Now let’s get real here. If you’re thinking of lightening a black pair of leather boots. Then, forget about it.
The legitimate way to do that is to dye the leather. But if you’re talking about let’s say brown boots, I know a few methods on how to lighten leather boots.
The most effective way to lighten leather boots is to rub them with a solution of oxalic acid. Going in rough with leather cleaner or saddle soaps work too. But every method requires applying acetone for stripping down the top finish.
If you ask me, I’m just beating around the bush. It’s not possible to explain everything here. So, let’s start without wasting any more here-
Here's What to Expect
- 1 How to Lighten Leather Boots?
- 2 What to Do After Lightening Leather Boots?
- 3 How to Lighten Faux Leather Boots?
- 4 How to Lighten Leather Boots After Mink Oil?
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Final Verdict
How to Lighten Leather Boots?
Before you head over to the methods, know this. My favorite methods are methods 1 and 4, these are the most practical and effective methods available.
The other two aren’t bad, it’s just I’m not a fan of those. Here goes nothing-
Method 1: Acetone and Oxalic Acid (The Most Effective)
I know it sounds risky, but don’t worry too much about it. The risk isn’t much and plenty of people have already done it with success.
On top of that, you can oxalic acid(this one from Amazon comes in a neat package) pretty much anywhere at cheap prices. You might have to go through the entire batch or one application could do the trick.
It all depends on your boot and how much oxalic acid you’re applying.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Rubber gloves
- Acetone (nail polish remover)
- Oxalic acid
- Warm water/Leather cleaner
Step 1: Soak a Cloth in Acetone
Before you do anything, make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves. While some people use rubbing alcohol, I’d say stick to acetone. It’ll be way better at stripping away the color.
- Make sure the cloth isn’t dripping wet.
- If it’s too wet, wring it out before applying.
Step 2: Start Rubbing with the Cloth
Start by rubbing gently on the leather surface. After a few seconds, you should notice that the top layer is coming off.
Now, this is going to take some time. The acetone is going to be fast but you need to do this for every part of the boots.
This also means you should keep a couple of spare clothes for the job. Because they sure aren’t going to take their time to get dirty.
Step 3: Dry Them for a Couple of Minutes
Once you’re sure that you’ve removed the top finish, you can stop. And before you take the next step, dry out those boots. Make sure they’re fully dried.
Step 4: Make Oxalic Acid Solution
You need two things, oxalic acid and warm water(1:1). Just don’t add any regular bleach, unless you want to destroy the leather.
The lighter you want the boots to be, the more oxalic acid you need to add. But don’t go overboard.
Step 5: Rub the Oxalic Acid Solution on the Boots
You need to be as thorough as possible. Don’t be shy, apply some pressure when rubbing.
After a while, you’ll see the shades are getting lighter. Continue the process for the entire boot.
You know what to do now. The lighter you want the boots to be, the more time you’d have to spend rubbing.
Method 2: Leather Cleaner (Time Consuming But Effective)
It’s just as it sounds. The Saphir Renomat is a leather cleaner. But if you rub it hard enough, it’s capable enough to do a lot of damage.
As a bonus, you’ll get out all the stains and dirt that’s built up over the years. Here’s how to do it-
Step 1: Rub the Boots with Acetone
It’s just like before. You need to bring in some acetone to remove that top layer.
Grab a clean cloth, soak it with acetone and start rubbing. Sooner or later, that layer’s going to be gone, revealing a shy but majestic light color.
Step 2: Apply the Leather Cleaner
Start spreading the leather cleaner on the boots. The instructions are easy. Spread them out, leave for 15 minutes and it’ll be done.
Except, you have to do it a couple of times and rub the leather while at it.
Step 3: Leave to Dry Overnight
You need to dry the boots properly. Otherwise, the color won’t set in nicely.
Method 3: Saddle Soap (Not That Effective But Safe)
The truth is, I’m not that big of a fan of this method. Sure, it might get your boots a bit lighter but how many tries would it take?
I’m not willing to put my boots through that much stress. If you forgot, let me remind you, water and leather don’t mix together.
