How to Clean Suede Shoes to Keep Them Looking Like New

Is there a stain on your suede shoes? Read on to learn how to clean suede shoes like a professional.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutes

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Suede is trickier to clean than your ordinary leather. If you are a suede shoes lover, you may know that they are more prone to staining than any other kind of shoes. And, if you are going to be treating the stains at home, you must know the proper way to do it or else you will only end up making a bigger mess.

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How to Clean Suede Shoes

It may seem like a good idea to spot treat stains on your suede shoes with water. But, it will create more complications for you. Water leaves behind unsightly watermarks on your suede shoes. You do not want to compromise on its appearance after making such an expensive investment. It is, therefore, important to treat the stains on your suede shoes correctly. You must understand the type of stain before taking any corrective action. Follow the steps given below to keep your suede shoes looking like new for longer.

Ingredients to Keep Handy:

a) White vinegar

b) Balls of tissue paper

c) Shoe tree

d) Suede brush

e) Water

  1. Step 1: Remove Surface Dirt

    Get rid of any surface dirt from your suede shoes using a special suede brush. It is better to get your suede shoes as clean as possible before applying any cleaning agent. Brush in the direction of the grain of the fabric instead of against it.

  2. Step 2: Even Out the Edges

    Check out the edges of your shoes, if they appear scraped and uneven; again, use the suede brush to dislodge loose threads. Stay within the edges, do not rub the whole shoe.  

  3. Step 3: Treat with White Vinegar

    Now, treat stubborn stains with white vinegar. It helps break down the stains without damaging your shoes. Take 2 tbsp. of white vinegar in a bowl and dip the edge of a sponge or a cotton cloth in it. Remember not to drench the sponge/cotton cloth in it to avoid excess moisture. Use it to gently rub on the stains.

  4. Step 4: Allow Air-Drying

    Once your suede shoes are clean and stain-free, allow air-drying.

The smell of the vinegar might be dominating at first, but it will fade over time.

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How to Remove Different Types of Stains from Your Suede Shoes

To remove dried cake of mud from your suede shoes, use the suede brush. But, if you find the brush ineffective, you can also turn to your kitchen knife. Just scrape off the mud from your shoe. However, if you are too skeptical about using a knife on your precious suede shoes, we suggest you invest in a special suede eraser. It will clean the mud stains from your suede shoes effortlessly.

The best way to remove water stains from your suede shoes is to treat it with water. Dampen your suede brush with water and rub it all over your suede shoes. Ensure that the water spreads evenly on your shoes. Keep at it until the watermark is no longer visible. Fill your shoe with a shoe tree or wads of tissue paper to keep its shape. Let the shoe dry naturally. Brush it once again with a suede brush to retain the smooth finishing of the fabric.

Now, if you are dealing with stubborn stains like salt-stains, you need to prepare a stain removing agent. Mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of white vinegar. Cover the stain affected spot of your shoe with this cleaning solution and let it dry. Wipe off residue solution from your shoes with your suede brush to restore its brand new look.

Treat oil and grease stains on your suede shoes, immediately. Sprinkle cornstarch on the affected area and leave it overnight. Next day, brush off the cornstarch.

Wondering what to do if there’s gum stuck on your prized suede shoes? Just toss them in the freezer. In some time, the gum will be so hard that you can easily break it apart from your shoes. 

To remove ink stains, dip the edge of a sponge brush in white vinegar and rub it on the stain. Remember to be gentle while doing so. White vinegar helps break the stains without being harsh on the material. Allow the shoes to air-dry before using again.

Blood stains on suede shoes might look stubborn, however, you can treat them using dishwashing liquid. Combine 2 tbsp. of warm water and 1 tsp. of dishwashing liquid in a bowl. When combined, these 2 liquids help break the blood stain easily. Dip a sponge in this solution, remember not to over saturate it. Use it to rub on the stain gently. Repeat the step if needed. Once clean, allow the shoes to air-dry.

How to Protect and Clean Suede Shoes

Prevention is always better than cure. So, when you’re wondering, how to clean suede shoes, also think how you can prevent the stains on your suede shoes. Here are some tips that will come in handy. 

Use a suede protector. It is easily available at any leather shop. You can even order it from an online store. A suede protector acts as a physical shield against water and dirt particles. It does not allow them to settle onto the fabric. However, please note that it cannot protect your shoe from staining entirely.

Keep Them Dry. Okay, this is a given but sometimes, it is good to be reminded. Do not wear your suede shoes if it is raining outside. They are not made for the monsoons.

Store well. Like any prized possession, suede needs to be stored correctly. Do not place them in damp cupboards or attics. Use silica gel packets to protect them from excess moisture.

Transport securely. If you are travelling with your suede shoes, carry them correctly. Do not wrap them up in a plastic or any other kind of non-breathable material. Wrap them in a cotton cloth or a pillowcase instead. 

Suede shoes are expensive. Though treating suede shoes might seem confusing, the right cleaning technique does the trick effortlessly and preserves the charm. Treat your suede shoes right to enjoy them for longer.

If you are going to use a commercial cleaning product, ensure that you’ve read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Originally published