How to dye suede shoes

Don’t throw away that faded pair of suede shoes! Follow these six steps to transform them back to life.

The trouble with suede shoes is that they can get ruined easily. Even water can leave a stain, so it’s no wonder that so many of us avoid buying them in favour of easy-to-care-for leather. But there is a way you can bring old suede shoes back to life: with fabric dye!

To dye your suede shoes you will need you will need:

  • Fabric dye (we used Dylon Suede and Nubuck dye)
  • Rubber gloves
  • A small paintbrush
  • A clean shoe brush
  • A sponge
  • Warm soapy water
  • An old rag
  • An old jam jar lid or saucer
  • Newspaper


Remove any laces and then give your suede shoes a good clean. Brush them with a clean shoe brush until all dust has come out of the fabric and then wash the soles with a sponge soaked in soapy water. Allow to dry thoroughly.

A pair of blue suede shoes being brushed with a cloth and then with a brush

A pair of blue suede shoes being brushed with a brush


Tightly pack the shoes with newspaper and lay down a thick layer on the surface you’re working on. The dye might drip through and stain the surface, so perhaps place a bin bag under the newspaper, just to be safe!


Pour a small amount of the fabric dye into the old saucer or jam jar lid and dip the paintbrush into the dye. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the dye to the shoes.


Start painting the dye around the edge and continue adding more brush strokes until the shoe is covered.


Don’t forget to paint inside the edges or the tongue of the shoes.


Allow to dry overnight (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times) before removing the newspaper stuffing. Brush the shoes all over with a clean shoe brush to fluff up the suede before adding shoe laces to your ‘new’ suede shoes!

So next time you think about throwing away that faded pair of boots, or spot some lovely second-hand suede pumps, consider whether you can give them a makeover yourself and turn them into something you’ll want to wear time and again.

Find second-hand suede shoes on Oxfam Online Shop

Women's second hand suede shoes

Men's second hand suede shoes

by Cassie of