Removing leather dye from wood
September 12, 2017 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Arts-and-crafts-gone-wrong filter: I dyed a pair of boots black using Fielbing's LeatherColors dye and suffered a massive masking tape malfunction on the soles. The result (similar on the other side and other shoe as well). I have tried, separately, baking soda and rubbing alcohol, with little apparent effect. How can I save these boots?

Some googling has revealed that one of the alternative uses for leather dye is actually to dye treated wood, so I am not very optimistic about removing the dye, but I'm game to try whatever you've got! Maybe I could sand the wood down and refinish it? The nuclear option is to just dye the rest of the wood to match, but I would like to preserve the nifty colour contrast if at all possible. Hope me!
posted by btfreek to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, one more detail to head off possible comments - I just double-checked and at least part of the sole is definitely wood, and not wood-grain plastic or stacked leather. (the lighter-coloured part of the tread in the photo is rubber, and the dye seems to come off that part with sufficient elbow grease)
posted by btfreek at 8:41 PM on September 12, 2017

I think they look great as is. They're Harness boots, the ring is distressed, the leather is rugged, the soles match.
posted by at at 9:45 PM on September 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't think you have a good shot at removing the dye from the wood, and I think sanding the wood is likely to damage the leather without buying you much.
posted by janell at 10:21 PM on September 12, 2017

I like the way they look. They look like they've been worn and used which is a good quality in a boot.

I don't think you'll be able to remove the dye without messing up the soles actual usability. You might be able to get some of the dye out with weak peroxide but that may dry out the wood and/or lighten the surrounding area too.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:52 AM on September 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

How about dying the rest of the sole?!
posted by KateViolet at 1:53 AM on September 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Nail polish remover? (try on a tiny bit first) Or contact the dye manufacturer? But I think they look fine as-is too.
posted by runincircles at 3:37 AM on September 13, 2017

I would get some brown leather dye and overdye the soles.
posted by sarajane at 4:21 AM on September 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think they look great this way, honestly. But if you don't like it, your best bet is to dye the soles. My partner makes shoes occasionally, and while he sometimes has to re-dye the soles after awhile, he gets good results dyeing them.

I would be hesitant to sand them because then you're getting into removing part of the shoe (even if it's only a little bit), and presumably you want them to last as long as possible.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:20 AM on September 13, 2017

Sand and refinish. The only question is whether the dye has gone too deep to be removed by sanding. It might work great or it might be impossible. If it doesn't work, you can always still overdye.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:30 AM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sometimes you get to a point where trying to fix a mistake will only make it worse. You are at this point.

No, really, I actually like the kind of distressed look. Leave it and rock those awesome boots!
posted by Liesl at 6:57 AM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just dye the whole thing, or leave it as it -- it looks cool!
posted by ananci at 12:14 PM on September 13, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I ended up applying a thin layer of dye to the sole to stain it so that the drips are less obvious, but not enough to dye the whole sole evenly black. After shot. Then I put them on and stomped around in them all day and none of it mattered anyway :)
posted by btfreek at 7:56 PM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

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