Either way, here’s how to do it-
Step 1: Spray Water to Create Lather
You could use a sprayer or put a few drops of water in your saddle soap.
Then, grab your brush and swirl it up in the container to create some lather.
Step 2: Apply on the Surface of the Boots
The key here is to be thorough. So, take your time and brush every inch of the boots.
As your goal is to lighten the leather, you need to really rub it in. At one point, the soap’s gonna run out. Make sure there’s enough soap on the brush.
Step 3: Dry Everything with a Clean Cloth
Your work here is done. You might not have achieved the lightness you wanted but that’s what being too safe gets you.
If you want, you can redo the process. But as I’ve said, this process isn’t that effective. In my opinion, you’ll be doing more bad than good.
Method 4: Light Colored Dye (Quick Solution)
Let’s say, you’ve tried pretty much every method there is and you’re still not getting the result you want. Well, that’s when you bring in the leather dye.
Although before you approach dyeing your leather, follow the steps of method 2 beforehand. And here’s what to do next-
Step 1: Start with a Small Area
You never know how the leather’s going to react. So, it’s better to test out on a small area. Observe how easily the leather is absorbing the dye.
If the absorption rate is fast, it won’t need that many applications for a richer color.
Step 2: Dye with 2 Separate Brushes
A small one and a big one. Use the bigger one for larger areas while the smaller one will take care of the tiny details.
Step 3: Leave them for 5-6 hours (Overnight if possible) Before Re-dyeing
The chemical isn’t really a friendly character for the leather. The faster you get over it, the better it is.
But that doesn’t mean you can apply layers after layers. You should give at least 5 to 6 hours before each application. If it were up to me, I’d leave them to dry overnight.
What to Do After Lightening Leather Boots?
You’ve done it. Your leather boots are kind of new again. But each and every method here damages the leather to some extent.
Lucky for you, leather is quite durable. Give it some care and it’ll be as good as new.
Step 1: Apply Mink Oil (Or any other conditioner you prefer)
You need to apply some kind of conditioner to make sure the leather doesn’t dry up.
Personally, I like liquid mink oil as it blends with the leather while giving it a unique character.
But I know there are people who swear over how good the Bick 4 Conditioner is. If you’re in that gang, that’s okay too. Bick’s making damn good products for a long time.
Step 2: Seal Everything with a Polish
Everything already is pretty much sealed up. But it doesn’t have the shine it deserves. So, buff it up with a premium leather shoe polish and you’ll be done with it.
How to Lighten Faux Leather Boots?
You can lighten faux leather boots by rubbing them with an oxalic acid solution. The strong acid would strip down the top finish of the boots. You could also use acetone to speed up the process.
Long story short, the process of lightening authentic leather and faux leather is pretty much the same. If you follow the previously explained methods, the result wouldn’t change.
How to Lighten Leather Boots After Mink Oil?
Mink oil is a blessing for leather boots. People have been using them for a long time.
But sometimes, you make a mistake. In this case, you put in too much mink oil. Instead of screaming, “Mink oil ruined my boots,” figure out how to solve the problem. It’s quite easy, trust me.
Can I lighten dark brown leather?
You can lighten dark brown leather using methods such as acetone, oxalic acid, leather cleaner or simply dyeing the leather to a lighter shade. If the leather is still strong enough to survive a ‘lightening’ job, it can be done.
Can I use bleach to lighten leather?
You can never use standard bleach or chlorine to lighten leather boots or any type of leather. Not only won’t the color change, but you’ll also destroy the integrity of the leather. This is why they have oxalic acid, the so-called bleach for leather.
What does bleach do to black leather?
You will only get faded leather if you bleach black leather. No matter how much you sand, or put the boots in bleach solutions, the black color won’t change. It’s there to stay.
If you ask me, don’t put too much stress on your leather boots just to make them a few shades lighter. In most cases, it’s better to buy a new one.
Either way, now you know how to lighten leather boots. If you know of any other methods of doing it, make sure to leave a comment below.
Richard is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. It’s not like he dedicated his entire life towards boots but he did work at multiple footwear stores for over 7 years. Anything that’s posted here is double-checked by him. So, don’t worry about getting the wrong info off the internet.