How do you bleach the color of leather shoes?

To bleach leather shoes, first determine they are not of 'corrected grain' type; this is a plastic surface applied to the leather. Most patent leather (high gloss) shoes are so finished, and many inexpensive models, as well. Most women's shoes have some kind of plastic finish; you can tell this by the opaque, uniform color on them. They are generally less well finished than men's shoes. This is not universally true, however.
The best shoes for bleaching are aniline dyed, which means they have only a color finish, no additional surface material added. These directions pertain only to smooth-finished shoes. Suede is best recolored by professionals.

The first time out, it's best to try this with some inexpensive second-hand shoes.

1. Remove the laces and any after-market insoles (gel or foam rubber).

2. Strip off any shoe polish. This can be done with acetone (nail polish remover will do) or rubbing alcohol. Acetone is much faster. Do the job with gloves, soft rags, and excellent ventilation, preferably outdoors.

2. In a suitable container, such as a plastic tub, immerse the shoes in a weak bleach solution. Wear gloves and eye protection. Rubber soles often float, so the shoes may need to be weighted with stones or other non-chemically reactive objects. The shoes should be fully covered with the liquid. The solution should be no stronger than you would use on fabric clothing; it is better to use less bleach and repeat this step, than to burn the leather.

3. Keep watch. If the solution is mild enough the shoes can be left to bleach overnight. If they start looking 'funny', meaning blistered, rotten, or mushy, take them out of the solution and rinse them off. Repeat as required until the desired degree of 'lightness' is achieved.

4.. Thoroughly rinse and dry the shoes. Allow two or three days, minimum. They should not smell like bleach once thoroughly clean and dry.

5. Apply dye or cream color. Finish with polish.

Please note that there are special bleaches for leather which have their own instructions for use. This process is for ordinary chlorine bleach, as used in laundry. It will work best on lighter-colored shoes. Black shoes will turn gray.