Suede is an incredible material that provides a unique matte finish that you can’t replicate with leather or other fabrics. While suede is a must-have material for any wardrobe (guys or girls), many worry that it may require a little more maintenance than a material like traditional leather would.
First off, it’s important to state that suede IS a type of leather. But unlike traditional leather, suede uses the underside of the cowhide, which provides the soft appearance and feel. Unfortunately, the soft underside of the cowhide is not quite as smooth and stain-repellant as traditional leather is, making stains and dirt a little more difficult to remove.
As a result, suede shoes may require a little more maintenance than traditional leather. Despite this, don’t let warnings about suede being high maintenance prevent you from purchasing a new pair of suede boots. These warnings are generally overblown, and proper care can help keep your suede boots lasting for a long time.
Steps for Cleaning Suede Shoes
- Suede brush – We suggest using a horse-hair brush to brush off surface dirt from your suede shoes. The horse-hair material won’t damage the suede, but will effectively remove most dirt.
- Pencil eraser or rubber cleaning stone - For more difficult dirt and stains, using a pencil eraser or a rubber cleaning stone can be an effective way to get rid of the dirt and blemishes.
- Dampen and dab water off to eliminate stains – Most standard non-dirt stains can be removed simply by dabbing your suede shoes with water and slowly rubbing down. Make sure to apply water evenly, then wipe off excess water before letting dry.
- Use white vinegar diluted with warm water - To eliminate especially difficult stains such as oil stains, use a mixture of vinegar and water. Mix 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, then use a damp towel to apply over the shoe, slowly rubbing any areas that have oil stains. damp towel for oily stains – allow to air dry
- Protect your shoes from further stains - By applying protective sprays to make it more difficult for dirt and oils to adhere to the suede material.
Other Tips for Protecting Suede Shoes
For a material like suede, it’s a good idea to be aware of the weather and occasion so that you do not damage the material. While salt is harsh on all materials, it has a special tendency to stick to suede shoes and boots, resulting in color stains and drying of the material. If salt stains occur, it’s best to rinse the shoe with warm water then let the shoe air dry. As a result, it may be better to hold off from wearing suede boots when the roads and walkways are salted to prevent ice from forming.
Similar to standard leather, using shoe-trees to help maintain the form of your suede boots will help preserve their longevity and fit over the years.