Guide on How to Darken Leather?

Leather items are awesome, creating an impressing look along with their excellent designs. Whether it is your leather wallet, bags, shoes, jacket, or couch, you may start noticing them fading after a while due to constant usage. These happenings shouldn’t dishearten you, as you can easily darken the leather item to keep it in style. Thus, it would help if you learn how to darken leather items.

There are great chances that you’ve been using your leather items for a long while, through various conditions. So, they might start wearing out and start looking faded, which is quite different from their original look. So, it would help if you give your leather items a great antique look.

One such way of doing so is darkening the leather item, and doing so can be fun and relatively easy. It is an excellent way to repair leather sofas and other leather crafts. All you have to do is employ various products to help darken the leather and apply them correctly.

how to darken leather naturally

Preparation of Darken Leather

Whether you are just getting started with how to darken finished leather or various leather products, you must first prepare the leather item to allow it to take in the darkening agents. Here is how you can prepare the leather item before you darken it.

Take off dust and dirt from the leather’s surface

Before you get started with the leather darkening process, it would help if you vacuum the leather surface to remove all dust and dirt. You can also use a soft brush to get the dust and dirt out. Skipping this step would mean that all the dirt and dust would be trapped on the leather item’s surface after you are done with the whole process, which wouldn’t look good.

Thoroughly clean the leather

Using a suitable leather cleaner, clean the leather thoroughly. Some mild household soap can also serve the same purpose as the leather cleaner and keep the leather clean. Here is how to clean the leather item.

  • Drop some leather cleaner or mild soap on a soft and damp sponge or rag. You can apply the cleaner on the rag and run it through some water. Then, wring the rag to remove excess water, as you should not subject the leather item to excessive moisture.
  • Then, wipe the leather item in circular motions and do so gently, ensuring you reach out to all areas of the leather. This action would effectively take down the built-up dirt on the leather surface.
  • Then, get another damp sponge or rag to get off all leather cleaner or soap traces on the leather surface.
  • Leave the leather item to dry; air-drying the leather is preferable instead of using heat, as excessive heat can damage the leather item. Also, ensure that you dry the leather away from sunlight, as the sun’s effect can damage the leather and make it crack up.

So, you would need the following items for preparing the leather:

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A leather cleaner or a mild liquid soap
  • Two sponge or cloths
  • A soft brush (an alternative)

Read Also: How to Repair a Faux Leather Jacket

darken leather with coffee

How to Darken Leather: A Step-By-Step Guide

There are various ways you can darken leather aside the use of leather dyes, as you can use oils, coffee, polish, and a suitable leather dressing.

If you prefer darkened leather and wondering how to darken leather, using specific oils will give faster and more effective results. As for oils, mink oil, neatsfoot oil, or coconut oil can give the best outcome. Use a clean white cloth soaked with one of the said oils, then rub the leather with the cloth back and forth or in a circular motion so that it is applied evenly across the surface of the target leather.

01. How to Darken Leather with Oils

You can find many excellent oils available in stores that can help you darken leather; some options include mink oil, coconut oil, neatsfoot oil, and leather milk. Some persons suggest using olive oil on leather to help darken it, but it can stain the leather surface and go rancid after a while and give off a sour smell.

To darken leather with oils, you have to get a suitable oil and pour some on a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Ensure the oil saturates a part of the cloth and not the entire cloth area. Then, rub the oil on the leather surface, ensuring you rub in a back-and-forth motion.

A uniform application of the oil would work the magic. If you notice a shortage of oil as rubbing it onto the leather, you can add some more. Once you are done applying the first layer of oil, leave the leather the oil to dry overnight.

After that, you can check to see if the item is as dark as you want and if it doesn’t appear so, you can appear more oil coats. You have to repeat the process and ensure that each coat gets dried before applying other oil coats.

02. Using Brewed Coffee

Brewed coffee on leather is one way you can darken leather without dyes, and it is an excellent natural solution. This leather darkening process is relatively cheap and easy, as you would be making use of your household items. You would need to get together some brewed coffee, sponge or cloth, distilled water and a leather conditioner.

To get started, you must first brew the coffee, making it very strong and bringing it to a boil using medium heat. Make the brewed coffee have a stronger concentration by allowing it to simmer. Then, start applying the coffee on the leather item, doing so evenly and leaving it dry.

You can also apply another layer of the coffee if you need the item to appear darker. If you are creating a leather craft, you can soak the leather parts in a bowl of brewed coffee for a while to darken it.

It would be best to let it soaked in for about 12 to 24 hours to get the desired result. Then, wipe clean using a damp cloth on the leather surface or rinse the soaked leather pieces with clean water before leaving it to dry. Conditioning the leather afterward would help restore the oils lost and protect the leather.

03. Darkening Leather with a Polish

Are you searching for how to darken leather jackets or how to darken leather furniture? You can darken your leather item using a suitable leather polish that comes in a color shade that seems darker than your leather item’s color.

There are a variety of leather polishes in various stores, and you can even get them online. Get some leather polish onto a cloth; turn the polish bottle upside down; squeeze and pour the polish on it.

After dabbing the polish onto the cloth, work the leather polish onto the item to darken it. Keep applying the polish in small circular motions until you achieve the desired result. Then buff the leather product with another dry cloth, gently till you get a uniform polished surface. Allow the polished leather to dry, leaving it overnight.

