How to Darken Leather Boots (with Oil & Dye)

It’s starting to get chilly outside, and that means it’s time to break out your boots. But if you’ve only been using them for a few months and they are now looking a little too light, there’s an easy fix. In this post, we’ll show you how to darken leather boots using some simple supplies from your home or the store.

There are different ways to make your boots darker; using darkening oils, using natural ingredients, and using leather dye.

Whichever method you use, there is no doubt that you will get results that will last for months. So, let’s look at these methods in detail.

How to darken leather boots

How to darken leather boots

You can darken leather boots by using leather dye or leather darkening oils like mink oil, hydrophane leather darkening oil, and neatsfoot oil. When applied to leather, these oils gradually darken the leather over time and typically last for several months before needing to be reapplied. Household products like coconut oil, olive oil, vinegar, and coffee or tea can also be used to give the leather a darker color. 

Here are a few leather oils that you can use to make your leather boots darker.

1. Mink oil

A common question that people ask is whether mink oil darkens leather boots permanently. The answer is yes; mink oil is often used to darken and weatherproof leather, so it can give boots a darker, more rugged look.

Mink oil is not meant for darkening leather but rather for polishing and waterproofing leather boots in order to protect them against moisture.

However, most people have found that mink oil does indeed darken boots, sometimes dramatically so.

If you want to darken your boots using mink oil, follow these steps;

  • Choose the right mink oil. You can find mink oil at most shoe stores or online. Make sure to get pure mink oil like Saphir’s Mink Oil, which will be clearly labeled. Avoid any products that are mixed with other oils that can ruin leather boots.
  • Prepare your boots. Before you start, make sure your boots are clean and dry. If they’re dirty, wipe them down with a damp cloth. If they’re wet, stuff them with newspaper and let them dry completely before proceeding.
  • Apply the mink oil evenly. Using a clean cloth, apply mink oil by rubbing it on the surface of the boots in circular motions. Pay special attention to any areas that are particularly dry or scuffed.
  • Wait for the oil to soak in. Allow the boots to soak in the oil for at least 30 minutes, and then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
  • Repeat this process once a week until you achieve the desired darkness

However, it’s important to remember that mink oil is not a dye, so it won’t permanently change the color of your boots. Eventually, the mink oil will wear off and the original color will reappear.

2. Hydrophane leather darkening oil

Hydrophane leather darkening oil is made of mineral oil and an ultraviolet light absorber.

It helps to deepen the color of light-colored leather and prevent it from becoming faded or discolored over time.

This oil is better than mink oil because the mineral oil helps to condition the leather and keep it soft, while the ultraviolet light absorber prevents the sun from damaging the surface of the leather.

To use this oil on your boots, follow the steps below;

  • Prep the leather by making sure it’s clean and free of any dirt or debris. If it’s new, you may want to sand it lightly to rough up the surface so the oil can better penetrate.
  • Apply the oil. Use a lint-free cloth or sponge to apply a thin, even layer of oil all over the leather surface. You don’t need a lot; just enough to saturate the leather without wetting it.
  • Allow it to dry. Leave the leather to dry in a well-ventilated area for at least 24 hours.

Check it periodically to see how dark it’s getting and stop when you’re happy with the result.

3. Neatsfoot oil

Neatsfoot oil is a natural oil extracted from the hooves of cows. This natural product has been used for centuries as a leather conditioner and preservative.

However, although it’s not meant for darkening leather, using too much Neatsfoot tends to darken your leather items.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Clean your boots. Start by cleaning your boots with a damp cloth. This will remove any dirt or debris that could prevent the oil from penetrating the leather.
  • Warm up the oil by rubbing it between your hands or placing it in a bowl of warm water. You don’t want it to be too hot, but warm.
  • Apply the oil. Apply a small amount of neatsfoot oil to a lint-free cloth and rub it into the leather in small circular motions until it’s evenly distributed.
  • Allow the boots to dry overnight before repeating the process if needed until you achieve the desired level of darkness.
  • Once you achieve the leave of darkness you desire, buff the boots off with a clean cloth.

