How to Clean Suede Shoes: Easy Tips & Tricks

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Have your blue suede shoes been stepped on? Or perhaps your beige or brown ones got a little dirty? Well, that’s the downside of wearing suede. 

Originally crafted in Sweden from the underside of animal hides, suede gained popularity in France in the late 18th century. The French nobility adored the soft fabric, dubbing the gloves made from it “Gants de Suede,” which translates to “Swedish gloves.” 

Over time, the material simply became known as suede. Since then, suede has been fashioned into various items, including shirts, bags, wallets, coats, jackets, boots, and shoes.

Suede is a popular choice for boots and shoes because it’s breathable, soft, and warm. However, unlike finished leather, suede can easily get stained and dirty, especially in wet conditions. Suede shoes are made from the underside of animal hides, while leather shoes come from the outer layer, which is more resistant to moisture and dirt.

Since suede is more porous, it’s important to keep it dry to maintain its appearance. Wearing suede shoes in wet weather can lead to mud stains and watermarks, making them look worn out prematurely. To prevent this, it’s essential to learn how to clean suede shoes and boots properly.

Apart from keeping suede footwear dry, using a suede brush for regular cleaning can help maintain their appearance. A good suede brush can remove dirt and restore the material’s texture. But what if your suede shoes get wet or get stained? Keep reading to find out how to clean suede shoes and remove various stains.

What is Suede?

What Is Suede

Suede is thinner, softer, and less durable than regular leather. The luxurious feel and look come from using the reverse side of animal hide in its construction. The most popular animal to utilize for suede is lambskin, although other options include goats, pigs, calves, and even deer.

How is Suede Made?

How Is Suede Made

Suede is made by artisans who carefully remove the outer layer of an animal’s skin, leaving behind a thin layer of delicate leather. What makes suede different from full-grain leather is that it is a split leather.

Coming from the skin of younger animals, suede often has a smooth and supple feel. The nap of the fabric may be more durable, nevertheless, if it is sourced from older animals or those with thicker skins, such as cows and deer.

Types of Suede

The animal skin used to make suede gives rise to several varieties, each with a distinct look and feel. These are the most typical kinds:

  • Sheepskin suede:- Derived from sheep and lambs, this is the most delicate and soft kind. It is lighter than other varieties and has a smooth nap.
  • Suede made from cowhide:- Cowhide is the toughest kind. More mature animals often have thicker, rougher naps. It’s also known as rough out, split cowhide, calfskin, bush coat, and rawhide.
  • Pigskin suede:- This kind of suede has a short, rough nap and is renowned for its strength, thickness, and weight.

Why Do Suede Shoes Get So Dirty?

Sueding is the process that manufacturers use to make suede. Suede gets its signature velvety feel by buffing the surface of the leather using an abrasive. The procedure does, however, leave behind an absorbent nap that is fuzzy and irregular, making it easy to trap dirt.

Things That You Should Do Before Cleaning Suede Shoes

👉 Make a cleaning solution for shoes

After adding one teaspoon of dish soap or mild detergent, pour 200 milliliters of warm water. The soles, laces, and any trimmings or logos on your shoes will all look great after using this method. You can also get an expert suede cleaner if that’s more your style.

👉 Clean the parts that are detachable

If it’s possible, start by taking out the inside soles and laces. After that, submerge the laces in a solution of dish soap and water. Once you let them soak for five to ten minutes, take them out and use a medium-bristled brush to carefully brush out any remaining debris. After giving the laces a thorough rinse in fresh water and squeezing out any remaining water, let them air dry.

Use a medium-bristled brush dipped in the solution to gently scrub the inside soles, moving back and forth while applying moderate pressure. After that, wipe away any leftovers with a fresh towel.

Make sure to give the brush a thorough cleaning and allow it to dry completely if you want to use it to clean suede shoes.

👉 Place paper wands or a shoe tree inside the shoe

While polishing and rubbing the shoe, apply pressure. Make sure the shoe remains steady while you work on it. To assist it keep its form during cleaning, you may use a shoe tree or stuff it full of paper wands. Don’t use magazine paper or newspaper as the ink can go on your shoes.

