How to care for tan leather shoes?
I've got a pair of lovely tan leather shoes. I've worn them once, and it seems I got a few stains (of perhaps alcohol) on them. It only left a few very small marks, but when I've tried to clean them up at home, whenever they get wet, the area around the small stains give out wild discolorations in large areas around the stains (plus some areas that ado not have these small stains). I've not treated them since, and are only experimenting with various cleaning products (so far, water, and baby-wipes). I'm terribly nervous that once I give them a new coat of leather fat, the shoes are going to discolored the same way as when they are wet.
My questions are then. Are these discolorations due to something I've gotten on them, or is it the leather itself that got these 'patterns' from the tanning process? How should I best go ahead with cleaning them up, and apply leather care products afterwards?
I've owned black and dark brown footwear all my life, and these are my first proper tan shoes, so I feel like a novice (and for good reason it seems).
Sorry to hear this. It is my experience that there is very little that can be done to repair this sort of thing; generally, you are stuck with stains that will appear when the shoes are wet. If the marks show when the shoes are dry, it might be that Lexol or Bicks 4 will clean the visible spots. These two products have both worked well for me in similar circumstances, but the spots do return when the leathers are wet. They also appear during the cleaning process, particularly with Lexol. But they vanish when the item dries, usually, Saddle soap or liquid glycerine may work to lift off the marks as well and will also provide some protection. Regardless of how you proceed, it is advisable to treat the shoes with a neutral creme polish when you are satisfied that the leather is as clean as it may become with these methods and before you wear them again.
But that is what I would do, and I cannot promise that you will have a completely satisfactory result. The lighter leathers are inherently problematic, and they are also very likely to darken, which I know you would prevent if possible. Therefore, it is best to test any of these products on an inconspicuous part of the shoe to determine the outcome prior to subjecting the whole shoe to the treatment.
Good fortune to you, and I hope you have the best possible success in this matter,
NO! Lexol should NEVER be used for light colored shoes. Lexol will darken light colored shoes, especially over time. The Bick-4, however, is a very good conditioner that will not darken leather. Sadly, it is NOT a stain remover. Bick has a leather cleaning product that works pretty well, and this may help.
Over the long haul, the best plan is to apply layer after layer of cream polish to your shoes. Eventually the slightly stained area will blend in.
This should be done with tan shoes before wearing, actually. Filling the new leather's pores with polish greatly helps to reduce the chance of staining.
This is one of the things with new shoes - many of them aren't color stained and sealed they way they used to do it. Many are given a protective layer more of a varnish that will come off over time. The uneven coating then makes it hard to polish them and get good results. There was a thread that talked about stripping the varnish off and polishing for better leather protection. The open pores color unevenly sometimes.