4. Using leather dye

Leather dye is often used on leather that has changed color. It is made from a variety of different ingredients, depending on the brand.

Most leather dyes contain some sort of pigment or colorant and a binder to help the dye adhere to the leather.

Some leather dyes also contain additives for things like UV protection or water repellency.

The specific ingredients and proportions used in any given leather dye will vary depending on the brand and the desired results. For example, aniline dyestuffs are often used for dark colors, while basic dyestuffs are better for lighter shades.

Assuming you have the supplies ready (leather dye, gloves, Applicator sponge or soft brush, clean cloth), here’s how to apply leather dye to your boots:

  • Put on gloves to avoid staining your hands.
  • Open the container of leather dye and stir it thoroughly with a stick or other similar object.
  • Pour a small amount of the dye onto a clean cloth.
  • Rub the dampened clean cloth over a small, inconspicuous area of one boot to test the color. This will allow you to see how the dye will look and if you need to add more layers to get the desired effect.
  • If you’re happy with it, dab the cloth in the dye and then rub it into the leather boots in a circular motion. Once you’ve covered the entire boot, let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off any excess with a dry cloth.

5. Household products

There are a few different household products that you can use to make your leather boots darker. They include;

  • Vinegar

You can also use vinegar to darken leather shoes by just mixing one part vinegar with two parts water and applying it to the boots with a cloth.

Allow the mixture to dry for about an hour before buffing it off with a clean cloth.

  • Coffee or tea

There are a few ways you can use coffee or tea to make your leather items darker.

One way is to simply rub the wet grounds into the leather. This will give the leather a darker, richer color.

You can also make a mixture of one part coffee or tea and two parts water, and then use this mixture to soak your boots in. This will take longer to darken the leather, but it will be more evenly colored.

Lastly, you could make a stronger mixture of equal parts coffee or tea and water, and paint this directly onto the leather. This method will give you the darkest color possible, but it may also cause some of the dye to rub onto your clothes if you’re not careful.

  • Coconut oil

You only need a small amount to make your leather boots darker using coconut oil.

  • Start by cleaning your boots with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Take your clean cloth and dip it into the coconut oil. Make sure the cloth is saturated, but not dripping.
  • Rub the oil into the leather in a circular motion, paying special attention to any areas that are lighter in color. Continue rubbing until the entire surface is evenly coated.

Allow the boots to dry overnight and buff them in the morning.

  • Olive oil 

There are a few different methods that you can use to darken leather boots with olive oil.

The first is to simply rub the olive oil into the leather using a soft cloth. This will start to darken the leather immediately.

You can also add a small amount of water to the olive oil and apply it to the boots with a brush. This will create a more even finish.

Finally, you can mix olive oil with vinegar or lemon juice and apply it to the leather with a sponge or cloth. This method will take longer to show results, but it will eventually produce a deep, rich color.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to allow the boots to dry completely before wearing them.

Can you stain leather boots darker?

Yes, you can stain leather boots darker using shoe dye.

However, it’s important to be aware that staining leather boots darker can affect their quality and lifespan.

So if you’re thinking of staining your leather items, it’s important to consider whether the increase in color is worth any potential decrease in quality or lifespan.


Whether you’re trying to match a new pair of boots to an old favorite jacket or simply want a change of pace, darkening leather boots is a relatively easy process. There are a few different methods we have talked about on how to darken leather boots that you can use.

The best method for you will however depend on the materials you have on hand and the level of darkness you’re hoping to achieve.

Some of these methods include;

  • Using coffee to dye leather. This helps to darken them naturally and gives the boots a rich and even color that can be customized by adding more grounds for a darker shade.
  • Apply leather darkening oils like mink and neatsfoot. This will give the boots a high-shine finish that will also help to protect the leather from water and dirt.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to test it on a small part of the boots first before proceeding with the rest of the shoes.


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