How to Clean Suede Shoes: Tips and Tricks

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to clean suede shoes! Suede is a luxurious and elegant material that requires special care to maintain its appearance and longevity. In this article, we will walk you through the process of cleaning suede shoes effectively, from understanding the material to using the right tools and techniques. 

Whether you’ve recently purchased a new pair of suede shoes or want to revive an old favorite, we’ve got you covered.

How to Clean Suede Shoes
Proper cleaning and maintenance are crucial for suede shoe care.
Identify the type of stain before attempting any cleaning method.
Stubborn stains like oil, ink, and salt can be treated using specific techniques.
Professional cleaning services can help with tough stains or delicate suede.
After cleaning, protect suede shoes with a suede protector spray.
Store suede shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct heat and sunlight.
Use gentle brushing and avoid abrasive materials to maintain the suede’s texture.
Avoid common mistakes like excessive water, heat, and vigorous rubbing.
Seek professional help or consult manufacturer guidelines for specific care instructions.
Regular maintenance and care will extend the lifespan of your suede shoes.

Understanding Suede Shoes

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand what suede shoes are and why they require unique care. Suede is a type of leather that has a soft, velvety texture. It is made from the underside of animal hides, which gives it a distinct appearance and feel. Suede shoes are prone to getting dirty, attracting stains, and losing their original luster if not cleaned properly.

Why Proper Cleaning is Important for Suede Shoes

Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes is essential to maintain their overall look and feel. Neglecting proper cleaning can result in the accumulation of dirt, stains, and discoloration, ultimately leading to a diminished aesthetic appeal. Regular cleaning helps remove dirt particles that can embed themselves in the material, preventing permanent damage and extending the lifespan of your suede shoes.

Essential Tools for Cleaning Suede Shoes

To effectively clean your suede shoes, you’ll need a few essential tools. These include:

Table: Essential Tools for Cleaning Suede Shoes

Soft-bristled brushRemoves loose dirt and restores the nap of the suede
Suede eraserRemoves dry stains and scuffs
White vinegarEffective for treating wet stains and neutralizing odors
Clean, dry clothUsed for gentle blotting and wiping
Suede protector sprayHelps repel water and prevent future stains and damage

It’s important to gather these tools before proceeding with the cleaning process to ensure you have everything you need at hand.

Preparing Suede Shoes for Cleaning

Before diving into the actual cleaning process, it’s crucial to prepare your suede shoes properly. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remove shoelaces (if applicable): Take out the shoelaces to have easy access to all parts of your shoes.
  2. Inspect the shoes: Look for any loose dirt, debris, or stains that may require immediate attention.
  3. Brush off loose dirt: Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the shoes, focusing on the entire shoe, including the sides and crevices.

Reference Table 1: Preparing Suede Shoes for Cleaning

Remove ShoelacesFacilitates easy access for cleaning
Inspect ShoesIdentify any prominent stains or signs of damage
Brush Off Loose DirtRemove loose surface dirt for a clean starting point

Now that your suede shoes are prepared for cleaning, let’s dive into the various methods to tackle different types of stains and dirt on your cherished footwear.

Removing Dry Stains from Suede Shoes

Dry stains on suede shoes can be a common occurrence, but with the right approach, they can be effectively removed. Here’s how to tackle dry stains on your suede shoes:

  1. Suede eraser: Start by gently rubbing the dry stain with a suede eraser, which is specifically designed for this purpose. Rub the eraser in a back-and-forth motion over the stain, applying light pressure. This will help lift off the stain without damaging the suede.
  2. Brushing: After using the suede eraser, take your soft-bristled brush and gently brush the area where the stain was. This will restore the nap of the suede and remove any remaining debris or residue from the eraser. Brush in one direction to avoid damaging the material.
  3. Repeat if necessary: If the stain persists, you can repeat the process with the suede eraser until the stain is no longer visible. Take your time and be patient, as suede requires gentle handling to prevent damage.
  4. Overall brushing: Once you have successfully removed the dry stain, brush the entire shoe with the soft-bristled brush to revive the suede’s texture and appearance. This will also help blend any discoloration caused by the stain removal process.

