How to Clean Black Suede Shoes without Causing Damage

Besides leather, suede shoes are considered elegant and luxurious. The suede material is made from the underside skin of animals like lamb, cow, goat, or even deer. This material is very delicate and velvety, making suede a perfect choice to show a refined taste of fashion. Suede shoes are mostly available in brown with a variation of shades, although you can spot some darker colors like black. Suede shoes are also perfect for year-long wear. Warm days? You can have a pair of suede loafers to look stylish and still comfortable.

Snowy seasons? Suede boots are the answer! Not to mention that black is a versatile color that will match any outfits you own and add a sophisticated touch to your look. For the most part, you’ll never go wrong with black suede shoes. There are many tips mentioned about how to clean black suede shoes, but are those safe enough for soft footwear?

Owning a pair of black suede shoes can be a bit tricky since they need special care. Unlike canvas shoes that you can toss in the washer, suede shoes are much more fragile and can’t be exposed to excessive water or else they’ll get damaged. As challenging as it seems, don’t be afraid! This reading has compiled some easy guides on how to clean black suede shoes, as well as tips and tricks to minimize the damage and keep the shoes’ life longer. Keep scrolling to read the rest of the article.

How To Clean Black Suede Shoes

A. What cleaning kit you’ll need

A specially formulated soap for cleaning shoes.

  • Apron

It’s not necessary to wear an apron, but you can have one to protect your clothes from dirt and soapsuds caused by the cleaning process.

  • Premium brush

The soft-bristled brush is made from animal hair which is used for cleaning the delicate suede material on the upper shoes.

  • Medium brush

An all-purpose brush with sturdy bristles for scrubbing the dirt and stains off from the midsole.

  • Standard brush

The perfect brush with strong bristles removes dirt and other particles that get stuck in the outsole.

  • Small brush or toothbrush

True to its name, the small brush is used for cleaning the narrow inside of the shoes. If you don’t have one, just use a toothbrush with soft bristles to do the job.

  • Microfiber cloth

A cloth with excellent water absorbance for wiping the suds off the shoe’s surface.

  • Shoe trees

A pair of foot-like devices put inside the shoes to maintain their shapes and prevent creases.

  • Washbowl

A container for mixing the water with shoe cleaner.

  • Shoe perfume

It’s not a must, but you can use shoe perfume to give a refreshing scent to your newly cleaned shoes.

B. Use the right cleaning kit for each part of the shoes

  • Upper shoes

This part is located at the top of the sole, which is the entire part that covers the feet. To clean the upper shoes made from suede, it’s best to use a premium brush to prevent damage and scratches caused by a hard-bristled brush.

  • Midsole

The next part of the shoe is the midsoles, which can be found sandwiched between the insoles and outsoles. This part of the shoes is an easy target for dirt, stains, and scuffed marks which are present due to a period of use. To clean the midsoles, it’s best to use a medium brush that helps erode the unwanted filth.

  • Outsole

The outsole is the exposed part of the shoes which has direct contact with the ground. It’s easy to spot some dirt, mud, or other particles getting stuck between the crevices of the outsole. To help clean the outsole, use the strong and hardy standard brush.

  • Insole

An additional layer that functions as cushioning and provides comfort for your feet. There are two types of insoles: removable and non-removable. It’s recommended to remove the insoles first for easier cleaning, but this idea doesn’t apply to the permanently glued ones. Removing the glued insoles can cause the glue to not stick properly and potentially damage the shoes. Use a small brush or a toothbrush to remove the layer of grimes in the area of the insole which is harder to reach.

C. Step By Step

  • Get the suede shoes ready

Prepare a pair of dirty black suede shoes for cleaning. If you notice big clumps of dirt or mud on the soles, bang the shoes together to remove them. Remove the shoelaces if they have any, the squirt some of the shoe cleaners into the laces. Give a gentle massage before rinsing the laces and setting them aside.

  • Prepare the cleaning kit

Get all the cleaning kits mentioned before ready before cleaning. Dilute a few parts of the shoe cleaner with water in the washbowl, then mix well until homogenous.

  • Put shoe trees in

Take the insoles off and put the shoe tree on each of the shoes. Don’t force remove the insoles if they’re permanently glued to prevent breaking.

The next step is essential before you clean the suede shoes with water and a shoe cleaner mixture. Brush the shoe with a premium brush to remove sticking dirt and debris. You can also use a small brush or a toothbrush to do the job.

