How To Darken Leather Using Different Tips

boot - How to darken leather

You all might have owned a few leather products at some point in your life, or you still do. But did you observe it closely?

If you did, you would notice that the color of leather keeps fading as time passes. This is because most of the leathers are dyed, and the look of dyed leather tends to alter with time. Besides, certain climatic parameters accelerate the process.

If you didn’t know, let me tell you that dyed leathers are pH sensitive, and these parameters affect the pH level in leather that ultimately results in fading. 

If your items are made of high-quality grain leather, there’s always a chance of restoring it to its original color. How? You will know in this article we will tell you how to darken leather. So keep reading! Also make sure to condition leather shoes regularly. 


When leather fades, it looks lifeless, and to bring freshness to it, and you need to use some kind of polishing. You can do that by darkening your leather item. But, you should not dive straight into the darkening process.

First, you need to do some preparations before going ahead with the darkening method. Clean your leather item thoroughly before giving it a new polish. You will need the following things for cleaning;

  • You would need a bristle brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mild soap
  • Leather cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth

Step 1: Dust off the leather with a vacuum or brush

This method is important because there are so many tiny particles on your leather fabric that need to be removed before cleaning or darkening. You do not want that small debris to scratch off your premium leather, so do this step first. 

Step 2: Cleaning

For cleaning, you will need a soft cloth, mild soap, and tap water. Damp the cloth with the mixture of soap and water, then wash every corner of the leather surface in a circular motion.

Agitate the rag until it starts foaming. Once the foam is nicely formed, remove excess water from the cloth. Make sure the cloth is not wet; it should be damp. 

Step 3: Wiping

Now that your cloth is damp, you can wipe down the leather surface. Maintain a gentle circular motion while cleaning. Also, do not forget the hidden corners; cover the surface entirely.

Wiping is very important as this will remove excess grease that has been building up in your leather for a long time. Once you are done with the cleaning, wait for some time till the fabric air dries completely.

Note: Keep the leather away from direct sunlight as it can extremely dry the fabric and cause cracks.

Once it’s completely dry, you can go ahead with the next step, i.e., Darkening.

Best ways to darken leather

1. Using oil

mink oil - How to darken leather

This sounds easy. But, you cannot use any regular oil. There are some specialized oils such as Mink oil, coconut oil, neatsfoot oil that moisturize, protect, and darken your leather.

If you specifically have suede leather items such as sofa, recliner, etc., I recommend using neatsfoot oil, but if not, you can use darken leather with coconut oil.

Materials needed:

  1. 2 Microfiber cloths
  2. Coconut oil or Mink oil or Neatsfoot oil

How to dark leather using oil:

  • Pour a teaspoon of leather darkening oil onto the cloth.
  • Take a very tiny amount for each part so that you do not over-saturate the leather.
  • Begin rubbing the oil over the leather fabric in a back and forth uniform motion.
  • After the first layer of the surface is covered completely, let the leather sit overnight.
  • If you are not satisfied with the color, apply a second layer of oil and let it rest again for a day.
  • Continue the process until you get your desired hue.

2. Using coffee powder

coffee powder - How to darken leather

This is the easiest method of all as coffee is a very common household item that can naturally make your leather 2 or 3 shades darker.

In addition, coffee is a chemical-free item, so you can be relaxed about its usage on your leather. You can use any brewed coffee no matter if it’s cheap or expensive, as the results will be the same. So, I recommend you use regular brewed coffee. 

Materials needed:

Brewed coffee, filtered water, sponge, cloth 


  • Brew your coffee. Make sure it’s very dark. Keep the proportion of water more at this point in time. Light on the vessel and let the coffee boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the vessel from the stove and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Now take a sponge or a cloth. Dip the cloth in the coffee mixture and apply the layer once at a time.
  • Don’t overdo it over the same surface. Once you apply, let it dry, and again apply the second layer until you get your perfect shade.
  • Let the leather dry for about 12-20 hours.
  • The next day you will observe a distinct change in the color.

3. Using walnut hulls

using wallnut hulls

Black walnuts are perfect for darkening leather. Walnut hulls come in the form of powder, granules, etc. You can use them as per your choice or availability.

This is another great method of darkening your leather because it’s a natural ingredient, so it will be harmless and effective too. 

Materials needed:

Gloves, walnut hulls, water, container, strainer, sponge, cloth.

Steps to darken leather boots using walnut hulls:

  • Firstly, put on the gloves as the stain will be strong and permanent.
  • Pour the mixture of walnut hulls into the container.
  • Pour water into the container.
  • Rest the mixture for about 1-2 weeks. The longer it rests, the better and darker the color will be.
  • Strain the walnut hulls mixture using a strainer. And dry the hull particles for later use.
  • Now, you can apply the mixture in two days. You can either keep the leather soaked in the mixture if the item is small, or you can apply it by rubbing manually.
  • In either case, the results would be the same.
  • Let it dry for an entire day and see the results. If you are satisfied with the color, wipe off the surface once with a damp cloth.

4. Using leather dressing

beeswax - How to darken leather

You might not have heard about this method, but in my opinion, this is one of the best and effective ways of darkening leather. This method involves a mixture of beeswax and Neatsfoot oil. 

Materials needed:

2 Clean cloths, Neatsfoot oil, beeswax


  • Melt beeswax and Neatsfoot oil in a container. Stir it in between so that the mixture does not burn.
  • Cool until it becomes a paste.
  • Take a clean rag, rub the mixture on the leather surface.
  • Let the coating dry for an hour.
  • Once it is dried, buff the leather surface with a clean cloth.

5. Using Polish

using polish

This method can be used mostly for leather bags, boots, and shoes and proves to be effective if you want to know how to darken leather boots.

The shoe polish has wax in it that penetrates deep into the layers of leather. The more application you do, the darker the color will be. 

Materials needed:

Brush applicator, soft dry rag, neutral black shoe polish.


  • Take a little amount of shoe polish wax on the cloth.
  • Start rubbing the polish all over the leather surface.
  • Apply 2 coats for a dark color.
  • Remove excess polish from the surface.
  • Let the shoes or boots dry overnight.


  • Never start darkening without cleaning. First, clean the surface properly only then begin dying.
  • Never keep the newly darkened leather in direct sun.
  • Never use olive oil and baby oil on leather fabric.


1. Can I darken leather with olive oil?

You can. But it will not be as effective as neatsfoot oil. I would not recommend olive oil for leather boots, leather sofas, or other delicates.

2. Can I put oil in new boots?  

Oiling your new boots is not bad, but it’s unnecessary because your new boots already have enough oil in them. But, if you wish to keep them shining, you can apply oil once or twice a week to maintain and color leather boots.

3. Does boot oil darken leather?

Yes, it does. If you apply good quality boot oil, you will get a perfect dark hue in a single application.

4. Does mink oil darken leather?  

Yes, mink oil darken leather because it contains essential fats needed to nourish and keep the leather flexible for a longer time.


I hope the ways I shared with you were helpful and relevant. These methods are effective DIY methods that you can do at home, and you don’t have to buy expensive leather conditioners and oils. 

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