Suede shoes can be such a great wardrobe staple because they work with almost any outfit. However, even though suede shoes are always in style and look so good with anything you wear, a lot of people avoid investing in them because of how hard they can be to take care of.
Suede is indeed a delicate material, which means any shoe made from it needs to be taken care of gently. While it looks great, anyone who has have ever tried to own a pair of suede shoes in the past will tell you how prone the material is to stains and marks.
Wearing your suede shoes out at any time will put them at risk of getting dirty and potentially damaged the shoe if you don’t know how to take care of them, which is why we have written this guide.
When you know what to do, learning how to clean suede shoes can be pretty easy. It does not have to be as hard or as time-consuming as you might think to clean a stain from suede shoes and get them looking brand new once more, and we are going to show you how in this article.
What You Need
The reason why cleaning a suede shoe seems to be so difficult is the fact this is a delicate material, and you cannot use water on it. Soaking suede shoes will cause water stains and damage, which is why they cannot be thrown in the washing machine and should never be put in a tumble dryer but do need some water to clean certain stains from suede.
When you want to clean your suede shoes, gentle materials are needed.
For stubborn stains on your shoe, a cleaning solution can be made using household materials, or you can buy a special suede cleaner which might be easier to use.
- A suede brush or similar soft-bristled brush (i.e., toothbrush or nail brush)
- Distilled white vinegar (rubbing alcohol can also be used)
- Flannel, small towel, or face cloth
- Suede eraser
- Suede protector (if required)
As suede is delicate, it might seem strange that we are recommending white vinegar and rubbing alcohol to clean it, but these cleaning solutions will not damage the material. It is best to use rubbing alcohol or white vinegar on stubborn stains and let the brush do most of the work for an overall clean.
We are now going to show you how to remove dirt and clean your shoes in this article.
How To Clean Suede Shoes: Dirt and Scuff Marks
When you clean suede shoes, there are slightly different methods based on what you need to remove. Suede is a delicate material that can easily become dirty, worn, and scuffed, which is why you need to get into the habit of cleaning suede shoes regularly to remove excess water and dirt.
After some wear, you will see that your suede shoes are dirty, but this can be easily rectified using a suede brush and these tips:
1) Get a Suede Brush
To clean suede shoes, they need to be dry, so if you have just come in from the rain, allow them to dry overnight before brushing. To clean suede shoes, you need a suede brush which can be purchased from most shoe stores.
A suede brush is a small, soft-bristled brush that has been specially made to clean suede. If you cannot find a suede brush or do not have one, you can also use a soft brush like a nail brush or a toothbrush as they have similar bristles.
2) Brush the Shoes
Take your suede cleaning brush or toothbrush and start to lightly brush the shoes. Use the suede cleaning brush to gently sweep away dust and dirt that can collect on your shoes.
When brushing the shoes, do so either outside or over a towel to catch the mud and dirt.
Make sure that you are not going back and forth when you use a suede cleaning brush and instead brush repeatedly in the same direction, following the hide. This simple cleaning process should get off a lot of dirt and dust, so you might notice that your shoes are already looking new after this step.
3) Remove Scuff Marks and Mud
To deal with scuffs, which can be caused by ground-in dirt and mud, you can still use the suede brush.
Scuff marks appear in suede when the grain has been pushed down in one direction, so to remove these marks scrub back and forth using your brush. This will lift the grain, so the dirt is easily removed using your brush.
After this, brush the grain in the same direction as the hide to improve the appearance of the surface of the shoes.
4) Erase Stubborn Marks
Using either a suede eraser, which you can buy from a shoe store or a standard stationary eraser, you can start to scrub away stubborn marks.
If you have had no success with some dirt or mud using the brush, you can take an eraser or use crepe paper to scrub away the remaining marks. Apply pressure when using the eraser to get rid of these.
When the shoes are clean, you can finish them with a spray of suede protector.
How To Clean Suede Shoes: Water Stains
As we have mentioned, you should avoid getting suede shoes wet because this can cause stains and damage. However, as suede boots are commonly a staple of a winter wardrobe, this is hard to prevent all the time.
