Suede is a soft type of leather made by sanding leather hides to remove the top layer. Suede is delicate and may stain easily in ways other shoes don’t. Learning how to clean suede shoes is essential to keeping your shoes looking clean and new for as long as possible.
Shoes get dirty through daily wear, even if you can’t see the dirt. Unless you wear white suede boots often, it may be difficult to tell when your shoes need cleaning, so consider that they get dirty every time you wear them.
Whether you’re tackling a specific stain on your suede shoes or performing cursory cleaning, you must clean your shoes properly to avoid damaging the suede. The fibers on suede give it its signature soft velvety feel; however, without proper care, this nap becomes stiff and brittle, making suede unpleasant to look at or touch.
- How to Clean Suede Shoes at Home
- What's the Best Way to Clean Faux Suede Shoes?
- Suede vs Nubuck Shoes
How to Clean Suede Shoes at Home
Because suede is a delicate material, how you clean it is essential to the life of your suede footwear. Avoid water or excess moisture while cleaning to help suede retain its soft texture, whether you need to deep clean very dirty suede shoes or only have a small stain.
Cleaning Suede at Home with White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a household staple for the kitchen and serves a purpose for cleaning, too. Vinegar is especially useful to kill bacteria and remove mold from shoes. The acidic nature of vinegar efficiently breaks down stains, and using it on your suede shoes quickly eliminates blemishes. Because vinegar has no color, it’s ideal for cleaning white suede shoes.
For an easy and quick way to clean suede, wet a small part of your cloth with vinegar and gently apply it to the stained area of your shoe. Dab until the stain is gone, then dry your suede shoes in a well-ventilated location. Use a suede brush with the grain of the nap.
If you end up with mud on your shoes, wait until it dries before you tackle the problem. Brush off the dried mud with a suede brush. To clean mud off suede shoes, dab at the remaining stain with vinegar until it’s gone.
Is it Safe to Clean Suede Boots with Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing alcohol is a versatile cleaner that sanitizes but is gentle enough to clean suede. To ensure rubbing alcohol doesn’t cause discoloration from cleaning, patch test a small portion of your shoe with rubbing alcohol before removing stains.
Use a cloth to blot any stains on your shoes to dry them before cleaning with rubbing alcohol to avoid spreading the stain or damaging the suede. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to rub against the stain to break it down. Blot with a towel and allow the shoe to dry.
Cleaning Salt Stains from Suede Boots
Salt dissolves ice during the winter months, and if you live in a cold climate, salty roads and walkways may be a common occurrence. If left untreated, salt stains can severely damage or discolor your boots.
Mix the water and vinegar in a container and dampen a cotton pad. Clean the stained areas of your boots with the cotton pad. Let the shoes air dry before brushing the suede with a nail brush.
Note: Stuff the inside of your boot with newspaper to help it maintain its shape while cleaning.
How to Deal with Water Stains on Suede
Water and suede have an interesting relationship. If your shoes become stained from a water spill or rainfall, water is the most reliable way to remove the stain. It’s never a good idea to get your shoes or suede jacket too wet. Even suede items treated with a suede protector are not immune to discoloration from a water stain.
Use a wet cloth on the water stain on your shoe, pressing gently to avoid soaking your shoe or spreading the water too much across your shoe’s surface. Dry with a cloth before leaving the boot to air dry out of direct sunlight. Since suede shoes do stretch when wet, airing them out after cleaning is the best solution. Use a suede brush to brush with the grain to keep the nap’s smooth feel.
Cleaning Suede with Erasers
No matter how careful you are while you wear suede shoes, you risk staining or scuffing them anytime you wear them outside. Suede erasers remove stubborn stains and scuffs from suede leather shoes.
For suede shoes with dry stains or for washing dark suede shoes, clean them with a suede eraser by working the eraser across the suede fabric until the dirt or stain is gone.
If you don’t have a suede eraser for scuff marks, a clean pencil eraser works for cleaning shoes. Removing scuff marks from faux suede shoes is done the same way. After cleaning all stains or marks from your shoes, use a suede brush to brush the nap back into shape.
