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Elvis was likely concerned about anyone stepping on his blue suede shoes because suede can be hard to clean and maintain, despite it being a type of leather.
Leather is durable – experts say this first leather was uncovered in 2200 BC. – but suede is more delicate than traditional leather because the fuzzy, pliable material is made of the underside of the animal skin rather than the outer layer.
Suede is absolutely gorgeous, and this time of year, a good pair of suede boots will keep you warm and a sexy pair of suede heels will be in timeless style for years to come. This is of course as long as you take good care of them.
We’ve put together some tips on how to clean suede shoes properly regardless if they are suede shoes, boots or heels so the investment you made is worth is.
What to use to clean suede shoe
For the most part we just recommend the suede brush. It will get off most stains, dirt and residue. However if your shoes have sticky stuff, oily reside, get too wet, etc. then there are a few other suggestions we have. Below are our favorite cleaning tools for suede- (these will work on jackets and other suede as well by the way!) Note we don’t have a recommendation for suede cleaner. There are a few on the market but we have found that natural at home ingredients work better!
- Suede brush
- Soft, white, clean cloth
- Shoe eraser or art gum eraser (for removing adhesives)
- Blunt knife or plastic edge (for removing adhesives)
- Cornstarch (to absorb oil)
- White Vinegar
Steps to cleaning suede footwear
One of the very best ways to clean any kind of suede- especially on shoes, where there are many cracks and crevices is by using a suede brush – a must for any shoe cleaning kit. With it you just gently brush the scuffs away. The key is using a gentle hand and brushing in the direction of the fibers, not back and forth. Also recommended is not using the brush on the entire shoe, focusing only on the toe and heel.
You can then take a slightly damp rag – “not wet,” we can’t stress this enough – to clean the rest of the shoe, which worked even on our Manolo Blahnik shoes, which we would jump into traffic to protect!
If you have additional debris or dirt, we like to use the erasers- they can really work wonders on dirty boots. Instead of the rag, just use the eraser over the middle and sides of the shoes and you should see some great improvement.
If you take care of these types of shoes often, they will last you a long, long time!
TIPS How on Cleaning Suede Shoes:
- When you purchase your shoes, use a suede water proofing protector to repel stains. It may not keep all stains away, but it will offer a layer of protection for your delicate suede. Just be cautious of spraying them too much or too closely as the repellent can actually stain or darken the color of the leather.
- Before you begin cleaning your shoes, put a crumpled page from a newspaper into the toe of your shoe. It will help your shoe keep its shape and will strengthen the suede as you work. Also, remove your laces if you are cleaning boots or sneakers to ensure that no stains are missed beneath the laces.
- If a damp cloth fails to remove all the stains on your shoes, white vinegar will help you tackle the tougher stains. Using just a bit on a clean cloth, wipe or dab the affected area and allow the vinegar to dry. Then, use your suede brush to erase the stubborn stain.
- You might also want to add a suede eraser to your shoe cleaning collection. It is small enough to pop in your purse to handle emergency stains, and tough enough to erase salt stains, the bane of everyone who lives – and walks – in regions where snow falls.
- For cleaning boots, use a brush soaked in suede cleaner to tackle what will likely be tougher stains. Follow up with oil to not only add a layer of protection, but will also help keep your boots luxuriously soft.
- If the cleaning process leaves your suede shoes or boots looking faded, suede dye can restore their like-new appearance. Apply it sparingly with a clean cloth.
How to Remove ScuffS or Dried StainS From Suede Shoes
If the above methods did not get the scuff or stain out of your shoe and you are getting desperate to remove the marks, you may try these progressively more abrasive methods. Just go slowly so you don’t do any damage to the non-scuffed areas. Be sure that after each step, brush the stained area with a suede brush to restore and smooth the leather.
Use a clean, soft cloth to gently rub the area and remove any dried-on surface stain. The cloth will also restore some of the texture to the nap.
The shoe eraser should get the majority of the gunk off, however if you feel you little a little more elbow grease- try a firmer eraser such as a pencil eraser or art gum eraser.
The second step would be to lightly use an emery board or nail file to pry and scrap the material off the shoe. This would really be our last resort and this type of file if pressed to firmly, can take of the fuzz, color, and more from the shoe.
How to Remove Oily Stains From Suede
Getting an oil spot on your shoes is one of the more frustrating experiences. Whether its from food oil, car oil, or other! There are a few methods you can try to get these unsightly marks out so they don’t completely ruin your shoes.
The first thing is timing. As soon as the oil hits the suede you will want to sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or even baby power to absorb the oil. Leave the powder on the shoe for at least an hour or more.
The quicker you can do this the better chance you have at eliminating the stain. However, it is worth a shot on older shoes.
You should begin to see the powder begin to look oily after an hour or so. At this point, dust off the powder with a soft cloth or brush. Continue to repeat the process until the powder no longer looks oily and the stain is gone.
How to Remove Wet Stains From Suede Shoes
If you just stepped in a big puddle in your beautiful suede shoes then you can use a clean, soft cloth to blot away as much moisture as possible.
Don’t use paper towels or anything that might stain the shoe. Place a microfiber cloth directly over the stain and apply light pressure to draw the moisture out from the suede and into the cloth.
Continue blotting until you can no longer draw out any moisture. Then place the shoes in an open area to dry. Do not use heat, hair dryers, or furnaces to dry the shoes.
Now if your shoes are nice and clean and look perfect, but you still need a way how to remove odor from shoes– that’s a different article but we got you covered there as well!
Cleaning in a pinch
If you don’t have a suede brush, use a spare toothbrush, instead, as it is gentle enough to loosen dirt. You can also use a pencil eraser in place of a suede eraser to remove the most stubborn stains which is usually available where ever you are!
Always remember to use a specialized suede brush to restore and smooth out the the natural texture of the suede once you have cleaned or remove a stain or scuff. This should always be your last step for each of the suede treatment methods to restore your shoes to like new condition.