Minimal skill is required to restore your leather coat's color.

How to Restore a Leather Coat's Color

by David Lipscomb

Over time and with sufficient use, even the best leather coats eventually fade and develop uneven spots. Although the distressed, lived-in look is often desired -- and even sought after when purchasing new garments -- you may prefer to keep your leather coat looking brand new. Leather dyes and dyeing kits enable you to keep your favorite leather coat or jacket in tip-top condition with minimal effort.

1 Clean the areas of the coat you plan on re-coloring with the rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, whether it's the entire piece or just in specific areas. Apply light to medium pressure; you don't need to scrub hard. Apply the alcohol directly to the cotton balls, rather than pouring the liquid directly on the coat.

2 Tape off any sections of leather or hardware you don't want affected by the dye.

3 Apply the dye in multiple thin coats, using a sponge applicator or brush. The latter works best for getting into smaller areas or around snaps and zippers, while the former is ideal for larger sections.

4 Rub the section using a buffing cloth or brush. Many dyes do not properly set until this step is accomplished.

5 Apply one or two coats of leather sealant with a clean sponge applicator. This product makes the color more permanent and matches the sheen of the existing leather around the repaired area.

Items you will need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Plastic tape
  • Leather dye
  • Sponge applicator
  • Leather sealant
  • Buffing cloth or brush


  • Compare a removable hood or small leather piece to the coat to properly match the colors. This is especially useful if you need someone to color-match a custom dye shade.
  • Rubbing the coat with alcohol won't remove the color, but will thoroughly clean any oils or residues that may hinder dye penetration.


  • When dyeing, avoid wearing nice clothing, and work away from any wood surfaces that you don't want accidentally stained.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images