Spot Clean Suede with Baby Wipes
If you need to clean a small area of your shoes, baby wipes are gentle enough to clean dirt from suede without damaging the material. It’s one of the simplest ways to wash suede shoes. However, avoid putting excess liquid on your shoes by squeezing out as much moisture from the wipe before using it.
Gently blot or rub the stain or dirt on your shoes until they are clean. Absorb any moisture left from the baby wipe after cleaning. If necessary, use a brush on the nap after cleaning. Baby wipes are also helpful for cleaning the bottom or sides of suede shoes.
Cleaning Grease Stains from Suede
If you wear suede boots to work, you might face the daily threat of grease stains ruining the appearance of your shoes. If you find a grease stain on your shoes, it’s essential to act quickly.
When cleaning your suede boots, use a paper towel or cloth to absorb the moisture, but powder works best when dealing with a semi-solid stain like grease. Use a thickening powder, like cornstarch, to absorb the grease stain, making it easy to remove from the surface of your suede boot.
Sprinkle the cornstarch onto the grease stain, leaving it to sit for about 15 minutes to absorb the stain. Use a wooden crepe brush to remove the cornstarch. Repeat with fresh cornstarch if the stain remains.
Note: Baby powder is a suitable replacement for cornstarch.
How to Clean Suede Shoes at Home
One of the best home remedies is using baking soda to get get oil out of suede shoes. Baking soda is an efficient cleaner as it absorbs the oil from the surface of your shoe, allowing you to remove the oil without the risk of spreading it through the nap of your suede.
To make a baking soda based suede cleaner, sprinkle enough baking soda onto the stain to coat it and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Brush away the powder and oil using an old toothbrush or suede brush.
To eliminate a strong odor, sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes and leave them to sit overnight. Vacuum out the baking soda the following day for fresh-smelling footwear.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Faux Suede Shoes?
Suede items made from faux suede are ideal for vegans or anyone who wants the look of suede without the price. Faux suede looks genuine, but it’s made from plastic and is more durable than suede made from animal hide. However, despite its durability, faux suede is not immune from stains.
General Cleaning with Makeup Removers
If you own a lot of suede, you may already have a suede cleaner at home. If not, cosmetic items like makeup removing wipes and micellar water make excellent tools to wash a suede jacket and remove any spots or stains.
With makeup wipes, wipe your shoes starting from the top and work against the grain. Once clean and dry, use a suede brush to brush the nap back into place.
Micellar water is a liquid cleanser designed to trap dirt and oil, allowing you to clean your skin by wiping makeup and water away. When cleaning faux suede, dampen a cotton swab with micellar water and gently rub it onto the stained area of your shoes. Allow your shoes to air dry, and brush the nap when your shoes are clean.
Cleaning Faux Suede with a Homemade Suede Cleaner
Because faux suede isn’t genuine leather, cleaning faux suede is easy when using soap and water. The durability of the plastic fibers also means the fiber holds up better during cleaning.
Add the water to a bowl and mix in liquid soap until slightly foamy. Use a toothbrush to apply the soapy water to the stain on your faux suede sneakers. Clean the area with small circular motions. Because of the simple ingredients, using soapy water is the best way to clean faux suede shoes.
Use a cloth to wipe away any soap from your shoe and leave it to air dry. Use a suede brush following your cleaning to restore the look of the synthetic nap.
Suede vs Nubuck Shoes
Compared to regular leather, suede and nubuck are softer, making them perfect for sandals and slippers. Manufacturers make suede and nubuck by sanding the leather hide. Suede is created by sanding the inner layer of the leather hide, while sanding the hide’s outer layer creates nubuck.
Because the outer layer of the leather hide is thicker, nubuck is studier than suede, making it ideal for footwear. Suede is softer than nubuck; suede footwear is considered high-end and is often worn directly against the skin.
When cleaning nubuck footwear, there are many nubuck-specific commercial items like wipes and brushes; however, many of the best options for suede work on nubuck. Despite its durability, it is easy to damage the texture and nap of nubuck through improper care.
With many natural ways to clean suede shoes, learning how to clean suede shoes at home is simple and doesn’t have to cost much. Your favorite suede items last longer with proper care and attention to getting rid of tough stains and dirt.
If you learned how to clean suede shoes with help from our guide, please share our tips on the best way to clean faux suede shoes on Facebook and Pinterest.