Suede shoes are a sight to behold, especially for a formal event. They're classy. They're chic. But unfortunately, they're also extremely delicate and require special care when it comes to cleaning.
Ideally, you'd only wear your expensive suede shoes on special occasions to avoid getting them dirty. However, life happens, and your shoes can get soiled.
That's no reason to panic, though. In this guide, we'll discuss a detailed method to clean suede. We also answer some frequently asked questions about cleaning a suede shoe.
How to Clean Suede Shoes: 6 Steps
So, you've got a dirty suede shoe, and you want to bring it back to its former glory. We got you. Follow these steps to accomplish the task.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
Cleaning suede shoes isn't as easy as plopping them in a sink full of dish soap and water, just as you would with a sneaker. Instead, you'll need specialized supplies. These include:
Suede eraser / suede cleaner
Soft bristle brush or a microfiber towel
Suede protector spray
Step 2: Dry Your Shoes
Do not make the mistake of cleaning your suede shoe when it is wet. It will only set the stain further in, making it more challenging to be removed. Let the shoe dry before you start the cleaning process.
If your shoes are wet, use a clean cloth or paper towels to blot their excess moisture. Don't use a blow dryer or any heat source of that sort, as it will damage your suede. Also, don't keep the shoes out in the sun for quick drying.
Step 3: Remove the Loose Particles
Use a suede brush to remove loose debris accumulated on your shoes. Brush gently in a circular motion and then brush back and forth to get rid of all the particles.
If the suede brush is unable to reach into small areas, you can use a toothbrush instead. Follow the grain or pattern of the nap. If there's grime on your shoe, rub the spot back and forth with the brush.
Step 4: Remove the Stains
The suede eraser will help remove stain particles from your shoes. Again, rub the eraser back and forth over the stains. However, if the stain doesn't seem to be budging at all, don't go harsh on the material. Instead, opt for a different stain removal method.
For example, you can use an emery board nail file to gently scrape off any stubborn stains. Work with light pressure only; you don't want to scratch the suede.
Step 5: Use White Vinegar
When you encounter a tough stain, it's time to bring the big guns out. White vinegar. Take a microfiber cloth and dip it in white vinegar. Then, use it to dampen the stained area. Make sure not to soak the whole shoe in vinegar.
Don't get scared if the shoe's color starts changing. That's just vinegar in action. As vinegar evaporates, the shoe's color will return to its original state.
Let your shoe air dry, and check if the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process until it's completely removed. Then, brush the shoe with a suede brush to restore the nap.
Step 6: Spray Suede Protector
High-quality suede shows are pre-treated for moisture resistance to keep every water stain at bay. But it's always a good idea to give your shoes an extra layer of protection.
Use a suede protector spray following the instructions on the bottle. Choose a well-ventilated area, then evenly coat the shoes from about six inches away. Let the spray dry before wearing your shoes again.
Pro Tip: Try not to wear your suede shoes in wet conditions. Even if you do find yourself in an unexpected downpour, stay away from the puddles and splashy areas.
How to Remove Stains from Suede Shoes
There's always that one stubborn stain that gets on your favorite pair of shoes and refuses to budge. Below are some shoe care hacks to remove such stains from your suede pair.
Oil and Grease Stains
Is that a gasp of horror we hear? We know the dreadful feeling of dropping a greasy piece of food on your suede shoes. But there's a fix.
Apply a small amount of cornstarch, talcum powder, or even baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a few hours. The cornstarch will soak up the grease or oil. Then, you can use a suede brush to scrape the cornstarch from the shoe.
If the grease dries on your shoes, apply dish soap to the area. Let it sit for 10 minutes on the stain, and then blot it dry with a cloth.
Pro Tip: NEVER dip your suede shoes directly in water. A damp cloth is the most you should use on them.
Mud and dirt stains are the most common type of stains on shoes. You can use a suede brush to break the dirt apart and then gently rub it off with a suede eraser. If the mud particles are too stubborn, use a pencil eraser to scrape them off.
You can also steam the area lightly before using a paper towel to blot it. The steam helps loosen the dirt. Let your shoe air dry before you wear it again.
Interestingly, you can use water to remove a water stain on suede. Spritz a little water on the stain, and then use a paper towel to blot it. Let it air dry, and you should see an improvement in the stain. If that doesn't work, you can try using white vinegar or rubbing alcohol instead.
Since most people wear their suede shoes in winter, it's common to get salt stains from walking on snowy sidewalks. Use the suede brush to remove the excess salt from your shoes. Then, blot the stains with a dish soap and water mixture. Repeat if needed and let it air dry.
Suede Shoes Cleaning FAQs
Can suede shoes go in the washing machine?
When it comes to washing shoes, you need to understand that not all materials are suitable for a machine wash. Suede shoes should NEVER be put in the washing machine. Stick to gentle hand washing methods instead.
Are suede shoes waterproof?
Suede is not a waterproof material. Excessive exposure to water can damage the texture and color of suede shoes. Some shoes have special finishes to make them water-resistant. It's still wise to avoid wearing them in wet conditions.
Are suede shoes durable?
Yes, suede shoes are pretty durable. Unlike leather, which is made from a thicker hide layer, suede shoes are made from the inner layer of a hide. That makes them more flexible than leather. If you take good care of your suede shoes, they'll last for years to come.
How can I fix a scratch on suede shoes?
A scratch or scuff mark on your suede shoe can make it look dull and worn out. For a smaller scratch, rubbing your finger gently over the mark can help fix it. For deeper scratches, you can use a suede conditioner. Brush the suede fibers with a brush to buff the scratch.
Let Rinse Take Care of the Rest
Just like suede, every once in a while, you come across a fabric that you're not sure how to clean. Maybe it's the silk dress your mom gifted you for your birthday, or the wool jacket passed on to you by your older brother. Either way, you don't want to ruin your prized possession by washing it wrong.
That's where Rinse's laundry services come to the rescue. At Rinse, we know how to wash delicate fabrics like suede, silk, cashmere, and more. We use gentle methods and specialized products for our clients' laundry.
Simply let us know which day we need to pick up your laundry, and we'll be there.
Contact us at Rinse today to see our skill in action.