how to clean suede shoes man cleaning mud from work boot

How to Clean Suede Shoes and Keep Them Looking Sharp

Suede shoes are a timeless fashion statement, but let’s face it: they’re not the easiest to keep clean. Whether it’s dirt, water, or oil stains, suede seems to attract them all. But fear not! With a little know-how and some TLC, you can keep your suede shoes looking fresh and fabulous. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of cleaning suede shoes like a pro.

how to clean suede shoes man cleaning mud from work boot

What Makes Suede Special?

Suede isn’t your ordinary leather. It’s softer, more supple, and has that velvety texture we all love. But it’s also more delicate and prone to staining. Understanding suede’s unique properties is the first step to mastering its care.

You’ll need

To get started, gather the following supplies:

✅  Suede brush: Essential for removing dirt and restoring the nap.

✅  White vinegar: A natural stain remover for tough spots.

✅  Soft cloth or sponge: For applying cleaning solutions and blotting stains.

✅  Suede protector spray: Adds a layer of defense against future stains.

✅  Blue Dawn: Gentle enough to clean without damaging the suede.

✅  Water: The universal cleaning solvent.

Step 1: Brush Away the Dirt

Start by using a suede brush  ($7, Amazon) to gently brush off any surface dirt or debris. Brush in the direction of the nap to avoid damaging the suede fibers. This simple step can make a world of difference in the appearance of your shoes.

Step 2: Tackle Stubborn Stains

For those pesky stains that won’t budge, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl. Dab the solution onto the stained area using a soft cloth or sponge. Let it sit for a few minutes, then blot the stain gently until it fades away.

Step 3: Clean Entirely

Now it’s time to give your suede shoes a thorough cleaning. Mix 2-3 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid with 8 oz. water to create a gentle cleaning solution. Dampen a soft cloth with the solution and wipe down the entire surface of the shoe, working in small sections, rubbing gently to lift out dirt. Be careful not to oversaturate the suede. Using a second clean cloth, gently blot, blot, blot to remove as much of the cleaning solution as possible.

Step 4: Allow to Dry

After cleaning, allow your suede shoes to air dry naturally. Stuff them with clean, dry paper towels to help maintain their shape as they dry. Avoid using heat or direct sunlight, as this can cause the suede to stiffen or crack.

Step 5: Restore the Nap

Once your shoes are dry, use the suede brush to gently brush the nap back into place. Brush in a back-and-forth motion to fluff up the suede and restore its soft texture. This step is key to keeping your suede shoes looking like new.

Step 6: Shield from Future Stains

To protect your freshly cleaned suede shoes from future stains and damage, apply a suede protector spray according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the shoes evenly and allow them to dry completely before wearing them again.

how to clean suede shoes before and after example

Good as New

With these simple steps, you can keep your suede shoes looking sharp and stylish for years to come. By understanding the unique properties of suede and taking the time to care for them properly, you can ensure that your favorite footwear remains a staple in your wardrobe. So go ahead, strut your stuff in those suede shoes with confidence!



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1 reply
  1. Gina Stevens says:

    I saturate all new suede and cloth shoes and handbags with waterproof spray, which preserves them and keeps them pristine. I’ve had shoes for over a decade that look new. Periodically, they get wiped with a damp cloth and get resprayed.


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