Turn your Leather Accessories into a Canvas - Best Ways to Dye Leather

Best Ways to Dye Leather

What sets basic leather dye apart from all other dyes used in leather dyeing is its odor which is specific to only this type of dye. A pungent sour smell that wears off over time accompanied by a splash of color and a layer of water resistance makes for a one-of-a-kind solution for all your leather goods. It's important to note that such dyes require aftercare in terms of sun exposure, long periods of sun exposure to basic dye products will result in a mild discoloration of them. So if you're looking to maintain the color at all times, being mindful while using or wearing them is key. Basic dyes, however, do not penetrate the leather as much as other dyes are inclined to and large quantities of the dye are a prerequisite to get the bright color you would be looking to achieve. But it takes less time to absorb into the fibers of the leather once you have begun application.

Why should you opt for basic dye over the rest?

The softness of the leather is not compromised despite the huge amounts of dye used and that's why it's preferred over other dyes. Apart from that, this type has colors that other dyes do not offer which is a distinguishing factor so if you like adding pops of color to your leather wardrobe or furniture, you know this has you covered. Mind you, if you're looking to mix it with alcohol-based dyes, that will not be possible as both do not make a cohesive solution. They are handy for smaller areas that require dyeing instead of full-fledged leather dyeing projects. Larger pieces would entail the use of alcohol-based dyes.

Alcohol-based Dye

They absorb into the leather deeper, with more efficiency and a faster speed than usual. Once stained, any mistakes that may arise cannot be corrected or go back to what they looked like originally so careful application is essential when delving into projects involving alcohol-based dyes

The color variations are limited with this type of dye and are not half as vibrant as basic dyes. They lean more toward the darker end of the spectrum. To make colors lighter, alcohol is added to dilute the solution while simultaneously leaving the absorption unaffected. Notably, the waterproof nature and weather resistance of such dyes leaves the color uncompromised even with extensive exposure to the sun.

Oil Dye

Oil-based leather dyes tend to absorb more deeply into the fibers of the leather skin so the color reaches more than just the surface. The remainder dye requires a post-dyeing cleanup after not more than 20 seconds of it being applied. Shortly after dyeing, a wet cotton cloth brushed on the surface of the leather coat could help lighten the color in order to achieve the color you have envisioned. It takes no longer than 10 minutes for the color to dry up making it durable in terms of sun resistance but not water friendly.

Aniline Dye

Aniline leather is made from especially soft, tanned hides from any animal. It is manufactured in large drums with the addition of aniline dyes. A translucent, water-soluble synthetic dye free from any insoluble pigments. The dyeing process helps highlight the natural grain found on the animals' original skin not excluding or disguising the markings, scars, and wrinkles that made up the appearance of the animals involved.

Semi-aniline dyes contain a very small quantity in terms of pigment which doesn't take away from the natural beauty of the while allowing for a more consistent color coat throughout the piece. Another type of aniline leather called "pull-up aniline" consists of a coating of oil or wax to give it a worn-down appearance.

Suede Dye

A carefully designed pigmentation for suede leather. Suede dye doesn't coat the leather but goes one step further by coloring the fibers of the leather with a rough surface. It is a permanent solution that disables cracking and peeling of the paint surface that may arise with other dyes.

Suede dye comes in a variety of colors so if you're looking for a specific shade, rest assured you should be able to find it no matter if it's a deep bottle green or a bright chirpy yellow. Dark leather colors cannot be lightened so the type of leather you choose for suede dyeing is of essential importance in terms of the desired color you may be looking to get for the finished product.


It consists of a small air-operated tool that automates painting and spraying different media. In most cases, it uses paint but can also be used for ink and dyeing. Since it is a handheld instrument connected to a canister of compressed air that helps in spray painting, it gives a sense of control to the user and has an even and consistent application.

Ombre Dyeing

It is also known as graduated dyeing or color bleeding. It is an effect created by material by hand to create a gradient effect. So that the color has a gradual variation from light to dark and in less frequent cases from one color to another.

Wearing rubber gloves is essential for this type of dyeing though since it is extremely hands-on. It needs a steady pace when lowering the fabric in the container of the dye. Once out of the container, we can tap the leather on the side of it to get rid of any excess dye that might still be on it. After which we just lay the leather out to dry on paper with the dry side facing down. To conclude, a top coat is sprayed on to add vibrance to the piece.

Dip Dyeing

Where natural leather is soaked in a dye solution to the point where the fibers are heavily absorbent of the color pigment and get a seamless finish. It is a gradual process that calls for an organized approach and a heavy consumption of leather dye.

Leave the leather submerged in the dye for 5-10 seconds, remove from the solution, and wipe it down with a sponge for the perfect finish. The process is repeated twice.

Shibori Dyeing

A dyeing technique that originated in Japan is also called indigo dye. It involves folding, bunching, or bundling fabric, tying it with a thread, and dyeing it with an indigo-colored dye. What you get is a fabric with patterned blue lines that are both geometric and organic.

However, this method can cause damage to the leather fibers as it requires a reduction of the dyes. So natural indigo dyes are not the best suited for leather.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are extracted from the fruits such as berries and grapes. Crushed berries and grapes create red, blue, or purple pigments that can be used to stain leather easily. Black grapes and elderberries have been used in history as natural dyes for leather. Berry or grape juice is applied to leather either by soaking or rubbing it into the surface of the fabric.

Apart from that, Henna is a natural dye that is used the world over for different purposes. It can be used to get high-quality dyed leather with a lasting color that doesn't wash away easily.
It's a sustainable method that doesn't require the addition of any harmful chemicals that other dyes so frequently contain. It is less toxic and is pocket friendly. The ingredients are readily available at home for anyone who is interested in dyeing their leather.