👉 Assemble all necessary materials 

To clean your suede shoes, put together the supplies listed below after reviewing the list:

  • 2 to 3 microfiber cloths
  • Suede comb
  • Medium-sized bristles brush
  • Brittle brush
  • Suede shoe eraser or pencil eraser
  • Solution for cleaning shoes

These brushes are available for purchase in locally owned retail establishments and online. As an alternative, think about purchasing a suede shoe cleaning kit, which usually comes with all the brushes and a suede shoe cleaner.

Why you need several brushes ?

👉 Suede brush

Small hairs on suede brushes are ideal for sifting through suede’s delicate texture. Not only do they eliminate dust, but they also assist in deflating wet suede. This brush is used to remove any residue left behind after using the eraser. Suede brushes are primarily used to unclog suede’s pores, which facilitates simpler cleaning.

👉 Medium-bristled brush

The bristles on these brushes are just right—they’re neither too soft nor too rough. They are ideal for cleaning the shoe uppers of dirt and debris. Moreover, they work wonders for clearing dust and debris from the midsole’s surface.

👉 Stiff-bristled brush

As the name implies, the bristles on these brushes are stiff or hard. They’re ideal for removing dust, stains, and deeply ingrained filth from the midsoles and outsoles.

How to Clean Suede Boots: Steps To Follow

How to Clean Suede Boots

Step 1: Clear the debris from the uppers

Using a medium-bristled brush, gently scrub the whole top of the shoe. When brushing suede, be careful to go with the grain. To keep the suede grain from becoming scattered and unattractive, don’t brush in a circular motion or change directions unless there are stains.

What is suede grain? Leather grain explains the makeup and appearance of the hide. It is similar to wood grain, which describes the look and texture of wood fibers.

Step 2: Remove the stains

The stain type determines the efficacy of cleaning a suede shoe. What follows is a list of possible solutions for dirt, dust, and scuff marks:

Gently work the stain into the suede with a suede brush in the direction of the grain. Use a fresh cloth to remove any remaining stains. If the stain persists, use an eraser to gently massage it. Use the suede brush to remove any eraser residue once stain removal is complete.

Tip: Use a stick or nail file to remove extra mud from the shoe. After the muck has dried, it will be much simpler to remove.

Note: Avoid using steel wool on dried stains if at all possible. To remove dried stains, use a butter knife or other blunt object. Sharp steel wool, even with minimal pressure, can leave imprints on the shoe.

Step 3: Clean the midsole & undersole

To clean your shoes, use the brush with medium bristles and soak it in the solution. Be cautious not to get water on the tops while you scrub the midsole thoroughly. To remove stubborn dirt stains, use the stiff-bristled brush. Soak it in the mixture and scrape the insole all over. The bristles of the brush can’t always get to the thin layer just next to the midsole, where the suede meets; thus, it stays filthy. When this happens, soak a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and use a little pressure to buff the area.

Just as you would with the midsole, you can clean the underside of the shoe. To clean the outsole, just use a brush with strong bristles.

Note: Gently rub the midsole, being cautious not to get the wet solution on the suede. The shoe can end up stained with water or soap if this happens. Do not rush things; being in control will save you from disaster.

Step 4: Use a suede protector

You should take precautions to avoid further soiling and staining of your suede shoes after washing them. This task calls for a suede shoe protector. You can find this waterproof spray at any retailer or even in online stores. Whether it’s rain, dirt, dust, or puddles, this spray will protect your shoes from splashes and keep them clean for longer.

All you have to do to apply it is gently mist the top of your shoes. Be sure to read the label for detailed guidelines since the exact instructions could differ from one product to another.

Types of Stain

Water Stains

Wrap your finger with a clean cloth or microfiber towel. After dipping it in clean water, carefully apply it to the shoe’s water stain. To avoid soaking the sneaker too much, be cautious.

You have two options; if one of them doesn’t work, try the other. To gently moisten the whole top of the shoe, put a medium-bristled brush into water and work it in. Next, soak up any remaining water with a sponge or a dry, clean towel. To avoid leaving apparent water stains on the suede, gently rub the uppers with a sponge or towel until they are thoroughly moist. The next day, let the cleaned suede shoe air dry. After it dries completely, go over the top with a suede brush to bring back the grain pattern.

