How to dye brown leather black

Updated July 20, 2017

Dyeing leather requires concentration and focus in order to dye the material evenly. Make sure you have a large work space and protect your clothing when working with the preparation materials and dye. Leather dyes are required to dye the leather properly; other dyes will not work properly and will leave your leather with streaks and uneven lines. Always use the proper dyes for the type of leather you are dyeing. When in doubt, talk to a professional at your leather shop to determine the proper materials.

Prepare the leather

Clean the leather thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth. Remove all dirt and marks from the leather.

Apply the deglazer according to the manufacturer's instructions to remove any previous glaze or dye and leave the leather supple and porous for dyeing.

Dampen the leather uniformly. The leather must be evenly wet to ensure the dye takes evenly.

Dye the leather

Apply the dye to the leather evenly by pouring the dye on to a non-porous cloth and wiping over the leather in even strokes. Use an even amount of dye on all parts of the leather and go over it a second time to ensure the leather is dyed evenly and uniformly.

Lay the leather on a clean, protected surface to dry.

Flex the leather periodically during the drying process to keep the leather supple and to keep it from stiffening too much from the dye.

Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off any excess dye and to buff the leather. Use slow, even strokes and change cloths as necessary.


Alcohol-based dyes absorb better on leather, but may make the leather stiffen. Water-based dyes can also be used. While they won't stiffen the leather, the leather may require several coats to get it to dye evenly, and the leather may not come out completely black.

The deglazer is necessary only if the leather was pre-treated or previously dyed. Some leathers require speciality dyes or won't take dyes at all. Discuss any questions you may have with a leather shop professional.


Cover all surfaces and wear clothing you don't mind ruining. The dyes used on leather will dye many surfaces and will not come out.

Things You'll Need

  • Brown leather
  • Damp cloth or sponge
  • Leather deglazer
  • Non-porous cloth
  • Alcohol-based black leather dye
  • Buffing cloth
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About the Author

Jessica Daniel has been writing professionally since 2005. She has worked in the arts-and-crafts field, publishing knitting patterns with Lorna's Laces and My Sister's Knits. Daniel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and women's studies from St. Xavier University.