Best Guide to Clean Suede Shoes Without Ruining Them

Suede footwear (suede shoes), known for its stylish comfort and warmth, is a must-have during colder seasons.

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Photo: Best Guide to Clean Suede Shoes Without Ruining Them

Unfortunately, the soft and fuzzy texture of suede also makes it highly susceptible to stains from moisture, dirt, and oils.

Regular use of suede shoes and boots can result in dirt, scuffs, water spots, salt marks, and other grime, especially if worn in bad weather. However, since excessive moisture can damage suede, you cannot simply soak the shoes in Soapy Water to remove stains and buildup.

Fortunately, learning how to clean suede shoes is not a difficult task when using the right tools and techniques.

While there are suede cleaning products available at footwear stores and major retailers, you can often achieve excellent results using simple household items. In the following steps, we will guide you through the process and provide tips for removing common stains from suede footwear.

By following these cleaning strategies, you can easily restore the soft and pristine appearance of your suede shoes and boots.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

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Photo: How to Clean Suede Shoes

To ensure effective cleaning of suede shoes, it’s important to start with completely dry shoes.

Attempting to clean spots or stains while the shoes are still damp can push the stain deeper into the material, making it more difficult to remove. Before starting the cleaning process, use paper towels or a soft cloth to blot up any moisture and allow the shoes to air dry naturally.

Avoid using a blow dryer, direct sunlight, or heat sources to speed up the drying process, as this can lead to the material drying out and becoming stiff. Once your footwear is fully dry, follow the Step-by-Step Instructions below for Cleaning Suede shoes.

Brush Away Loose Particles:

Use a suede brush to gently brush away any loose dirt or particles from the surface of the shoes.

If cleaning smaller areas, a toothbrush can be used as well. Begin brushing in the same direction as the nap’s pattern or grain.

For stubborn grime, you can switch to a gentle back-and-forth motion to loosen the spot.

Rub out Stains with an Eraser:

For spot-cleaning suede shoes, utilize a suede eraser or a clean block eraser to remove small marks.

Rub the eraser gently back and forth over the stain, being careful not to apply too much pressure that could damage the material. If the eraser doesn’t seem to be effective, move on to another method of suede stain removal to avoid any potential harm.

An emery board nail file (around $2 at Target) can also be useful in lifting the nap and buffing out stains. Remember to apply light pressure to prevent scratching the suede.

Clean Suede with Vinegar:

For stubborn stains on suede shoes, dampen a microfiber cloth with white vinegar and gently rub the stain, ensuring not to soak the surface.

Keep in mind that the vinegar may temporarily alter the color of the suede while it’s damp, but as the moisture evaporates, the material should return to its original color. Allow the treated spot to dry completely, and then check if the stain remains.

Repeat the process as necessary until the stain is completely eliminated. After cleaning and drying, brush the surface again to restore its original appearance.

Apply Suede Protector Spray:

While some suede footwear may come pre-treated with moisture and stain resistance, it’s always a good idea to add an extra layer of protection.

Choose a suede protector spray specifically designed for suede and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Even with the application of a water- and stain-repellent product, it’s best to reserve your suede shoes for dry weather and minimize exposure to spills and splatters whenever possible.

How to Remove Stains from Suede Shoes

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Photo: How to Remove Stains from Suede Shoes

Different types of stains may require specific techniques for cleaning suede footwear.

Consider the following tips to remove some of the most common stains from suede shoes and boots:.

Dirt or Mud:

Before addressing dirt or mud stains on suede shoes, ensure that the material is completely dry.

Use a suede brush or toothbrush to remove as much dirt as possible. If any marks persist, use a steamer to gently loosen the dirt and then blot the area with a paper towel or cloth to lift it out.

Allow the area to dry completely.

Oil or Grease:

For oil or grease stains on suede shoes, apply cornstarch to the affected area and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the excess grease.

Gently brush off the cornstarch with a brush. Repeat the process as needed until the stain is gone.

If dealing with dried grease stains, clean the area with a small amount of Dish Soap. Let the soap sit on the stain for approximately 10 minutes, then rinse off the soapy residue by blotting with a damp cloth.

Avoid directly soaking suede shoes in water.


Salt stains from snow and ice melt are common issues when wearing suede shoes or boots during winter.

To remove salt stains from suede shoes, start by brushing away as much salt as possible. Mix cold water with a small amount of dish soap and dip a clean cloth in the solution.

Gently blot the stain without rubbing it. Repeat the process as necessary until the stain is gone.

Allow the shoes to dry completely.

Water Stains:

Although it may seem counterintuitive, water can be used to remove water stains from suede shoes.

Lightly spritz water across the surface of the shoes using a spray bottle. Gently brush the surface with a suede brush or toothbrush.

Blot up any excess water with a clean cloth or paper towels, and then let the shoes dry completely. Once dry, consider applying a suede waterproofing spray (available for around $7 at Target) to prevent future water spots.

By following these cleaning and stain removal techniques, you can effectively maintain the appearance of your suede shoes and keep them looking their best.

*The information is for reference only.