How to Clean Suede Shoes and Take Good Care of Them!

What more can I say other than magnificent? They are the embodiment of what premium shoes should be. There are a lot of things to like from suede shoes, but the most important thing to highlight is the beauty in their design. Some suede shoes will also feel comfortable to wear. Of course, you might want to use these shoes for a more formal event, rather than casual ones (although they still look great!). Suede shoes are like other leather shoes, they are quite hard to take care of. As a matter of fact, you will need to be extra careful and patient when you’re cleaning them. Having the knowledge to maintain their quality after cleaning them is also a huge plus for suede shoes lovers. Whatever color you have, whether its black, brown, or white, you might want to have a look at my article below if you want to clean or wash suede shoes!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEATHER AND SUEDE?

Here’s a common misconception that people tend to have when trying to figure out what suede is. As a matter of fact, suede is a type of leather. As other leathers do, suede are normally used to make jackets, shoes, fabrics, purses, and many more. Contrary to other leathers, suede is normally made from the underside of an animal skin, which is noticeably soft and has a napped finish. 

Suede leathers are normally softer and more comfortable than normal leathers. Suede is strong and also resistant, which is a huge plus for shoes. They are also more supple and look so beautiful (although leathers are beautiful as well). Unfortunately, they tend to be more expensive. Suede leathers can also shrink over time. Therefore, you need to learn to take care of them properly. 

WHAT WILL RUIN SUEDE?

As most premium items do, there are certain things that can ruin them. In this case, I’m going to mention some things or conditions that can ruin or damage suede. This knowledge is obtained (sadly) via personal experiences, and I’m sharing it so that you can avoid making the same mistake!

  • Water. Cleaning them with water is fine, but make sure not to expose them with too much water. Suede shoes that are too wet can get damaged and broken. 
  • Mud. Similar to water, mud can also make a pair of suede shoes become broken. Even worse, it also makes your shoes dirty!
  • Bad terrain, like rocky roads and similar situations. Suede is kind of a sensitive material. When they come into contact with rocks or other rough things, there’s a high chance that it might get damaged. 

Out of all three scenarios, water seems to be the one that most people are concerned about. But don’t worry! Suede shoes that are wet can still be fixed. Here are some steps to do that:

  • The first thing to do is to dry your suede shoes first
  • Leathers like suede are known to easily absorb water. Leaving them in front of a fan might not be enough. Therefore, I usually soak the water by using a towel or cloth and gently tap the surface of the shoes. It might take some time, so be patient!
  • Use a hairdryer to apply a little bit of heat on the surface of your shoes. It helps to dry your shoes. But make sure not to let the hair dryer get too close with the shoes, as extreme heat can also damage them
  • While using a hairdryer, you can gently brush the surface of your shoes with a shoe brush
  • Check to see if there are any stains on your shoes. If you spot one, clean them with your shoe brush

NIKE’S ADVICE ON HOW TO CLEAN SUEDE SHOES

Nike is better known for their sports and casual shoes. That’s the reason why their suede shoes series might not be as familiar to most people’s ears. However, they are really beautiful, and it’s definitely worth it to buy! Nike also released their own version to clean suede shoes. I’ve tried to clean my shoes according to their guidelines, and let me tell you that this instruction can be used to clean Nike’s as well as other brand’s suede shoes.

Let’s prepare some items and products that can be a massive help to our cause!

  • Suede cleaner. As an alternative, you can also create a homemade mix that is made up of white vinegar or with rubbing alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide (an optional item)
  • Suede protectant spray
  • Suede brush. You can also use a soft brush, although I advise you to buy a suede brush!
  • Suede rubber or pencil eraser
  • Soft cloth, preferably microfiber cloth
  • A pair of shoe tree

Now that all the necessary items are ready at your disposal, let’s begin cleaning them, the Nike way!

  • Insert the shoe tree inside your suede shoes in order to maintain their shape and structure
  • Clean loose brush by brushing the surface of your suede shoes with a soft or shoe brush
  • If there are some spot marks, you can clean them with a suede or pencil eraser. Use them gently and don’t rub them too roughly
  • In some scenarios, there’s going to be some stains or spot marks that can’t be eliminated simply by using a brush and eraser. Therefore, you can try and use an acidic liquid as a last resort. Try to wet the shoes with a suede cleaner, white vinegar, or with rubbing alcohol and rub them slowly with a soft cloth. 
  • Allow your shoes to dry completely

HOW DO YOU CLEAN SUEDE SHOES WITHOUT RUINING THEM?

