How to Dye Suede Shoes [Step-By-Step Guide]

Is it possible to dye suede shoes? Yes it is 100% possible. Lots of people have been doing it for years, and today I’m going to give you a step-by-step breakdown on how to do it.

Dyeing Suede Shoes Grey to Black

It is fairly easy but does require some knowledge on your part and a little bit of work.

But hey, at least it’s fun!

You can make some shoes look amazing with the right colors.

The key to this is to bring out your personally and just have fun with it.

So without further ado, lets get right into it.

Can you dye suede shoes?

That’s a definite yes!

Suede shoes are fun to dye and very possible as the fabric allows for die to soak in thoroughly without missing any spots.

Although there are some things you need to know to make it easier and without making a huge mess.

Also you can’t just use any dye, you need special suede dye for this which you can find on

Fiebing’s are a fan favorite and they’re cheap as hell too.

It costs about $7 for a 4 FL. OZ bottle.

Tools needed

  • Wash cloth (for dirty shoes only)
  • Bristled brush
  • Plenty of newspaper
  • Gloves
  • Suede shoe dye
  • Applicator (a toothbrush is perfect)
  • Waterproof spray
  • Hairdryer (optional)
  • Painters tape

Time to complete

Preparation: 10 – 20 minutes
Applying paint: 20 – 60 minutes
Drying time: 12 – 24 hours
Clean up: 5 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes – 1 hour 35 minutes (not including drying time)

You probably won’t get it done within 35 minutes on your first try because you’ll be taking extra care to not get dye anywhere!

But after that it’s a breeze. The more you do it the faster you get.

Preparation (things to know)

You cannot go from dark to white

You can only go a darker shade because it’s impossible to dye suede shoes a lighter color.

Just like when dyeing hair to a lighter color, you need at least 6 bottles to go from black to blonde hair, and sometimes more.

More times than not it’s better to just bleach the hair.

So if you’re buying suede shoes for the sole purpose of dyeing them, make sure they are a light color so you can easily go darker.

Dye causes permanent stains, so lots of care needs to be taken

Shoe dye is strong and will permanently stain whatever it touches.

This means care needs to be taken in order to keep the dye out of unwanted places.

Get prepared by placing newspaper on the ground and wearing gloves.

You may want to do this on a garage floor or even outside on the grass to be extra safe (although you’re susceptible to wind).

Just know that it can easily get messy and that if the dye touches the ground it will stain.

Seams may not change color very well

Nowadays shoes are made with synthetic threads which are not as absorbent as natural materials.

This is unavoidable but not really a big deal.

It may be noticeable depending on the shoe type color.

So don’t keep applying dye to the seams thinking it’ll get darker.

You’ll only saturate the areas surrounding it, creating dark spots.

How to dye suede shoes

Step 1: Clean the shoe thoroughly

First and foremost the shoe needs to be cleaned from dust and debris.

If it’s too dirty, it’ll require a much more thorough clean.

You can use a damp wash cloth and scrub the shoe all over which is going to offer a nice and consistent clean appearance.

However, if it’s already clean, all it needs is a quick once over with a bristled brush.

And be sure to scrub in all directions so that the fibers stand up, allowing the dye to soak deep into the fabric.

Step 2: Remove laces and cover up areas you don’t want dyed

Remove laces and insoles if possible to stop them from getting dyed.

You can also use painters tape to cover up areas you don’t want to be dyed.

This is good for those trying to design shoes and don’t want them all one color.

Logos, stripes, zippers, etc, will also need to covered up unless you want them dyed as well.

Stuff the shoes with newspaper all the way to the toe box, protecting the inside and holding its shape while being dyed.

Ensure that the newspaper comes all the way to the top of the collar so that zero paint gets inside.

You may also put painters tape around the opening of the shoe for extra protection.

Step 3: Apply the dye with a brush

Now your shoe is ready for painting!

A small applicator like a toothbrush is completely okay and a good way to get into nooks and crannies.

Although most shoe dyes come with their own little tool.

Some might come with a cotton ball, however, they aren’t as good as a sturdy tool like a brush.

Dip the the brush into the dye and apply it to the shoes using a circular motion, allowing the dye to soak in thoroughly.

Step 4: Be aware of dark spots

Dark spots happen by applying too much dye in one area.

An easy way to avoid this is by applying a little bit at a time.

Do not apply more than half a teaspoon of dye at a time as you run the risk of dark spots as well as drips and splatters.

Start with covering the entire shoe with a little bit of dye at first.

If they aren’t dark enough, then continue the same process.

Step 5: You’re done! Store overnight

You are officially done.

All that’s left is to let it dry overnight.

Store it in a cool, dry place.

Drying time varies a lot depending on the temperature and type of dye used.

Some can take 24 hours before it’s dry to the touch, and others can dry fully in 24 hours.

That’s why I recommend storing for at least 24 hours before checking in.

Finishing touches

Apply more dye

Some areas may be darker than others, or the entire thing might not be as dark as you wanted it to be.

It’s not uncommon for the dye to lighten once it’s dry so there’s a good chance that another coat is needed.

Also keep in mind that too much coats can dry out the leather. I recommend only applying 2-3 coats.

As long as the shoe is completely dry, you can apply another coat to your liking.

It’s best to do this while you still have the painters tape and other areas still covered up, as it’s just a matter of getting out the paint and newspaper and going again.

Brush up flat fibers

Once you have all your coats done and everything’s dry, you can use a bristled brush to bring up all the fibers.

You could use a hairdryer during this process in case some fibers that have been laying down aren’t completely dry.

Apply waterproofing

Applying waterproofing will help protect the dye from puddles, mud, etc.

Although it repels water, it’s still prone to moisture-related issues.

The water repellent is that extra protection, not the be-all and end-all.

The best way to protect your work is to not wear them in wet conditions whatsoever and always avoid walking in puddles and mud.

Final reminders

Well that finishes up this how-to guide.

There was a lot to cover and some things you need to keep in mind when dying your shoes.

Theses are:

  • You can’t go dark to light
  • Seems may not dye very well
  • Be prepared for some splatter
  • Dye your shoes in the garage or outside on the grass
  • Always be careful
  • Give your shoes ample time to dry – at least 24 hours
  • And most of all, have fun!

That pretty much covers everything you need to know about dyeing suede shoes.

I’ve done it before and it is extremely fun.

My favorite is getting the kids involved and seeing how much fun they have while painting, and then wearing them when they’re dry.

Help them create different designs and patterns by using painters tape.

It’s a good way to spend quality time with the kids and have fun in the process.

Where to buy suede dye

Amazon is perfect for suede dyes.

As mentioned in previous sections, they have Fiebing’s Suede Dye.

This is my favorite because it’s so cheap but effective at the same time.

It’s also recognized as the most effective suede dye in the world!

They have the reviews to back it up and there are many colors available.

Fiebing's Suede Dye

==> Get yours here


Dyeing suede shoes is fun and even better when you rock them on the streets.

Because you worked for it.

There’s nothing better than completing something from start to finish, and then wearing the finished product.

You now have all the knowledge to do this yourself, and I really hope you do because it’s as fun as it sounds.

Please let us know in the comments below if you’ll be trying this yourself and how well it went (or badly, haha).

Cheers and thanks for reading this article. I hope you have a great day.

Now get out there and start painting!


Shoe Mastery

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