  • Clean the outsole and midsole

Dip a standard brush into the cleaning mixture and scrub the outsole vigorously. Repeat the same procedure for the midsole, but this time use a medium brush. While you clean the midsole, it takes a lot of time, strength, and patience to remove stubborn stains and dirt that stick to the area. After done with the scrubbing, take a microfiber cloth to wipe the suds and reveal the outcome. Repeat the process if necessary.

As you might know, suede materials are very sensitive and delicate, thus they need special treatment. Don’t use a hard-bristled standard brush that can damage the material. Instead, use a premium brush to gently clean the upper. Suede isn’t water resistant, hence why you just need a little water to clean the area. When you’re done cleaning, take the microfiber cloth and press it lightly on the surface to absorb the excess moisture.

A small brush or a toothbrush comes in handy for cleaning the narrow and hard-to-reach area of the shoe’s inside. You can also utilize a premium brush to do the job, but don’t force the brush to get into the small area.

  • Clean the detailed area

Use a dampened microfiber cloth to clean the small details of the shoes. If you don’t have one, wet tissues can be a good replacement. Personally, I choose the first method because microfiber cloths have excellent water and dirt absorbance and are more durable compared to other types of cloths or even tissue.

  • Dry the shoes 

Leave them to sit by the fan for about 1 to 2 hours until they dry entirely. Don’t forget to dry the shoelaces as well.

  • Finishing process

After the shoes are clean and dry, take the shoe trees out and put the laces back. Now you’re ready to show the freshly-cleaned suede shoes off to the world!

How to clean black suede shoes with household products

In my case, cleaning suede shoes doesn’t have to be expensive with specially formulated cleaner. As an alternative, you can use household products that are more affordable and environmentally safe! Here are some household products you can use for cleaning black suede shoes.

Baking soda

The first contender on the list is baking soda. You may have heard about how effective baking soda is for cleaning various types of surfaces, even on the most delicate materials like suede. Baking soda helps absorb dirt, grease, and stains. Say goodbye to oil stains and sticky residues from the suede with the help of this product! Not only that, but baking soda also acts as a deodorizer and disinfectant. For me, it doesn’t really matter whether you use them as a powder or paste, it works either way.

Vinegar

This versatile liquid is arguably one of the best household products for cleaning leather, The acidity of vinegar helps break down various types of dirt and stains, as well as scuff marks. Not only that, I find another function of vinegar: as a disinfectant that removes unpleasant odors from suede shoes. Before using this product, I advise you to test the vinegar in the hidden area of your shoes to ensure that it doesn’t change the color of your suede shoes.

How to clean suede shoes without suede cleaner

You might know that there’s this thing called suede cleaner, a formulated cleaner specially designed for treating dirt and stains on delicate suede shoes. Now the question is, what if you don’t have one and need to clean your footwear? I advise using natural ingredients that you can find easily in the kitchen, such as baking soda and vinegar, which we’ll talk about more in the next sections of this article.

How to clean black suede shoes with vinegar

White vinegar is deemed one of the best home ingredients for cleaning. It’s an eco-friendly and affordable cleaning agent that won’t damage your delicate suede shoes. Based on my experience, here’s what you can do to clean black suede shoes with vinegar.

  • Pour the liquid into a clean soft cloth.
  • Rub the cloth carefully on the stained area of the shoes.
  • Leave the shoes to dry for a few minutes.
  • Brush with a dry towel to get the suede fluffed.

How to remove stains from suede shoes

We can’t argue that stains can make suede shoes look ugly and unflattering. For me, there’s no way to handle every single type of stain with one method. Therefore, here are some of what you can do to remove stains from suede shoes based on my experiment.

Oily stains

  • Sprinkle some cornstarch powder or baby powder into the stained area.
  • Allow the shoes to sit for about 1 hour.
  • Use a soft brush to remove the excess powder.
  • Repeat the process if needed.

Dry stains

  • Rub the stain with a clean and soft cloth.
  • Use an eraser to get rid of the remaining stain, or use an emery nail file if the stain is too stubborn. 
  • Be careful while scrubbing the suede because this step is very abrasive for delicate material.

Liquid stains

  • Put a clean soft cloth over the liquid-stained area and slightly press to transfer the stain.
  • Repeat the process until the stain is dry.
  • Air dry the suede shoes away from the sun.
  • Continue with the method used for dry stains if the stain is still noticeable.

How to clean suede shoes with a toothbrush

Cleaning suede shoes with a toothbrush is doable, just a little note from me: use a very soft-bristled one so you won’t damage the material. For me, the outcome isn’t much different than when you use a suede brush. Here’s the step-by-step on how to do it.

