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How to Darken Leather Boots [3 Effective Methods]



So, you love your boots but wish they were just a little bit darker? Most people will tell you that darkening them will compromise the quality of the leather used to make them but nothing could be further from the truth.

Darkening your boots may be easier than you think and with the right materials and technique, it may turn out to be good for the leather.

In this article, we are going to explain how to darken leather boots using mink oil as well as leather dye and polish. Ready? Let us go!

How to Darken Leather Boots with Mink Oil

Aside from darkening your boots, mink oil will also condition them and make them shinier. It is also less damaging to leather and for that reason, we think it is the best product to use.

Anyway, here are the steps to darkening your boots using mink oil.

Step 1: Brush Them Up

The first thing you want to do is to brush your boots. This will remove any dust and debris on the surface. Even the tiniest grain of sand can scratch the material and you do not want that. Besides, dust can prevent the leather from getting evenly darker.

Step 2: Applying Mink Oil

Next, you want to go right ahead and apply the mink oil to your boots and the process is as simple as can be.

Get a piece of microfiber cloth and add a few drops of the mink oil to it. Start coating the surface of your boots with the oil and work it into the material in a circular motion.

As you do that, try as much as you can to create friction as this warms up the oil to give greater saturation.

In case, the oil is not enough, you may add some more. Just ensure that you do not have uneven coverage.

Step 3: Wiping off Excess Oil

Once you have done that, you will notice that your boots have a greasy shine to them with a bit of excess oil. 

Use another clean microfiber rug to wipe off the excess oil. Now depending on whether your boots have been conditioned before or not, you may realize that the leather is dry.

If that is the case, you want to apply another layer of mink oil. That works to deep condition your boots and repair any damage caused by too much dryness.

Still, you can add a third layer of mink oil if you want your boots to be darker than they already are.


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Step 4: Let Things Even Out

This is where you are supposed to let the mink oil saturate and set. As such, you want to let the boots sit for about 20 minutes.

Once that time elapses use a horsehair brush to buff the surface of your boots. Pay more attention to any ridges or eyelets as oil tends to accumulate in such areas.

Of course, you can use a microfiber piece of cloth for the buffing but we feel like a horsehair brush works better when it comes to evening out the tone.

The Leather Dye Method:

You can also use leather dye to darken your boots. However, you want to keep in mind that alcohol-based dyes harden leather while water-based dyes soften it.

The dye will make your leather boot shades darker so you want to be careful and specific as far as choosing the color ensuring that it matches the color of your boots.

Here is how to darken your boots with leather dye.

Step 1: Coat Gently

Get a piece of cloth and add a few drops of the dye to it. Then, coat the surface of your boots with the dye and start applying in a circular motion. 

Step 2: Leave to Dry

Once you are satisfied with the tone and confirm that it is uniform, you want to allow the boots to dry. After that, they will be ready to wear.

Using Boot Polish

Boot polishes are made specifically to darken them so do not expect any extra benefits. All you need to do is get the correct shade that matches the color of your boots.

Here is the process for darkening your boots with the same.

Step 1: Applying the Polish

Get a brush and scoop some of the polish with it to apply to the boots. Start applying in a circular motion and graduate to brushing a bit vigorously to create some friction.

Step 2: Buff to Perfection (Optional)

Once you are sure that, the boots are fully coated in the polish and that they are evenly toned, you can stop because they are now ready for wearing.

However, if you want a bit of shine to the boots, you can buff them with a clean piece of microfiber cloth.

Note: The best way to darken leather boots is simply to wear them. Granted, the patina of vintage boots looks good, but why not achieve it just by wearing your boots and going about your business?

Get a pair of boots that you will want to wear often and that match most of your outfits so that you can easily develop the patina.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions that will give you a better insight into how to darken leather boots.

Can I stain leather boots darker?

Yes, you can. By using things like animal oils, leather dye, or animal fats, you can easily darken your leather boots at home.

Will shoe polish darken leather?

Yes, it will. Even mink oil or transparent wax can darken the leather. Note that oil and wax will make leather appear wet which is not a bad thing unless it is not what you want.

Oils keep leather from drying out as well.

Can I use black shoe polish on brown leather?

Yes, you can but the result will be a color that is neither black nor brown – something in between. Nevertheless, whenever you brush with black polish, the shoes will get darker. If you want to restore the shoes to black, you will have to dye them.

Tips for Darkening Leather Boots:

Now that you know the different methods you can use to darken boots, how about you learn of some of the methods available that can cause irreparable damage to your footwear? Here is what not to do when darkening your boots.

  1. If you can avoid using olive oil for darkening your boots. This is because it is a low saturated fat that goes rancid faster. Furthermore, if you use the oil, you may end up with sour-smelling boots within a month or less.
  2. Sure, you can use canola oil to darken your boots and it will offer some water resistance but it cannot be compared to dedicated boot care products and mink oil.

In essence, what you will be doing when using canola oil is to create a barrier that will make all your future boot care efforts less effective.

  1. Leave baby oil for babies. Using it to darken your boots only makes the leather material weaker and you do not want that right?

Final Thoughts

Are you ready to get started? You should be because darkening your leather boots is not a hard task. It can even be good for the material. Now that you know how to darken leather boots, there is no reason why you should walk around with pale boots that you wish were just a little bit darker no?


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