How to Hand Dye Leather

The color of the leather dye is applied to the surface of the leather by hand using either leather dyes based on solvents or leather dyes based on water. This can be done using a brush or a sponge. Crafters who work with leather typically color leather by hand. When it comes to coloring leather, this technique is frequently used by craftsmen as one of their go-to solutions. Using this approach, you can produce nearly anything out of leather by rapidly and uniformly coloring almost any leather. The paint doesn't go to waste in significant amounts, and the end product looks great. The effect that the sort of leather dye that leather artisans employ has on the functioning of colored leather is considerable.

The ways to hand dye leather:

  • Prep the leather.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Air out the room.
  • Choose the Right Leather.
  • Wipe the leather down.
  • Don't use dye.
  • Use a circle to apply a base coat.
  • Add a second coat down the right side.
  • Add a second coat down the left side.
  • Apply a finish and buff.

How to dye leather

You can advance to the next skill level if you are familiar with the techniques for dying leather. Follow these steps to get leather ready, color it, and finish it:

Get your workspace ready:

If you're working inside, you'll need a big table. Open the windows and turn on a fan to lessen the dye's strong smell. Keep the temperature at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, cut a large trash bag open and lay it on your surface to protect it. If you're going to be outside, pick a warm, not too windy day and stay in the shade. Put old towels on the floor and wear gloves to catch any spills.

Apply your deglaze:

Apply your deglaze (or leather preparer) with a clean cloth. This will remove the seal on your leather, making it easier for the fibres to take up the dye. Remove the shoelaces and put some balled-up paper inside to dry the insides if you're working on leather shoes.

Spray water on the leather:

Wet the surface of your leather gently. This lets the leather soak up your dye evenly.

Begin with the first layer:

Take a paintbrush, add a little bit of dye to it, and use it to paint the edges of your leather material. It can be hard to hide brush strokes, so fill in the rest of the surface with a cotton ball or sponge. Add color to the cotton balls and spread them out in a circle.

Let it dry:

Your leather will be dehydrated after a full day.

Put on more thin layers:

When the item is dehydrated, add a thin layer of dye to ensure the color is even. Add at least three layers and as many more as possible to get your desired color.

Shine up the leather:

After you die, you can use a leather finisher or sheen to make the surface shine or buff it with a cloth to clean and smooth it. Let the leather dry, clean your work area, and enjoy your newly dyed material.

Can you dye leather?

Veg-tanned leather that hasn't been dyed can be colored. You can dye leather that has already been colored. How come? (If you do this, you should know that the finished leather has waxed on top, making it hard for the dye to get into the leather). Still, there are only a few things to consider when choosing leather. Just know that if you use 100% top-grain leather, you will be able to see all the marks and different colors. The quality of 100% top-grain leather is excellent, but it also means that the top layer and any flaws that come with it have not been taken off. This will be very clear if you use this method to dye leather instead of how most factories do it, which is to submerge the leather in dye completely. This needs a lot of paint, but the color goes more profound, and the finish is smoother. So, if you use a cheap piece of leather with more marks and unevenness, it will show up no matter how good you are at dying.

How to stain leather

A leather stain is a gel paste or liquid that gives the leather its color. Stains don't go through the leather as dyes do, so layers can build up, or the color can change. Leather stains are sometimes called "antique," They are used after tooling to make the tooling marks stand out.

It's fun to work with natural leather because I can try out different colors and ways to apply them to make my colored leather. I've been trying out leather stains to add color to a piece that has already been dyed.

Leather stains use a pigmented material to add color to the surface of the leather. Stains have bigger molecules than leather dyes, so they can't color leather as profoundly.

Water, dye, and sometimes resin are mixed to make leather stains. Each brand has its formula that depends on how much of each thing is used. The resin, which is usually resolute or another sealant, is mixed with water, and then the pigment is added to get the color you want.

Advice on Using Leather Stain

Before dying leather, it needs to be stained.

If you let the stain sit longer, it will get darker.

Water can be used to dilute and lighten the stain. Before applying leather stain, make sure the piece of leather is dehydrated.

How to Take Care of and Fix Leather Stains?

How to Clean a Stain on Leather

It's hard to clean a liquid leather stain because dirt will either mix with it or be hard to get off. If needed, liquid stains can be poured through a strainer to remove debris and put back into the bottle with a funnel. When a stain on leather is in the form of a gel paste, it is much easier to clean because the top layer of the paste can be scraped off if the stain hasn't been mixed in.

How to Keep Leather Stain in Good Shape

When using liquid leather stain, it's best to pour the stain into a bottle and close it right away to keep out unwanted substances. You can also dip a clean wool dauber in the bottle. Gel paste leather stain will always need a clean cloth, and you'll need to estimate how much you'll need before you close the lid. Both stains will have extra that needs to be thrown away to keep things from going wrong.

How to Put Leather Stain Away

Leather stains should always be kept closed and standing up in their container. Using liquid stain, in particular, can cause it to leak or runoff. Before putting the bottle away, wipe it down and put a towel under it to ensure nothing breaks. Both liquid and gel paste stains should be kept in a room with a moderate temperature because exposures to temperatures that are too high or too low can cause problems.

How to color leather

Shoe polish:

Shoe polish works as a kind of leather dye that lasts less long. Since the polish doesn't get into the fibres of the leather, this dye will only stay for a while, but it is quick and easy to use.

Leather dyes made with alcohol:

These dyes go deep into the leather, making colors that are brighter and last longer. Alcohol can dry out leather, removing its moisture, so you may need a leather conditioner or finisher to soften it.


