Can You Bleach Leather Shoes & Boots? If Yes, How To?
Every now and then we receive a comment from readers asking Can I bleach my leather shoes to lighten their color? Will bleach hurt leather boots? Etc. Well, there is no black and white answer to any of these questions. There is always a grey side. Answers to these questions cannot be given right away because they depend on several factors, including: “ Did you use the right bleach?”, “Have you followed the right procedure when bleaching your leather boots?” and many more. Let’s discuss these factors, your hopes, and realities.
What Happens When You Bleach Leather?
Bleaching is the best and most effective way of lightening leather boots. Most people use bleach to lighten the leather because it is a quick and easy-to-do procedure that you can do yourself at home. However, when it comes to bleaching leather boots, it can easily damage your leather boots as bleach damages absorbent material quickly and leather is absorbent. So, you need to be extra careful while bleaching the leather.
Choosing the right bleach is one of the most important factors. Avoid using ammonia-based bleach products because when ammonia is mixed with chlorine which is usually available in water, they chemically react and release toxic gases. These gases are really harsh and can easily damage the leather. Always use oxalic acid-based bleach products. Oxalic acid works as a reducing agent to remove the natural dye layer from the leather. It is also critical to mix equal amounts of bleach and water before applying it to the leather. Most people do not mix bleach with water and the result is that it dries the leather and its oils as well as discolors its finish.
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Can You Clean White Leather Shoes With Bleach?
Yes, you can clean white leather shoes with bleach. However, keep in mind that when it comes to bleaching leather white, you need to add more water with the bleach. Because you don’t want to remove the color from your white leather shoes, you just want to clean them. The solution can be made by adding up to four times more water than bleach. However, there is no rule of thumb for this.
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Another thing you should do before cleaning your leather shoes with bleach is to remove any active dust from them with a rag or shoe brush. Because if you apply bleach to white leather boots with dust, after bleaching it can cause permanent stains on your boots. Even with a leather cleaner or soap, this type of stain is nearly impossible to remove from shoes. The stains will be permanent and will give your white boots an ugly look.
Can You Bleach Faux Leather?
No, it is not recommended to use bleach to lighten the color of faux leather. The answer is clearly no due to the nature of faux leather. As you may already know, faux leather is not the original leather and is made from thermoplastic polymer. The structure of the thermoplastic polymer will easily change if you apply bleach to it. The bleach can also dry the faux leather and it can leave cracks in the faux leather. So, if you want a light color pair of faux leather shoes, the better option is to go and buy a new pair.
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How To Bleach Leather Shoes/Boots?
Now that you know what type of leather can be bleached and what are the key factors you should consider before bleaching your leather shoes. Let’s talk about the correct way to bleach the leather. Follow these steps to get the best results.
- First of all, take a wet rag dip it in the mixture of dish soap and water, and apply it to your leather in a circular motion. Remove all the dirt and let the leather dry for 30 minutes. You can use a leather cleaner as well instead of dish soap and water to clean properly.
- Mix equal amounts of water and bleach in a container to make the solution.
- Now, take a clean cloth, dip it in the solution and apply it to the leather. You should use even strokes on all parts of the leather because uneven strokes will leave uneven colors.
- Apply the solution with a stiff hand and do not stop until the color has been lightened.
- Allow your leather shoes to dry for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Once the shoes have been dried, use your regular shoe polish to provide some conditioning to your leather.
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How To Fix Bleached Leather?
If you have followed all these steps correctly, your leather should not have any stains or dryness. However, if you made a mistake and you see some stains or any unusual color on your leather, you do not need to worry. Most of these stains can be easily removed. However, the bad news is that some of these mistakes cannot be undone and the damage caused by the bleach is permanent. Let’s take a look at the damage that you can fix and what you can do to fix it.
- The best way to clean a fresh bleach stain from your leather is to use mild soap. You can use dish soap or leather soap. Just pour a few drops of soap directly on the leather and gently wipe it with a rag.
- If you have bleach stains, spills, or any lingering smell in your leather after bleaching shoes, you can use baking soda to get rid of it. Baking soda can quickly remove bleach stains or any smell from the leather. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of water and apply it to the leather with a toothbrush.
- When it comes to cleaning bleach spills from leather, vinegar is a highly effective cleaning and deodorizing substance. Vinegar quickly removes bleach stains from your leather shoes. Mix an equal amount of water with an equal amount of vinegar in a bowl and apply it to your leather shoes with a sponge in a circular motion.
- If you still see some stains, consider them permanent. The only way left to fix them is to dye your leather boots/shoes with leather dyes.