How to Darken Leather Boots

Darken Leather Boots

Leather shoes are a major staple in the fashion industry. If you are a true gentleman, you will certainly have a few pairs in your wardrobe. Whether you have got a vintage pair from the 90s or just bought one a few months ago on the high street, all leather boots need the right care to maintain their suppleness and character. However, despite proper maintenance, these shoes eventually start looking worn out, as the natural oils of the leather dry out the surface. They also lose their color and shine.

The good news is that you don’t have to throw away your worn-out shoes. You can simply darken your leather boots to bring them back to their former glory. We’ll guide you on how to darken your leather boots to breathe a new life into them before they end up in the bin.

Use the Right Method

There is a lot of information on the internet relating to darkening of leather boots. You should be very careful reading that info and only use a method after proper research. Reason being, using the wrong method of darkening the leather boots or applying the wrong product can damage your pair.

If you use an incorrect method or apply the wrong product on your leather boots, the leather may fall apart entirely. Your shoes might start hardening, discoloring, creasing, or shrinking. You may start experiencing bad odors caused by fungi.

Steps to Perform Before Darkening Your Leather Boots

A few things you should do before you start darkening your leather boots using any method discussed in this post include:

  • Clean your leather boots with a rag and water. Dirt on your shoes can get trapped into the material if you apply darkener without cleaning your boots. Don’t apply the darkener until your shoes are completely dry.
  • Boot darkening chemicals can damage your carpets or floor, so set up your working area with some newspapers.
  • Wear nitrile gloves to ensure that the darkening products don’t come in contact with your skin. Even though most products are safe, it’s best not to take any risk.

Methods to Darken Leather Boots

1.     Using Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils like canola oil, olive oil, or coconut oil can be used for darkening leather boots. They are quick, convenient, and easy to use. One benefit of using vegetable oil is that they don’t just darken your boots but also refresh the leather, which will help your pair of leather boots last longer.

Using Vegetable Oils
Using Vegetable Oils

Make sure that the vegetable oil you are applying isn’t rancid. If you smell an unpleasant odor, don’t apply the oil because that scent will seep into the leather during the darkening process. Also, note that excess vegetable oil will stain your leather so don’t apply too much of it. Use a small coat of oil and stop applying it when your shoes stop accommodating it. Remove all excess oil before drying.

Pros of Using Vegetable Oils

  • Easy to apply
  • Nourishes the leather, making your shoes last longer
  • Provides a beautiful shine

Cons of Using Vegetable Oils

  • Rancid oil can ruin your boots
  • Residual oil may cause minor odor
  • Doesn’t darken the boots as much as other methods CONS

Things You Will Need

  • Canola oil, coconut oil, or olive oil
  • Rag

Steps to Perform

  • Pour three spoonfuls of oil into a portion of a clean rag
  • Brush the rag on the entire surface of your boots to coat them with oil
  • Gently massage the oil with your hands to work it into the leather
  • If there are any visible drops of oil on the boot, wipe them off with the rag
  • Allow the boots to rest for a day so that the oil can seep in
  • Apply another coat of vegetable oil if required
  • Let the boots rest again for a day and you should notice a change in the color of your boots

2.     Using Animal Oils

Animal oils like mink oil can also be used for restoring the color of leather boots. These oils are also easy to apply and can darken your boots a little bit more than vegetable oils. However, this method is more costly.

Using Animal Oils
Using Animal Oils

Applying animal oil on leather boots will also condition them. Conditioning prevents the leather from losing its natural oils and moisture. One problem that you could experience from the application of animal oil is oversaturation, which can cause the leather to absorb excess oil and stain. Therefore, you should use less oil and only apply another coat when the first one has properly dried.

Pros of Using Animal Oils

  • Will give a darker hue once dried
  • Conditions leather

Cons of Using Animal Oils

  • Drying takes more time
  • Can cause musky odor
  • Can stain leather if applied in excess

Things You Will Need

  • Animal oil like mink oil or neatsfoot oil
  • A heat source

Steps to Perform

  • Since animal oil takes more time to dry, it’s best to set up a heating source to speed up the drying process
  • Grab a small amount of oil with your fingers and coat the leather surface of your boot
  • Keep applying the oil until no more seeps into the surface
  • Place your boats near the heating source to allow them to dry. If you haven’t set up a heating source, leave them in the sun for about 12 hours.
  • Once your boots are dry, apply another coat of oil if the leather hasn’t darkened.
  • Let the boots dry again for several hours until no more oil is left on the surface.

