How to Dye Suede Shoes?

How to Dye Suede Shoes?

Suede shoes are a timeless classic, but they can often be difficult to keep looking new. If you’re looking for a way to give your old suede shoes a fresh new look, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will teach you how to dye suede shoes the right way. We’ll answer some common questions and provide some tips that will help you achieve the best results. So whether your shoes are old and faded, or just not the color that you wanted them to be, read on for the best way to dye suede shoes!

Suede Leather in General

There are many types of leather, but suede leather is a type of leather that is made from the underside of animal skin.

The word “suede” comes from the French word “gants de Suède” which means “gloves from Sweden.” Suede is made by splitting the animal skin and then buffing it to create a nap. It’s usually made from the inner split of a hide, which is why it’s thinner and more supple than top-grain leather. And because it’s thinner, it also tends to be more delicate. 

Suede Leather in General

Because of this, suede is different from other types of leather because it has a softer feel and a more velvety appearance. It is also more delicate than other types of leather and can be easily damaged if not cared for properly. [1]

Why Would You Want to Dye Suede?

While you can buy suede shoes in many different colors, they may not always offer the exact shade that you’re looking for. If you’re willing to put in the effort, however, dying suede shoes is a great way to get a perfect match for your outfit. It’s also an excellent way to revive an old pair of shoes that have seen better days.

Suede leather is only naturally available in a limited range of colors, including shades of yellow, brown, and gray. If you’re looking for something outside of that natural color palette, then dying your shoes is the only way to achieve it. [1]

Can Suede be Dyed?

Still, the question is often asked – can suede be dyed? And the answer is, yes! You can dye your suede shoes any color you want provided you use the right products and follow some simple steps. In the next few sections, we will go over preparations, tips, and the dying process itself! [1] [2] [3]

Prepping Shoes Before Dyeing Them

The most important thing you need to do before you start is to protect your workspace. Suede can be a very messy material to work with, so it’s best to lay down some old towels or newspapers in the area where you will be working. And that’s only the first step!

Prepare a working area

The first thing you need to do before you start is to protect your workspace. Leather dyes can be very messy to work with, so it’s best to lay down some old towels or newspapers in the area where you will be working. This will help to keep your area clean and make cleanup much easier when you’re finished.

Buy a dye intended for use on suede

It’s important that you use a dye that is made specifically for suede. This is because regular leather dyes can be too harsh on the delicate material and cause it to crack or peel.

Prepping Shoes Before Dyeing Them

You can purchase suede dye from most shoe stores or online retailers. Again, be sure to get the right type of dye for your shoes. Some dyes are made specifically for suede, while others can be used on multiple types of materials. Check the label on the bottle to make sure it will work on your footwear.

Wear gloves

You will also need to wear gloves throughout the entire process. It’s very important to wear gloves while dyeing your shoes for a few reasons. First, you don’t want the dye to get on your hands and nails and potentially stain them. Second, the gloves protect your hands from the chemicals in the dye. And third, they help you avoid getting dyestuffs on your clothes.

You can use any type of gloves that you have around the house, but we recommend latex or nitrile gloves because they provide the best protection.

Brush suede shoes with a soft brush

After you have your work area all set up, the next step is to brush your suede shoes with a soft brush. This will help to loosen any dirt or debris that may be on the surface of the shoe. It’s important to make sure that the shoes are clean before you start dyeing them, otherwise, the dye may not take evenly.

Make sure to brush in the direction of the suede’s grain to avoid damaging the material. Suede fibers are relatively delicate, so you don’t want to brush too harshly.

Clean the suede

Next, you need to assess the condition of your shoes. If they are extremely dirty or have any holes or tears, it may be best to clean them first or patch them up before moving on to dyeing. If they are in good condition, however, you can move on to the next step.

Any dirt or grime on the surface of the suede will prevent the dye from being evenly absorbed, so it’s important to start with a clean slate. You can use a suede brush or a toothbrush to lightly scrub away any dirt on the surface of the shoe.

Once you’ve brushed away the surface dirt, it’s time to inspect the surface for stains. If there are any dark spots or stains on the suede, you can try using a suede eraser to rub them away. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a mild solvent like rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.

Dampen a cotton ball or cloth with your chosen solvent and gently rub it over the stained area. You should see the stain start to lighten. Once the stain is gone, use a dry cloth to remove any residual moisture from the surface of the shoe. Be sure to air-dry the shoes completely before moving on to the next step.

