Here’s How to Clean That Pair of Suede Shoes You Wear All the Time

By | June 24, 2020

Suede shoes can be more high maintenance than your typical smooth leather ones because of their texture. Suede can easily look worn out and matted if you wear it a ton, and the soft fabric can scuff pretty easily. I mean, I went bike riding one time in some suede sneakers I just got, and they already have marks on them from the pedals. Whoops! Also, obviously, when the color of your shoes is lighter, any marks or dirt build-up is way more noticeable on them.

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But the good news is that cleaning and maintaining them is actually easier than you might think thanks to some super ~technological~ gadgets. (That was sarcasm, duh, because you literally just need a brush and a handy suede “eraser.”) And for those hard-to-remove spots, a household item like white vinegar comes in handy, but you can also opt for suede cleaners and shampoos that are relatively cheap.

Here, we break down in more detail all the ways you can save your most worn out suede shoes and make ’em look like you just took them out of the box. (Or, at least, close to it anyway.)

For scuffs and marks:

If you have a scuff or a small mark where you might’ve banged your shoe against the sidewalk, your coffee table, or a bike, in my case, using a suede brush is an easy method to remove the resulting surface discolorations.

Just gently brush over the spot in the same direction of the grain until it starts to fade. You can also use a brush like this to simply zhuzh up the material if it’s looking a bit dull or matted from constant wear, so it’s just a good tool to have on hand for suede footwear if you don’t have it already.

For dirt and grime:

If you’re dealing with a build up of dirt where you can see a clear difference between the original color and the, well, gray area taking up residence on your shoe, you probably want to level up to a suede “eraser.” Some brush kits come with one already, like the one below.

Take the eraser and rub it over the spot to remove any grime, and don’t be afraid to apply a bit more pressure. This can take a few minutes, so just keep at it and you’ll start to see the results. You can also bring the brush back out for extra measure (still make sure you move it in one direction) after you’re all done with the eraser to smooth out the material.

For deep-set stubborn stains:

While an eraser and brush are great to have on hand, sometimes you gotta bring out the big guns if they aren’t able to fully remove any marks. And by big guns, I mean a suede-specific cleaning solution or shampoo, ofc.

Remember that not all are the same, so read the instructions to see how to properly use it on your specific shoes. Some, like the Saphir brand, require that you mix the solution with water then dip your brush in it to start cleaning, while others you apply directly onto the material and brush without using any water. But don’t worry, even if it does call for you to mix and clean it with water, it won’t ruin your shoes! As long as you stuff them with paper to hold the shape, let the pair dry overnight, and re-brush them in the morning to get the texture back, they’ll look practically brand new.

Pro tip: If you have white vinegar on hand, that can work on stubborn areas too just as well as any solution. Apply a couple drops on the stain and gently rub the surface with a clean towel or your suede brush to loosen and remove any dirt. This method also works on salt stains if you’re attempting to clean your old winter boots, fyi.

And there you have it, you’re done! Best of luck to you on your shoe-cleaning journey. I just know they’ll turn out beautiful.

Some cute suede shoes to shop this summer, if you’re in the mood…

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