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3.     Using Specialty Boot Care Products

These products are generally made from combining animal oils, waxes, resin, petroleum oils, and vegetable oils. Specialty boot care products are the best choice for darkening leather boots, as they leave a very dark hue and also condition the leather during the darkening process.

Using Specialty Boot Care Products
Using Specialty Boot Care Products

Blends offer nutrition, shine, and even waterproofing for your leather boots. They have natural odors – typically pine or honey – as a result of different blends.

If you want to make your leather boots as dark as possible, then buy a high-quality blend that’ll keep the material of your boots supple. One advantage of using blends is that they are specifically made for leather boots, so they won’t damage them. You can apply as much blend as you want without worrying about any kind of damage to your boots. They are expensive but give the best results.

Pros of Using Specialty Boot Care Products

  • Smell good
  • Provide the best darkening results
  • Prevent rotting
  • Waterproof your boots

Cons of Using Specialty Boot Care Products

  • Expensive
  • A large amount of blend must be applied if you’re after a seriously dark hue

Things You Will Need

  • Specialty boot care blend

Steps to Perform

  • Grab a large amount of blend with your fingers and brush them around the entire leather surface of your boots
  • Gently massage it into the leather at all points
  • Allow the boots to dry for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Apply as many coats as you want to, waiting 10 to 15 minutes between each coat

4.     Using Shoe Polish

Leather boots can also be darkened using shoe polish. This method is simple, effective, and inexpensive. However, you should do it correctly and carefully. A sloppy polishing job won’t give you the kind of results you desire. You should pick a shade that is an exact match to the one on your leather boots.

The polishing method is a good option for boots whose leather has faded. Two coats are generally required for optimal results. It is important to note that waxes in the shoe polish are penetrating, so it will slightly change the color of your shoes on each application. So only use the shoe polish method for darkening your shoes if you are okay with a little darker shade on your leather shoes. Otherwise, choose any other method that we have discussed earlier.

Pros of Using Shoe Polish

  • No unpleasant odor
  • Doesn’t damage the material of your shoes
  • Inexpensive

Cons of Using Shoe Polish

  • The dark color may be permanent

Things You Will Need

  • Shoe polish
  • Polishing cloth
  • Rag

Steps to Perform

  • Put a small amount of shoe polish into a polishing cloth.
  • Work the polish into the entire leather surface of your boot in small circles. You should notice your shoe darkening a bit as you apply the polish. Keep adding more polish until the entire surface is completely coated
  • Use a dry rag to buff the surfaces of your boots. This will help even out the polish and make it seep deeper into the material. Keeping buffing your boot until the surface takes on a uniform layer of polish
  • Allow your boots to dry overnight. If you want your shoes to be even darker, apply another layer of polish and allow your boots to dry again overnight

5.     Using Leather Dyes

There a variety of dyes in the market specifically made for leather boots. Alcohol-based dyes generally stiffen the leather material while water-based ones soften it. You’ll have your choice of specific shading to choose from.

Using Leather Dyes
Using Leather Dyes

Commercial leather dye products usually come with instructions and the more expensive ones also have the equipment you need to apply them – this may include a sponge, spray bottle, paintbrush, and latex gloves. Your workspace should be well-ventilated because chemicals in leather dye products can be harmful if constantly inhaled.

Pros of Using Leather Dyes

  • Can soften or stiffen the leather depending on the type of dye you use
  • Will give you a darker shade

Cons of Using Leather Dyes

  • Complicated process
  • Proper safety precautions must be taken as chemicals in dyes can be harmful

Things You Will Need

  • A complete dye kit (paintbrush, sponge, spray bottle, later gloves, dye)
  • Rag
  • Cloth

Steps to Perform

  • Use the spray bottle to dampen the leather material with a fine mist
  • Apply dye to your boot using a sponge and a paintbrush. The paintbrush will help you apply the product on hard-to-reach areas like seams. Rub the dye in small circles and apply the dye on the entire surface evenly
  • Once you have applied the first coat, leave the shoes to dry for 10 minutes before adding another coat. It’ll take about three to six coats before you get a proper dark shade
  • Now let your boots dry for 24 hours. Use a clean cloth to buff your shoes for that shiny look

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know all these methods of darkening leather boots, you can restore the color and shine of your worn-out boots. You might not have to invest in a new pair if you could bring your old pair of leather boots back to their former glory by darkening them. Each method we have listed above has its pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one you should use.

In case you have any questions about darkening leather boots, feel free to shoot them our away. We will be more than happy to guide you and help you darken your leather boots.