Remove all the accessories from suede shoes

Of course, you’ll need to remove any laces or other accessories from your shoes before you start dyeing them. You can set these aside and dye them separately if you want, but it’s usually best to just buy new ones after the fact.

Remove all the accessories from suede shoes

This includes anything that is not the actual shoe itself. This means removing the laces, insoles, and any other removable parts. Once you have everything removed, you can proceed to the next step.

Stuff your shoes with something soft

Once your shoes are clean, the next step is to stuff your shoes with something soft. This will help them keep their shape while you are working on them and also prevent the dye from seeping through to the other side. You can use old socks, paper towels, or even newspapers. Just make sure that whatever you use is clean and free of any chemicals that could potentially damage the suede.

Test the dye on a small inconspicuous area first

Before you start dyeing your shoes, it’s always a good idea to test the dye on a small inconspicuous area first. This will help you to see how the color will turn out and make sure that you are happy with it before proceeding.

To do this, simply apply a small amount of dye to an unseen area of the shoe using a cotton swab or cloth. Make sure to rub it in well so that you get an accurate idea of the final color. Once you’re happy with the result, you can proceed to the next step. [1] [3] [4]

Dyeing Suede Shoes

Finally, it’s time to start dyeing your shoes! In this section, we will discuss all the key steps involved in successfully dyeing your shoes.

Get a clean soft toothbrush with a small head

First things first, you need to gather all the supplies you will need for the job. This includes a clean, soft toothbrush with a small head and a container for the dye. Once you have everything gathered, you can move on to the next step.

A soft-bristled toothbrush is by far the best type of brush to use when dyeing suede shoes. The last thing you want is to damage the surface of the shoe while you are trying to dye it.

Check the application instructions on the dye

Obviously, the first step is to check the application instructions that come with your chosen dye. This will ensure that you are using the product correctly and avoid any disasters!

Dyeing Suede Shoes

Some dyes will require you to mix them with water before applying. Follow the instructions on the package to get the correct ratio.

Dip the brush into the dye

Now for the fun part! It’s time to start dyeing your shoes. Begin by dipping the brush into the dye. Make sure you only dip it in a little bit at first, as you can always add more if necessary.

Begin spreading the dye over your shoe

Once you have your shoe and dye prepared, it’s time to start applying the dye. Begin by spreading an even layer of dye over the entire surface of your shoe. If you are using a spray bottle, hold the bottle about 6 inches away from the shoe and make sure to cover the entire shoe in a fine mist.

Carefully massage the dye into your shoe

After you have applied the dye, take your brush and carefully massage it into the shoe. This will help to ensure that the dye evenly coats the entire surface of the shoe.

Let the first coat of dye dry

There’s a high chance that the first coat of dye will not be as dark as you want it to be. This is perfectly normal! You can apply as many coats as you like until you achieve the desired color.

After you have applied the first coat of dye, let it dry completely before deciding on what to do next. This could take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the type of dye you are using.

Let the first coat of dye dry

Once the first coat of dye has dried, you can decide if you want to apply a second coat. If you do, repeat the steps above until you are happy with the color of your shoes. Once you have achieved the desired color, let the shoes dry completely before using them. And that’s it! You’ve successfully dyed your suede shoes. Wasn’t that easy? [1] [2] [3]

General Tips

Still, there are a few general tips that will help you get the best possible results when dyeing your shoes. Let’s discuss them now!

Only use dyes specifically designed for suede leather

As we mentioned, it is very important to only use dyes that are specifically designed for suede leather. These dyes will be much more gentle on the surface of your shoes and are less likely to cause damage.

Only use smooth, small, circular motions

Be sure to only use smooth, small, circular motions when applying the dye. If you make large or jerky movements, the dye can end up looking blotchy. And don’t apply too much pressure, or you’ll risk saturating the suede and making it look darker than you intended.

General Tips

Work slowly

When working with dye, it is always best to work slowly and carefully rather than rushing through the process. This will help ensure that the color comes out even and that you don’t end up with any unwanted stains. And you don’t want to miss any spots!

Be careful not to over-dye

It’s easy to get carried away when you are dyeing your shoes, but resist the urge to add too much dye. Remember, you can always add more if necessary. But if you add too much, you might end up with uneven color or even damage your shoes.

Avoid getting water on your shoes

Water can cause the dye to run or fade, so it is important to avoid getting your shoes wet during the dying process. If you do get water on your shoes, simply let them dry completely before continuing.

