many techniques and tons of leather darkening products that can be confusing. We have curated 3 easy ways to darken leather boots that won’t fail you. But you should keep in mind that leather boots can be damaged if you do not handle them with proper caution.

How to Darken Leather Boots – 3 Methods That Really Work!

How to Darken Leather Boots

Prep work: Preparing the leather

Before you dive in with shades and pigments, first you need to prep your leather boots. Why? Because all the dirt on your leather will end up ruining your darkening process. You will not like the uneven color shades on your beautiful leather boots.

So it is mandatory to start by preparing and cleaning your leather boots.

Things you’ll need

  • Bristle brush or toothbrush
  • Mild dish soap or leather shampoo
  • Damp cloths or microfiber cloths


  • First, untie your bootlace and brush your boots with a bristle brush to remove all dirt, dust, or To clean down the welt line area, use a small brush or toothbrush to make sure you get all the nooks and corners.
  • Wipe it with a clean cloth to remove any existing dust. The goal is to get all kinds of grime and scuff off your leather boots.
  • Next, damp a rag in mild dish soap solution. Wipe the boots with the cloth to clean the leather surface.
  • Rinse the foam with water. You should not soak your leather boots in water.
  • You can use leather shampoo to clean your leather boots as well.
  • Now pat dry your leather boots with a cloth. Air dry them for 10 to 15 minutes. You have to avoid drying them in the sun as it will dry up all the moisture and shred the leather.

Method 1: Use oil to darken leather boots

You can use oils to darken up and moisture your leather boots. If you are not confident about using dye on your own then oiling is the safest way to darken your leather one to two shades. Both vegetable and animal oils are used to darken leather boots. We prefer mink and neatsfoot over olive oil or other vegetable oils. Some may even leave an odor of the oil on your leather.

Things you’ll need:

  • Oil (mink, neatsfoot, or coconut oil)
  • A piece of cloth or rag


  • Pour 1 tablespoon of mink oil or neatsfoot oil onto a smooth piece of cloth or microfiber cloth. Rub the oil on the leather surface with the cloth.
  • Make sure to rub and spread in an even layer so it does not create uneven pigmentation.
  • Let the leather soak the oil overnight. It will remove any discoloration, scar, or spots of your leather.
  • Neatsfoot oil and mink oil has conditioning properties that will also make your leather long-lasting. Apply 3 or 4 coats of oil following the same procedure to get darker shades.

Method 2: Dye your leather boots for darker shade

Dyeing leather boots is another easy and effective way as it takes less time and has a little side effect on leathers. But you have to be more careful with dyes. There is a variety of dyeing kits for different types of leathers. We recommend you read the manual that comes with the kits before applying them to your leather boots.

Things you’ll need-

  • Leather dye
  • Applicator- cloth, paintbrush, or sponge


  • Choose a darker color than your leather boots color.
  • Now take some leather dye on your applicator. You can use a cloth, paintbrush, sponge to apply your dye.
  • With the applicator apply an even coat of dye on your boots. Make sure there are no clumps or excessive amounts of dye in one place.
  • If your boots have stitches of different color threads and you want to keep them as it is, then avoid putting dye on them. Putting dye on the stitches will change the color of the threads as well. So work around the stitches.
  • Smooth out the dye with the applicator and let it dry for 24hr.
  • You can go for 2 to 3 coats to get desired dark shade.

Method 3: Leather polish to darken leather

You can achieve a darker shade by polishing your leather boots with cream polish. It brings back the moisture of the leather and pours back life in old leather boots. But some products can semi-permanently darken your leather boots and choose 2 to 3 shades darker than the color of your pair.

Things you’ll need-

  • Black or brown polish
  • Applicator- cloth, brush, or sponge
  • Buffing brush or horse-hair brush


  • Clean your leather boots and brush to even out any scuff.
  • Take a little amount of cream polish in your applicator and rub it in a small circular or swirling motion. Work the polish into the leather pores till it starts to darken.
  • After coating the leather surface with polish, leave it to dry overnight. Two coats of cream polish can give you a good result.
  • Get a bristle brush or horse-hair brush and buff the excess polish off the leather. It will help to get a shiny finish result.
  • While using dye or polish, you have to build up the pigmentation. You should not over-layer the product to get a quick result.
  • Some DIY darkening techniques can actually ruin your leather. We recommend using dye or polish over oiling as using too much oil can cause bacteria or fungus on leather.
  • However, your leather boots will naturally darken over time as you wear them.


1. Does coconut oil darken leather?

Ans. Yes. Vegetable oils like olive oil, coconut oil can darken your leather boots to some extent. Moreover, coconut oil has moisturizing properties that will keep your leather moist.

2. Does conditioning leather make it darker?

Ans. Leather conditioners can make your leather darker. They might not have a dramatic shade change. But they will tan your leather.

3. How to darken leather naturally?

Ans. The easiest and natural way to darken your leather is to wear them. They naturally darken when you use them and walk in them. You can use natural oils like mink oil, neatsfoot oil, or vegetable oils to darken your leather.

4. Can I stain leather boots darker?

Ans. Yes. You can stain leather boots with dyes. But completely changing the color of your pair is tricky. Some leather dyes can stain your boots permanently. You can also use mink oil to stain your boots.

About the author

Benedikt Meyers

Benedikt Meyers is an accomplished executive with significant experience in global sales and marketing, product development, and supply chain for the apparel and footwear industries. He’s a skilled relationship builder who has lived in Asia for 10 years and visited the world to develop key alliances with industry partners in order to meet production and supply demands in ever-evolving markets.

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