Read Also: How to Get Pen Out Of Leather

04. Making Use of Leather Dyes

Whether it is a water-based dye or an oil-based dye, you can effectively darken your leather items using them. There are various dyes options available in various leather and craft stores. Here is how to dye leather to make it darker:

  • Get a soft cloth or sponge and saturate it with some leather dye, and apply it on the leather in a circular motion. Ensure that the dye gets to every part of the leather evenly and rub it clean.
  • Leave the dyed leather for about 24 hours, allowing it to dry in a place free from sunlight to prevent the item from cracking or peeling.
  • You may notice that the item appears lighter after the leather dries than how it was when you first applied the dye. Thus, it would help if you apply a second layer of the dye, and even add more coats if needed. But, you should ensure that each dye layer gets dried before applying another.

Benefits of Darkening Leather

There are various benefits of darkening leather with the solutions mentioned above. The process involved can be less expensive and also easy. You can easily paint leather items to make them appear darker within a short time. Using coconut oil and mint oil solutions is quite cheaper, as you can even get them from your kitchen. As you darken your leather, you start restoring the great antique look of the leather item.

It helps nourishes the leather item and makes them appear more supple. If you search for how to darken leather handbags or leather car seats, you can finish the process in no time. You can get the darkest hue after applying these solutions and leaving the leather dry.

Some darkening leather solutions can act as a waterproofing agent and help protect the leather from moisture. These darkening solutions can even prevent bacteria from damaging your leather or leather crafts. Using options like leather polishes would not damage the leather in any way and would provide a lasting sheen.

You can darken some leather pieces for leather craftspeople if you intend to join them with another darker shade of leather pieces. This action would make the craft appear great at the end of the day.

Downsides of Darken Leather

Although leather darkening is great, and it would be nice to darken your leather items, there are some downsides to this process. Some solutions that can help darken leather are quite expensive, like many leather dyes; being pricey, it may not go well with persons on a low budget.

However, there are various cheap options to darken leather, but some may not be suitable. The use of some vegetable oils to darken leather can go rancid after a short while and start making your leather item smell horrible. Some of these items can even stain the leather, causing further damage.

The process of how to darken leather items may seem like a daunting task to many, much more with the time-consuming process of drying the leather. Some of these items that darken leather may pose great threats to children and pets if they get close to the darkened leather item.

Guide on How to Darken Leather


Does coconut oil darken leather?

Yes, coconut oil on leather can help darken leather and make your leather items appear great. You only need to apply some of this oil onto a part of a clean cloth or sponge and rub the oil gently on the leather. Then, allow the oil to dry, leaving it on the leather for about 24 hours to get the desired leather-darkened results.

This oil is great and less expensive than some other options. It is also excellent and can act as an awesome conditioner for the leather product to replenish its looks. Coconut oil can repel moisture to help protect the oil from getting damaged.

Does olive oil darken leather?

Yes, olive can also help darken leather items, but this oil is not ideal for darkening leather items or work as a leather conditioner. This oil has low saturated fats, which makes it go rancid quickly, and if you apply some on your leather, you will notice a strange smell.

The leather item would start smelling sour even within a week or two. Thus, if you seek how to darken leather with olive oil, it would be best to avoid this cheap solution from your kitchen and go for better options.

What causes leather to darken?

Leather items are often seen fading after a long while, but you can also find you leather darkening as you use it. One of the major causes of leather darkening is the use of leather conditioner on a leather item. If you keep applying some leather conditioner on your leather items, you would notice them getting dark with time.

But you can learn how to lighten leather and restore the color of your leather item if you so desire. A solution of oxalic acid and wood bleach can work perfectly on lightening your darkened leather item.

Does shoe polish darken leather?

Yes, you can darken leather using shoe polish, and this process of darkening leather is not pricey, and quite effective. To use this solution, you have to get a shoe polish that is a few shades darker than your leather item. Then, prepare the leather by cleaning off the dirt and dust, and wipe clean with a damp cloth saturated with some leather cleaner.

Once the leather gets dried, you can start applying the shoe polish evenly using a sponge and allow the leather item to dry for a while. You can use several layers of the shoe polish if you notice that the first coat did not provide the desired result.

How do you darken saddle leather?

It would be best to darken saddle leather if you get a suitable leather darkening oil that would not damage the leather piece. Then, clean off all dirt and dust from the saddle leather and saturate a clean cloth with the oil. Start applying the darkening oil, rubbing the oil-saturated cloth on the leather.

Once the oil appears evenly on the leather item, please leave it to dry for about 24 hours, keeping it away from sunlight. You can repeat the whole application process if you find that the saddle leather does not appear darkened as you desire.

Does conditioning leather make it darker?

Leather cleaner and conditioner are often used for maintaining leather and ensure it always appears great. A suitable leather comes formulated with the best ingredients for retaining the leather item’s natural oils after cleaning.

In most cases, leather owners apply some leather conditioner after cleaning their leather craft to protect it. You can find a suitable leather conditioner in many leather repair kits. It replenishes the moisture on the cleaned item and ensures the leather product looks attractive at all times.

Final Thoughts

How to darken leather sheaths and various leather items have been some common questions that leather owners ask. If you start finding your leather items wearing out or your leather pieces appearing some shades lighter, it will help you learn how to darken leather.

The steps explained in this guide are quite helpful and can ensure you get the whole leather darkening process right. You can employ any of the methods in this guide to kick off the process of how to darken leather belts, shoes, bags, furniture, and other leather items.

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Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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