Work in sections

Probably the most important tip for dyeing suede shoes is to work in sections. Suede is a very porous material, which means that it will absorb any color that you apply to it. This is great news if you want your shoes to be one solid color, but it can also be a nightmare if you’re not careful.

The best way to avoid this problem is to work in small sections, applying the dye evenly and then moving on to the next section. Once you’ve finished dyeing the entire shoe, you can go back and touch up any areas that may have been missed.

Be patient

Finally, the most important thing will be to set it and your shoes will be protected. The tip of all is to be patient! Dyeing suede shoes is not a quick process, so it is important to be patient and take your time. If you rush through it, you are much more likely to make a mistake. And trust us, mistakes can be very difficult to fix. [3]

Taking Care of Your Newly Painted Suede Shoes

Once you’ve successfully dyed your suede shoes, you’ll want to take care of them so that they stay looking their best. A proper maintenance routine will also ensure the dye does not fade too quickly. Here are a few tips to help you keep your shoes looking great.

Buff the suede

It’s important to buff your suede leather because it helps maintain the natural oils in the hide, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Additionally, buffing gives the suede a nice sheen and an overall polished look.

To buff your suede properly, you’ll need just a soft brush or a cloth! You can use a commercial suede brush, but an old toothbrush or clean sock will work just as well.

Start by gently brushing the entire shoe in one direction. You don’t need to apply pressure – just let the bristles lightly glide over the surface of the leather. Once you’ve gone over the whole shoe, go over it again to fluff up the fibers after the exhausting dying process.

Keep in mind that you should only buff your suede when it’s absolutely necessary – too much buffing can damage the delicate fibers and affect the appearance of your shoes.

Apply waterproofing treatment

One of the best ways to keep your newly dyed suede shoes looking great is to apply a waterproofing treatment. This will help protect them from water and stains. You can find these treatments at most shoe stores or online. Just make sure to read the instructions carefully before applying.

Taking Care of Your Newly Painted Suede Shoes

Don’t wear suede shoes in wet conditions

While suede is a fairly durable fabric, it’s not meant to withstand a lot of moisture. In fact, rain can not only make the dye on your shoes run, but it can also damage the suede itself. If you must wear your shoes in wet weather, be sure to apply a water-resistant spray before heading out as we mentioned.

Store your shoes properly

Suede is a delicate fabric, so it’s important to store your shoes properly. Avoid storing them in direct sunlight or in humid areas, as this can cause the dye to fade. Instead, keep them in a cool, dry place. You can also stuff them with newspaper to help maintain their shape. [3]

How to Dye Suede Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Dyeing suede shoes can be a fun and creative way to refresh your footwear or change their color to match your style. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to dye suede shoes effectively.

Step Description Materials Needed Estimated Time
1 Clean the Shoes: Start by cleaning your suede shoes to remove dirt and stains. Use a suede brush or a soft cloth to gently brush away any surface dirt. Suede brush, soft cloth, mild suede cleaner 15 minutes
2 Choose the Right Dye: Select a suede dye in the color you desire. Ensure it’s specifically designed for suede materials. Suede dye, dye applicator, protective gloves 10 minutes
3 Prepare Your Workspace: Find a well-ventilated area to work in, preferably outdoors. Cover your work surface with newspapers or plastic sheets to protect it from dye splatters. Newspapers or plastic sheets 5 minutes
4 Apply the Dye: Use a suede dye applicator or a soft sponge to apply an even coat of dye to the suede. Start with a thin layer and allow it to dry. Repeat this step until you achieve the desired color intensity. Suede dye applicator, soft sponge 1-2 hours (drying time between coats)
5 Allow to Dry: Let the shoes dry thoroughly between each dye application. This may take several hours, depending on the dye and weather conditions. Good ventilation, drying rack 6-8 hours
6 Brush the Suede: After the final dye application has dried, use a suede brush to restore the suede’s texture and remove any excess dye residue. Suede brush 10 minutes
7 Protect the Color: Consider applying a suede protector spray to seal in the color and protect your newly dyed shoes from stains and moisture. Suede protector spray 5 minutes

Additional Tips:

  • Follow the dye manufacturer’s instructions for the specific product you’re using.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from the dye.
  • Test a small, inconspicuous area of the shoe with the dye to ensure you’re happy with the color and results.
  • Be patient and take your time during the dyeing process to achieve the best results.

Dyeing suede shoes can be a rewarding DIY project, but it requires careful attention to detail and patience. With the right materials and a methodical approach, you can transform your suede shoes into stylish, custom-colored footwear.


