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How to Get Your Suede Shoes Looking Brand New

A new pair of suede shoes can look soft and velvety, but as soon as you step outside, that beautiful suede can become a magnet for dirt and distress. Suede is a delicate fabric that absorbs moisture and can easily stain, and requires special care and maintenance to stay clean. It’s wise to use a suede protectant to help keep your suede shoes in shape for longer, but when they inevitably scuff or stain, try these techniques to get them back to their original form.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Supplies Tools
Suede cleaner, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol Suede cleaning brush, toothbrush, microfiber cloth or soft-bristle shoe brush
Hydrogen Peroxide Suede rubber eraser or pencil eraser
Corn starch (optional) Soft cloth
Suede protectant spray (optional)

1. Set Up to Clean

suede shoes with shoe tree and crumpled newspaper

Before you begin, use a shoe tree or stuff your shoes with crumpled newspapers to retain their shape while you clean.

Avoid cleaning suede shoes when they’re wet. It’s best to allow mud or other moisture to dry before brushing, otherwise a stain may inadvertently be caused.
Keep in mind, throwing your shoes in the dryer can damage them — make sure you’re drying your shoes properly.
We recommend stuffing them with newspaper or airing them out in front of a fan.

2. Remove excess dirt and debris

suede shoes with shoe tree and crumpled newspaper
Start by using a suede brush or toothbrush to gently brush away any dirt or debris on the surface of the shoe.
If you don’t have a brush, you can use a clean cloth, but avoid using any soap or water, which can make the mess worse.

To get rid of minor scuff marks, use a quick side-to-side brushing motion to lift the suede fibers away from the shoe and loosen any debris before moving on to the next step.

3. Rub Away Surface Marks

suede shoes scrubbed using suede brush
To remove any marks that remain on the surface of your shoes, a suede eraser goes a long way.
If you don’t have one, a pencil eraser or household cleaning eraser will be the next best thing. Make sure the eraser is clean from stains itself.

Apply a little more pressure on this step, but don’t rub the suede too hard, or you might risk damaging the fabric.
Use a back-and-forth motion to scrub away any tricky stains, and if that doesn’t work, move on to the next step for a more heavy-duty solution.

4. Treat Stubborn Stains

suede shoes cleaned with microfiber
If all else fails, use an acidic liquid to break apart clumps of particles and remove stains.
We recommend wetting the corner of a dry cloth with a small amount of suede cleaner, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
Be sure not to drench the shoe in liquid, but rather lightly dampen the suede.
Massage the shoe with a rapid side-to-side motion, and then allow the suede to dry. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process.

Other Techniques For Specific Types of Stains:

  • Oil and Grease Stains: Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch and allow the shoe to sit for a few hours. Rather than using a suede brush, gently wipe away any remains with a cloth or use a hand vacuum to lift them from the shoe.
  • Gum or Wax: Place your shoes in the freezer until the gum or wax hardens. Then, simply peel or scrape it off the shoe.
  • Blood Stains: Dip a cotton ball or clean towel in a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and gently dab away the stain. Allow the shoe to dry, and repeat if necessary.

© 2021. Fresclean. Jakarta, Indonesia.