Shoes made from suede look great, but they can be challenging to keep clean, and once they get dirty, scuffed, or stained, they can be a real nightmare to get clean again. Suede is a sensitive material, and it is very easy to damage or even ruin completely. As such, cleaning your suede boots can be an intimidating prospect – you do not want to damage the suede even more while you try to clean stains out of it!

Here at Shoe Advisor (rights reserved), we have put together a guide to help you ensure that you clean suede in an appropriate way to remove stains from the suede without damaging the material. We have got guides to a few different options and different methods that you can use to remove stains, from dry stains to wet spills and other unwanted marks. If you have got a stain on a pair of shoes made from suede and you are not sure how best to clean the stains out or what technique to use, then look no further. Read on below to find out everything you might ever want to know about cleaning suede!

How to Clean your Suede Shoes

Suede can be a sensitive material that can be a bit difficult to clean, but as long as you make sure you use an appropriate method for the type of stain you are dealing with, you should be fine. Just be sure to remember that wet marks, dry stains and scuff marks are all different problems, and you are going to have to use a different method for each one of these. Let’s go through them all and show you how to clean suede properly, no matter what sort of marks and stains you may be dealing with.

Cleaning Dirt and Marks from Suede Shoes

Dirt and marks are actually some of the easier things to remove from suede as long as you have the appropriate equipment. For this suede cleaning method, you are going to want a proper suede brush. Suede is a soft-grained material that can be easily damaged if you use the wrong sort of brush on it, so you may need to buy a new brush, especially for use to clean suede. It is also important to note that suede can be very sensitive to water damage, which may cause problems when you try to clean suede surfaces, so you should make sure that your shoes are completely dry before you try to brush them.

Once you are sure that your shoes are completely dry, use your brush to lightly brush away dirt and dust that has built up on your shoes. You may need to go over marks with your brush several times in order to clean suede completely, but make sure that you don’t brush back and forth. Brush repeatedly in the same direction to keep the grain healthy and safe from damage. You may want to use longer strokes of your brush than you might expect here!

If you have scuff marks visible on your shoes, then you may want to try brushing back and forth. Using your brush, vigorously brush back and forth to lift the grain of the scuff up and back to a fresh, new-looking state.

If you still have a few stubborn marks left on your shoes, you might want to try a suede eraser. You can either buy a specifically made eraser designed for this task, or you could just use a standard pencil eraser. Just rub the marks out with your eraser like you would a pencil mark! It is the same technique as you would use with a brush, but you can get away with applying more pressure for tougher marks with an eraser than you would want to do with a brush.

To reduce the risk of more marks and scuffs appearing on your shoes later, you can apply a coat of suede protector spray to the surface once your shoes are fully clean and dry. This is not essential, but it can reduce the risk of having to clean your shoes again any time soon!

Removing Water Stains From Suede Shoes

Water can discolor suede surfaces, but that discoloration and staining can actually be very easy to remove. First, you will want to apply a light coat of water to the entire outside of the shoe, using your suede brush. Then, use a dry cloth or a sponge to soak up any excess water. You want the entirety of your shoe to be evenly damp, without any spots that are soaking wet. Stuff your shoes with paper or shoe trees to help keep them in shape and to ensure they do not shrink. Do not use newspaper for this step, as the ink can soak into your shoes and stain them!

Leave your shoes to air dry overnight. A warm, dry, well-ventilated space is the best option for this. You want the water to evaporate completely from the surface of the suede for the best results! Once they are dry, use your suede brush to restore the grain of the suede to its original shape. Using motions in only one direction, brush the suede so all the fibers are pointing in the same direction, and they should look as good as new once again!

How to Clean Mystery Stains from Suede Boots

Mystery stains and oil marks can be tricky to get out of suede, particularly if they are greasy in nature. If the stains are particularly bad, you might never be able to get your shoes looking quite the same again. However, if they are only relatively minor grease stains, you can usually get them out with a bit of thorough scrubbing.

Use a standard suede brushing method to loosen up the stain just as you would for a scuff mark. Then, use a standard nail brush and some warm water and scrub the stain thoroughly to work it out of the suede as best as possible.

If the oil is still wet, you can try sprinkling a light layer of cornstarch over the stain. Leave that overnight to dry, and the corn starch should soak up the oil and ease it out of the shoes. The next day, dust away the starch and use an iron to gently steam the stain away, and hopefully, it should leave your shoes looking much better.

If you get wax or chewing gum stuck to your shoes, then you can just put them in the freezer. Freeze your shoes for a few hours, and the gum or wax should become hard enough for you to chip it away from the suede without doing damage. Once you have got most of it off, you can use your standard suede brushing method to remove the last bits and finish the job properly!

If you have somehow managed to get blood on your suede boots, do not worry. It is actually surprisingly easy to remove blood from your shoes! Just soak a cotton ball in peroxide and dab that gently against the stain until all of the blood comes out. It might take a while, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

You can use standard household white vinegar to get rid of the stain. Just apply a little bit of white vinegar to your shoes using a soft cloth, rag, or towel! Let the white vinegar finish drying completely, and then apply your standard suede brushing method to restore the surface of the suede and get your shoes back to looking great.

How do you get Suede Shoes Clean Without a Suede Brush?

If you do not own a suede brush or other cleaning product designed specifically to remove marks from suede shoes, then do not despair! There are a number of different home options you can use to clean suede if you don’t have a suede brush, and all of them can be done easily at home as DIY cleaning options for suede. Let us take a look at some of the easiest options for cleaning suede when you do not have access to a suede brush for use.

If you are dealing with a dry stain rather than a damp spot, you can use steel wool to deal with a particularly problematic dry stain. Brush a ball of steel wool vigorously against the stain in order to get it out of the dry suede surface. Note that you might have to rub the rest of the suede shoe with the steel wool in order to get it looking even after you have managed to remove the dry stain effectively, though!

An alternative option is to use an emery board and a steamer if you don’t have access to a proper suede brush. Rub the stain with a simple emery board nail file to roughen up the suede and loosen it up a bit, and then steam the area with an iron or a kettle. The steam should soften everything up a bit and open up the pores of the suede material itself, making the suede cleaning process much easier. This may take a couple of rounds to fully remove stains, particularly if those stains are dry already, but if you are having trouble, then it may be a great option for you!


Cleaning shoes made from suede does not have to be a difficult and intimidating project. Take your time, treat the suede gently and carefully, and ensure you know what you are doing before you start. The most important thing is finding out what your stain is before you get started, as different types of stain require different approaches to get them out of suede, and using the wrong method can cause damage to your shoes. Be patient, take your time, and be careful with your shoes. As long as you take care, you should be able to restore your shoes to shining, new looking glory without too much difficulty and with minimal risk of damaging the suede in the process!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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