There are several creative ways to dye leather if you do not have leather dyes. There is the use of alternatives such as shoe polish, but this is not always the best option. Here are eight reasons why you should avoid using shoe polish to dye leather:
1. Shoe Polish Does Not Permanently Dye Leather
To begin with, shoe polish is not a permanent way to dye your leather. It will eventually wear off, which can be frustrating if you have gone to the trouble of dyeing your leather using this method.
The main reason why shoe polish does not permanently dye leather is due to the fact that it is a solvent-based product. This means that the dye will not easily bind with the leather surface, and over time it will rub off.
Another reason why shoe polish does not result in a permanent dye is that it is a thick substance. This means that it will not penetrate the leather surface as deeply as other, more specialized dyes would. As a result, the dye will begin to wear off over time.
Finally, one thing you will realize sooner or later when you use shoe polish to dye your leather items is that most leathers are finished with some form of protective coating or seal that will not allow the shoe dye to get into the pores of the leather.
In contrast, permanent leather dyes will give you a long-lasting finish that is not likely to fade or chip over time. So, if you are looking for a lasting way to change the color of your leather, shoe polish is not the best option.
There are a lot of permanent dyes available specifically for leather, and they will give you a more consistent and long-lasting finish. If you’re looking to dye your leather, skip the shoe polish and go for a proper leather dye.
2. Shoe Polish Makes Leather Look Dull and Dirty
Using shoe polish to dye your leather items will make your leather looks dull and dirty. This is because shoe polish is not a very subtle dye, and it will cover your leather in a thick layer of color.
This can be particularly noticeable on light-colored leathers, where the shoe polish will leave behind a dark, muddy-looking finish.
In contrast, permanent dyes give you more control over the color saturation, so you can achieve a more subtle finish if desired.
Shoe polish is also likely to leave behind a film or residue on your leather, which will make it look dirty and dull. Over time, this build-up of dirt and polish can be difficult to remove. Permanent dyes, in contrast, will not cause this problem and will give you a clean and consistent finish.
If you want your leather to look clean and evenly dyed, avoid using shoe polish as a dye and go for a more subtle permanent dye instead.
3. Shoe Polish Does Not Work on All Colours of Leather
I have heard a lot of people claim using shoe polish is a great alternative for dyeing dark-colored leather items. But this is false, and this is something I have tried myself.
Sadly, I learned the hard way. The truth is that shoe polish does not work on all colors of leather. If you try to use it to dye a dark brown or black leather item, the results will be disappointing.
Shoe polish may give you a subtle change in color if used with light-colored leathers, but it will not work with darker leathers. So, if you are looking to dye a dark brown or black leather item, shoe polish is not the best option.
There are other methods available for dyeing darker leather items that will give you better results. For example, using aniline dyes specifically designed for dark-colored leathers will give you a more consistent and even finish.
4. Using Shoe Polish To Dye Leather Can Be Time Consuming
Even if using shoe polish is going to work for your leather items, it’s going to take forever to get the results you want.
This is because shoe polish does not penetrate leather very well, so it’s going to take many layers of shoe polish applications for the color to show up. In simple words, due to the thick consistency of shoe polish, it takes a lot of coats to achieve the desired color.
Shoe polish also dries slowly and can take a long time to dry completely before you apply another layer of dye. Unfortunately, this means that if you are trying to dye a large item, such as a piece of furniture, it will take you many days to complete the project.
If you’re looking for an easy and quick way to dye your leather items, using shoe polish is not the best option. It is absolutely not worth it.
There are faster methods available that will give you better results. For example, using pre-mixed leather dye will give you a more consistent and even finish in just one coat.
5. Dyeing Leather With Shoe Polish Is Extremely Messy
Another reason why I do not recommend using shoe polish to dye your leather items is that it’s extremely messy.
This is because large chunks of shoe polish tend to get everywhere, and it’s difficult to get even coverage.
This can be a real pain when trying to dye a large piece of furniture, as you will have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the mess afterward.
And if you’re not careful, you might end up staining your clothes or skin with shoe polish. On top of that, it is always hard to control the application when you do not want to dye all parts of the leather surface.
If you’re looking for an easy and mess-free way to dye your leather items, avoid using shoe polish and go for a more stable option like pre-mixed leather dye.
6. Shoe Polishes Are Difficult to Remove from Leather
Once you apply a shoe polish to dye your leather item, it can be hard to remove. This is because the wax and oils in shoe polishes do not dissolve well in water or alcohol-based solvents.
Although leather dyes are also difficult to remove from leather, they are not as hard to get rid of as shoe polish. This is because dyes penetrate the leather surface, while shoe polishes just sit on top.
Regardless, removing shoe polish from your leather will still take a lot of time and effort. You may even need to use a stronger solvent, such as paint thinner or lacquer thinner, to get the job done.
If you’re not careful, you might end up damaging your leather item while trying to remove the shoe polish. So before applying shoe polish to dye your leather item, make sure you are aware of the risks and difficulties involved in removing it.
7. Shoe Polish May Cause Damage to Leather
To be able to successfully, dye leather with shoe polish means you have to over-saturate your leather with the shoe polish.
Shoe polish is often made up of waxes and heavy oils that can clog the pores of your leather and damage the surface of leather over time.
Leather is made to be breathable so that it can “air out” and not rot. When you apply a shoe polish to dye your leather, it will seal the pores of the leather and stop it from being able to breathe.
This will cause your leather item to become very stiff and dry over time. The finish may also start to crack or peel as the waxes in the shoe polish start to age.
Another effect of over-saturating leather with polish to dye it is that it can also cause the leather to swell. If you’re not careful, this can cause your leather item to weaken, split, or even tear.
Lastly, over saturating your leather can lead to mold and mildew growth making it important to dry your leather properly, especially in humid environments.
If you’re looking for a reliable way to dye your leather item, avoid using shoe polish and use pre-mixed leather dyes instead.
These are specially designed to penetrate the pores of the leather so that it can be absorbed into the material without clogging up or damaging the surface.
Once absorbed, it will not affect the breathability of your leather item and it will look great for years to come!
8. Shoe Polish Can Make Your Leather Shiny
Natural leather apart from patent leather is often characterized by a rich luxurious matte surface that is not completely shiny.
The natural appearance of leather can be enhanced by applying a clear protective finish that will give it more shine and depth of color.
When you apply a shoe polish to dye your leather item, it will obscure the natural matte look and feel of in the material and make it look like patent leather.
This may not be desirable for some people, as it can make the leather look too shiny and fake.
If you’re looking to dye your leather item to give it a more natural appearance, avoid using shoe polish and use a clear protective finish instead.
This will not only protect your leather from damage but it will also enhance the natural beauty of the material without making it too shiny.
In conclusion, dyeing leather with shoe polish is not a very reliable or effective method as there is a lot more downsides to it than there are benefits.
If you want to dye your leather item, use pre-mixed leather dyes instead of shoe polish as they’re much safer and easier to remove if needed.
My personal go-to leather dyes are Fiebing’s Professional Leather Dye, which can be found on Amazon, and the Tandy Leathercrafts Ultimate Dye Kit.