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How To Darken Leather? Can You Darken Leather Without Dyes?

how to darken leather

Have you ever thought about leather darkening? There are times when you have that one pair of leather shoes or leather jackets that you want to give a vintage look to, and you may wonder how you can make it slightly darker. If you are one of those people, you can try some of the tricks mentioned in this guide. 

Before darkening any leather, you must carry out a few steps to ensure the leather is clean. Hence, you have to use a soft-bristled brush to remove dust or any dirt that could be trapped. Dampen a microfiber cloth in a soap and water mixture and use it to wipe off any visible dust from the leather. Once the surface of the leather is clean, you can go ahead and conduct all the necessary steps to darken the leather. 

3 Best Ways to Darken Leather

3 Best Ways to Darken Leather

Here are all the ways you can darken your leather.

Darkening Leather with Oils

Mink oil, coconut oil, and neatfoot oil are a few oils that are useful in darkening leather. However, you have to make sure you use lint-free cloth if you’re using any of these oil-based products for darkening your leather. Follow these steps now:

  • Take one teaspoon of oil and dip a white cloth in it
  • Rub the entire surface of the leather with this oiled cloth. You have to be careful while rubbing the oil as the lathering needs to be uniform.
  • Keep adding more water as necessary 
  • Once you’re done oiling the leather, you will leave it overnight to dry out on its own
  • After 12 hours, you can inspect the leather and see if you want to oil it more (darken it).

It is best to use oil to darken leather when it comes to darkening different types of leather jackets

Darkening Leather with Polish

You can also darken leather with the help of polish – shoe polish is deemed best because the leather polish has higher contents of wax that can cause discoloration of faded hues. You will require brown or black shoe polish with a shoe brush and a dry cloth. Now follow the steps mentioned below:

  • First, apply some polish on the cloth and then lather it as a coating on the leather itself
  • You will move around in a circular motion while coating the leather with the polish
  • Apply two coats of polish (or more)
  • Now buff the surface of the leather to remove excess polish and let it dry overnight

Darkening Leather with Coffee

Another interesting way of darkening the leather is through coffee. What would you need? Coffee, a cloth, a sponge, distilled water, and a leather conditioner. Here are the steps that you will need to follow:

  • Brew hot coffee and make sure it is concentrated; stir it while it boils for two minutes
  • Now take the cloth and dip it in the coffee. Rub the same cloth on the leather in a uniform manner. The application of coffee will continue for as long as you want to – to get the right color and consistency
  • The next step is to take a damp cloth and remove all excess from the leather surface and let it dry out completely
  • Apply leather conditioner to give a new shine and restore the inherent oils


Can you darken the color of the leather?

Yes, you can darken the color of leather with coffee, shoe polish, and natural oils.

What is the best oil to darken leather?

Coconut oil, neatfoot oil, and mink oil are considered the best oils to darken leather.

Does natural leather darken?

Yes, natural leather darkens. 

How do you darken leather clothes?

You can darken custom leather jackets and other leather products using three methods: natural oils, shoe polish, and coffee. 

How do you darken leather without dying it?

Wondering how to make leather darker? You can darken leather with the help of natural oils. Apply several coats of natural oil on the leather surface with a lint-free cloth and let it dry out overnight and remove the excess. 


If you want to give your leather an edge and attain a dark vintage vibe, you can do that by yourself. There are three ways you can darken your leather – natural oil, shoe polish, and coffee. Unless you want to know how to stain leather darker, avoid using leather polish because it can cause severe discoloration due to the higher levels of wax. Moreover, you have to use a lint-free cloth whenever using oil-based products to darken your leather. You can learn more about leather jacket repair from this source. 

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