Luckily there is a way to clean suede boots or shoes that have gotten wet.
1) Dampen The Surface of the Shoe
These tips might not seem to make sense, but the best way to remove water stains requires adding more water to your suede shoes. Even when the shoes are still wet from the rain or snow, use a suede brush or gentle cloth to apply an even coating of water all over the surface.
Properly applied water to suede can be an effective cleaning method.
2) Remove Excess Water
Using a clean cloth or dry sponge, soak up the excess moisture from the surface of your suede shoes.
You do not want to get the shoes completely dry with this step, which is why you should be light-handed when using the sponge or cloth to get rid of excess moisture.
Dab at the suede leather until it is evenly wet, but there are no visible water stains left on the shoe. This can result in a permanent stain, which is why you need to be careful when cleaning water from this kind of shoe.
3) Stuff The Shoes
Leather is a flexible material, which is why your suede shoes might be incredibly comfortable, but this does mean they need extra care. When leaving your suede leather shoes to dry, you need to stuff the shoes, so they keep their shape.
Using a clean towel or plain paper, stuff the suede leather shoes at the toes.
This will help blot out water from the inside of your shoes while also maintaining the structure of the boots. Shoe trees can also be used for this, and you can buy them from shoe stores.
Alternatively, towels or plain paper can be used instead of shoe trees. Never use printed paper like a newspaper in your shoes as this can stain the inside.
4) Let Them Dry
It can take a long time for suede leather to dry completely, so you need to leave your shoes overnight to dry.
Keep your suede shoes in a dry, ventilated space so they can completely dry overnight. Make sure your shoes are not damp before wearing them again.
5) Finishing Touches
When your suede shoes are dry, you can get them back into a good appearance using your suede brush once more. Do not brush back and forth, and instead brush in the direction of the hide using light hand motions.
You can finish this cleaning process using a leather protector over the outside of your shoes, boots, or sneakers for water resistance.
How To Clean Suede Shoes: Other Methods
Sometimes, your suede shoes can become dirty by other means. If you are not sure what you are working with but are struggling to clean suede shoes, the following tips should help:
1) Oil or Unknown Marks
Using a suede brush, you can tackle oil or unknown stains on your suede shoes. To clean suede shoes this way, use the brush to scrub away the oil stain.
You can use a small amount of warm water to clean away this kind of stain, gently brushing at the mark once more.
2) Mud and Dirt
If you are dealing with a mud stain or wet dirt, the first thing you need to do is let the mud dry completely before trying to clean your suede shoes.
When the mud is dry, you can try to give your shoes a clean using a dry cloth and rub at the stain until it fades away. You can brush away larger pieces of dirt, which should break off easily when dried using your suede brush, toothbrush, or nail brush. These tips only work for light stains, however.
For a tougher stain, using a combination of white vinegar and water or rubbing alcohol should give your shoes a good clean.
Vinegar or rubbing alcohol should be tough enough to break down stains while also being gentle on the fabric. Using cotton balls or a clean cloth, you can wipe away stains with your cleaning solution.
To use white vinegar on this fabric, mix the vinegar with water and lightly wipe at the stain to remove it. You can also lightly rub at the stains using this cleaning solution, being gentle with the fabric to prevent damage.
Be gentle with the fabric but work hard to remove stains, as a stained shoe never looks the same again if not properly treated.
When it comes to cleaning suede sneakers or shoes, there are some specialist tools you can buy that might make the job easier for you. For example, a suede eraser can be used to rub away tough stains.
As you have seen in this article, a standard eraser can also be used for this cleaning trick.
On a similar note, you can buy leather cleaner from shoe stores. This will come as an oil or a spray and is made to clean this kind of fabric well.
Once you have managed to clean your stained suede shoes and have them looking new once more, spray suede protector onto the surface to avoid further damage.
Suede shoes can be very stylish, and they look great with a range of outfits. However, a lot of people do not want to invest in suede shoes because they seem to be hard to clean.
We hope that we have shown you throughout this article that cleaning suede shoes does not have to be too difficult, yet you can still get brilliant results.