I wouldn’t be out of context if I said every sneakerhead has thought of customizing his/her sneakers — regardless of how big or small the custom — whether it be swapping out stock laces for sleek leather ones or completely altering the color of the shoe, which is what I did to my Levi’s Air Jordan 4. The final product came out better than I anticipated and the positive feedback I received was unexpected. Since I had a good amount of people reach out about the dye process, I included step-by-step instructions below. If you plan on customizing your pair, let me know how it turns out!
What you’ll need:
- 5 Gallon Bucket [Purchased mine at AutoZone for $5]
- Rit All-Purpose Liquid Dye [Available at select retailers or RitDye.com]
- Dishwashing Soap
- Painter’s Tape [To tape off parts of the shoe you don’t want dyed]
- Scissors or Sandpaper [If you want to distress the shoe after it’s been dyed]
*Make sure your shoes are clean before you start the dyeing process
**If you don’t want to dye the outsole, tape it off beforehand
1. Put gloves on and fill bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. [I used 2 gallons of hot tap water and 1 gallon of hot water I heated up on the stove.]
2. Add 1 cup of salt + 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap to hot water.
3. Add 1 1/2 cups of Purple Rit All-Purpose Liquid Dye + 2 Tbsps of Navy Blue Rit All-Purpose Liquid Dye and stir. [I mixed colors to make Violet Indigo. You can mix your own color here.]
4. Test color by dipping paper towel into dye. Add water if it’s too dark or add dye if it’s too light.
5. Soak shoes in tap water, then remove laces and place shoes/laces in bucket. Continuously swish shoes/laces around for at least 10 minutes. [You can leave them in the dye for up to an hour. The longer you leave them in the dye, the darker they’ll get. Remember, the color will appear darker when wet. I left mine in for ~15 minutes total.]
6. Remove shoes/laces, squeeze excess dye out and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. [The cold water helps set the dye so it doesn’t bleed.]
7. Wash shoes/laces in warm water with mild detergent. Rinse and dry. [I placed my shoes in front of an oscillating fan to speed up the drying process.]
If you want to distress the shoes, use the sharp edges on a pair of scissors or sandpaper. I didn’t have sandpaper so I opted for scissors. You can also use an X-Acto knife and/or dremel.