How to Clean Suede Shoes

Suede is a popular material for both men’s and women’s footwear due to its durability, breathability, and comfort. It also retains heat like leather.

But when it comes to picking up dirt and stains, you can’t compare suede to leather. Suede shoes pick up dirt easily and cleaning them requires some techniques. So before you pick up your suede shoes for a brunch date or a meeting, take a minute to learn how to clean them without harming their color or integrity. 

Materials Needed to Clean Your Suede Shoes

Depending on the type of stain or blemish on your suede, one or more of the following tools will get the job done efficiently:

  • Suede brush
  • Suede rubber
  • Paper towels
  • Cloth towel
  • Pencil eraser
  • White vinegar
  • Fingernail file
  • Leather degreaser made for suede

Once you understand how simple removing this dirt from your suede is, you will understand why it is not always necessary to go to a dry cleaner.

12 Hacks To Clean Suede Shoes Easily 

There are different reasons why you may need to clean your suede shoes. Some of them include;

  • Scuff marks
  • Watermarks
  • Liquid spills
  • Dirt accumulation
  • Stains from mud or other solids 

You can decide to take your leather shoes down to the dry cleaner the same way you give them your clothes. But if you are trying to cut down on your budget or want to learn something cool on your own, then this DIY guide is for you.

Here are some excellent tips for cleaning your suede shoes:

1.   Dry Your Shoes if Wet

You don’t want to start cleaning your suede shoes when it is wet. It’s best to wait until the shoes are completely dry before cleaning them. If your suede shoes are wet, you can clean them with a paper towel or a lightweight cloth towel to remove water from the fabric. 

Ensure you do not scrub too hard while pressing down the towel on the shoe. Alternatively, you can stuff the shoes with paper towels to pull out moisture. Then, store the shoes in a safe place while they dry out completely, and then continue with the cleanup process.

2. Use a Suede Brush

Suede brushes are specially made to clean suede shoes, so it’s best to invest in one. Take a moment to note the direction the suede fiber naturally sits by rubbing your finger over it before you start brushing.

Then, brush the shoe in the same direction as its fibers, as brushing against the grain will overstretch and damage the fibers. 

 When you find dirt spots, brush them back and forth, with and against the grain, to check if they come off without more cleaning. You can also use a toothbrush or a fingernail file if you don’t have a suede brush or don’t want to invest in one.

If you use a fingernail file instead of a suede brush, be careful not to use it too aggressively. All that is required is a gentle file over the suede.

3. For Difficult Stains, Use White Vinegar.

If you are dealing with difficult or old stains, using white vinegar is a great way to get rid of them. Apply a small amount of vinegar to the stain using a soft rag or towel if the usual approaches aren’t working. You can also use a microfiber cloth used to remove makeup. Then, scrub the stain back and forth with a corner dipped in white vinegar.

You should only use a small amount of white vinegar, but you can dip your towel into it again and again while making repetitive passes over the stain. Also, don’t have to panic if you notice a color change on your suede. This happens naturally when suedes become wet, but when the material dries, the white vinegar evaporates, restoring the suede’s original color.

Tip: Be careful not to oversaturate the area; dab the liquid onto a soft cloth and rub it into the stain in a circular motion. Let the area dry thoroughly, then use a suede brush to remove any remaining dirt. Allow to dry before agitating with a suede brush.

4.  Try a Leather Degreaser 

Some suede shoe stains can be removed with a leather degreaser, but make sure you use one developed exclusively for suede.

Also, remember that suede and leather are not the same things, so you need to be careful when using this method. For instance, you should only apply the degreaser to areas on the suede shoe that appear oily. Lastly, read and follow the packaging instructions carefully to know the best way to apply the degreaser.

5.  If Shoe is Muddy, Allow To Dry Out

When dealing with stains on suede shoes, it’s usually preferable to act fast. But when washing damp or muddy suede shoes, it’s best to let them air dry first.

If they’re very damp, fold them up in a scrunched-up newspaper to absorb the moisture. In a case where your suede shoe is stained with other types of liquids like wine or coffee, first, remove much of the liquid stain using a kitchen towel or a clean white cloth. Then allow it to dry.

6. Use Cornstarch

To treat oil and grease stains on suede shoes, sprinkle cornstarch on the affected area and let it sit overnight to absorb the oil. Then, gently brush off the cornstarch and lightly brush away the stain. You can repeat the process if necessary.

7. Sponge the Suede Shoe

Using water on suede can make it watermarked so avoid over-wetting. Instead, use a clean sponge or towel soaked in clean water and wrung off thoroughly. Instead of scrubbing the suede’s delicate surface, dab it.

Tip: Avoid cleaning your suede shoes with water. Whenever you have many particles sticking to your suede outfit, try not to soak it in water or pour too much water over it because it will make the color fade away. Instead, consider the sponge method above or take it to a professional if you have tried other cleaning options without any solution.

8. Use Suede Eraser

Brushing or sponging isn’t always the solution to clean your suede shoes, especially if you are dealing with marks. You can instead use a suede eraser by rubbing it over the shoe. It’s best to use a colorless eraser for this step because colored erasers may stain your suede and ruin it. 

9. Use a Shoe Cleaner Kit

You can also get a shoe cleaning kit specifically designed for suede to get rid of dirt. Most shoe cleaning kits contain care products like suede erasers, brushes, cleaner, cleaning cloths, and protectors that make it easy to clean your shoes.

Most cleaning kits also come with directions and tips on how to clean your suede shoes successfully. 

10. Shave With Razor

After a while, your suede shoes may start looking a little stringy. You don’t have to write off your shoes in this case. Use a razor to shave off the strings and smoothen the shoes. Be very careful when doing this to avoid creating tears on your shoes. 

11. Freeze The Shoes

This hack may sound strange, but it works when dealing with wax or gum stains on your suede shoes. If you have wax or gum stuck on your shoes, consider freezing the shoes for some hours.

Gum and wax won’t come off easily with a brush or eraser, so put your shoes in a carrier bag, then keep them in the freezer. Once you’ve chipped off the gum/wax stains, you can then use a brush to remove the remaining dirt. 

12.  Apply Suede Protectant Spray

The final step is to protect your suede using a protectant spray so that it doesn’t get as dirty again. Suede protectant sprays are widely available online, and many of them are reasonably priced.

For this method, you should follow the directionson the suede protectant spray. This extra step will not only keep your suede cleaner for longer but also makes future cleaning easier. Once you try it, you’ll never wear suede shoes again without first spraying them.

 Extra Tips To Protect Your Suede Shoe

Here are some tips to ensure your suede shoes are well protected;

  • To avoid fading, keep them away from direct sunlight and heat

  • If they get wet, let them air dry and use shoe trees to keep their form

  • When not in use, store them in good shoe bags

  • Waterproof your suede shoes using a protective spray before wearing them

  • Don’t use shoe polish on suede shoes.

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