How To Clean Suede Shoes (5 Easy Tricks)

Do you sometimes worry about eventually having to toss your favorite pair of suede shoes because they are dirty? Does the idea of them getting covered in muck annoy you?

Suede, as a material is very temperamental. If treated and maintained right, it will last you a lifetime but if you do not pay attention to how to clean suede shoes, it will take no time to deteriorate.

While the majority of solutions for dirty/worn-off shoes include either throwing them away or getting them laundered, you wouldn’t believe how easy and economical cleaning shoes at home is.

You may find a lot of cleaning hacks on the internet but be very careful, for the slightest mistake would ruin your treasured boots.

Lots of DIY practices comprise of treating the shoes with baking soda or with vinegar but unless done with the utmost care, you are most likely to cause further damage.

Below are some directives on how to clean suede:

Conventional Cleaning:

If your boots do not have any unusual or foreign stains and you just want to do a generic cleaning, follow the steps below:

  • Invest in a suede brush. Suede is a rather unique type of leather and therefore requires special accessories.
  • Gently brush away all the visible gunk dirt in one direction only. Rubbing it roughly in different directions will cause a disturbance in the grains, which will give the shoes a ruffled look.
  • Brush vigorously in areas where the grains are matted or pressed down.
  • Use a pencil eraser for the stubborn marks that can’t be brushed out. Simply rub the eraser back and forth against the marks, much like how you erase out a pencil mark.
  • Finally, seal the clean look with a suede protector spray. The spray acts as a protective layer that prevents stains and marks in the future.

Deep Cleaning:

If you feel like just brushing is not as effective as you would like, then here’s how to clean shoes in a more rigorous way:

  • Dampen the exterior of your shoes with a very little amount of water. Suede is delicate and can react negatively to water but when used carefully, it can help remove tough stains. Be very careful, though! Too much water will tend to discolor your beautiful suede shoes. Just apply a light coat with the help of your suede brush.
  • Soak up the excess water by dabbing gently with a clean cloth. Proper dabbing will also help to distribute the water evenly throughout the shoe, eliminating any possible watermarks.
  • To soak up the water from inside the ‘toes’ of the shoes, insert small wads of paper inside the shoe so that it helps blot out the water in case of excess. Do NOT use newspaper or any kind of printed paper, the suede can soak the ink resulting in an even messier outcome.
  • Once all the spots/marks are dealt with, put your shoes in a well-ventilated spot to dry.
  • When dried completely, brush gently with the suede brush. This will help smoothen the grains and restore the shoes to their original look.

Dealing with Unusual Stains:

How to Clean Oil Stains from Suede Shoes

If you accidentally stain your shoes with an oil, here’s what you need to do:

  • Brush your shoes with a suede brush exactly how you would do during regular cleaning.
  • Use a nail-brush or a toothbrush to spot clean the oil mark with warm water.

If you luckily notice the stain while it is still wet, use cornstarch as a quick solution:

  • Sprinkle cornstarch all over the stain and let it stay overnight.
  • The next day, brush away the cornstarch and carry out the conventional cleaning method.
  • Steam or iron the spot with low temperature if necessary.

Sometimes, you may not be able to get rid of grease and stubborn marks completely. However, the steps aforementioned will help the stain to visibly fade by quite a considerable margin.

How to Clean Mud off Suede Shoes

A major factor to consider when dealing with mud is not pushing the mud too hard when cleaning because it can get absorbed by the suede. It gets very difficult to remove the stain completely if the mud settles itself into the grains.

Use the following steps for correctly cleaning your shoes:

  • Let the mud fully dry before cleaning.
  • When the mud has dried, scrape it off lightly with your hands.
  • Once you have brushed off the major chunks of dirt, use a suede brush to get to the smaller particles.

How to Clean Blood Stains from Suede Shoes

Use hydrogen peroxide for the removal of a bloodstain.

  • Spot at the stain with a peroxide-infused cotton ball gradually until the blood comes out. Make sure you use gloves because hydrogen peroxide can sometimes be irritating to the skin.

How to Remove Chewing Gum and Wax Stains from Suede Shoes

While it may seem that you’re in a terrible fix if you get chewing gum or wax on your suede shoes, it is not much work when it comes to getting rid of it.

Just pop the shoes into the freezer for a few hours, this will cause the gum/wax to harden and you can then peel it off in the form of chunks.

How to Clean Ink Stains from Suede Shoes

Like mud and oil, it is ideal that ink is dealt with as soon as possible, for efficient cleaning.

  • Blot up the ink spot with a cotton towel while it’s still wet. This will prevent a larger mess.
  • Once it has dried, simply sand the spot with sandpaper.
  • If the spot has dried or won’t budge with water, rubbing alcohol can also be used to dissolve the spot.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do you clean suede shoes without a suede brush?

If you don’t have a suede brush, you can use an emery board (nail filer, in simpler terms) in its place. This replacement requires an additional step though: steaming. Use a kettle or an iron to steam the leather after filing for seamless cleaning.

Can I wash my suede shoes?

Tidying up your suede shoes is absolutely necessary, however, chucking them inside a washing machine or washing them with detergents will do more harm than good.

Washing is only for certain kinds of shoes, such as tennis shoes or running shoes. Suede is a delicate material and should be dealt with accordingly.

What household items can I use to clean suede boots?

For quick fixes and cheaper options, you might want to go into your kitchen and tinker with household products (Yes, they can help!). Here’s what works:

Stubborn Stains:

For stains that just won’t budge no matter what, try cleaning the shoes with white vinegar. While vinegar is widely regarded as an excellent home remedy for cleaning purposes, it can also help you with your precious suede. The steps are simple:

  • Using a soft piece of cloth, apply a generous amount of white vinegar on the outside of your suede shoes.
  • Keep them in an open space and let them dry for some time.
  • Brush off the stain with a suede brush.

Dry Stains:

  • Steel wool to the rescue! Yes, apart from dishes, it can be used to clean shoes as well.
  • Just brush the shoe with a ball of steel wool the same way you would do with a suede brush. You might have to brush the whole shoe though, instead of just the stain; to achieve an even look.

How to clean black suede shoes?

Cleaning methods for black suedeshoes are no different than the ones used for normal suede. However, in the case of color fading, you can opt for black suede dyes. The dye will restore your shoes to their new shiny self.

How to clean white suede shoes?

To keep your white suede shoes looking their best, you need to be proactive with preventive measures rather than cleaning methods.

To avoid lasting damages, make sure you use a suede protector and tidy up any marks as soon as they appear.


Suede shoes, apart from being a high ended style statement, are a great addition to your wardrobe as well. I regard mine as too precious to be worn every day but I do make sure that they are my choice whenever I want to leave an impression.

Their maintenance might be a bit of work but needless to say, they are a worthwhile investment. I hope that the next time the question of how to clean suede boots pops in your head, you know what to do!

If you have any suede fans in your circle, make sure you share these tips with them to help them maintain their precious shoes.

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