how to clean suede shoes

How to Clean Suede Shoes the Right Way? Simple Tips and Tricks

Nothing says style and class like suede. Suede shoes are comfortable, soft to the touch, keep your feet cozy, and are a durable and elegant choice of footwear. The only problem is that they’re extremely prone to stains and damage, that’s why most people only reserve suede shoes for special occasions.

But this guide will show you how to clean suede shoes the right way, so you can sport those upscale footwear whenever you want instead of having to wait for the right occasion.

What Are Suede Shoes?

Suede Shoes

Suede is the kind of material you’ll likely find on a couch in the waiting lounge of a 5-star hotel. It’s very expensive to produce and laborious to preserve. It’s an incredibly popular material used for fashion items like shoes, jackets, and accessories and is also used to make finishing’s.

It’s a type of leather made from the underside of animal skin but with a fuzzy, mapped finish that’s soft to the touch. Leather is made from the skin’s outer layer whereas suede is taken from the deeper layers of the skin.

Typically, suede is made from lambskin but can also be made from other types of animals like goats, calves, pigs, and deer. Prices of suede vary depending on the animal it is sourced from.

The 3 most common types of suede are as follows:

#1. Sheepskin Suede

Sheepskin Suede

This is the softest and most delicate type of suede. It’s made from sheep or lamb, and it’s also lighter than the other kinds of suede.

#2. Cowhide Suede

Cowhide Suede

Cowhide suede is thick, tough, durable, and has a rough nap depending on the age of the animal.

#3. Pigskin Suede

Pigskin Suede

Pigskin suede is the heaviest kind of suede there is. It’s thick, tough, and has a short, slightly rough nap.

What You Will Need to Clean Your Suede Shoes


Although swanky, the one downside to owning suede shoes is the cleaning. Here are some of the common problems you’ll encounter with suede shoes:

#1. Water stains
#2. Ink stains
#3. Liquid spills
#4. Dirt accumulation
#5. Mud stains
#6. Scuff marks

To clean suede shoes, the items you’ll require are, fortunately, easily found at home. But there are some items for which you may need to hit up your local home improvement store. Here’s what you will need:

#1. Suede brush
#2. Suede rubber
#3. Pencil eraser
#4. Sponge or a soft bath towel
#5. White vinegar
#6. Leather degreaser
#7. Fingernail file
#8. Shoe tree

Suede is very delicate so it needs to be handled gently. Any excessive rubbing, scrubbing, or using something abrasive can completely tarnish the beautiful finish. You also can’t use your washing machine to clean suede, but more on that later.

How To Clean Suede Shoes The Right Way: DIY

Remove Surface Dirt

Suede is sensitive to moisture, so if the dirt is wet, wait for it to dry out completely before doing anything. Once the surface dirt dries up, use a suede brush or bath towel to gently brush it off.

Always brush in one direction rather than back and forth as that could damage the nappy finish. Brushing all the dirt off can take a while because, on a microscopic level, the surface of suede is very porous. It attracts small particles like dirt, especially if it’s damp.

Even Out the Edges

There may be some loose threads sticking out around the edges if your shoes have been scraped before. Use your suede brush to even out the edges of the shoes by breaking off those threads.

Treat With White Vinegar

Some stains cannot be removed by brushing alone, but vinegar can do the trick. It’s a natural stain remover. Just blot about 2 tbsp of white vinegar on a soft napkin and wipe it over the areas of the shoes where the stains have set in. Remember not to drench the napkin onto the suede because it absorbs moisture very quickly.

Allow Air-drying

Once you’re done cleaning, let the shoe air dry.

How To Remove Different Types of Stains From Your Suede Shoes

Different Types of Stains

Dried Cake of Mud

You can use your suede brush to brush off mud cakes on your suede shoes but only after they’ve fully dried. If that doesn’t work, try using a butter knife to gently scrape the mud off.

Water Stains

Fight water with water. Dampen your suede shoes and rub the water all across the surface until the water stains disappear. Then let it sit to dry.

Stubborn Stains Like Salt-stains

Salt stains are tough. Only brushing won’t do; you will need a cleaning agent of some kind. Vinegar will usually help, but if not, try an industrial suede cleaner.

To Remove Ink Stains

Ink stains may take a long time to come off. Dip a cleaning sponge into vinegar and keep gently rubbing in circles along the Ink stain. Vinegar will break it down without damaging the material.

Tips For Cleaning

Tips For Cleaning

#1. If you’ve got gum stuck on your suede shoes, leave the shoes in the freezer for a while. The gum will get hard and you can scrape it off.

#2. Use a shoe tree whenever you dampen your suede shoes during cleaning so that they retain their shape. If you don’t have a shoe tree, you can simply stuff them with scrunched-up paper.

#3. Always keep suede dry. Moisture can ruin the texture or cause the shoe to shrink. Don’t ever wear suede shoes if it’s raining.

#4. Purchase a suede protector. It shields the suede from water and dirt.

#5. Oil and grease stains need to be dealt with immediately because they trap moisture in the shoes. Sprinkle cornstarch on the affected area and leave overnight. The starch will absorb the oil.


Can I Use Water to Clean My Suede Shoes?

It’s okay to use water to help get rid of stubborn stains, but bear in mind, this tends to leave watermarks on the finish. It would be wiser to understand the type of stain you’re dealing with and find a solution that doesn’t involve exposing suede to any kind of liquid.

Can I Wash My Suede Shoes?

Both leather and suede shoes should never see the inside of a washing machine. You risk ruining both the texture and the shape.

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