Want Darker Shoes! Learn How to Darken Leather Boots

Want Darker Shoes Learn How to Darken Leather Boots

So you’ve got a pair of shiny new leather boots. They fit well, look and feel great. The problem is the color is too light for your taste. If you want to learn darkening leather boots, this guide will help. As we’re going to show, there are a lot of ways to do this, and they’re easy.

Materials You Will Need

  • Coconut Oil
  • Leather boots oil
  • Leather dye
  • Rusty nails
  • Vinegar
  • Teabags
  • Mink oil
  • Olive oil

Let’s take a look at how each method works.

Use Leather Oil

The easiest way to darken leather boots is to oil it, which is something you should be doing anyway. Remove the laces and apply oil all around the boots. You will notice the oil darkening the surface no matter what its color is.

Once the boots have reached the darkened state you prefer, stop oiling. Wipe the excess oil. Polish the boots to lock the oil in. Let your boots dry overnight. Now your boots will look darker and feel softer too.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is good for your skin, and it’s also good for leather boots too. Pour coconut oil in a bowl and dip a dry cloth in it. Wipe your boots with the cloth in a circular manner. Do this twice a day for three days, and you’re going to see the difference.

Rusty Nails and Vinegar

Get a 4 liter container and fill it halfway through with vinegar (that’s about 2 liters). Get a sachet and put 50 rusty nails in it. Put the sachet in the vinegar solution and leave it there for a week.

After a week, dip a piece of cloth in the vinegar and rub it all over your boots. The leather will turn dark. Apply three to four vinegar coatings and leave it there for a few minutes. Wash and rub the boots and clean it as you normally would. Leave the boots outside under the sun.

The longer the boots are left outside, the darker the leather will be. But don’t leave the boots out there too long because it could dry the leather.


Tea isn’t just good for your health but also your leather boots. Boil about 25 bags of teabags for two hours in a gallon of water. Leave your leather boots there for 36 hours. Remove the boots and let it dry. Condition the boots afterwards.

Mink Oil

Mink oil is one of the most widely used oils for leather boots, and they’re great for darkening. Use a cloth to rub mink oil in your boots. The leather darkens and also protects it from mold, mildew and salt.

Mink oil also waterproofs leather, and it won’t cause any cracks or tears. Mink oil also eliminates the need for additional conditioning.

Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioners are also effective as far as darkening leather is concerned. Always test on an inconspicuous area first. Some boots don’t handle conditioners well, and the color may darken too much.

To avoid problems, apply a bit of the conditioner on a discreet spot. Let it dry for 24 hours. If the color looks okay, proceed.

Olive Oil

Not all leather like olive oil, so apply on a discreet section first. If it doesn’t damage the material, you can apply it on the rest of your boots.

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on a rag. Rub this on your boots, beginning from the toes and work your way up. If the olive oil starts to dissipate, pour another tablespoon on the rag. Do not pour more than a tablespoon at once because it will make the leather sticky.

Let the olive oil settle for 24 hours. Apply more olive oil if the leather isn’t dark enough. Once you’ve attained the desired shade, stop. There is no need to use other solutions, but condition the boots so they don’t crack.

​Leather Dyes

Leather dyes allow you to apply a specific color. Apart from the dye itself, these products also come with the finisher and leather preparer. Dyes can be sponge-on, paint on or spray.

Work only in a well ventilated environment. Put on gloves for protection and apply the leather preparer. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray the boots to soften the leather. Apply the leather dye. Use the provided applicator and use flat, even strokes.

Apply as many coats as you want. When you’re done, let it dry. Wipe the leather surface with a clean cloth.

Note: some leather dyes are permanent, so make sure that the color is what you want. Never apply the dye on a highly visible part of your boot. In case the effect doesn’t look good, it won’t be conspicuous. And remove if any gum stickies on the shoe before darkening.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Won’t darkening damage the leather?

AnswerNo it won’t as long as you use the right steps.

Question: How long does it take to darken leather?

Answer: It depends on the original color of the leather. Application usually just takes a few minutes, but it may take a couple of hours for the solution to soak in and dry.

Question: Does leather darkening work for all types of leather? 

Answer: No, it depends on the leather. Some leathers are more absorbent than others, and some types stain more easily.  That is why you should always try the solution first on a discreet spot.

Question: Natural or commercial leather darkeners. Which is better?

AnswerBoth methods are effective. Household and natural methods are cheaper, but commercial dyes and leather darkeners are more convenient for others.

Question: Is the leather darkening effect permanent?

AnswerThe effects last for some time. But you need to reapply it for a consistent appearance.

Question: Can I still polish and condition my leather boots after darkening them?

Answer: Yes, and it’s preferable that you do this regularly.


Darkening leather isn’t as hard as you might think. As we have demonstrated here, the materials you need are probably in your home or widely available. If you’re among those who like their leather shoes dark, you can try any of these techniques and you’ll be satisfied with the results.