How To Clean Suede Shoes – A Step By Step Guide

How To Clean Suede Shoes – A Step By Step Guide

how to clean suede shoes

Suede shoes are a classic yet unique addition to any simple men’s outfit. Available in various colors, from brown to gray to black, suede shoes can add a fundamental element of class to an otherwise basic outfit when done right. While they look great, they can be quite a pain to keep clean, given their delicate and unique texture.

Whether it’s rain, dirt, or typical scuffs, shoes get dirty over time no matter how hard you try to take care of them. Knowing how to clean each specific material best is essential as different textures require different protocols.

When it comes to suede, some extraordinary steps to ensure that you don’t damage the shoes further while getting them back. To give you a helping hand, here is our step-by-step guide on how to clean suede shoes.

What Is Suede?

Fallow deer most often comes from the hides of the undersides of cows, deer, pigs, and lambs. Suede is the softest, most permeable material coming from the layers of skin located deeper inside the animal’s body. At the same time, leather is from the outer layer of the animal’s skin. Suede is also distinguished by its fluffy finish, while leather tends to be very smooth and polished. While suede and leather are known to be quite tough and durable, suede is undoubtedly a bit more delicate.

Due to its fabric-like texture, suede also tends to absorb liquids and retain stains. In terms of flexibility, suede is firmer than most shoes. However, what you will want for the shoe style is that suede is often used for men. Although the material is firmer, it still offers enough flexibility to keep you comfortable wearing it, even for long stints at a time.

Essentials To Clean Suede Shoes

essentials to clean suede shoes

Before we get into how you clean suede, we need to first go over what is needed to clean them. While you can take them to the dry cleaner for professional cleaning, plenty of home options for a good cleaning. Since each stain from a different substance may require different treatment, be sure to have these items on hand if you own suede shoes:

  • Suede brush
  • Suede rubber
  • Paper napkins
  • Cloth napkin
  • Eraser
  • White vinegar
  • Nail file
  • Degreaser for leather safe for suede

While it might seem like a bunch of random items, that’s about all you need to remove any significant stains from your beloved suede shoes. From scratches and watermarks to liquid spills and dirt build-up, these are all stains that can be removed by following the following steps.

How To Clean Suede Shoes

While it’s possible to buy waterproof suede shoes or protect them with scotch tape for an extra layer of protection, no suede is entirely immune to blemishes or damage. Knowing how to keep them clean and looking good is imperative.

Step 1 – Dry The Shoes

Before you start, make sure the shoes are completely dry.

To dry them well:

  • Avoid rubbing with a towel, but instead wipe the moisture off the shoes as gently as possible.
  • After that, be sure to store the shoes in a safe place to continue to air dry on their own.

Step 2 – Brush The Suede Shoe

Rub the shoes with a towel or brush it with a suede brush so that the suede flows in the same direction that it falls naturally, i.e., make sure that the deer goes in the direction of the grain. In addition to keeping the texture intact, it will also help rid the shoe of some surface dirt or grime.

Step 3 – Use Rubber Or Eraser

Using a piece of suede rubber or a pencil eraser, press firmly and rub back and forth on the stained or damaged area. This should usually do the trick on small marks or clumps of dried dirt.

Step 4 – Clean Stains

If you are tackling a stain that is a little more difficult or tumultuous to remove, white vinegar and a soft cloth will be your best friends. Dip the corner of your rag in a small amount of white vinegar and apply it to the stain. You’ll want to keep using small amounts repeatedly until the stain is clear to avoid over-soaking the area.

The vinegar acts as a cleaning agent to separate unwanted stains or dirt from the suede itself. If the suede changes color a bit, fear not. This often happens when cleaning with vinegar, but the white vinegar evaporates as the suede dries. After treating the area with vinegar, allow it to dry completely.

Once your shoes are clean and dry, try using a suede brush or toothbrush to put the suede back into place. Again, be sure to brush with the grain, not against it. Try using a leather degreaser specifically suited for suede for stains caused by oil or that won’t go away with the above steps. Make sure you read all of the instructions before you begin and only apply the degreaser to specific small areas of the shoe.


Another tip for cleaning suede shoes is knowing where the stain is coming from so you know better how to treat it. Also, taking care and caution with your suede shoes will prevent them from becoming too scuffed or stained. Therefore, as much as possible, avoid doing damage to avoid cleaning them. However, since it is quite possible to clean suede shoes, don’t sweat if you face an accident or two.

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