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How to Dye Leather

Do you have a leather belt that you’ve had for years that’s seen better days? How about a vintage one-of-a-kind handbag that needs new life? Has your leather couch faded from being well-loved by you and your family and friends? The solution to all of these problems is to dye your leather. You may feel intimidated by this seemingly difficult task, but we can assure you, it’s easier than you think. It all starts with gathering the materials you’ll need.

dyed leather


The following are the things you’ll need to dye your precious leather.

  • Leather dye
  • Rubber gloves
  • Something to apply the dye such as rags or a cloth
  • Leather sealer or finish

rubber gloves


Once you’ve gathered these materials, you’re ready to start.

  1. Gloves

Protect your hands from turning brown, black, or whatever colour dye you’ve purchased by wearing gloves when you complete the job.

  1. Ventilation

Leather dye typically has a strong smell, so we highly recommend ventilating the space you’re in by opening windows and doors. In fact, if you can dye your leather outside, this would be ideal. Make sure you cover all the surfaces in the room so that they do not risk getting dye.

  1. Clean Leather

Wipe down all the surfaces of the leather you are dyeing with a dry rag. Cleaning your leather will ensure any surface blemishes or excess oil are removed, and an even coat of the dye can go on.

  1. Mix Dye

How you mix your dye will depend on how bold and distinct you want your leather to look. Go full strength with no water dilution for an eye-catching pop of colour. You’ll likely need a second coat to cover any blotches.  For a more subtle look, dilute your dye with water and apply several layers until you’re satisfied with the colour. When diluting the dye, make sure you pay attention to the base of the dye. Use water to dilute water-based dyes and, inversely, use oil or alcohol to dilute oil-based dyes.

  1. Protect the hardware

Just like you apply painters tape to outlets and sideboards when painting a wall, you’ll need to put tape on any parts of the item you’re dyeing that’s not leather. This includes hardware like buckles or any other metal pieces.

wiping down leather couch


Now that you’ve gathered the materials, prepared your space and your leather item and mixed the dyes, you’re ready to start dyeing your leather.

  1. Apply Base Coat

The base coat is, of course, the most important one. We encourage you to be very careful when applying this initial layer. Grab your rag and dip it into the dye mix, rub it onto your leather in a circular motion. For this base coat, apply little to no pressure when you first put the rag on the leather. If you put too much pressure on the leather, one spot will be saturated with dye and it will stick out like a sore thumb. Be careful when you’re overlapping your layers and only cover about a half a circle of leather that’s been dyed. Don’t forget about the edges of your leather! Make sure every inch of your leather is covered in dye then allow it to dry before applying another coat.

  1. Second Coat

Once the first coat has thoroughly dried, you’re ready for the second coat. Instead of rubbing the dye in circles, apply this layer in a diagonal motion across the leather. Allow it to dry. If a third coat is needed, apply the dye in a diagonal motion in the opposite direction. This extra layer will ensure that the grain of the leather has been covered, and no part of it will be left un-dyed.

  1. Finish and Buff

Once the final coat of dyed leather is dry, you need to apply a finish to the leather to seal the dye. This is extremely important. If you don’t apply a finish and you wear your dyed belt- you will likely end up with dye on your pants. You’ll only need one coat of finish. You can apply it in a circular motion like the base coat. Once this last step has been completed, leave it to dry, then once it’s dry, give it a quick buff with a cotton cloth for extra shine.

dyed leather

There you have it, the seemingly laborious task of dyeing leather simplified.  If your leather needs some extra tender loving care even after your dye job, contact Love Your Leather. We specialize in not only leather dyeing but also leather repair, leather cleaning and leather restoration. If you want us to dye your leather, get an online quote from us today!

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