The goal of cleaning a pair of shoes is to make them look fresh and clean once more. However, some people tend to go through the process in a hurry, resulting in a damaged shoe. If you want to wash suede shoes correctly, you might want to have a look at my guideline below!

1. CLEANING KITS NEEDED AND THEIR FUNCTIONS

2. SUEDE SHOES ANATOMY AND FUNCTIONS OF EACH PART

  • The Upper Part of Your Suede Shoes: As the name states, it’s the upper part of your suede shoes. A Premium Brush is essential to clean your shoes in order to prevent damage to the upper part of your sneakers.
  • Midsole: The side sole section of Your suede shoes. To clean the midsole, I suggest you use Medium Brush, as midsoles can often get damaged and dirty due to usage.
  • Outsole, or the lower part of Your suede shoes: To clean suede shoes’ outsole, you can use a standard brush that is strong and sturdy. This way, dirt and stains from your outsole might be cleaned easily. 

3. HOW TO CLEAN SUEDE SHOES WITHOUT RUINING THEM

  • Prepare your suede shoes that are ready to be cleaned:

A pair of dirty suede shoes that need to be freshened up. 

  • Prepare the cleaning kits needed to clean your suede shoes:

Prepare the Shoe Cleaner, apron, Premium Brush, Medium Brush, Standard Brush, Small Brush, Microfiber Cloth, 2 pieces of Shoe Tree, and a container to store water and Shoe Perfume. 

  • Remove the laces from your suede shoes

It’s essential to remove the laces from your suede shoes before starting the cleaning process. Laces need to be cleaned separately. You can do this by soaking them inside a bucket of water that has been mixed with the shoe cleaner detergent.  

  • Insert the shoe tree in your suede shoes:

This is an essential step, as a Shoetree will be important to maintain the shape of your suede shoes when they’re being washed. However, make sure to remove the insole before inserting a shoe tree. Don’t force it if the insole can’t be removed, though. 

  • Dry Clean Your Suede Shoes

Before proceeding to clean your suede shoes with water, you really need to dry clean your shoes first. To do this, you can use a Premium Brush or small brush to get rid of loose dust or dirt. I love to do this step before cleaning my shoes with water, as it can help reduce the dirt before deep-cleaning them.  

  • Wash the Outsole and Midsole of Your Suede Shoes

During this cleaning stage, you can use a Standard Brush. Make sure to use all your strength when cleaning the outsole, as it’s naturally the dirtiest part of a shoe.

As soon as you have finished cleaning the outsole, you can proceed by cleaning the midsole with a Medium Brush. This time, patience and diligence are needed, as there will be a lot of dirty spots that are hard to clean. Never resist from repeating the cleaning process if your suede shoes are still dirty.

  • Wash the Upper Part of Your Suede Shoes

Use the Premium Brush to clean the upper part of your suede shoes in order to prevent any scratches or damages. Suede is highly sensitive, so make sure not to use too much water when cleaning the shoes. For me, Premium Brush is the perfect item that can clean the upper part without damaging them. After rubbing the shoes, you can dry the upper part by gently tapping the surface with a microfiber cloth. I don’t think that I should say this, but you should never use a standard brush when cleaning the upper part of your suede shoes.  

  • Wash the Inner Part of Your Suede Shoes

Sometimes, washing the inner part of your shoes might be a little bit tricky, as your large hands might get in the way. Therefore, you can use a small brush to help reach the narrow space inside. 

Naturally, the best item to clean the inner part of your shoes is the Premium Brush. However, you shouldn’t force it if you can’t use them!

  • Detailing

Use a microfiber cloth to clean the details on your shoes that are still dirty. As an alternative, wet tissue can also be used. However, I personally love to use a cloth better than a tissue, as it’s more effective to absorb dirt and water. 

  • Drying Process

Leave your shoes in front of a fan and leave them for around 1-2 hours. 

  • Finishing  

Once the shoes are completely dry, you can remove the shoe tree. Then, put the dry laces back on your suede shoes. Now, your suede shoes are all ready to be used!

4. DO’S AND DON’TS

Do’s

  • Clean your suede shoes carefully. Avoid using brute force when rubbing them with a brush, especially on the upper part of the shoes. Suede is known to be an extremely sensitive material that can get damaged when cleaned incorrectly. 
  • Wash your shoes at least once a month for those of you who are using them regularly. If you rarely use them, clean the suede shoes directly after usage. 

Don’ts

  • Don’t use too much water when cleaning your suede shoes. As I have mentioned before, water can ruin your suede shoes. It might also change the color of your shoes
  • Don’t leave them under direct contact with the sunlight as it might make the color of your suede shoes fade. 

