Bet you never thought you'd find yourself here, huh? Scouring the internet to find out how to darken leather so your favourite leather sofa, leather shoes, or leather jacket can be freshened up once more.
If The Leather Colour Doctor isn't your first stop today, you probably already know that darkening leather isn't as easy as it first seemed, right? Oil vs dye vs polish (vs coffee vs walnut hulls - WHAT? More on that later...) - it's all very complex.
Or at least it was, until now.
Here at The Leather Colour Doctor we're proud to take complex leather issues and untangle the mess of the rest of the internet to give you straight up responses you can follow with ease. So, if you're wondering how to darken leather, you're in the right place.
Below we'll talk you through the different methods out there, the best options for you, and tell you all about the different leather darkening processes and darkening leather items you'll need to darken leather and improve the surface of the leather fast.
Ready to get started? Then join us below to find out how to darken your leather.
Whether it's faded leather shoes, leather boots that no longer have their shine, or a leather sofa that just doesn't look as vibrant as it once did - knowing how to darken leather is important when you have a leather item that can lose its colour over time.
But what are the best ways to darken leather?
All of these options will darken your leather, but not all are suitable for every type of leather you own. So lets take a look at the options in greater depth to understand which leather darkening item is best. You can also check out our article on how to tell if leather is real.
There are all sorts of options when it comes to oils for darkening leather - natural oils vs synthetic oils - but what are the best options and how will they affect your leather items if you decide to use them?
Mink oil is a great way to darken leather. However, it's really important that you note that when you apply mink oil to leather, it's natural shine will be dulled to give a matte appearance.
That's absolutely fine if you want to darken leather boots and don't mind the entire surface being free of shine, but if you want a shine other oils are better here.
If you use mink oil, you may note that the leather darkened significantly, so always try on an inconspicuous patch first to make sure the mink oil isn't too dark for your needs.
For those who are unaware, mink oil is simply a byproduct of the fur industry. Mink oil is full of natural waxes, fats, and conditioning agents, and it's one of the most popular ways to darken leather boots, jackets, and sofas...
Coconut oil is another great option. It's natural, it releases a very faint pleasant smell, so it's perfect if you want to darken leather boots, jackets, or other clothing items.
Don't use excess oil here or else the smell will be quite strong, but if you apply coconut oil sparingly, the leather item will become a darker shade.
Using oils may be a time-consuming process as you work out how much coconut oil is necessary to get the shade you want, but applied with a soft cloth, your leather piece should become darker before you know it.
Does olive oil darken leather? Surprisingly for many, yes!
It does leave behind a faint smell, but you'll notice the leather's shine is still very much present and it's a great option for people looking to darken leather on a budget. Olive oil is available in every supermarket and corner shop, and most of us have it in the cupboard anyway.
Neatsfoot oil may not be as readily available as olive oil or coconut oil, but it will make your leather darker.
Darkened leather with this oil should remain darker for some time before another application is necessary. Just make sure the entire surface of the leather is covered in the same amount of neatsfoot oil or else the finished leather item may look patchy or darker in some places after you've finished.
Canola oil is actually great for adding water resistance to products, so it's perfect if you want to darken leather boots or shoes that need a little protection in that domain.
With that said, mink oil also has water resistant properties and lasts for much longer. Still, as a quick alternative, this oil isn't a bad option at all. It has water resistance, darkening agents, and it's relatively easy to get hold of.
Besides olive oil (and coconut oil if you want to throw it into this category) there are other vegetable oils that can be used to make leather darker. Even just a bottle of vegetable oil in your cupboard could do the trick.
HOWEVER, you should be mindful of the smell. Almost every vegetable oil has a smell, so make sure you can stomach it before you apply it to the leather surface to darken your leather.
Animal oil like mink oil is great for leather because the animal fats in the leather require oils to keep them healthy and show them off at their best.
