How to Clean Suede Shoes

When people go shoe shopping they keep these four factors in mind: style, price, practicality, and comfort. While suede shoes are stylish and comfortable, to many they seem impractical for the price because they are hard to keep clean. Even water can leave stains on suede shoes. Because of this, many people avoid purchasing them. My advice to those people is to purchase them and enjoy them because cleaning them is easier than you may think.

What is suede?

Before learning how to clean them, it is important to know how suede is made. This will help you better understand why it is more prone to stains. Suede can be made from a variety of animals like cows, lambs, pigs, or deer. It is a form of leather, however it is softer than leather because it is made from the under-skin of the animal as opposed to the outer part of the skin. The velvet like texture of suede is what makes them so appealing to many that wear them, yet it is also the main reason that makes them so susceptible to damage. Below are some simple, cost efficient ways to clean your suede shoes at home.

Cleaning up water stains:

Water stains, like mentioned earlier, are very common with suede shoes. They damage the shoe by taking away some of the softness from the texture and also by discoloring the area that has been wetted. Ironically, you need more water to diminish the previous water stains. First, stuff the shoes with paper or something else that will prevent the shoe from shrinking and losing its form. Second, spray water on the entire shoe and use a dry cloth to soak up all of the water. Allow your shoes to dry over night and then simply brush your shoes evenly with a suede brush.

Getting rid of dirt:

In order to clean dirt from your suede shoes, you need either a suede brush or a nail brush; both will do the trick. By making gentle strokes with the brush, you are brushing away dirt from the surface of your suede shoes. Keep in mind it is important to brush in the same direction. If you are brushing correctly (with gentle and short strokes), you will notice the shoes’ original color reappear.

How to remove mud, oil, grease, and other stains:

If you get your suede shoes muddy, you can clean them by removing the mud from the surface of your shoes. Don’t scrub them off too hard; it’s ok to have some mud still on the shoe. Once you have done this, let the remainder of the mud dry. Then use either your nail or suede brush to clean off the remainders of mud. Following this step, you must then wipe the shoes with a warm, damp cloth.

Oil stains and other stains are harder to manage. You need to roughly brush off the stain with a suede brush. Then use a nail brush, or a wet cloth, to scrub the surface with warm water.

Unfortunately, grease is not something you can clean off of your suede shoes on your own. In cases where grease is involved, it is best to take your shoes to a dry cleaner and allow them to clean it for you.

Having trouble with any of these steps?

If you have followed these steps carefully and are still unable to remove stains from your suede shoes, there are other steps you can take to assist yourself. In cases where the stain is from something waxy, like gum, refrigerating your shoe helps because it makes the content colder, hence easier to scrape off.

Steam is also helpful when cleaning. By using the steam from a kettle or iron, you are opening up the pores of the shoes, making it easier to clean the stains and remove dirt.

If you are still having trouble, vinegar can be helpful. Apply a dab of vinegar to a dry cloth and clean the surface of your shoes. Once dry, use a suede brush to brush off the surface.

Keep in mind:

  • AVOID using dry solvents and suede dyes because they don’t guarantee you damage free shoes.
  • By maintaining the appearance of your suede shoes periodically, they will require less cleaning. Using suede protection sprays will help prevent damage and stains on your shoes, making them in less of a need to be cleaned.
  • If you do choose to use vinegar to clean your shoes, make sure to not use too much because you can leave an unwanted odor on your shoes.
  • Always take off any laces or extra additions to your shoes before cleaning them.
  • If you do not wear your suede shoes often, keep them in a box, or wrapped, when placing them in your closet to prevent them from getting dirty.



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