How To Dye Suede Shoes (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Hey there! Are you ready to give your suede shoes a whole new lease on life? Well, you’re in the right place! Suede shoes have taken the fashion world by storm, and it’s no wonder why. They exude a sense of style and sophistication that’s hard to match. But what if you could go a step further and add your own unique touch to them? That’s where dyeing suede shoes comes into play.

Whether you’re looking to refresh an old pair or simply want to switch up the color to match a new outfit, dyeing suede shoes is a fantastic way to give them a fresh and personalized look. In this blog, we’ll explore the different techniques, tips, and tricks to help you transform your beloved suede footwear. Without further ado, here’s how to dye suede shoes!

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How to Dye Suede Shoes

Understanding Suede and Dyeing Basics

A. What exactly is suede and what makes it special?

Suede is a type of leather that has been specially treated to have a soft, fuzzy texture. It’s made from the underside of animal hide, which is buffed to create that velvety feel. This gives suede its distinct look and luxurious appeal. Suede is loved for its stylish appearance and comfortable feel, making it a popular choice for footwear, handbags, and clothing.

B. The challenges of dyeing suede:

Dyeing suede can be a bit tricky due to its porous nature. Unlike other materials, suede absorbs dye differently, which can lead to uneven color distribution and potential color bleeding. Plus, since suede is delicate, using the wrong dye or applying too much pressure during the dyeing process can damage the material. So, it’s crucial to approach dyeing suede with care and choose the right dye specifically formulated for suede.

C. An overview of the dyeing process for suede shoes:

  1. Prep and clean: Start by preparing your suede shoes for dyeing. Remove any dirt, stains, or existing color using a suede brush or cleaner. This step ensures that the dye will adhere properly to the material and prevents any unwanted color mixing.
  2. Choose the right dye: Select a high-quality suede dye that is specifically formulated for suede materials. We recommend Fiebing’s Suede Dye. You can find a range of colors to choose from, so go ahead and pick the shade that speaks to your personal style!
  3. Application: When it’s time to apply the dye, start by testing it on a small, inconspicuous area of your shoe to make sure you’re happy with the color. If all looks good, apply the dye in thin, even layers using a brush, sponge, or airbrush. Take your time and allow each layer to dry before adding more. This gradual approach helps achieve a more even and professional-looking result.
  4. Protect and seal: Once your shoes are dyed and dry, it’s important to protect and seal the color. Use a suede protector spray like Nikwax’s Nubuck and Suede Proof Waterproofing to help maintain the vibrancy of the dye and guard against moisture and stains. This step ensures that your newly dyed suede shoes stay looking fabulous for longer.

Preparing Suede Shoes for Dyeing

A. Cleaning the shoes thoroughly:

The first step in preparing your suede shoes for dyeing is to give them a thorough cleaning. Suede is known for its ability to absorb dirt and stains, so it’s important to start with a clean canvas. Use a suede brush or a soft cloth to gently remove any surface dirt or debris.

If there are any stubborn stains, you can try using a suede cleaner specifically designed for suede materials such as Lincoln’s E-Z Cleaner. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner and test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the suede.

B. Removing any existing finishes or coatings:

Next, we need to remove any existing finishes or coatings that may be on your suede shoes. These finishes can prevent the dye from properly adhering to the material. You can use a suede eraser or a fine-grit sandpaper to gently rub the surface of the suede. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or rub too vigorously, as this can damage the suede. The goal here is to remove any top coatings and create a slightly roughened surface for better dye absorption.

C. Sanding and buffing the suede to even out the surface:

To ensure an even dye job, it’s important to sand and buff the suede to even out the surface. This step is especially crucial if your shoes have any scuffs or uneven areas. Use a fine-grit sandpaper or a suede brush to gently sand or buff the suede in small, circular motions. This will help smooth out any imperfections and create a consistent texture across the entire shoe.

Choosing the Best Dye for Suede Shoes

A. Why you should use suede dye:

When it comes to dyeing suede shoes, using a dye specifically formulated for suede is essential. Regular fabric dyes or shoe dyes might not provide the desired results or adhere properly to the suede material. Suede dyes are specially designed to penetrate the porous surface of suede, ensuring vibrant and long-lasting color.

B. Best dye for suede shoes:

When it comes to the best suede dye available on Amazon, one product that stands out is the Fiebing’s Suede Dye. This top-rated dye offers a wide range of vibrant colors to choose from, allowing you to find the perfect shade to match your style. It comes in a convenient applicator bottle, making it easy to apply with precision. The dye’s smooth consistency ensures even color distribution, minimizing the risk of streaks or blotches.