Reference Table 2: Removing Dry Stains from Suede Shoes

Use Suede EraserLift off the dry stain without damaging the suede
Brush the AreaRestore the nap of the suede and remove debris or residue
Repeat if NeededContinue the process if the stain persists
Overall BrushingRevive the suede’s texture and blend any discoloration

Treating dry stains promptly and delicately will help maintain the pristine look of your suede shoes while preventing long-term damage.

Treating Wet Stains on Suede Shoes

Suede Shoes 1

Accidents happen, and if your suede shoes come into contact with water or any other wet substance, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent permanent damage. Here’s how to treat wet stains on your suede shoes:

  1. Blotting: Start by gently blotting the wet stain with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid rubbing or wiping, as this can spread the stain and further damage the suede. Instead, press down on the stain to absorb as much moisture as possible.
  2. Drying naturally: After blotting, allow the shoes to air dry naturally away from direct heat sources. Placing them near a heater or using a hairdryer can cause the suede to shrink or become misshapen. Ensure proper ventilation to speed up the drying process.
  3. Brushing: Once the shoes are completely dry, use your soft-bristled brush to restore the nap of the suede. Gently brush in one direction to avoid damaging the material or altering its texture. This process will help blend any water spots and restore the shoes’ overall appearance.
  4. Water spot treatment: If water spots remain after the shoes have dried, you can lightly dampen a clean cloth with distilled water and gently dab the affected area. Blot away any excess moisture and allow the shoes to air dry. Once dry, restore the nap of the suede with the soft-bristled brush.

Reference Table 3: Treating Wet Stains on Suede Shoes

BlottingAbsorb moisture from the wet stain
Drying naturallyAllow the shoes to air dry properly
BrushingRestore the nap of the suede and blend water spots
Water spot treatmentAddress any remaining water spots with distilled water

By promptly addressing wet stains on your suede shoes and following these steps, you can minimize the potential damage and keep your shoes looking their best for longer.

Dealing with Stubborn Stains on Suede Shoes

Stubborn stains can pose a challenge when cleaning suede shoes. However, with the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can effectively tackle them. Here’s how to deal with stubborn stains on your suede shoes:

  1. Identify the stain: Before attempting any cleaning method, it’s important to identify the type of stain you’re dealing with. Different stains may require specific treatments. Common stubborn stains on suede shoes include oil, ink, and salt stains.
  2. Oil stains: To remove oil stains, sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch or talcum powder on the affected area, covering the entire stain. Allow it to sit overnight, as the powder will work to absorb the oil. The next day, gently brush off the powder with a soft-bristled brush. If any residue remains, repeat the process or try an alternative method.
  3. Ink stains: Ink stains can be tricky to remove from suede. One approach is to use a cotton swab or a clean cloth lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. Blot the ink stain gently, being careful not to spread it further. Repeat the process until the stain fades away. Remember to test the rubbing alcohol on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the suede.
  4. Salt stains: Salt stains are a common issue during the winter months. To tackle them, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently blot the salt stain. Be sure not to oversaturate the suede. Afterward, dab the area with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess moisture. Once dry, use the soft-bristled brush to restore the nap of the suede.
  5. Repeat or seek professional help: For particularly stubborn stains that don’t respond to these methods, it may be best to seek professional cleaning assistance. Professional suede cleaners have the expertise and specialized equipment to tackle even the toughest stains without causing damage.

Reference Table 4: Dealing with Stubborn Stains on Suede Shoes

Oil StainsAbsorb with cornstarch or talcum powder, then brush off
Ink StainsGently blot with rubbing alcohol, repeating as necessary
Salt StainsBlot with vinegar solution, dab with dry cloth, and brush
Seek Professional HelpFor stubborn stains, consider professional suede cleaning

By following these stain-specific tips and techniques, you’ll be able to effectively remove stubborn stains from your suede shoes and restore their pristine appearance.

