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How To Clean Suede Shoes: A Step by Step Guide

How To Clean Suede Shoes: A Step by Step Guide

Fabricare Center Blog , Shoes

Suede shoes look sharp but keeping them clean can feel like a big challenge. Stains stick quickly, and the unique material doesn’t respond well to traditional cleaning methods. Did you know white vinegar is great for tackling those tough stains on suede? This article shows you how to clean your suede shoes, to have them looking as good as new without ruining their delicate texture.

From brushing off dirt to applying a protector spray, we cover all the steps. Keep reading to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a suede brush or toothbrush to remove excess dirt and prepare the shoes for deeper cleaning.
  • For stubborn stains, apply white vinegar or rubbing alcohol with a microfiber cloth; use baking soda for grease stains.
  • Always finish by applying a suede protector spray to shield shoes from water damage and stains.
  • Fix scratches with distilled white vinegar and stored shoes properly in a cool, dry place using breathable fabric bags.
  • If DIY methods fail, take your suede shoes to a professional cleaner for specialized care.

Basics of Suede Shoes

Basics of Suede Shoes

Suede is a soft, textured leather that gives shoes a unique look. These shoes need special care to keep them looking new.

What is suede?

Suede comes from the underside of animal skin, giving it a soft and velvety texture. This type of leather is widely used in the fashion industry for making shoes, clothing, bags, and accessories.

Its unique feel and appearance make it a popular choice for those looking to add quality and style to their wardrobe. Unlike other leathers, suede offers a distinctively smooth touch that sets it apart in the world of fashion.

Durability of suede shoes

Suede shoes have a reputation for being delicate. They easily stain and absorb water, which makes them less durable for rough outdoor use. The material is best suited for dress shoes where exposure to harsh conditions is minimal.

Despite its elegance, suede requires careful maintenance to extend its life. Daily care can prevent permanent damage and preserve the shoe’s quality. Yet, without proper attention, suede footwear quickly shows wear and tear, making regular maintenance crucial for durability.

Water resistance

Water resists suede in its natural state, but it’s not waterproof. This material can absorb moisture quickly, which might lead to hardening and stains if not dried correctly. To prevent water damage, applying a suede protector spray is essential.

These products add a layer of protection that makes the shoes more resistant to water and other liquids.

After ensuring your suede shoes are properly protected against water, the next step involves regular cleaning to maintain their appearance and durability.

A Step by Step Guide for Cleaning Suede Shoes

A Step by Step Guide for Cleaning Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes starts with simple tools and smart techniques. Follow these steps to keep your suede looking fresh and stain-free.

1. Prepare Your Shoes

Before you start, remove any laces to prevent water spots or damage. Stuff your shoes with paper towels or newspaper to help them maintain their shape and absorb moisture during the cleaning process.

2. Dry Brushing

Use a soft-bristled suede brush to gently brush away surface dirt and debris. Always brush in the direction of the suede’s grain to avoid damaging the nap. This step helps remove loose particles and prepares the suede for deeper cleaning.

3. Spot Cleaning

Identify any stubborn stains. For light stains, gently rub them with a suede eraser or a regular pencil eraser. Apply minimal pressure to lift the stain without damaging the suede. For tougher stains, move on to the next step.

4. Tackling Tough Stains

Dampen a clean cloth with a small amount of white vinegar or suede cleaner. Gently blot the stained area—do not rub, as this can push the stain deeper into the suede or damage the nap. For particularly stubborn stains, you can use a nail brush or an old toothbrush, but be very gentle to avoid damaging the shoe.

5. Drying

After cleaning, let your shoes dry naturally away from direct heat or sunlight, which can fade or damage the suede. Keep the shoes stuffed with paper towels or newspaper to absorb moisture and maintain their shape.

6. Re-Brushing

Once the shoes are completely dry, use the suede brush again to gently restore the nap and remove any stiffness caused by the cleaning process. Brush in the direction of the grain for the best results.

7. Protecting Your Shoes

Consider applying a suede protector spray following the manufacturer’s instructions. This can help repel water and prevent stains, keeping your shoes looking good for longer.

Bonus Tips for Cleaning Suede Shoes

Brush off excess dirt

Grab a suede brush or toothbrush to tackle dirt on your shoes. This step is crucial for removing as much grime and mud as possible. It prepares the suede for deeper cleaning without pushing dirt further into the fibers.

Move the brush gently across the shoe’s surface. Focus especially on areas where mud and dirt accumulate. Regular brushing not only prevents staining but also maintains the texture and appearance of your suede shoes.

Use rubber for tough stains

For tough stains on suede shoes, using a rubber eraser is effective. Gently rub the stained area with the eraser to lift dirt and marks without damaging the material. Products like the Spahir Gommadin Suede Eraser are specifically designed for this purpose.

