6 Ways to Darken Leather Boots (Simple and Tested)

Fading of leather boots is one of the first signs that your boots need immediate treatment and maintenance. Before it’s too late, you need to start maintaining the color of your boots with the right products. 

You can darken your leather boots using products like coconut oil, neatsfoot oil, mink oil, leather conditioners, dyes, boot polish, obenauf’s oil, etc.

How to darken leather boots

Thinking about the products and methods?

We are just here to do the same that is…

To help you select the best products to darken your leather boots and the right methods to apply them.

So let’s get started without any delay.

1.) Synthetic Boot Blends

Synthetic blends are mixtures of animal oils, vegetable oils, petroleum products, waxes, tree pitch or resins. They are the most ideal for darkening the boots and also have conditioning, waterproofing and shining properties.

Products such as Obenauf’s and Hubbard’s are widely common for applying in leather boots. Though you might feel a pinch in the pockets in buying these products, yet they are best for the purpose without causing side effects to your boots.

Materials required:


      • First wrap the cloth in your fingers and take out a pea-sized amount of the product using your fingers
      • Brush your finger along the entire surface of the boot
      • If you run short in covering the entire boot with the pea-sized amount, you might take another same portion of the product
      • Massage the product into the leather and let sit for 10 minutes


      • Provides nutrition and conditioning to the leather
      • Provides waterproofing effect to the boots
      • No foul smell 
      • No thriving of bacteria
      • Softens the leather
      • Provides commendable sheen to the leather


      • Expensive

2.) Vegetable Oils:

Vegetable oils such as olive oils, canola oils etc can be used to darken your boots if you have no other artificial in hand.

Vegetable Oils to Darken Boots

Though vegetable oils are not great for conditioning your leather boots as we have mention in our previous articles, yet when it comes to just darkening the color of the boots, the trick works pretty well.

Just you need to be cautious about the amount of oil you are using and the right method to use it, which is right below:

Materials required:

      • A lint free cloth
      • Vegetable oil


      • Pour just a few drops (2/3) of the oil into the piece of cloth
      • Now brush the cloth along certain portion of the leather (till the oil stays in the cloth) in circular motions
      • If the entire boot is not covered yet, repeat step 1 & 2 again for the rest of the portions
      • Make sure to apply only that much amount of the oil that only darkens the upper layer of the leather and does not seep in the pores
      • Let the oil to darken the color of your boots by allowing it to sit for 24 hours
      • Next day, rub the boots with a clean lint free cloth to bring on the desired shine and to remove any excess oil


      • Easy to find the product
      • Cheap
      • No hard work
      • Provides a natural shine to the leather


      • Cannot darken the leather as much s artificial products
      • If oil remains in the boots, then it might cause foul smell in the boots
      • Excess oil can stain the leather in some parts
      • Bacteria might thrive if the oil wets the boots too much

3.) Animal Oils:

The oils that are derived from animal fats are called animal oils such as mink oil, neatsfoot oil. They are a better and safer option than the vegetable oils because they are thin oils and do not damage the leather by seeping in.

The good thing is that besides darkening the leather, animal oils also condition the leather and provides waterproofing effect to the boots. Just a thing to note is do not be over generous in applying the oil or it might stain the leather too much.

Materials required:

      • Neatsfoot oil or mink oil
      • Clean lint free cloth


      • Pour 3/5 drops of the oil into the cloth
      • Coat the leather by brushing with the cloth in circular motions
      • Let it dry by placing the boots in the sun or near a heating source for 4/5 hours
      • If the desired colored is not achieved, repeat the process once again
      • Then again take a clean cloth and remove any excess oil from the leather


      • It provides better shine to the leather than the vegetable oils
      • Nourishes the leather
      • Waterproofs the leather


      • The boots might take quite some time to dry
      • It might develop a musky odor
      • Too much oil might stain the boots

4.) Leather Dyes:

leather dyes

While choosing the leather dyes, just keep in mind that water based dyes soften the leather, while alcohol based dyes harden it. Leather dyes give dark shades to the leather, so be very specific in selecting the color of the dye matching your leather color.

