How to Redye Leather

Written by james clark
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How to Redye Leather
Top-grain leather, such as in handbags, holds new dye well. (,

Redyeing leather can give old garments, belts, handbags, even car seats a new lease on life while restoring an item that will seem new to your eyes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Leather dye
  • Saddle soap
  • White vinegar
  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice
  • Acrylic brushes
  • Hair dryer
  • Clean, disposable cloths

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    How to Redye Leather

  1. 1

    Clean the leather with a damp cloth and saddle soap. Allow to air dry, but not in direct sunlight.

    How to Redye Leather
    Leather dye comes in a rainbow of colours.
  2. 2

    Avoid oil-based cleaning products or cleaners containing silicone. Oil weakens the stitching and can stain leather. Silicone-based cleaners dry out the leather, possibly causing it to crack or become brittle.

  3. 3

    Remove stubborn stains and spots with a paste of one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar. Rub the paste into the stain with a clean cloth and let it sit for at least an hour. Blot off with a damp cloth and repeat as necessary

  4. 4

    Remove road salt and mineral stains from a leather jacket or shoes by rubbing a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water into the leather. Let dry, then rub out with a damp cloth.

  5. 5

    Remove water spots by wetting the area again and using a hair dryer on a low setting to warm the leather and evaporate the spot.

  6. 6

    Rub 300-plus grit sandpaper over the leather to prepare the surface, allowing the dye to adhere.

  7. 7

    Apply the dye purchased from a leather-goods store or tack shop, using an acrylic brush.

  8. 8

    Paint the dye first over the edges, seams and piping of the leather, then allow to dry.

  9. 9

    Apply the dye in quick brush strokes over the main surface of the leather, brushing in a star burst pattern rather than up and down or in any single direction. Allow to dry thoroughly.

  10. 10

    Apply a quality leather polish, saddle soap or wax to the leather, then buff it out with a clean, dry cloth.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply fresh dye with a quality brush, moving in all directions rather than up and down to give the new colour a uniform finish on the leather.
  • Keep leather out of direct sunlight while drying.

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