How do you permanently dye suede shoes?

No dye is truly permanent, but some come very close. Aniline dyes are the best choice for permanently dying suede shoes because they penetrate the leather better than spirit-based dyes. However, they can be tricky to use and don’t always produce the most even color.

To make sure the dye will stay in your shoes for longer, always apply a waterproofing spray after dying. You can buy a water repellent specifically for suede and nubuck, or you can use a generic waterproofing spray meant for all types of shoes.

What can I use to dye suede shoes?

There are a few different types of dyes that can be used to change the color of suede shoes. One type is aniline dye, which is absorbed into the fibers of the suede and won’t rub off easily. Another type is nubuck dye, which is also absorbed into the fibers but may rub off more easily than aniline dye. No matter what you choose, be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure you like the results.

How do I prepare my shoes for dyeing?

Before you start dying your shoes, you’ll need to prep them first. This includes cleaning them with a suede brush or eraser to get rid of any dirt or grime, and then applying a pre-dye conditioner to help the dye soak in evenly. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start dyeing!

Can you get suede dyed?

Yes, you can get suede dyed and the process is not that difficult. You will first want to check with the shoe care label to see if the shoes can be colored. If they are not, you may want to test a small area before dying the entire shoe. You will also want to keep in mind that dark colors can’t be properly lightened, so you will want to avoid choosing a dark shade if your goal is to lighten the color of your shoes.

Can you change the color of the suede?

Dying suede is possible, but it can be tricky to get the color even. You should also be aware that some dyes can damage suede, so it’s important to test a small area before dying your whole pair of shoes.

If you’re set on dying your suede shoes, start by choosing a dye that is made specifically for suede. You can find this type of dye at most craft stores. Once you’ve chosen your dye, mix it with water according to the package directions.

Also, you won’t be able to dye the darker leather into a lighter color, so keep that in mind when selecting your new shade.

What is the best type of dye for suede shoes?

The best type of dye for suede shoes is suede dye, which is specifically formulated to adhere to the unique texture of suede. Suede dye comes in various colors and is designed for optimal color penetration and durability.

Can you dye suede shoes a lighter color than their original shade?

Dyeing suede shoes a lighter color than their original shade can be challenging. Suede dye is typically semi-transparent and won’t cover the existing color completely. It’s easier to dye suede shoes a darker shade than to make them lighter.

Is it possible to dye suede shoes at home, or should I seek professional help?

You can dye suede shoes at home with the right materials and instructions. However, if you’re not confident in your dyeing skills or want a precise result, it’s advisable to seek professional help from a cobbler or leather expert.

What steps should I follow when dyeing suede shoes at home?

When dyeing suede shoes at home, start by cleaning them thoroughly to remove dirt and stains. Then, apply suede preparer to roughen the suede surface for better dye absorption. Afterward, carefully apply the suede dye in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Finish with a suede protectant to seal the color.

Can you dye suede shoes multiple times to achieve the desired color?

Yes, you can dye suede shoes multiple times to achieve the desired color depth. However, be cautious not to over-saturate the suede, as it can affect the texture and durability. It’s better to apply several thin coats rather than a few thick ones.

Is it necessary to mask off non-suede parts of the shoes when dyeing?

Yes, it’s essential to mask off non-suede parts of the shoes, such as soles, laces, and any metal or plastic elements, to prevent them from getting stained by the dye. Use masking tape or petroleum jelly to protect these areas.

Can suede shoes be dyed a different color if they have been previously dyed?

Yes, suede shoes can be dyed a different color even if they have been previously dyed. However, removing the existing dye or achieving a lighter color may require additional steps, such as using a color remover or bleach before applying the new dye.

How long does it take for dyed suede shoes to dry completely?

The drying time for dyed suede shoes depends on various factors, including the dye used, humidity, and temperature. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or more. Ensure they are completely dry before wearing them to avoid color transfer.



Suede shoes are a great addition to any wardrobe, but they can be expensive. If you’re looking for a way to save money and still get the look you want, consider dying your own suede shoes.

Dyeing suede shoes is not difficult, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, it’s important to choose the right dye. You’ll also need to prep the shoes before you start and be patient. Work slowly and in small sections to ensure even coverage. And don’t forget to give your shoes a proper clean before you start!

After you finish dyeing your shoes, properly care for them to maintain their color. Store them in a cool, dry place and avoid getting them wet. With a little bit of effort, you can keep your dyed suede shoes looking great for years to come. Thanks for reading!