Most of us have a pair of suede shoes that could use some refreshing; the trouble is, many suede-lovers aren’t sure about proper care. We’ve put together some of the very best tips and tricks for how to clean suede sneakers, shoes, and boots so you can get that suede sparkling again.
Suede is made from the underside of a leather animal hide, as it is more supple than the outer hide. Suede’s unique napped finish is achieved through a mechanical finishing process called “sueding” – the supple leather is finished with an abrasive material like carbon brushes or emery paper, which creates the soft texture of the fabric pile.
The distinctive feel of suede is luxurious but tough to maintain in the face of everyday challenges like rain, mud, or sidewalk salt. We’ll have you confidently flashing your favorite suede shoes without worry with just a few helpful hints. Cleaning suede can be simple, and we’ll show you how.
- Learn How to Clean Suede Sneakers at Home
- Start with a Soft Cloth
- Invest in a Suede Brush
- Isopropyl Alcohol for Suede
- How to Clean Suede Sneakers with an Eraser
- Try Some White Vinegar for Suede
- Baking Soda for Suede Sneakers
- How to Clean Salt Stains from Suede
- How to Get an Ink Stain Off Suede
- Something for Leather and Suede
- How to Handle Wet Suede
- Waterproof Your Shoes with Wax
- Suede Shampoo
- DIY Suede Shampoo
- How to Clean Wine from Suede Shoes
- Prevention is the Best Way to Clean Suede Sneakers
Learn How to Clean Suede Sneakers at Home
Before turning to expensive solutions, discover how to clean suede sneakers with simple, practical household items, whether you get a stain after you break in suede sneakers or you have had them for a while. Get rid of any stubborn stain with these step-by-step tips. This excellent guide for DIY suede cleaning works on all suede and faux suede footwear.
Start with a Soft Cloth
Sometimes the best way to clean suede sneakers is with something simple; begin your suede restoration with a soft cloth. A quick once-over with a microfiber cloth, dishcloth, or even paper towel knocks away excess dirt from the suede fibers and is a great way to refresh dingy-looking suede footwear.
Use short, gentle strokes to brush the dirt up and away from the leather. Return the suede to its natural state by brushing back in the other direction; this fluffs it back up and makes it look fresh again.
Invest in a Suede Brush
There’s a proper tool for every job, and fortunately, a special suede brush exists for shoes, boots, and suede upholstery. A good suede cleaning brush has two types of bristles; stiff metal bristles in the center and soft rubber bristles around the edge. The two bristle types work together to clean surface stains from suede while restoring the nap.
Professionals recommend wiping your suede shoes with a dry towel to lightly brush away loose dirt and bring grime to the surface. To care for suede boots or shoes, use the suede cleaning brush in soft strokes all over the shoe, and continue until you see your natural suede spring back to life.
Suede brushes are relatively inexpensive, and it’s easy to find a decent one for around ten dollars – every suede owner should invest in a simple suede brush.
Isopropyl Alcohol for Suede
Isopropyl alcohol has been around since 1920 and is commonly used in commercial cleaning products, sanitizers, and detergents because it effectively dissolves oils and natural resins. It’s great to get mold off your suede shoes so you can wear them again with confidence.
It evaporates quickly and makes an excellent spot treatment for any suede sneaker, boot, or even a sizable upholstered piece that needs serious stain removal.
Isopropyl alcohol is available in 70% and 99% concentrations. We recommend 99% for this application, as it’s better suited to solvent cleaning and use on water-sensitive fabrics like suede.
Pour the isopropyl into the spray bottle, spray it on the suede fabric, and give it a buff with a soft brush or old toothbrush. Use a suede brush to fluff the suede fibers and keep the material looking its best.
How to Clean Suede Sneakers with an Eraser
Did you know they make special erasers for fabric? A suede eraser is made of a unique composite material that lightly crumbles when it contacts suede.
These erasers are fantastic for dry stains like mud and dirt, and they’re a great supplement to your suede brush. A professional suede eraser is less than ten bucks and is the best way to clean suede sneakers at home.
Use delicate strokes when removing loose dirt from the grain of the suede fabric; you’re not trying to erase a mistake, only to work away from the scuff or stain lightly. For maximum results, follow up with a suede brush; you’ll see how they work to make tough stains vanish.
Don’t use your pencil eraser on suede fabric; they’re designed to remove stains from paper, and a pencil eraser on suede damages and discolors the soft fabric nap.
Try Some White Vinegar for Suede
Look no further than white vinegar if you’re searching for the best natural ways to clean suede sneakers or the best homemade sneaker cleaner for other materials. Dab a bit of vinegar onto a soft cloth, rub the stain gently, and let the area dry completely.
Go through with your trusty suede brush or a nail brush to refresh the suede’s natural texture. There seems to be no problem that we can’t throw a bit of vinegar at and get some good results; suede shoes and sneakers are no exception.
Baking Soda for Suede Sneakers
Baking soda and home remedies for cleaning suede sneakers go hand in hand. Sprinkle some baking soda on the stain and lightly rub it with a soft bristled brush or an old (thoroughly clean) toothbrush.
Let the baking soda sit on the suede for about 15 minutes, and brush it away right along with any dirt clinging to the fabric. Baking soda is marvelous for absorbing grease and dirt and is very helpful on fussy natural suede or faux suede textures.
How to Clean Salt Stains from Suede
If you get a bit of snow in the winter, you know how much stubborn salt stains cling to suede footwear. Learn how to clean suede sneakers and boots with two simple ingredients – water and white vinegar.