  • Make sure that the dirt or stain is dry, otherwise, it’s harder to remove because they have seeped into the material.
  • Stroke the brush lightly to remove debris and small particles. Always brush with the grain, which means in the same direction as the soft fur.
  • You can put more pressure and move the brush quickly to remove scuff marks.

How to clean suede shoes with baking soda

Another home ingredient to try for cleaning suede shoes is baking soda. From my experience, it can absorb grease and dirt from your delicate shoes and make them shine like before. Here’s how to clean suede fabric shoes with baking soda.

  • Pour some baking soda into the stained area.
  • Scrub the product gently with a soft brush (an old toothbrush can do the job as well.)
  • Let the baking soda sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Brush the granules from the surface to reveal newly cleaned shoes.

Do’s and don’ts

Do’s

Don’ts

Shoe care

  • Don’t store shoes in a humid environment to prevent them from getting moldy.
  • Don’t directly store wet shoes. Always dry the suede shoes before storing them in the shoe rack.
  • Dust the suede shoes gently with a premium brush (using a suede brush can be a great option as well) if you notice dirt getting into the shoes.
  • Don’t wear suede shoes during rainy days or flooding because the material can’t resist water.
  • Put the shoes in their box neatly and throw some packs of silica gel to absorb the excess moisture.
  • Get a suede protection spray to shield the shoes from getting wet and stained.

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QnA

How can I get my black suede shoes black again?

To get your black suede shoes black again, get them dyed. Personally speaking, it’s best to use dye specially formulated for suede to erase the faded area without leaving the suede shoes damaged. Always follow the instruction on the suede dye package to get the prime result. When you’re finished dyeing, allow the shoes to sit.

How do you make black suede boots look new?

To make your black suede boots look new, I recommend cleaning them regularly, especially when you wear the boots often. The following is how you clean suede boots to look brand new.

  • Lightly brush the boots by the grain with a suede brush or terry cloth towel.
  • Combine suede shampoo with water in a ratio of 1:2 in a small bowl until all is incorporated.
  • Brush the mixture with the help of a suede brush in a circular motion with strong pressure.
  • Rinse the shampoo with a dampened towel until the suds are no more.
  • Pat the surface dry with a clean towel before stuffing them with newspaper and let the suede boots dry for about 24 hours.
  • When the boots are dry, use a suede brush to re-fluff the suede.
  • Spray a layer of waterproof suede spray and allow it to dry for 1 hour before use.

How do you clean black suede shoes without spray?

To clean black suede shoes without using a spray, here is our step-by-step to try.

  • Rub the suede shoes with a clean towel to brush the textures up and remove hidden specks of dirt.
  • Remove surface-level stains with a pencil eraser by rubbing them away with gentle pressure.
  • Use white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to get rid of the deeply-ingrained stains. Pour the liquid of your choice into a clean and soft cloth and wipe the stains off.
  • Let the shoes dry before brushing the black suede shoes again with a soft-bristled brush to make the napping fluffy again.

How do you rejuvenate black suede?

To rejuvenate black suede, I urge you to clean suede regularly so the dirt and stains are much easier to remove and keep their life longer. Make sure you use a specially formulated suede soap or home ingredients for cleaning the shoes so they don’t seem damaged. Last but not least, avoid wearing them on rainy or snowy days. This is because any excess moisture that seeps into the material can make the texture stiff which results in damaged materials.

How do you fix scuffed black suede shoes?

To fix scuffed black suede shoes, I usually use a pencil eraser to remove the mark from the shoes. All you have to do is just give a nice rub on the scuffed area with light pressure until the scuff is gone. Voila! Now your black suede shoes are scuff-free.

Does rain ruin black suede?

Yes, rain can ruin and damage any type of suede, including black ones. Suede has extremely high water absorbance. If your black suede shoes get exposed to heavy rain, then there’s a chance that the material will harden with an awful-looking stain.

Does black suede get dirty easily?

Yes, technically any type of suede gets dirt easily, including black ones. This is because of one particular reason. On the surface, suede has a fuzzy nap finish that makes dirt and stains get on the material easily. 

Can you polish black suede shoes?

No, I don’t recommend you polish black suede shoes. The reason? The suede material is very porous and has a high absorbance level. When you apply a polish to the delicate surface, the suede will absorb it all and cause visible stains. The worst of it all is your black suede shoes get damaged and can’t be restored like they used to be because the stains are permanent.

Conclusion

To sum things up, it’s really important to take care of your black suede shoes to last longer. With the proper method and cleaning ingredients, you can extend their lifetime and keep them clean for a longer time.