You can repeat the same steps as mention above with the synthetic boot blends; just let the boots dry after that for 24 hours.

5.) Boot Polish:

How to polish your boots in ten minutes.

Boot polishes are just apt for the purpose, but will provide no other additional effects to the boots. You just need the correct shade of the boot polish and a brush to apply.

6.) Darken your leather boots using a mixture of vinegar and rust:

The name of the recipe is called vinegar black or sometimes vinegarroon and is one of the old-fashioned recipes to dye leather boots darker. 


1.) At first you need to choose the source of the rust you are going to use for the process. It can uncoated iron nails or steel wool or iron shavings

2.) Take around 2 liters of vinegar and heat it

3.) Now drop the rust source in to the vinegar and the rust (iron oxide) will react will vinegar (acetic acid) to form ferric acetate that will ultimately react with tannins to dye the leather

4.) Store this ferric acetate in a warm and ventilated container for a week

5.) After a week or so, take the mixture out and run through parchment paper to filter out the liquid

6.) Make a cup of black tea, let it cool and apply the black tea on the leather using a lint free cloth. This will help better absorb the rust and the leather will not crack as well.

7.) Apply the vinegarroon solution to the leather and let absorb for a few hours

8.) Dry the boots and you are done!


      • It is cost effective
      • 100% proven to darken leather, especially black leather
      • No residue left behind
      • No stains will come off in the pants or hands while you rub the boots


      • It is definitely a time-consuming process

Can you stain boots darker?

Yes, you can definitely stain your boots darker by using oils or polish:

      •  First of all, clean the boots using a damp rag or soap-water solution
      • If you apply the soap-water solution then once more clean the boots with a clean damp rag
      • Now you can either apply mink oil or neatsfoot oil or a leather polish of darker color
      • Buff the leather using a horsehair brush and your job would be done

How do you darken leather naturally?

Leather will not darken naturally; you will have to put some effort in order to darken it. You can instead use some natural oils like coconut oil or mink oil to darken the color of the leather boots.

After cleaning your boots, apply a generous amount of coconut oil or mink oil on the boots and massage in small circular motions with your finger tips. Allow the oil to soak in the boots and then use a clean rag to take off the excess oil.

Will darkening leather change color of boots?

Yes, darkening your leather boots with boot polish of darker colors and dyes will definitely change the color of your boots. If the color changes, it is difficult to bring back the original color of the leather.

Does conditioning leather make it darker?

Conditioning the leather using leather conditioner or normal conditioners might NOT darken the color of the leather. But, if you condition it with coconut oil or mink oil, it will definitely darken the color of the leather.

This is also because leather tends to fade over time and conditioning the leather returns back the natural moisture and the oils present in the leather, thus returning back the natural luster and color of the leather, which in turn makes the leather appear darker.

Does leather lighten or darken with age?

Leather will for sure lighten with age as it keeps on loosing the natural moisture and essential oils present in the leather.

So, with time leather will appear dull and lifeless and therefore, it is important to condition the leather from time to time.

What Might Happen if you Apply the Wrong Products?

Applying the wrong product can ruin the entire boot or cause some serious damages like:

      • It can cause bad odor in the boots
      • The leather might go rancid and fall apart
      • Bacteria or fungi might thrive inside the boots
      • It might cause creases in the leather
      • The boots might shrink
      • The boots might harden and become of no use
      • It might have frayed seams
      • It might attract dust and mud
      • It might get discolored or develop scars
      • There might be seepage in the liner and the soles
      • No further products can heal the damages

Therefore, it is very important to select the right products for your boots and we have made the best selections for you after a lot of researches.

Before we say Good bye:

If you are confused which among the 5 is the best, we suggest the synthetic blends are the safest and the most productive and adds that extra care to your boots.

Yet if products are not handy, you might go for the other too options as well. 

Pro tips:

That’s all guys for today.

We will be back soon with another exciting article.

Till then take care and…

Keep walking!

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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