A tablespoon of white vinegar and one cup of water destroys salt stains on suede, whether you need to get white sneakers clean or black boots. Wet your stiff brush with the vinegar mixture and gently wipe away the water stain, blotting intermittently with a clean cloth to remove excess salt. Allow the shoes to fully dry, and then re-fluff the suede nap with a suede brush.
How to Get an Ink Stain Off Suede
There’s nothing scarier than a rogue ink stain on your brand-new suede sneakers. It’s tempting to seek expensive professional treatment for tougher stains, but why not learn how to clean suede sneakers at home with a few cotton balls and a little isopropyl alcohol first?
Use a concentration of 99% isopropyl, generously wet a cotton ball, and then dab away at the ink stain lightly. The ink stain should begin to lift immediately.
It’s always great to have DIY home remedies; however, in the event of a deep-set stain, seek specialized cleaning to preserve the life of your suede.
Something for Leather and Suede
Many shoes contain multiple fabrics and textures that require a combination of tools to best address the problem. Shoes that contain both leather and suede leather don’t have to be a pain to clean.
For suede, use your trusty suede brush or suede eraser to comb away excess dirt and fluff the fibers gently. A little white vinegar and water dabbed sparingly do the trick for leather pieces. Take it slow and steady with fragile fabrics, and they’ll thank you with prolonged wear.
How to Handle Wet Suede
We have all been caught out in the rain, and sometimes it happens when we’re wearing our best suede boots. If your suede is soaked, don’t panic. Start by inserting some rolled-up parcel paper or newspaper into the toe of each shoe to help it keep the shape as it dries.
Resist the urge to towel the suede off or press the fabric unevenly; this could cause uneven water distribution through the nap, making a water stain. Once the suede is dry, assess for any lingering water stain, and treat with a suede eraser or nail brush. Use gentle circles, and remember to fluff the fabric nap after for the full suede effect.
Waterproof Your Shoes with Wax
If you have a treasured pair of suede sneakers or faux suede shoes that aren’t super-expensive but still need protecting, stain-proof that suede with a simple DIY solution. Get a plain white tea light candle, and rub it over the suede parts of your shoe until there’s an even layer of wax covering the fabric.
Run warm air over the freshly-waxed suede with a blowdryer for about 20 seconds; the wax coating visually disappears, though it’s still protecting the shoe. If you dare, run the toe of your suede sneaker under the tap, and the water bounces right off, an ingenious waterproofing solution in a pinch.
We’ve always been told not to get suede wet under any circumstances, so it might surprise you to know many companies make specialized, high-quality suede shampoo just for suede shoes and boots. A good suede shampoo gets into the leather, dissolves dirt, and rejuvenates the quality of the suede for prolonged wear.
Generally, suede shampoo is inexpensive and needs only to be diluted with a bit of water to be effective. The manufacturer’s instructions vary slightly; however, as a rule, two parts water to one part suede shampoo is sufficient.
Wet a soft brush with the cleaning solution, work it over the whole shoe to create a thick lather, then rinse well. Stuff the tips of your suede shoes with crumpled newspaper; this helps the soft fabric keep its shape, allowing it to dry overnight.
DIY Suede Shampoo
Even with regular brushing and care, suede needs a deep clean every few months. Though there are many high-quality and luxury suede shampoos on the market, making your own version is simple. Discover how to clean suede sneakers at home with this inexpensive, easy-to-make suede cleaner.
Mix the dish soap, vinegar, and water in a container large enough for your brush. Wet the brush and go over the suede in circular motions until the whole shoe is covered in a thick lather.
Rinse the shoe in the sink, stuff the toe with newspaper, and let it dry overnight. After a thorough shampoo, the suede pile collapses and needs to be refreshed with a suede brush to finish the job.
How to Clean Wine from Suede Shoes
Wine stains require deep penetration to clean, and suede shampoo is the way to achieve it. Whether you make your own shampoo or grab a bottle of pre-made suede shampoo, this is the best way to clean suede sneakers and dress boots with large red wine surface stains.
Spot treating the stained area with water and shampoo results in the dreaded suede water stain on suede; therefore, it’s essential to build a soapy lather all over the shoe.
Rinse it well, stuff the toes with newspaper, and dry overnight. If the stain is still present in the morning, try a suede eraser, and then repeat the shampooing process; the stain will lift.
Prevention is the Best Way to Clean Suede Sneakers
The next time you buy a pair of expensive suede shoes and the sales associate asks if you want the suede protector, just say yes. Suede protectant spray creates a barrier over suede that repels stains and dirt from your expensive leather shoes and boots for months.
Most suede protector sprays cost less than 20 dollars and last at least a year with regular application. There are many fantastic products, and they’re all easy to apply; save your suede from the unpredictability of life.
To keep your suede shoes in shape and keep sneakers from creasing when you’re not wearing them, invest in some shoe trees. They’ll maintain the shape of your shoes until you put them on again.
We hope these tips and tricks have you ready to raid the closet and rejuvenate every suede shoe, boot, and sandal in the house.
For the best-looking, longest-lasting suede, remember to waterproof your shoes with suede protectant spray and brush the fabric nap regularly. Blot liquid stains immediately with a paper towel, and always keep a suede brush and eraser on hand.
Learning how to clean suede sneakers is easy, and now you’re ready for every suede stain that comes your way. With consistent care, suede develops a unique patina, and it truly does look better with age. Cleaning suede fibers diligently enhances the beauty of natural suede, prolonging the life and wear of your favorite shoes for years.
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