Additionally, the Fiebing’s Suede Dye is known for its durability, forming a strong bond with the suede material to resist fading over time. It is also versatile, suitable for dyeing not just suede shoes but also other suede items like handbags or jackets. Fiebing’s Suede Dye is hands down the best dye for suede shoes.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Dye Suede Shoes

Step 1: Gathering the necessary materials:

Before diving into the dyeing process, make sure you have all the required materials on hand. You’ll need the following:

  • Suede dye: Choose a high-quality suede dye in your desired color.
  • Applicator: Use a sponge, brush, or applicator pad to apply the dye.
  • Clean cloth: Have a clean cloth ready for any spills or to wipe off excess dye.
  • Masking tape: Use masking tape to protect any areas of the shoe you don’t want to dye.
  • Newspaper or plastic sheet: Lay down newspaper or a plastic sheet to protect your work area from dye spills.

Step 2: Prepping the work area:

Now that you have your materials, it’s time to prep your work area. Lay down the newspaper or plastic sheet to protect the surface you’ll be working on. This will prevent any accidental spills from staining your furniture or floor. Additionally, use masking tape to cover any areas of the shoe, such as the sole or delicate stitching, that you want to keep dye-free.

Step 3: Applying the dye evenly on the shoes:

Before you begin dyeing, ensure your suede shoes are clean and free from any dirt or stains. Shake the suede dye bottle well and apply a small amount of dye onto the applicator. Gently and evenly apply the dye onto the suede surface in small, circular motions. Start with a light layer and gradually build up the color as needed. Be careful not to saturate the suede too much to avoid any excessive bleeding or unevenness.

Step 4: Allowing the dye to dry and cure:

Once you’ve applied the dye, allow it to dry completely. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time, as it can vary depending on the brand. Avoid touching or wearing the shoes until the dye has fully dried. Some suede dyes may require heat setting or curing with a hairdryer or heat gun, so make sure to check the instructions for any additional steps.

Step 5: Conditioning and protecting the dyed suede shoes:

After the dye has dried and cured, it’s time to condition and protect your newly dyed suede shoes. Use a suede brush to gently brush or remove any excess dye residue. Then, apply a suede protector spray to guard against stains and water damage. We recommend Nikwax’s Nubuck and Suede Proof Spray-On. This step will help maintain the color and extend the life of your dyed suede shoes.

Caring for Dyed Suede Shoes

A. Regular cleaning and maintenance:

To keep your dyed suede shoes looking their best, it’s important to establish a regular cleaning routine. Use a suede brush to gently remove any surface dirt or stains. Brush in one direction to avoid damaging the suede fibers. For more stubborn stains, use a suede-specific cleaner and follow the instructions carefully. Remember to always test any cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area first.

B. Products for protecting and preserving the color:

To protect your dyed suede shoes from future stains and fading, it’s recommended to use a suede protector spray. This will create a protective barrier and help repel water and stains. Look for a spray that is specifically designed for suede materials and follow the application instructions provided by the manufacturer. Additionally, consider using a suede conditioner to keep the suede soft and supple, preventing it from drying out and cracking. Again, make sure to use a product that is suitable for suede materials.

C. Avoiding water exposure and direct sunlight:

Suede is known to be sensitive to water, so it’s crucial to avoid getting your dyed suede shoes wet. If your shoes do get wet, gently blot the excess moisture with a clean cloth and allow them to air dry naturally. Avoid using heat sources, such as a hairdryer, as this can cause the suede to shrink or become misshapen.

Additionally, direct sunlight can fade the color of your dyed suede shoes over time. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight when not in use. Consider using a shoe tree or stuffing them with tissue paper to maintain their shape while in storage.


In conclusion, dyeing suede shoes can be a fun and creative way to breathe new life into your favorite footwear. In this post, we’ve gathered the best tips on how to dye suede shoes. By following the step-by-step guide provided, you can confidently tackle the dyeing process and transform your suede shoes into vibrant, personalized creations.

Remember to gather the necessary materials, prep your work area, apply the dye evenly, allow it to dry and cure, and finally, condition and protect your newly dyed suede shoes. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy your stylish suede shoes for years to come. So go ahead, unleash your creativity, and give your suede shoes a fresh new look!