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How to Dye Leather

Although dyeing leather is more of an art than a science, the basic procedure is quite simple.


  • Step 1: Select a dye Select a suitable dye, which will be depend on the type of leather you are working with. Alcohol-based dyes add a strong color to leather, but tend to stiffen it. Water-based dyes do not add as strong a color, but they are better at preserving the leather's natural suppleness.
  • Step 2: Clean the leather Clean the leather surface, taking care to remove any coating or dirt present.
  • TIP: Use a commercially available leather deglazer.
  • Step 3: Dampen the leather Spray the leather with water, or dampen it with a moist sponge until it is uniformly wet.
  • Step 4: Apply the dye Apply the dye evenly with a clean cloth.
  • Step 5: Let the leather dry Allow the leather to dry. As it dries, flex it occasionally to keep it from becoming stiff.
  • Step 6: Buff the leather Buff the leather with a soft, clean cloth to remove any excess dye.
  • FACT: Did you know? Egyptians made a red dye called "madder," extracted from plants, about 4,000 years ago.

You Will Need

  • Leather dye
  • Water
  • A spray bottle or sponge
  • A cloth for dye
  • Soft cloth for buffing
  • Leather deglazer (optional)

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