Suede isn’t the easiest material to maintain. But the process is also not as prohibitively complicated as you might think. So, salvaging an old favourite pair is not, in fact, mission impossible. Below, we’ve laid out a simple cleaning guide to get regular wear and tear marks and stains out of your favourite suede shoes (including water stains!). Make sure you follow the instructions below and make sure to steer clear of water at all costs - there's no love lost there.
Step 1: Prep
This initial step is easy. Suede cleaning kits usually contain a special brush, suede eraser and a protective spray. If in a pinch, a toothbrush and clean white eraser will do. When it comes to the protective spray, make sure you investigate and find a good quality one specifically made for suede.
You’ll also need white vinegar, a clean white cloth and some paper that you’ll need to stuff your shoes with paper to help the soft suede maintain its shape as you work.
Step 2: Gently Brush Out the Suede
Before starting, make sure your shoes are completely dry as rubbing in dirt or a wet stain could work the particles deeper into the suede.
So, making sure your shoes are dry, grab your suede brush and brush gently in the direction the suede lies in to loosen any dirt in the material. For more stubborn marks, use a swift back and forth motion that will help release more ingrained dirt.
You might find that this is enough for minor stains, but if not then read on.
Step 3: Try a Suede Eraser
After brushing, grab your suede eraser and rub the marks gently in a back and forth motion. If they’re looking stubborn then add a bit of pressure but be careful not to rub too hard or else you risk ruining the material.
Step 4: Try White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol
Strangely enough, white vinegar, and even rubbing alcohol, don’t ruin shoes. On the contrary, their chemical makeup allows them to break down clumps. So, if you’re feeling like the steps before are just not doing it, then dip a clean white cloth into some white vinegar and rub the stain gently. You want to dampen the suede but not soak it. You may need to reapply and repeat the process. Allow the shoe to dry naturally. Once dry, brush the suede again to fluff the fabric up.
Step 5: Spray With a Protective Spray
Once the cleaning process is complete and your shoes are completely dry, spray them with a good quality suede protective spray to keep dirt out and make future cleaning easier. Just remember to follow the instructions on the packaging and to reapply at regular intervals as directed.