How to Clean Black Suede Shoes (Best Methods for Any Stains)

how to clean black suede shoes

Black suede shoes are one of the most basic shoes for any occasion. They are simple, sleek, and will always look good any outfit. However, owning a pair of black suede shoes can be a bit tricky in terms of maintenance. Suede is a delicate fabric and therefore, suede shoes require special care.

Unlike canvas shoes that you can easily toss in the washer, suede shoes are much more fragile. You can’t just expose them to excessive water or else they’ll get damaged. But as challenging as it seems, don’t be afraid! Below I have 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.

With years of experience in the shoe industry, I can assure you that I will be delivering accurate and reliable information on shoe cleaning, especially black suede shoes. So, keep scrolling to find out more about the complete guidelines to keep your black suede shoes clean!

I. Prepare the Cleaning Kit

Before we start with the step-by-step cleaning guide, let’s prepare the kit and tools that you need to prepare before you start with the fun part, which is the cleaning process. Below I have listed down the required cleaning items, which have been reviewed and approved by experienced shoe cleaners in the industry.

  • Apron. It’s not necessary to wear an apron, but I suggest that you 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 that 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.
  • Shoe Trees. A pair of foot-like devices put inside the shoes to maintain their shapes and prevent creases.
  • Shoe Perfume. An agent used specifically to keep your clean shoes free of odor and bacteria. This is not mandatory, but you can use shoe perfume to give a refreshing scent to your newly cleaned shoes.

II. Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

Now that you have the cleaning kit and tools ready, you can let the fun begins. In this section, I will be sharing with you the detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean you black suede shoes. The following guideline was created based on thorough research that I did to find the best techniques for cleaning suede black shoes to bring exceptional results.

Step 1: Get Your Black Suede Shoes Ready

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

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Kit

Get all the cleaning kit and items that I have mentioned in the previous section, and make sure they are ready before cleaning. Dilute a few parts of the shoe cleaner with water in the washbowl, then mix well until homogenous.

Step 3: Put the Shoe Tree Inside the Shoes

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

Step 4: Dry Clean the Shoes

This next step is essential and it needs to be done 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.

Step 5: Clean the Shoes’ Outsole and Midsole Sections

Dip a standard brush into the cleaning solution 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.

Step 6: Clean the Upper Area of the Shoes

As you might know, suede materials are very sensitive and delicate, thus they need special care. 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.

Step 7: Clean the Insole Area of the Shoes

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.

Step 8: 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.

Step 9: Let the Shoes Air Dry 

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.

Step 10: 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!

III. How to Clean Black Suede Shoes without Suede Cleaner

You might know that there’s this thing called the suede cleaner, which is 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 urgently need to clean your black suede shoes?

Well, based on what I’ve learned and as advised by reputable experts in the field of shoe cleaning, there are some natural ingredients or items that come as effective shoe cleaner. Even better, you can find them easily in your kitchen, such as baking soda and vinegar. Now let’s talk more about these ingredients in the next section.

1. Soft-bristled Brush or Toothbrush

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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:

  • Step 1: Make sure that the dirt or stain is dry, otherwise, it’s harder to remove because they have seeped into the material.
  • Step 2: 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.
  • Step 3: You can put more pressure and move the brush quickly to remove scuff marks.

2. Baking Soda

Another home ingredient to try for cleaning your black suede shoes is baking soda. Based on a research that involved surveying suede shoes users as well as my own experience, baking soda is a proven ingredient that 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.

  • Step 1: Pour some baking soda into the stained area.
  • Step 2: Scrub the product gently with a soft brush (an old toothbrush can do the job as well.)
  • Step 3: Let the baking soda sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Step 4: Brush the granules from the surface to reveal newly cleaned shoes.

3. Vinegar

How to clean black suede shoes

White vinegar is deemed one of the best home ingredients for cleaning. For suede shoes, I can assure you that I have sourced only the highest quality information to provide with the trusted shoe cleaning recommendation. Vinegar 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:

  • Step 1: Pour the liquid into a clean soft cloth.
  • Step 2: Rub the cloth carefully on the stained area of the shoes.
  • Step 3: Leave the shoes to dry for a few minutes.
  • Step 4: Brush with a dry towel to get the suede fluffed.

IV. Cleaning Solution to Remove 9 Specific Stains from Your Black 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, I will share the best cleaning methods to remove 9 specific stains from your dearest black suede shoes. Each of the following method was based on my extensive knowledge and practical expertise in shoe cleaning, which are highly reliable.

1. Salt Stains

The best solution to remove salt stains from your black suede shoes is vinegar. As you probably aware, salt can be pretty damaging to suede fabrics. As the cleaning tools, grab a soft-bristled brush and paper towel, and then follow these cleaning steps to return the freshness of your suede shoes:

  • Create a mixture of warm water and vinegar to make cleaning solution.
  • Grab a clean paper towel, dip in into the cleaning solution and gently wipe the shoes using the towel by focusing on the stained area.
  • For stubborn salt stains, use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush, dip it into the cleaning solution and gently brush the stained are until the stains are gone.
  • Leave the shoes air dry.
  • Repeat the process if needed.

2. Water Stains

Water on suede shoes, especially black suede shoes, can be hard to remove. But based on a comprehensive study done by shoe cleaning experts, you can actually remove water stains from your suede shoes using water. Yes, I know that it sounds odd, but it’s actually a true fact, and below I am sharing with you the step-by-step guide on how to remove water stains from your suede shoes using water.

  • Use a spray bottle to lightly spritz water across the surface of your black suede shoes that have water stains.
  • Gently brush the surface using a suede brush or toothbrush.
  • Blot up any excess water with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Let the shoes to air dry completely.

