How to Clean Suede Shoes

I love my pair of suede wedges I got a couple years ago. But, over time I quickly realized they stain kind of easily. Keeping them in tip-top shape seemed unrealistic until I found a couple of at-home methods to use to get them to be in their prime again.

Check out these tips to clean your suede shoes, whether they’re real or synthetic.

Brush it off

For that pesky dirt, use a nylon or soft brush to gently work out those spots. This method is best used when the stains aren’t too severe.

After a rainy day, give some extra TLC to your suede shoes to ensure the water spots don’t penetrate the surface by blotting them with a dry towel.

Seal it

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned them, or even better, before you break them in, use a water and stain protectant. This will not only keep them looking their best, it’ll keep them fresh.

Like with any shoe, sometimes they’ll develop a weird smell. That can be anything from the manufacturing process to long-term damage from the elements. Whatever the reason, use one of these items to get rid of the smell:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Coffee grounds

After selecting your “weapon of choice”, simply pour it into a bowl, and set it near your shoes. If the smell is really potent, place your shoes in a box then place the bowl inside along with them.

A little reminder for if you choose coffee grounds, just know your shoes will end up smelling like coffee. But, that’s not really a bad thing now, is it?

When in doubt, bring it to a professional

If you’re afraid of ruining your good suede shoes with some at-home methods, bring them to a professional cobbler. What sounds like something of the past, is actually still relevant today. These people work their magic to work out tough wrinkles, fix crooked seams and even inject some vibrancy into those faded colors. They’ll know exactly how to treat your stained shoes.

Things NOT to do or use

  • One of the things that look like it may work but actually doesn’t is Vaseline. Petroleum jelly works for numerous things, but definitely not suede. It’ll stain it so badly that it’ll be almost impossible to get out.
  • Don’t use shoe boxes or other storage means that have a lid. It “suffocates” the suede and can cause it to dry out and crack. Not pretty!
  • Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid water (especially if you live where it rains a lot) but when water does come in contact with suede and left damp, it can attract mildew. So make sure to clean it right away with the steps above.


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