5. SHOE CARE

  • Don’t store or leave them in a moist area. Make sure to dedicate a space that is completely dry
  • Don’t store them if your suede shoes aren’t completely dry yet
  • Brush your shoes as soon as you have spotted some dirt or stains. Make sure to do it gently
  • Don’t let your suede shoes come into contact with water. Therefore, don’t use them during rainy season
  • Use a shoe box when storing them in order to make them look more presentable. If possible, put a silica gel inside as well

CAN SOAP AND WATER CLEAN SUEDE?

how to clean suede shoes

Soap and water mixture can be used for almost any kind of shoes. However, you really need to pay attention to my wording there. “Almost” doesn’t mean all kinds of shoes will be suitable to be cleaned with this mixture. As a matter of fact, suede shoes can’t be cleaned with soap and water. If you’re adamant in using soap and water to clean suede shoes, there’s a huge possibility that you’re going to damage your shoes. 

Suede shoes aren’t waterproof, which explains why they can’t be cleaned with water. This fact alone should make you turn your mind to other options! Heavy soap can also damage the surface of your suede shoes. All in all, a bad idea!

CAN BAKING SODA CLEAN SUEDE SHOES?

how to clean suede shoes

You can use baking soda and water to clean suede shoes as an alternative, should you want to wash suede shoes without suede cleaner and with household products. As a matter of fact, I’ve tried cleaning my suede shoes with baking soda, and it produces a satisfactory result. Here’s how you can clean suede shoes with baking soda:

  • Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda on the surface of your shoes. Make sure not to use too much, and try to focus on stains and dirty parts of your suede shoes
  • Brush the surface of your shoes with a soft or suede brush. You can also clean the surface with a toothbrush to do this
  • Wait for some time to let the baking soda do its trick. For me, 15 minutes would be adequate. 
  • Wipe away the baking soda with your clean brush. You’ll notice that the stains have been lifted up as well
  • Repeat the process until you have achieved a satisfactory result

CAN MAGIC ERASER CLEAN SUEDE SHOES?

how to clean suede shoes

Although you can’t clean your suede shoes with soap and water, there’s nothing to be worried about. As a matter of fact, there are lots of products to help you! Magic Eraser is another thing that comes to mind. 

No matter how dirty your suede shoes are, you can clean them with the help of Magic Eraser. As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorite items to use when I want to clean my suede shoes. Moreover, I also noticed that Magic Eraser is really soft and gentle, thus reducing the chance of damaging my shoes. All you need to do is to simply rub the Magic Eraser across your suede shoes. 

Unfortunately, there’s a drawback to this method. It might not always make your suede shoes completely clean. However, you can be sure that it at least reduces the stains. If you want to completely get rid of the stains, you might want to clean them with baking soda or detergent after using a Magic Eraser. 

OTHER TECHNIQUES FOR SPECIFIC TYPES OF STAINS

how to clean suede shoes

To be perfectly candid, any method that I have suggested before can be used to remove stains from your suede shoes. Still, there are certain techniques, or methods, that you can use for specific types of stains that might be a little bit trickier. 

The first item that came to mind is to use vinegar. As a matter of fact, vinegar is a really effective item to clean suede shoes. With vinegar, you can different kinds of stains on your shoes, although it is really effective in eliminating spot marks. All you need to do is to apply vinegar into a soft cloth. Then, rub the cloth across the shoes to get rid of stains or spot marks. After using vinegar, most spot marks on my suede shoes are gone!

Another product that deserves a shout out is acetone, or nail polish remover. However, I usually use this item solely to clean stains that are caused by nail polish. All you need to do is apply a small amount of acetone on a cotton ball. Then, gently rub them on the surface of your shoes before wiping it with a microfiber cloth. 

WHAT IS THE EASIEST WAY TO CLEAN SUEDE SHOES?

how to clean suede shoes

If you have managed to read every section of my article up until this very “checkpoint”, then you’ll notice that there are a lot of methods and techniques that you can try on when you’re going to clean your suede shoes. But out of all those tricks, which one will I declare as the easiest way? I’d probably go with a Magic Eraser! 

Cleaning a pair of suede shoes with a Magic Eraser won’t take too much of your time. However, I have mentioned to you before that Magic Eraser might not always clean your suede shoes effectively. For a more proper way of cleaning, you can use detergent or vinegar! Remember, easy doesn’t always mean effective!

WHAT ITEM CLEANS SUEDE THE BEST?

how to clean suede shoes

The term “best” can sometimes be a subjective matter, and this is certainly the case for the best item that cleans suede shoes. It can depend on a lot of things, such as the dirtiness level of your shoes, what kind of stains are visible, how old or sensitive your suede shoes are, and many more. But generally, I’d like to say that shoe cleaner detergent or vinegar might be the best way to clean any suede shoes!

