How to Get Your Suede Shoes Looking Brand New

Product Care

Suede is a delicate fabric that requires special care. Here's how to get rid of dirt, stains and scuffs on your suede kicks.

Last updated: 4 March 2022
3 min read
How to Clean Suede Shoes
Time Required
15 min
Estimated Cost
US$ 10

Supplies

  • Suede cleaner, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Cornflour (optional)
  • Suede protectant spray (optional)

Tools

  • Suede cleaning brush, toothbrush, microfibre cloth or soft-bristle shoe brush
  • Suede rubber or pencil rubber
  • Soft cloth

A new pair of suede shoes can look soft and velvety, but as soon as you step outside, that beautiful suede can become a magnet for dirt and distress. Suede is a delicate fabric that absorbs moisture and can easily stain, and requires special care and maintenance to stay clean. It's wise to use a suede protectant to help keep your suede shoes in shape for longer, but when they inevitably scuff or stain, try these techniques to get them back to their original form.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

  1. 1.Set Up to Clean

    Before you begin, use a shoe tree or stuff your shoes with crumpled newspaper to retain their shape while you clean.

    Tip: Avoid cleaning suede shoes when they're wet. It's best to allow mud or other moisture to dry before brushing, otherwise a stain may inadvertently be caused. Bear in mind that throwing your shoes in the dryer can damage them—make sure you're drying your shoes properly. We recommend stuffing them with newspaper or airing them in front of a fan.

  2. 2.Remove Excess Dirt and Debris

    Start by using a suede brush or toothbrush to gently brush away any dirt or debris on the surface of the shoe. If you don't have a brush, you can use a clean cloth, but avoid using any soap or water, which can make the mess worse. To get rid of minor scuff marks, use a quick side-to-side brushing motion to lift the suede fibres away from the shoe and loosen any debris before moving on to the next step.

  3. 3.Rub Away Surface Marks

    To remove any marks that remain on the surface of your shoes, a suede rubber goes a long way. If you don't have one, a pencil rubber or household cleaning sponge will be the next best thing. Make sure the rubber is clean from stains itself. Apply a little more pressure on this step, but don't rub the suede too hard or you might risk damaging the fabric. Use a back-and-forth motion to scrub away any tricky stains, and if that doesn't work, move on to the next step for a more heavy-duty solution.

  4. 4.Treat Stubborn Stains

    If all else fails, use an acidic liquid to break apart clumps of particles and remove stains. We recommend wetting the corner of a dry cloth with a small amount of suede cleaner, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Make sure you don't drench the shoe in liquid, but rather lightly dampen the suede. Massage the shoe with a rapid side-to-side motion, and then allow the suede to dry. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process.

Other Techniques for Specific Types of Stain:

  • Oil and Grease Stains: Sprinkle the stain with cornflour and allow the shoe to sit for a few hours. Rather than using a suede brush, gently wipe away any remains with a cloth or use a handheld vacuum to lift them from the shoe.

  • Gum or Wax: Place your shoes in the freezer until the gum or wax hardens. Then, simply peel or scrape it off the shoe.

  • Blood Stains: Dip a cotton wool ball or clean towel in a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and gently dab away the stain. Allow the shoe to dry, and repeat if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Suede Shoes Be Washed?

We don't recommend putting suede shoes in the washing machine or hand washing them in soap and water. Suede absorbs water, so washing a pair of suede shoes with water can actually cause stains to set in the fabric. Instead, start with a dry brush, follow with a suede rubber and work out stubborn stains with a bit of rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or a suede-cleaning solution.

Does Suede Spray Work?

Suede protectant can help prevent water stains from forming, which is key if your shoes encounter unexpected wet weather or spills. As with all shoe-care products, we suggest checking out the reviews from other customers before using any product for the first time on a pair of shoes you love.

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