3. Mud and Dirt

Wearing your black suede shoes outdoors is fun, but it might leave you with some cleaning job afterwards. Suede is a delicate fabric that attracts mud and dirt to stick around. So, make sure you don’t leave your shoes too long with mud and dirt stains on them, and immediately clean them using a vinegar with the following steps:

  • Apply a modest amount of white vinegar to a clean, soft microfiber cloth.
  • Dab the vinegar on the stain and ensure the whole stained area is treated with the vinegar.
  • Grab a suede brush and use it to brush the stain again.
  • And you’re done. By now you will see that the stain is removed from your black suede shoes.

4. Oil Stains

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Sometime, oil stains on your shoes is unavoidable. Your black suede shoes can get oil stains from anywhere, and if you don’t know how to completely remove oils stains from the shoes, they will look dull and worn out pretty easily. To help you deal with such issues, below I will share my secret tips on how to remove oil stains from your suede shoes, based on what I’ve earned from trusted experts in the field.

  • Cover the stain with a large amount of cornstarch for at least 1 hour.
  • Spread through the cornstarch to hide the stain from view. You can’t use too much of it, so there is no need to hold back.
  • If you are running out of cornstarch, you can also use baking soda or talcum powder.
  • Remove the cornstarch from the stained area with a damped microfiber cloth.
  • Scrub the stain with a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to remove any of the oil left behind after you removed the powder.

5. Scuff Marks

I know that scuff marks are annoying. But being an owner of suede shoes, especially the black ones, it’s hard to keep scuff marks away from them. But you don’t have to worry, because no matter how hard it may seem to remove scuff marks from your suede shoes, it is very doable as long you know hot to do it. Here’s how:

  • Use suede brush or rubber cleaning stones, and rub the stained area back and forth to remove the mark and restore the nap of the suede material.
  • If the marks still remain, rub the surface using the rubber cleaning stone.
  • If the scuff marks are severe, you might need a special suede cleaner, which is available in many stores, online and offline.

6. Food and Drink Spills

If you wear your black suede shoes on a daily basis, then they have huge potentials to get stained by food and drink spills. In order to avoid that from happening, you can eat and drink carefully, or you can prepare yourself with a proper knowledge on how to clean such stains from your shoes. Because sometimes, having food and drink spills on your shoes is just inevitable. Here’s how you can remove such stains from your suede shoes:

  • Rub the surface of your shoes using a clean towel.
  • Use a pencil eraser to remove food and drink stains from your shoes. Most food and drink stains are on the surface level, so they won’t be that hard to remove.
  • Pour a small amount of vinegar or rubbing alcohol to a soft cloth and rub it into the stain.
  • Brush off the stained area using a dry towel to fluff the suede.
  • Additionally, you can use a suede protectant spray to protect the surface from future stains.

7. Sweat Stains

I know that it is unlikely to wear your black suede shoes to exercise or work out. So, you might think that it’s impossible to have sweat stains on your shoes. But when the weather is hot out there, you might get sweaty and your dear suede shoes can accidentally get sweat stains. It’s sucks, I know.. but check out below my secret tips on how to remove sweat stains from your shoes, just in case it happens.

  • Create a mixture of vinegar and water inside a clean bowl. arm water is ideal since it will help the water and vinegar mix a bit more easily.
  • Grab a clean rag or paper towel and dip in into the solution and gently wipe the shoes with the wet rag by focusing on the sweat stains.
  • If the stain still remains, grab a suede brush and gently brush the stain until it is removed completely from your shoes.
  • When you’re done with the brushing, it’s time to leave the shoes to air dry.
  • Last step, I recommend you to use suede protectant spray that offers a degree of waterproofing that helps keep your suede shoes from getting dirty again.

8. Ink Stains

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We all hate ink stains, and I believe your black suede shoes hate them as much. Ink is an agent that is pretty difficult to remove, specially from shoes made of suede. But I have taken my time to evaluate a wide range of products to discover the best products that can remove ink stains from suede shoes. Here are the cleaning steps that I’ve created based my discoveries:

  • Use rubbing alcohol or acetone on a white microfiber cloth.
  • Gently rub the ink stain and be sure to spot tests a small area first to ensure the solvent does not discolor or damage your black suede shoes.
  • Once you are sure the alcohol does not damage the shoes, then continue by gently rubbing the stained area until the stain is completely gone.

9. Lotion or Cream Stains

If you are a woman who loves your black suede boots or shoes so much, we believe you would do anything to keep your shoes clean from any stain, including lotion of cream stains. But sometimes bad things happen, and you can accidentally get your suede shoes stained by your body lotion or face cream. Don’t worry, because below I will share the step-by-step guide on how to remove lotion or cream stains from your suede shoes:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water, and swish to create a great volume of suds.
  • Apply the foam with a sponge and wipe the stained area on your shoes using a clean cloth.
  • If any sticky trace remains, test a dry-cleaning solvent on an inconspicuous place and dab the solvent on the spot with a soft cloth.
  • Allow the shoes to thoroughly dry.

V. Do’s and don’ts


  • Clean the suede shoes carefully and gently because the material is delicate, sensitive, and prone to damage. if you do it in the wrong way, it can damage your shoes .
  • If you wear suede shoes daily, clean them at least once every month. Leaving the shoes dirty for a long time can cause dirt and stains to stick to the shoes and harder to remove.


  • Don’t use too much water because it can alter the color and texture of suede.
  • Don’t dry suede shoes under the direct sun because the color can fade.

VI. 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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VII. Frequently Asked Questions

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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. 

8. 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.

XI. 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.