Apply moderate pressure while rubbing to remove stubborn stains successfully.

Move on to treating spots with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol for deeper cleaning.

Try white vinegar or rubbing alcohol

For tough stains on suede shoes, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol works wonders. Dip a microfiber cloth in white vinegar and gently rub the stained area. This method helps lift dirt and marks without using water, which can damage suede.

If white vinegar isn’t handy, rubbing alcohol is a great alternative. Apply it carefully on light-colored suede to remove stains effectively.

Using these household items for cleaning keeps your shoes looking fresh. They are recommended over traditional water and soap methods for suede care. Whether it’s a splash of mud or an accidental spill, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol will tackle the problem without harming your shoes’ delicate material.

Always finish with a clean cloth to remove any residue and let the shoes dry naturally before wearing them again.

Use baking soda for grease stains

Baking soda is a powerful ally in fighting grease stains on suede shoes. Just sprinkle it directly on the stain and let it sit for a few hours. The baking soda absorbs the grease, dirt, and salt from the suede.

After waiting, brush off the baking soda gently with a suede brush.

For deeper grease spots that refuse to go away, apply more baking soda and lightly dab with a damp cloth. Avoid soaking the material; just use enough moisture to help lift the stain.

This method keeps your suede shoes looking clean without harsh chemicals or expensive cleaners.

Finish with a suede protector

After cleaning your suede shoes, always finish by applying a suede protector. First, use a suede brush to lift the fibers and ensure an even application. Then spray the protectant evenly across the surface from a distance to avoid soaking any area too much.

This step shields your shoes from stains and water damage. Experts recommend doing this before you first wear your shoes and after each cleaning.

Next up is general care for keeping your suede shoes in top shape year-round.

General Care for Suede Shoes

To keep suede shoes looking their best, focus on daily care and quick fixes. Learning the right techniques ensures they stay fresh and last longer.

How to fix scratches

Fix scratches on suede shoes by dipping a clean cloth into distilled white vinegar. Gently work the damp cloth onto the scratch to lift it. This method helps in removing marks and maintaining the shoe’s appearance without harsh chemicals.

Use a brush for tougher scuffs and scratches. The bristles sweep away dirt while smoothing out unsightly marks. Regular brushing keeps your suede looking fresh, preventing debris build-up that can lead to more significant damage over time.

How to treat and store suede shoes

Treating and storing suede shoes properly keeps them looking their best. Follow these steps for optimal care:

  1. Clean your shoes regularly with a suede brush to remove loose dirt.
  2. For scratches, gently rub the surface with a clean towel to lift the fibers.
  3. Apply a waterproof spray designed for suede to protect them from water and stains.
  4. Store your suede shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight as it can fade the color.
  5. Use shoe trees made of cedar to help maintain their shape and absorb moisture.
  6. Avoid plastic bags for storage; instead, opt for breathable fabric bags.
  7. Rotate your suede shoes, giving them time to air out between wears.
  8. If they get wet, let them dry naturally away from heat sources.
  9. In case of serious stains or damage, consider taking your shoes to a professional cleaner who specializes in suede.

Taking Them to A Professional

Sometimes, DIY cleaning methods and home remedies just can’t tackle the toughest stains on suede shoes. This is when taking your footwear to a professional cleaner becomes necessary.

These experts use high-quality cleaning products, like Saphir for suede shoes, ensuring deep cleaning without damaging the material. They have the tools and knowledge to remove stubborn stains, fix water damage, and even repair scratches effectively.

Professionals also offer advice on proper maintenance and can apply specialized products that protect your suede from future damage. Trusting your shoes with them ensures they stay in top condition longer.

With their help, you can maintain the appearance of your suede footwear and extend its lifespan significantly.

Next, let’s explore general tips for keeping your suede looking great at home.

Conclusion: Additional Tips and Resources

Cleaning suede shoes doesn’t have to be hard. With simple tools and household items, you can tackle almost any stain. Remember, regular care with a suede protector keeps them looking great longer. If tough stains resist your efforts, consider visiting a professional cleaner. For everyday maintenance, quick DIY methods offer effective solutions.


1. What is the first step to clean suede shoes?

The first step is to gently brush away dirt with a soft-bristled suede brush.

2. Can I use water to clean my suede shoes?

Using water on suede can cause stains, so it’s best to avoid getting them wet.

3. How do I remove tough stains from my suede shoes?

For tough stains, use a special suede cleaner and follow the instructions carefully.

4. Is there a way to protect my suede shoes from getting dirty?

Yes, applying a protective spray designed for suede can help keep your shoes looking new.

5. What should I do if my suede shoes get wet in the rain?

If your shoes get wet, let them dry naturally away from direct heat and then brush them softly.