I don’t know about you, but I love suede—especially suede shoes! (Although I’m not sure I’m cool enough to pull off blue suede shoes.) ;-) Suede is such a great material, but many people avoid it because it needs a bit of special care to keep it looking nice. But I’m here today to assure you that caring for suede isn’t as hard as you might think! Today I’ll be showing you exactly how to clean suede, so you can keep your suede shoes, bags, and other items looking great.
The main thing that sets suede apart from other materials is that you don’t use water to clean it. In fact, water stains suede, or at least alters the appearance enough that it will look and feel stained. To properly clean suede, it helps to buy one of those inexpensive suede cleaning kits online. These kits typically only cost a few dollars, and they include a cleaning brush and a special eraser. You’ll use these tools to brush away dirt and fluff up the fibers to keep your suede looking good!
I’ve outlined my step-by-step process for cleaning suede below. Depending on how dirty your item is, you might not need to do every single step to get it clean. Give this process a try, and see just how clean your suede can get! :-)
How To Clean Suede
Step 1 – Brush
Lightly brush the stained areas in one direction. Brushing in one direction helps to remove the surface layer of dirt from the fibers.
Once you’re done, brush the stains again using a back-and-forth motion. Brush with a little more force too! You’re trying to get to the ground-in dirt that’s trapped beneath the surface.
Step 2 – Erase
If your suede item isn’t in too dirty, you may not need to go any further! But for really set-in stains or dirt, you’ll want to use the eraser that came with your suede cleaning kit.
Rub the eraser over the stains, and don’t be afraid to apply some pressure! Keep rubbing until the stain is gone (which could take a few minutes, so be patient!) And as a word of warning, this part will be messy. Make sure to do it over a towel, or even take it outside!
Step 3 – Treat
If your stain STILL isn’t gone, it’s time to break out the big guns! ;-) Grab some plain white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and pour a bit onto a white washcloth. (Unlike water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol won’t stain suede!)
Rub the dampened cloth onto the stain, then let the area dry completely. Once it’s dry, use the brush to fluff the fabric back up and brush away any loosened dirt,
Step 4 – Shave
Suede fabric can start to look a bit stringy after a while, but it’s easy to take care of using a plain old shaving razor. Gently shave the strings off the fabric wherever you notice them. After using the razor, use your brush to brush away the stringy bits.
Step 5 – Brush Again
After all that brushing, scrubbing, and rubbing, the suede can appear a bit dull. That’s nothing a bit of vinegar or alcohol can’t fix! Rub the suede all over with a white cloth dampened with vinegar or alcohol, then let it dry completely. After it’s dry, fluff up the fabric one last time using the brush. And voila, your suede will look clean, lustrous, and fabulous!
Step 6 – Protect
The final step is to protect your suede so it won’t get quite as dirty in the future. You can find suede protectant sprays online, and a lot of them are fairly inexpensive. Apply your suede protectant spray according to the package directions. Not only will this extra step keep your suede cleaner for longer, it will also make it easier to clean in the future!
This process should help you remove most kinds of stains on suede items. But just in case you end up with a tricker stain, here are some additional tips that may help!
Bonus Tips For Tackling Specific Stains On Suede
This is a case where it helps to “fight fire with fire.” Use a damp brush to lightly wet the stain, then soak up any excess water with a paper towel. Let it dry overnight. Don’t try to quick dry the item, and avoid drying it in direct sunlight because it may cause the color to fade.
Oil or Grease
Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch to try and soak up the oil. Let it sit overnight and then brush away the powder in the morning. Lightly wet the stain with a damp brush, then brush away the stain.
Let the mud dry before cleaning your item. Once it dries you should be able to break it off in chunks. Use your brush to get rid of smaller pieces of dirt.
Wax or Gum
Put your item in the freezer to harden the wax or gum. Then break it off in chunks and brush away smaller particles.
Pour a bit of hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel or cotton ball and lightly dab at the stain until it comes out.
Dab at the ink with a paper towel to absorb some of the ink if it’s still wet. If the ink has set, you can use rubbing alcohol to try and lift the stain. You may also need to scrub it with your special suede eraser.