One reason why leather fades is because the leather isn't being treated with the proper care and attention. Imagine a leather sofa sat out in direct sunlight every day. The leather will naturally become dry, and some of the best ways to breathe life back into the leather item is with animal oil.
Mink oil is great, but do some additional research. You might find another type of animal oil besides mink oil that may be better suited to your leather item.
Using leather dyes to darken your leather is an obvious choice. You can find a leather dye for almost any product these days, and you can even buy oil based dye that will nourish it as you darken the leather.
We have a wide range of leather dye available at The Leather Colour Doctor that you can match to the shade you would like.
Leather dye may be a synthetic option, but it yields brilliant results quickly. And if this is your first leather craft project, products specifically designed to show you how to darken leather are perfect!
When it comes to leather polish, you have two main options: leather polish (specifically designed to help you polish leather and darken it again) or the humble shoe polish (which when applied to a leather surface can darken it too).
Let's look at the different options below in greater depth to see how they will affect leather fibers to make them shades darker and yield the result you're looking for.
Leather polishes are polishes specifically designed for leather (#obvs). They've been manufactured to work with leather and darken them as they are applied in a back and forth motion to evenly spread the polish to darken the leather.
BUT, can you also darken leather using shoe polish? Yes!
Shoe polish on leather boots makes sense, right? But it can also be used on other leather products to darken it too. Brown or black shoe polish will darken leather just as effectively as other leather-specific polishes.
Now you know what your options are, let's actually talk about how to darken leather. And depending on the path you choose, you might have to follow a different approach.
First, let's talk about everything you could possibly need, and then you can decide what you actually need based on the method you choose later on...
These initial steps apply to every method. We'll explain method specific steps later on.
Any mess left behind before darkening leather will only get trapped during the process. So it's really important that you clean your leather well.
To do this, you'll need some cloths, a leather cleaner (like this one from The Leather Colour Doctor), OR some dish soap or similar soap.
Whichever cleaner you use, make sure you use your horsehair brush to first remove any clumps of dirt. Then apply the cleaner.
If you use our leather cleaner, apply a small amount with a damp cloth to create a foam. Leave to sit for a few minutes. Then wipe away with a clean, dry cloth. Allow leather air dry, before moving on to the next steps.
Leather conditioners are so important during this stage, because they nourish your leather to make sure it's healthy before darkening. Once you condition leather, it'll already look and feel better than it did before you started.
You can pick out a great leather conditioner here.
Simply apply a small amount of the leather conditioner with a soft cloth in a small circular motion. Once the product is worked into the leather, you can buff the leather to bring back its shine.
Once your leather is cleaned and conditioned, let the leather dry, and then move on to the 'Darkening leather with...' sections below for your specific application process...
To darken your leather with oils, simply follow these steps:
To darken leather with dye, take these steps:
Here's how to darken leather with polish:
As well as the three major ways to darken leather we've discussed today, there are a couple of other DIY ways to darken leather boots, shoes, jackets, sofas, and other items.
Would we recommend them? Not as much as the previous options, but hey, it might work for you.
So what are they?
Yes, you read that right. You can darken leather with coffee. Here's what you do:
And yes, you can use walnuts - well, their hulls specifically.
There isn't a single best way to darken leather. We would definitely recommend oils, dyes, or polish over coffee or walnuts, but hey, each to their own.
Find a method that works for you and helps you achieve the look you were hoping for. Whatever is easiest for you is the best way.
If you decide to go for more natural options like mink oil, olive oil, or a polish bottle from your local supermarket, then obviously you can source your products yourself. Shop around and find the best option for you.
But we might also be able to help.
Here at The Leather Colour Doctor, we have a range of products that will help you clean, care for, and darken leather. Such as:
So, if you're looking for products to help you darken your leather, we certainly have a range of options out there for you from leather dyes to darken leather boots, jackets, sofas, car seats, and shoes, to cleaners and conditioners for all your leather items that will keep them well cared for and prep your items before you darken the leather. Perfect!