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN SUEDE SHOES?

how to clean suede shoes

Cleaning suede shoes isn’t a one-off thing! If you want to preserve the condition of your suede shoes, you have to clean them regularly. Most people rarely use their suede shoes. I do use them for special occasions, such as parties. Therefore, I’ll clean them after each usage in order to keep their mint condition. 

Cleaning them after each usage won’t be viable if you use them regularly/almost everyday. In this case, it’s better for you to clean them once every two weeks or once a month. However, if you run into a mud or something wet, you’d better clean them directly. You can clean suede shoes with household products or suede cleaner as well!

TIPS

how to clean suede shoes

Wait up for a sec! Don’t leave this page yet, as I still have some more wisdom and knowledge to pass on. As a matter of fact, this next part is quite important to you. I’m going to mention some tips and tricks that you might want to know in order to protect and take better care of your suede shoes. 

  • Use your suede shoes only during certain occasions that you deemed important. The less you use them, the higher chance that you can keep their mint condition intact
  • Never use them during the rainy season. It might not rain, but there’s a higher chance that your shoes will come into contact with water, thus ruining them
  • Use a soft brush, or even better, use a suede brush to clean your suede shoes
  • To keep them fresh, put a silica gel when storing them inside a shoe box 

WHAT SHOULD YOU AVOID WHEN USING SUEDE SHOES?

WHAT SHOULD YOU AVOID WHEN USING SUEDE SHOES

Something that is used recklessly will, in most cases than not, turn out damaged or broken. That same rule also applies to suede shoes. If you want to use your suede shoes for a very long time, then there are some things and conditions that you should avoid or prevent.

  • Water. Avoid contact with too much water. If, for some reasons, your suede shoes become wet, then you should dry them immediately and clean them
  • Avoid using suede shoes in bad terrain. Rocky roads, muddy environments, and many more can contribute to the downfall of your suede shoes. It’ll be a wise idea to use them for indoor events. 
  • Don’t leave them under direct contact with the sunlight, as it may make the color of your suede shoes to fade

CAN SUEDE SHOES BE WASHED?

CAN SUEDE SHOES BE WASHED

No, you should not wash your suede shoes. As a matter of fact, I have said a hundred times before that suede shoes can’t stand too much contact with water. You better try to think of other ways to clean your suede shoes. Please refer to some methods that I have written out here in the article. 

DOES WD 40 CLEAN SUEDE?

DOES WD 40 CLEAN SUEDE

WD-40 is a cleaning product that can act as a lubricant, rust preventive, penetrant, and moisture displacer. While WD-40 can be used to clean some types of shoes and sneakers, it shouldn’t be used to clean suede shoes. WD-40 is known to have some strong ingredients that can damage the surface of your suede shoes. I’d recommend using other methods to safely clean your suede shoes, like with vinegar, with baking soda, and many more. 

WHAT TYPE OF DETERGENT IS GOOD FOR SUEDE?

Naturally, you can use almost all types of detergent to clean suede shoes. However, some detergents are known to be better at cleaning suede shoes than others. After some experimenting, I learned that the best and safest way to clean any kind of suede shoes is to use mild detergent. You should also use dye free detergent in order to prevent new colors emerging on your suede shoes!

DOES SUEDE SPRAY WORK?

DOES SUEDE SPRAY WORK

If you’ve read the “Nike’s Advice on how to Clean Suede Shoes” thoroughly, you’ll notice that I have mentioned the need to use a suede spray. Suede sprays do work effectively in reducing stains and dirt on the surface of your suede shoes. However, they can’t do the job on their own. After using a suede spray, you should proceed to clean the shoes with a shoe brush and vinegar or alcohol. Please read the Nike section again for a more detailed walkthrough. 

DOES WATER PERMANENTLY DAMAGE SUEDE?

DOES WATER PERMANENTLY DAMAGE SUEDE

In some cases, water might permanently damage your suede shoes. However, you shouldn’t be worried first! It actually depends on how much water was exposed to your shoes. If a small amount of water makes your shoes wet, you can quickly fix it by cleaning and drying them. However, the same can’t be said if, say, your shoes are drowning because of flood. 


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SUMMARY

Suede shoes are beautiful, but they are also sensitive. Therefore, you should really learn how to take good care of them. There are a lot of things to avoid when you’re attempting to clean it, so make sure to read my article carefully before proceeding to clean your precious shoes.