There are many ways to dye leather but can you use shoe polish to dye leather? In this article, we will explore everything about whether you can use shoe polish to dyes your leather goods, the pros, cons, and some alternative dyes for leather.
But first, let’s take a look at what dyeing leather really entails so that we can put the question of using shoe polish to dye leather in a proper perspective.
To be able to dye leather, you need to dye the fibers of the leather, which can be done using special leather dyes which are usually water-based or alcohol-based dyes.
It is important to say that most parts of every kind of leather dye will be a pigment or some kind of coloring chemical that can change the appearance of leather.
These special dyes when applied to the surface of the leather seeps deep into the fibers of the leather with the mission to do one thing and one thing alone which is to color the leather as you want.
There are also impregnators, waterproofers, and colorants that can be used over the dye to provide extra protection against scuffs and stains.
Shoe polish is a wax-based or water-based external coating for leather, rubber, and vinyl. Shoe polish can be used to waterproof shoes and protect them from water, dust, and other elements.
It is used to shine and protect leather, and for aesthetic purposes. Some shoe polish formulations also incorporate perfumes and menthol. Shoe polishes are able to add shine to the surfaces they are applied to because they are made of wax.
Waxes have a high melting point, so they remain solid until the surface is raised to around 150 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Once the surface reaches 150 degrees Celsius, the wax will melt and spread out evenly.
Some shoe polishes contain pigments and therefore can alter or improve the color of a leather item.
It is important to note that some other shoe polishes are made so that they only add shine and protection, and do not alter the color or appearance of the material they are applied to. With that said, let’s now address the elephant in the room!
Will Shoe Polish Dye Leather?
Technically, shoe polish will not be able to seep deep into the pores of leather to dye its fibers because it is a topical coating, not a dye. This is mainly due to the waxes and chemicals in the shoe polish, which will seal on top of the surface of leather and bind to it.
Therefore, if you want to dye or change the color of your leather, you need to use a dye that seeps into the fibers of the leather, not just waxes and chemicals that will only stay on the surface of the leather.
This is not to say there will be no color changes when you use shoe polish of a particular color over a leather item that is dyed with another color. The colorants or pigments present in some shoe polishes may be strong enough to change the color of leather, but they will only be on the surface and not deep within the fibers.
So to answer this question, no! Shoe polish will not be able to dye leather. Unfortunately, shoe polish can only create shine and provide an extra layer of protection over the surface.
What Will Happen If You Try To Use Shoe Polish To Dye Leather?
If you try to use shoe polish to dye leather regardless, here are a few things you can expect;
1. The Shoe Polish Will Make The Leather Unbreathable
Leather is a durable material that is made of animal skin and therefore, it is breathable. Shoe polish will create an additional layer on top of the leather and seal it.
Leather that is dye will regular dyes maintain a good level of breathability, especially if it is unfinished leather, but this cannot be said for shoe polish.
Shoe polish will create a layer of heavy waxes and residues on top of the leather and therefore create another layer of insulation for heat and cold.
The advantage here is that the shoe polish will make it more difficult to absorb moisture from the environment.
2. The Shoe Polish Will Make The Leather Less Resilient
Leather has a natural capacity to be flexible so it can resist damage from pressure and scuffs. Shoe polish will add an additional layer of waxes on top of the leather and make it harder for it to bend.
For you to completely change the color of a leather item, you might have applied a lot of shoe polish to be able to evenly change the color of the leather.
By so doing you apply a thick layer of shoe polish that can not only make your leather hard to bend but also less resilient.
3. Color Change Will Not Be Permanent
The colorant chemicals in the shoe polish will only be on the surface of the leather and thus, they will not form the chemical bond that leather dyes can.
Therefore, when you use shoe polish to dye leather, the color of the leather will not be permanent and may come off or fade.
This is because shoe polishes will only be for a physical bond that is usually restricted to the surface of the leather. Shoe polishes are not meant to be a substitute for leather dyes and should never be used as a permanent coloring solution.
4. Color Transfering Onto Other Surfaces
If you’re trying to dye leather with shoe polish, then be prepared for color transferring onto other surfaces.
This is because the chemical make-up of shoe polish is not meant for dyeing leather. If you apply a thick coat of it over your leather, the pigment from the shoe polish may seep onto other surfaces due to the waxes.
Leather Dye Alternatives
Leather is a very versatile and durable material that can be used to create a variety of products. Whether it’s clothing, shoes, purses, or even furniture. Leather can make a product look unique and stylish.
Unfortunately, over time the color of the leather might fade, leaving it looking old and unattractive. Luckily, there are ways to dye leather back to its original color or to give it a completely new look without using shoe polish or leather dyes.
Here are 4 great alternatives to dye leather:
Henna (Red-Orange Color)
Henna is a type of type made from a flowering plant that can be used to dye leather. It is a good solution for coloring only natural leather.
To prepare the leather for use with henna, you can clean it in water and spread it out in the sun to dry. Once the leather is dried, you can start applying the henna.
The simplest way to apply henna onto the leather is by using a brush and dabbing it onto the leather. Let it dry on its own and then rinse off any excess henna with water. You can repeat this process for darker or richer color results.
Turmeric (Yellow-Orange Color)
Turmeric is a yellowish powder that can be used to dye leather. When you choose to dye leather with turmeric, you can either mix it with water and apply it using a brush or blend the powder into a paste and spread it over the leather.
Turmeric leaves a faint stain and usually lasts for about 3 months before fading away, but it can be refreshed after you clean the leather. It is one of the best ways to dye leather without having to use chemicals.
Using Coffee To Dye Leather (Dark Brown)
Coffee is a great way to dye leather because it’s inexpensive and it can make your leather look as if you just bought it from the store.
When coffee is mixed with water and applied to your leather, it will leave behind a rich brown color that looks great when added to almost any color leather.
However, if the coffee has been sitting in your cup for too long, it might leave behind a strong smell that’s similar to wet cardboard. This might not be the best dye solution if you want your leather to smell good.
To avoid getting a smelly dye, simply make sure to use coffee beans that are only a week old.
If you’re looking for a natural way to dye your leather then acorns might be the answer. Acorns contain tannins that can produce rich black dyes especially when they are mixed with an acid solution like lemon juice.
Although they are not as popular today as they were in the past, acorns have been used for centuries to dye leather.
When crushed and mixed with water, acorns will create a rich brown color that adds depth to the leather.
Make sure to choose only fallen leaves and acorns that are not affected by any bugs or insects.
Use some water to crush the acorns until they have the consistency of a paste and then apply it to your leather.
Let the mixture sit on the leather for about an hour and then dry and condition it with some oil.
If you want to give your leather surface the best of the best dyeing effect using acorn you will need some acorn powder, water, a cup of lemon juice, and a few rusted nail, bolts, or knots.
Mix together and leave the dye solution to sit for about a day or two. Now apply the dye over the surface of your leather and let it sit for a few hours to air dry. Usually, the more it dries the richer and darker the color gets.