Leather can be naturally colored by the sun. It will get darker if you leave your leather made from plants in the sun. Depending on how dark you want the leather to get, this will take an hour, maybe longer. Over time, the sun's ultraviolet rays will slowly turn lighter leather into dark brown leather.

Oil-based dyes for leather:

Oil-based dyes don't dry out the leather as alcohol-based ones do. Oil-based dyes cut through the leather's surface to dye the fibres more deeply. These may work best on full-grain and top-grain leather that has yet to be finished outside because those leather fibres will dry out faster.

Leather dyes that use water

Water-based dyes are less toxic than other dyes, but they make colors that are not as bright. They will make the leather soft again.


As a leather finish, you can use thin coats of leather resolene or acrylic dye. After the acrylic layers dry, your leather will have a beautiful, solid, and protective surface. This can work for corrected grain leather, whose fibres have been sanded down, so the resolene offers a durable finish. There are different finishes and colors for resolene, which makes it a versatile leather dye.


A leather finisher made from natural resin will cause the finish more subtle and soft and protect the leather from getting dirty. Resin-based finishers can work well and don't repel water.

Needed to color leather:

To dye leather right, you need a well-ventilated space and a few things you can get at a craft store or leather goods store:


A leather deglazer is a solution that cleans the leather and prepares it for an efficient dye process.

Spray bottle:

After deglazing, you should lightly spray your leather with water so that the first coat of dye can soak in better.

Brush to paint:

You can put on your coat of dye with a paintbrush or a wool dauber.

Dye for leather:

The type of dye you choose will affect the color and how the leather looks, feels and holds up.

Scrap rag:

During the dying process, having an old piece of cloth on hand will be helpful to wipe up spills and soak up the extra dye.


Because dye can get messy, you should wear gloves that cover your forearms to keep yourself safe. The job can be done with dishwashing gloves.

A well-ventilated and safe place to work:

You'll want your work area to be well-ventilated as the dye can release dangerous fumes. If you're inside, open your windows and turn on a fan. If you're outside, ensure it's a dry day and stay out of the sun. To keep your station clean, use a drop cloth or cut a large trash bag open and tape it down on your workspace.

What dye can I use on leather?

Spirit or alcohol-based dyes are usually used to color leather, and alcohol quickly soaks into the wet leather. Formulations for dyeing leather are like lacquers. They are made of a dye or pigment, a resin made of casein or nitrocellulose, and a solvent.

Tanneries use different dyes depending on the range of products they need to make and what's popular in the fashion world. Each tannery uses other dyes, from 50 to 100 or more.

Most of the dyes used in the leather industry are anionic. These dyes can be put into the following groups:

Acid dyes

Mordant dyes                               

Dye directly

Basic Dyes could be more helpful.

Pre-metalled dyes

Solubilised sulphur dyes

Even though reactive dyes are in the group of anionic dyes, they can only be used in specific ways.

Can you permanently dye leather?

Leather can change color. You just changed the way your room looks. You just got new paint, carpet, and curtains, and your old furniture doesn't match the new look. You've spent a lot of money on the renovation, and you didn't plan to buy new furniture. Plus, you like that chair. So, what do you do now?

It is possible to refinish leather sofas, chairs, or vehicle seats, changing the color while also entirely covering up any previous paint that may have been present. But for the finished project to look like you just bought new furniture, it needs to be done in a particular order and with the right supplies. It's impossible to make something look "like new" by just wiping on any old paint. There will be a change in the color of the leather, but it will be such a mess! Here are the steps they take daily to finish the project professionally. Leather Color Restoration Kits have the same steps and materials for you to use. They've included photos of a recent project to change the color of something.

Is leather hard to dye?

It's easy to dye leather, but sometimes you must try and see what works. This instructible is only about dying plain vegetable-tanned leather. Despite this, various types of leather tanned with vegetable products can have varying reactions to dye; it's wise to do a test run with a small amount of paint first.

Is it better to dye or paint leather?

Many people have different ideas about what is best for your leather. In reality, they do other things, so comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. What happens relies on your goals, so let's discuss those later. In general, there are benefits and drawbacks to both choices. Discuss and talk about the lathe one with the most pros and the fewest cons.

Dye is the better choice for leather items that get a lot of use because lasting stain that lasts. It also has an authentic look and feel of natural leather.

On the other hand, the paint will cover your leather and give it a dramatic effect if you want to change it into something else. It does, however, flake and chip.

3 Ways to Color Leather:

Think about the following tips to help you dye better and more efficiently:

Have a variety of tools for applying dye:

When you dye, different tools will do other things. Sponges can add texture, cotton balls are good for getting into small spaces, and sprayers can help blend colors.

Sample your dye color:

The color of the dye in the bottle will not exactly match the final shade of your dyed leather. Please test a small piece of the paint to see how it looks on your material. If you need a more accurate color, try mixing colors.

It can be more accessible to:

Faster technique. You will need to buy more dye if you want to dip-dye your leather. Pour the paint into a bowl or container you will throw away. Make sure there is enough dye to submerge your belt, wallet pieces, or other leather goods. After a few seconds, take it out and set it somewhere to dry overnight. Dipping is a quick way to make sure that the coating is even.


Although dye is the most frequent method for coloring leather, leather stain achieves the same coloration with significantly less maintenance. Even though the stain might take a while to cure, using it to color leather without worrying about it rubbing off is an excellent option if time is not a concern.

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