This Is How to Clean Suede Shoes the Right Way

Best way to clean and care for suede shoes brushes and cleaner

Did you know that the average U.S. woman owns 19 pairs of shoes?

Since shoes were first invented, there's been hundreds of thousands of designs, makes, and different materials used. Your wardrobe might consist of sneakers, heels, boots, sandals, wedges, and mules. But all these shoes could be made from different materials, that require different care.

In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about the shoe material suede, including how to clean suede shoes.

cleaning your suede shoes

What Is Suede?

Common materials used to make shoes include textiles, leathers, synthetics, rubber, foam, and plastic. Suede falls into the leather material category because it is made from the underside of the skin of an animal. Suede is soft to touch and smoother than traditional leather, and it's thinner and weaker than traditional leather.

Suede became popular in the 20th century and was associated with luxury and high-end products, due to how soft and delicate the material is. It is often made from the underside of lambskin, however, it can be made from the underside of other animals, including goats, deep, calves, and pigs.

Suede is a common material for footwear such as boots and loafers. However, it's also a popular material elsewhere in the fashion world, including for accessories such as gloves and bags, and for clothing such as jackets.

Suede is durable, compared to other fabrics, and can last for a long time when it is treated and cleaned well. However, one advantage of suede is that it can easily become dirty and needs to be cleaned carefully.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

The first thing you need to know about cleaning suede shoes is that you can't use water. Most shoes can easily be cleaned using water, however, water stains and changes the appearance of suede shoes. To protect your suede shoes against water, such as rainwater, it's highly recommended that you spray them with a waterproof repellent.

To clean your suede shoes, you'll need:

  • A suede brush
  • Suede cleaner
  • A cloth
  • Eraser.

Alternatively, you can buy specific cleaning suede kits. These kits often come with a cleaning brush and an eraser. And then you can follow these steps for effortlessly clean suede shoes:

1. Brush Away Dirt and Dust

Using the suede brush, gently start brushing the suede to remove dirt and dust that has attached to the fibers of the material. Make sure your strokes are light and that you are brushing the same direction the suede naturally sits.

Suede shoes that still have wet dirt on them should be shaken (to get the excess dirt off them) and left to dry. Once dry you can start brushing away the dust and dirt particles. Wet dirt particles can be woven further into the suede when you try brushing them, so always make sure your shoes are dry before brushing.

Stains that are more stubborn may require more pressure than gentle strokes. Try moving the brush back and forth faster to remove more persistent stains, such as scuff marks.

2. Use the Eraser

If rubbing the stains with a brush doesn't clean your shoes, you can use an eraser. You can buy specific suede rubbers that can help remove stubborn stains, but a regular eraser works too. Make sure your eraser is clean before using it.

Start using the eraser on the more stubborn marks, as you would if you were rubbing out pencil mistakes. Rubbing and the back and forth action can help to dislodge unwanted dirt, dust, and stains on your suede.

3. Try Suede Cleaner

If the above two steps still haven't completely cleaned your shoes, then you can try applying some suede cleaner. Suede cleaners can help to remove stubborn stains from a variety of suede shoes and accessories.

Make sure you remove excess dirt from your shoes first, with a clean cloth or a brush. Then you need to hold the suede cleaner eight inches from your shoes and spray so that the cleaning product covers the entire surface area.

Once the stains are completely covered in the suede cleaner, start to brush the shoes with a brush or cloth. When you're happy with the stain removal, leave your shoes to dry. 

4. Shave Your Shoes

The suede material might look dull and stringy, so an optional step is to shave away the stringy bits using a regular shaving razor. Shaving your shoes gently will help to restore the smooth texture and make them look as good as new. After using a razor on your shoes, be sure to brush them again to remove any stringy bits that are still attached.

5. Protect Your Shoes

And finally, you can use a suede protectant spray to help keep them cleaner in the future. Suede protector sprays are designed to keep your shoes more protected against dirt and dust and make it easier for you to clean them. 

If you do choose to spray your suede shoes with a protectant, make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging.

A good pair of shoes can last a lifetime, as long as you look after them correctly. Learn more about how to look after all your footwear, with our shoe care tips and tricks video.

Say Yes to Clean Suede Shoes

Follow our guide on how to clean suede shoes to ensure your shoes stay clean and look great no matter where you go. Remember that suede is a delicate material and that you shouldn't use water to clean it. Before wearing your suede shoes outside, make sure you spray them with a water-repellent too.

Need some products for cleaning your suede shoes? Then head over to our Amazon Store or Browse or Shoe Care Products to learn more about your shoe care and how you can protect your favorite footwear.

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