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How to Clean Suede Shoes

A step-by-step guide.

Last Updated on August 21, 2023

Wondering how to clean suede shoes? I’m here to help. Cleaning suede shoes can be tricky. While you can often pop trainers straight into the washing machine, you have to be a lot more careful with suede. This has often put me off buying them, but I’ve since learnt that it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some super easy ways to make them look as if they’re brand new and it doesn’t cost much. You can use some household items to clean up the stains from your shoes, so don’t let the fear of ruining them put you off buying a pair.

Just like leather, suede is considered a versatile and classic material that works so well for boots, flats, trainers and heels – hence their popularity. While the UK is prone to rain, it’s not the end of the world if your shoes get wet. Below, you’ll find the tools you need and our step-by-step guide to sprucing up your suedes.

Next, take a look at 6 handy tips that make walking in heels easy and the most wearable shoe trends for AW23.

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woman wears adidas suede shoes

How to clean suede shoes

First and foremost, make sure that your suede shoes are completely dry before cleaning them. This is to avoid rubbing the stain further into the shoes, as this will make removing the stain much more of a challenge. If your shoes are wet, leave out to dry before you try treating them. Avoid using hairdryers or placing them in direct sunlight as this can make them brittle and stiff, which isn’t helpful when trying to clean them!

What you’ll need

  • Suede brush or toothbrush with soft bristles
  • A clean cloth
  • White vinegar or baking soda
  • Suede eraser or clean block eraser
  • Suede cleaner

Once you are all set, here is a step-by-step guide for cleaning suede shoes.

Step 1: Brush away dirt

Try to brush away loose particles and dirt using a suede brush. If you don’t have one, an old toothbrush or one with gentle bristles will work but make sure it’s clean before use so you don’t make the problem worse. Remember to brush in the same direction as the grain, gently moving back and forth if the stain won’t budge.

Step 2: Spot clean

If the stain isn’t going anywhere, the next step is spot-cleaning using a suede eraser or a clean block eraser, which will work to get rid of small marks. Like with the brush technique, gently rub the eraser back and forth to spot clean the specific area. Make sure you’re gentle with this, and if it doesn’t work, move onto the next step.

mans hand cleans suede shoes

Step 3: Use suede cleaner or white vinegar

You can skip this stage if you are successful using the suede eraser, but in case the dirt won’t budge, opt for suede shoe cleaning solutions. There are plenty of suede cleaning products you can try, or you can DIY using white vinegar. Don’t use too much, but you can damp a clean cloth with a little vinegar and dab the stain. If it’s not working, you can use the back and forth method, being careful not to put too much pressure on the stain. This method may take a few goes, and you can dry your shoes out to see how the stain is going between treatments.

If your shoes are stained from grease or oil, trying using baking power to lift the mark. It’s worth doing a spot test in a hidden area beforehand to ensure your shoes don’t get ruined further from using it. If it all looks good, make sure the stain is dry before you cover it completely with baking powder. Leave the powder overnight, then remove it with the suede brush. You might need to do this a few times to ensure they’re as clean as they can be.

Step 4: Use protector spray

After making sure they’re clean and dry, add an additional coat of protection using protector spray specifically for suede, and air-dry them. This is a game changer, as it protects your shoes from getting stained again.

Can suede shoes be washed?

It’s not advisable to wash suede shoes because the material absorbs water easily and could cause water stains. Instead, spot clean or use a brush or a damp cloth to remove dirt.

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