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How can I darken suede?

Updated April 17, 2017

Suede is a fragile, soft leather, buffed smooth and brushed to a velvety texture. It is quite delicate and requires careful maintenance. Many leather cleaners, waterproofing and protectors will darken suede, but they may also damage it in the process. To deliberately change the colour of a suede item, use a purpose-specific suede dye. Even then, the original colour of the material affects the final colour job, so you may not be able to predict exactly what shade of suede you will create. However, you can be sure that your suede will end up darker than it started.

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  1. Brush the material with a suede brush to clean it and lift the fibres. Brush gently and thoroughly, going against the grain.

  2. Apply the leather dye to the material using a dye brush. Make long, smooth brushstrokes with the dye, painting it on as evenly as possible. Allow the dye to dry for two hours.

  3. Smooth on additional coats of dye until you reach the colour you want. Allow each coat to dry for two hours before applying the next.

  4. Brush the suede again with the suede brush after the final coat of dye has dried. This revives the leather's supple, velvety quality.

  5. Tip

    If you are dying shoes or garments, stuff them tightly with paper before you apply the dye to give you a firm work surface. Use an additional, fine-point brush to apply dye to corners and seams.


    Applying more than four coats of dye may over-dry the suede and damage it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Suede brush
  • Leather dye
  • Dye brush

About the Author

Stephanie Mitchell is a professional writer who has authored websites and articles for real estate agents, self-help coaches and casting directors. Mitchell also regularly edits websites, business correspondence, resumes and full-length manuscripts. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.

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