Note: Use very little water on the shoe and be very careful not to soak it.

Dirt or Mud

If your suede shoes have been dirty or stained with mud, here’s what you can do.

Ensure that the footwear is totally dry. Scrub up all the grime you can using a toothbrush or suede brush. To remove stubborn stains, gently steam the area in order to remove the dirt, and use a paper towel or cloth to blot the area. You should let the shoe air dry.

Oily stains

Suede isn’t always easy to clean after getting mascara, grease, or oil from things like tea or oil. Applying a little coating of cornstarch and letting it set for at least one night should remove these stains. Removing the starch the next day is as easy as using a suede brush.

Wax & Chewing gum stains

You can skip using a stain remover on gum or wax stains. Just put your footwear in the freezer for two or three hours. When the gum or wax sets, it’s easy to break it up into big pieces using your fingers or a butter knife. Finally, use a suede brush to give your shoe a quick once-over.

Blood stains

Put 2 milliliters of hydrogen peroxide into 5 milliliters of water. To gently dab the liquid onto the stain, dip a cotton ball into it.

Ink stains

It’s not always easy to remove oil-based ink from ballpoint and felt-tip pens with household products. But if the stain is new and made of gel or fountain pen ink, you can try blotting it with a microfiber cloth. After that, soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to remove the stain delicately.


When you wear suede shoes or boots outside in the winter, you run the risk of getting salt stains from melting snow and ice. Here’s how to get rid of them.

Take a toothbrush and remove as much salt from the shoes as you can. Combine a little dish soap and cold water. Instead of rubbing the stain, dip a clean cloth into the soapy water and delicately wipe it. In order to remove the stain, repeat the technique as necessary; after you take them off, let the shoe air dry.

What To Do If Suede Shoe Gets Wet ?

What To Do If Suede Shoe Gets Wet

You must take immediate action to avoid damaging your suede shoes if they get wet.

To begin, use a clean towel or microfiber cloth to dab the uppers of the shoes to remove any excess water. The next step is to use a toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush to lightly brush the suede nap back and forth.

Just use a hairdryer to have it dried faster. While you keep brushing the suede, have someone keep the dryer on medium to high heat. Try this for two or three minutes at a time, then pause for a while and do it again three or four times.

If you’re short on time but still want your suede shoes dry, a shoe dry cleaning is another option. They have dedicated equipment that can dry suede shoes safely and efficiently.

How to Clean Suede Shoes? Shop the Best

👉 Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner

Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner

👉 Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit

Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit

👉 Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Stain Eraser

Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Stain Eraser

👉 ShoeSkin Shoe Cleaner Kit

ShoeSkin Shoe Cleaner Kit

👉 WIPEMATE Premium Suede Cleaner Wipes

WIPEMATE Premium Suede Cleaner Wipes

👉 Jason Markk Ready To Use Cleaning Care

Jason Markk Ready To Use Cleaning Care

👉 Allen Edmonds Suede And Nubuck Cleaning System

Allen Edmonds Suede And Nubuck Cleaning System


What will ruin suede?

Suede is most vulnerable to water damage. Suede is quite difficult to repair if it becomes entirely saturated, while you can use the techniques mentioned earlier in this blog to deal with a few droplets of water. Avoid wearing suede in the rain, whether it be on your clothes or shoes, to avoid this.

What is the best way to clean suede shoes?

Start by lightly brushing the suede with a dry brush. If the stains are very bad, consider using a rubber eraser. Use white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or a suede cleaning solution to remove stubborn stains.

What household item can I use to clean suede shoes?

Rubbing alcohol or white vinegar works well at penetrating suede to remove water stains, salt, and dirt.

Can Magic Eraser clean suede?

Yes, Magic Eraser pads are a great way to clean suede. To make sure the suede responds correctly, try a tiny section before applying it to the full item. Suede shoe scuffs are a great target for Magic Erasers.

Key Takeaway

Suede is a unique kind of leather that gets its supple texture from the underside of animals’ skin. Although it may seem difficult at first, cleaning suede is really rather easy. You can maintain the appearance of your suede boots with the help of the advice in this article. If you’re in the market for a new pair, be sure to peruse our selection of leather boots to discover the perfect suede style for you.

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