Cleaning Suede Shoes with Household Items

You don’t always need fancy specialty products to clean your suede shoes. Many common household items can be used to tackle dirt and stains effectively. Here are some household remedies you can try:

  1. White vinegar: White vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that can be used to tackle various stains on suede shoes. For general cleaning, dilute white vinegar with water in equal parts. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently blot the surface of the shoe. This helps remove dirt, restore the suede’s texture, and eliminate odors.
  2. Baking soda: Baking soda is another readily available household item that can help freshen up your suede shoes. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda inside the shoes to absorb odors. Let it sit overnight, and then shake out the excess baking soda the next day.
  3. Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is useful for removing stubborn stains like ink. Lightly dampen a cotton swab or cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stain. Avoid rubbing excessively, as this can spread the ink. If the stain lifts, continue blotting until it is fully removed.
  4. Nail file or emery board: For scuff marks or dried stains that are tough to remove with a brush, you can use a nail file or emery board. Gently buff the affected area in one direction to lift off the stain or scuff. Be cautious not to apply too much pressure and always test on an inconspicuous area first.

Reference Table 5: Cleaning Suede Shoes with Household Items

Household ItemsUses and Techniques
White vinegarDiluted solution for general cleaning and odor elimination
Baking sodaSprinkle inside shoes to absorb odors
Rubbing alcoholDab on stubborn ink stains
Nail file or emery boardBuff away scuff marks and dried stains

Using these household items creatively and safely can help you maintain the cleanliness and freshness of your suede shoes without breaking the bank.

Professional Cleaning Options for Suede Shoes

While cleaning suede shoes at home is possible and often effective, sometimes it’s best to leave the job to the professionals. Professional suede cleaners have the expertise, specialized tools, and cleaning solutions to handle delicate suede materials. Here are a few professional cleaning options to consider:

  1. Local shoe repair shops: Many local shoe repair shops offer suede cleaning services. They have experience working with different types of stains and can provide spot cleaning or a thorough cleaning for your suede shoes. Take your shoes to a trusted repair shop and inquire about their suede cleaning services.
  2. Suede cleaning specialists: Some companies specialize in professional suede cleaning. They are equipped with advanced cleaning techniques and products tailored specifically for suede. These specialists have an in-depth understanding of suede materials and can handle even the most challenging stains and issues.
  3. Dry cleaners: Certain dry cleaners provide suede cleaning services as part of their repertoire. They have the necessary equipment and experience to safely clean suede shoes. However, it’s essential to choose a dry cleaner that specifically offers suede cleaning, as not all dry cleaners have the expertise in handling delicate suede materials.

When opting for professional suede cleaning, communicate any specific concerns or stains you want them to address. Also, inquire about their cleaning techniques and any post-cleaning protection they offer. Professional cleaning can be an investment, but it ensures your suede shoes are cleaned to a high standard without the risk of damaging them.

Protecting and Maintaining Your Suede Shoes

After cleaning your suede shoes, it’s crucial to take steps to protect and maintain them for long-lasting wear. Here are some tips to help keep your suede shoes looking their best:

  1. Suede protector spray: Apply a suede protector spray to your shoes after cleaning and thoroughly drying them. The protector spray creates a barrier that helps repel water, stains, and dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and reapply the protector periodically to maintain its effectiveness.
  2. Storing properly: Store your suede shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Keep them away from sources of heat, such as radiators or heaters, as excessive heat can cause the suede to become warped or discolored.
  3. Using shoe trees: Consider using shoe trees made specifically for suede shoes. Shoe trees help retain the shape of the shoes and prevent them from developing creases. They also absorb moisture and odors, prolonging the life of your suede shoes.
  4. Regular brushing: Regularly brush your suede shoes with a soft-bristled brush to remove surface dirt and restore the nap. This simple maintenance step can prevent dirt particles from embedding into the suede and keep your shoes looking fresh.

By following these tips, you can extend the lifespan of your suede shoes and ensure they remain in excellent condition for years to come.

