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How to Darken Leather: 3 Best Ways To Darken Leather

How to Darken Leather: 3 Best Ways To Darken Leather

As leather ages, it tends to naturally darken. If you have a pair of leather boots, a favorite leather jacket, or any other goods, you may want to darken them to give them more of a sophisticated and vintage-like appearance. Rather than waiting for the leather to age on its own, there are things you can do at home to darken your leather without the use of any dye. Continue reading to learn how to darken leather and choose the method that will work best for you.

Before Darkening Leather

Before darkening leather, it is important to make sure that the leather item is prepared for the process. Follow the steps below to ensure that your item is ready:

  1. Use a soft brush or soft white cloth to wipe down the leather surface. This will help remove any dirt or dust on the surface to ensure that you don’t inadvertently trap it when you darken the leather.
  2. Next, clean the leather using a leather clean or mild dish soap. Apply the leather clean to soap to a clean white rag and dampen it with water. Wring out the excess water, and then use the rag to clean the leather. Work using gentle circular motions to clean the entire surface.
  3. After cleaning the leather, get a second clean white cloth and wet it with plain water. Squeeze out the excess water and use the cloth to wipe down the leather again to remove any traces of cleaner or soap.
  4. Use a dry cloth to blot away excess water, and then leave the item out to air dry.

How to Make Leather Darker

Once you’ve prepared your leather item, choose your preferred darkening method. Read on to learn how to darken leather using oil, coffee, polish, or sunlight.

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Darkening Leather with Oils

A leather darkening oil is one of the best ways to darken a leather couch, leather shoes, leather duffle bag, or any other leather item you have. If you want to know how to darken leather with coconut oil, mink oil, or neatsfoot oil, you’ll just need the oil along with two white lint-free cloths.

Follow these steps to darken leather using oil:

  1. Wet one of the soft white cloths with about 1 teaspoon of the oil.
  2. Rub the cloth with the oil over the entire surface of the leather. Be careful to work evenly and ensure that it is applied with a uniform thickness. If you’re working with a large item, you may need to apply more oil to the cloth as you work.
  3. Leave the oil on the leather overnight, or for at least 12 hours. Then, inspect the color of the leather, and apply an additional coat of oil if desired. Just make sure that you always allow the leather to dry fully between layers so it doesn’t end up over-saturated or too dark.
leather darkening

Darkening Leather with Coffee

Did you know that you can use coffee to darken leather? Well, you can! All you'll need is brewed coffee (both instant and regular work fine), distilled water, a microfiber cloth, a sponge, and a leather conditioner.

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If you want to know how to darken leather boots or other leather goods using coffee, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Brew a small pot over very strong coffee.
  2. Transfer the coffee to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow it to boil for approximately 2 minutes, being sure to stir it occasionally. This will help make the coffee more concentrated and more effective at darkening the leather.
  3. Take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Use the microfiber cloth to apply the coffee over the leather surface in a single layer. Apply additional layers to the leather shoes, leather messenger bag, leather purse, or other items until it is as dark as you desire. Then, let the leather sit with the coffee layers on it for at least 12 hours.
  5. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the surface of the leather and remove the excess coffee.
  6. Let the leather air dry fully, then apply leather conditioner to help restore the natural oils and prevent it from getting too dried out.

Darkening Leather with Polish

If you’re wondering how to darken finished leather, you can also use shoe polish. Leather polish has a higher wax content, which can cause faded leather shoes or other lighter leather items to darken.

To apply leather polish, you’ll need a brown or black shoe polish, a dry, soft cloth, and a soft brush applicator. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Apply a small amount of polish to the cloth.
  2. Rub the polish into the entire surface of the leather using a circular motion. Work evenly to ensure a consistent coating.
  3. Apply as many coats as you need to darken the leather to your liking (you’ll probably need at least two coats).
  4. Use a dry rag to buff the surface of the leather to remove excess polish and ensure a more even finish.
  5. Leave the leather to dry fully overnight.
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Darkening Leather: Closing Thoughts

Leather darkening using one of the methods shared above can help you create beautiful and timeless pieces that you’re sure to treasure. Many individuals who have tried these methods have noted that their leather darkened significantly, helping them achieve the look they were after. Are you ready to try darkening leather items? Which approach shared above do you think you’ll use?


How can I darken leather quickly?

If you want to learn how to stain leather darker, try using an oil, such as neatsfoot oil, coconut oil, or mink oil. Apply the oil to a clean white cloth, then rub the oil-covered cloth back and forth over the leather surface. Take care to evenly apply the oil. Let the leather item dry overnight, and repeat the process if it isn’t as dark as you would like.

If you’re looking for how to darken leather naturally, you can also use direct sunlight. However, if you leave the leather in the sun for too long, it could damage it or cause it to dry out and crack.

Can I make leather darker?

Yes, you can darken leather. Some of the leather darkening methods include using oils, coffee, leather polish, or sunlight.

Does olive oil darken leather?

While you can use olive oil to darken leather, it isn’t the best choice. Because it has a low saturated fat content, olive oil can become rancid very quickly, which can leave your leather smelling bad after just a few weeks. So, if you’ve been searching for how to darken leather with olive oil, you may be better off trying to use a different oil, such as neatsfoot oil, mink oil, or coconut oil.

Does coconut oil darken leather?

Yes, coconut oil can help darken leather. Coconut oil is a natural oil, making it a safe option to use when darkening leather.

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