How to Clean Suede

Even Elvis Presley’s blue suede shoes need a little TLC every once in a while. Suede is a popular material that is frequenting the fashion industry, so you probably own boots, bags, a hat, or something made out of suede.

What is it, exactly? Suede is a soft material with a napped, short-haired finish. It is made from the underside skin of animals like lambs and calves. Don’t worry, vegan friends, there are many synthetic look-alikes that are not made with animal products. Some may find the material somewhat daunting because it can be fragile. However, there is no need to be afraid of purchasing suede items because with just a bit of upkeep, your suede can look brand new for years!

How to Clean Suede

Investing in a suede care kit is a great way to not only clean the suede of stains and grime, but it also will prolong the life of your material. This cleaning kit for suede includes a special soap, eraser, and brush that will remove anything from water spots to dirt. If you don’t own a suede cleaning kit you can simply follow these steps to revive your belongings:

  1. Rub the suede with a clean towel. This brushes up the napped texture to expose any dirt hidden underneath the fibers.
  2. Next, use a pencil eraser to literally “erase” any stains! Most stains are surface level, so they can easily be rubbed off.
  3. Other stains, however, are ingrained deep into the fibers so they may need a little more cleaning power. Plain white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can easily remove spots without staining the suede. Pour either liquid onto a soft cloth and rub it into the stain. After letting the fabric dry, brush with a dry towel to fluff the suede.
  4. To protect your suede belongings in the future, you can purchase a suede protectant spray. It repels water, oil, and grime so that not only will your belongings be protected from future stains but it also will require fewer routine cleanings.

What Household Items Can Clean Suede Shoes?

Shoes — especially suede shoes — are not immune to all types of weather and terrain. Thankfully, there are some items likely laying around your house that can easily remove stains on suede. Plain white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can penetrate the suede and remove dirt, grime, salt, and water stains. Simply follow the instructions above to safely use household cleaners on your favorite shoes.

Can Suede Get Wet?

Remember to check the weather! If you wear suede shoes in the rain, snow, or just accidentally step into a puddle, the moisture can ruin your shoes. When the water dries, the texture can become stiff, which is difficult to reverse. To protect your shoes from water, you can buy this suede protectant spray. Any water will just roll right off, so your shoes don’t suffer any water damage!

Suede isn't as hard to clean as you think

How Do You Rejuvenate Suede?

Heavy use of your favorite suede shoes can leave them looking a bit faded and dingy. To rejuvenate the material, keep your suede protected from rainy and snowy weather. Routinely cleaning your suede will keep them in good condition for years.  

Can You Wash Suede?

Most manufacturers recommend not cleaning suede in a washing machine because the water and heavy soap could damage the surface. However, you should always check the washing instructions on the tag of your clothing to verify this. Some have been treated with special chemicals that protect the fabric from water and soap damage, so a cycle through the washing machine won’t ruin the material.

Keep your suede looking as good as it did when you bought it

What is the Best Suede Cleaning Kit?

If you have several suede pieces, whether it be a few bags or pairs of shoes, it might make sense to purchase a suede cleaning kit. Household cleaners work well, but cleaning products created specifically for suede care will keep the material looking it's absolute best.

Home Cleaning for You tested 15 suede cleaners to determine the best one. Jason Markk 3691 Suede Shoe Cleaner was rated #1 not only because of the effective results, but also because testers were pleased with the eco-friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable formula.

Can You Use Soap and Water to Clean Suede Shoes?

We recommend you read the manufacturer label on your suede belongings to know how best to clean the specific item. Because water can stain suede and stiffen the material, it’s likely that cleaning suede with soap and water can actually do more damage than good. Suede cleaning kits or household cleaners will be far more effective and safer!

Can You Clean Suede Shoes with Baking Soda?

Baking soda isn't just a staple in pantries, it's also a versatile cleaning agent. It's is a great choice for cleaning suede shoes because it can absorb dirt, grease, and salt. Sprinkle baking soda on the stains and rub it in with a soft brush. Most suede kits usually include a special suede brush, but an old toothbrush will work fine. Let the powder sit on the shoes for about 15 minutes, then brush it away. When you brush off the baking soda, the dirt and oil should easily fall away as well! 

Suede is found in many of the items we wear and use

How Do You Clean Light-colored Suede?

Some people may be afraid to wear light-colored suede because it shows more dirt and grime than their darker counterparts. Have no fear! Light-colored suede can be cleaned using the exact method as dark-colored suede.

How Do You Moisturize Suede?

If suede gets too dried out, it will begin to look weathered and faded. Moisturizing suede revives the texture so it can return to its original softness. A small amount of mink oil poured onto a cloth and rubbed all over the suede can help prevent the dryness.

This particular mink oil is a protector and a conditioner, so you can moisturize the suede while protecting the surface. Well-oiled suede will not only enhance the vibrancy and brightness, but the oil will also deter water damage. Most suede protectant sprays are made with an oil or wax base, so the formula already will protect the shoes from dryness.

While suede requires a little regular upkeep to stay in good condition, it’s not a material to be afraid of. Make sure to follow our tips and guidelines to ensure your favorite suede boots or jackets look brand new for years!

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