Avoiding Common Mistakes When Cleaning Suede Shoes

Suede Shoes 2

While cleaning suede shoes, there are a few common mistakes to avoid to prevent damage to the material. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid excessive water: Suede is highly water-sensitive, so it’s important not to oversaturate it during cleaning. Use minimal water and ensure the shoes dry naturally.
  2. Don’t use heat: Avoid exposing suede shoes to direct heat sources, such as hairdryers or radiators. Excessive heat can cause the suede to shrink, warp, or become discolored.
  3. Test cleaning products: Always test any cleaning products or household remedies on a small, inconspicuous area of the shoe first. This helps ensure they don’t cause discoloration or damage the suede.
  4. Don’t vigorously rub or scrub: Vigorous rubbing or scrubbing can damage the delicate suede fibers. Instead, use gentle motions and light pressure when cleaning and treating stains.
  5. Avoid abrasive materials: Stick to soft-bristled brushes and suede-specific cleaning tools. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can ruin the texture of the suede.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can effectively clean your suede shoes without risking damage or compromising their appearance.


In conclusion, taking proper care of your suede shoes is essential for maintaining their appearance and longevity. Whether you’re dealing with dry stains, wet stains, or stubborn stains, there are various techniques you can employ to clean and restore suede shoes. Using suede erasers, gentle brushing, and specific household items like white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can help remove stains effectively. In some cases, seeking professional cleaning services from shoe repair shops, suede cleaning specialists, or dry cleaners may be the best option, especially for tough stains or delicate suede materials.

After cleaning, it’s important to protect and maintain your suede shoes properly. Applying a suede protector spray, storing them properly, using shoe trees, and regular brushing can all contribute to extending the lifespan of your suede shoes. Avoiding common mistakes such as excessive water, heat, abrasive materials, and vigorous rubbing is crucial to prevent damaging the suede during the cleaning process.

By following these guidelines and treating your suede shoes with care, you can keep them looking their best and enjoy them for a long time to come. Remember that each pair of suede shoes may have specific care instructions, so always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines if available. With proper maintenance, your suede shoes can continue to showcase their unique style and elegance.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to explore for more information on cleaning and caring for suede shoes:

  • Nike: How to Clean Suede Shoes: Nike provides a comprehensive guide on caring for suede shoes. Learn step-by-step instructions, tips, and product recommendations to keep your suede shoes looking their best.
  • Better Homes & Gardens: How to Clean Suede Shoes: This article from Better Homes & Gardens offers practical advice on cleaning and maintaining suede shoes. Discover effective methods to tackle specific stains and helpful tips for suede shoe care.
  • Who What Wear: How to Clean Suede Boots: If you’re specifically interested in cleaning suede boots, this article from Who What Wear provides expert tips and tricks. Learn how to remove stains, revive the suede’s texture, and keep your boots in top shape.


Here are some frequently asked questions about cleaning suede shoes:

What should I do if my suede shoes get wet?

If your suede shoes get wet, gently blot the excess moisture with a clean cloth, then stuff them with newspaper or paper towels to help them retain their shape. Let them air dry naturally, away from direct heat sources. Once dry, use a soft-bristled brush to restore the texture of the suede.

How often should I clean my suede shoes?

The frequency of cleaning depends on the extent of wear and any visible dirt or stains. As a general guideline, it’s good to clean your suede shoes whenever they appear dirty or when stains occur. Regular maintenance, such as brushing and applying a suede protector spray, can also help keep them clean and fresh.

Can I use water to clean suede shoes?

Water can be used sparingly on suede shoes, but it’s important not to oversaturate them. Excessive water can cause damage or discoloration. Use a small amount of water or suede-specific cleaning solutions and gently blot the stained areas.

Can I use a regular brush to clean suede shoes?

It’s recommended to use a soft-bristled brush specifically designed for suede or a suede cleaning brush. Regular brushes may be too harsh and can damage the delicate suede fibers.

Are there any alternative methods or household items I can use to clean suede shoes?

Yes, there are several alternative methods and household items you can use to clean suede shoes. Some common household remedies include using white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or cornstarch to tackle stains. However, it’s important to test these methods on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure they don’t cause any damage.