How to Clean Suede

Keep your suede shoes, clothing and accessories looking like new with these simple steps.

January 13, 2021
Yellow suede shoes

How to Clean Suede

If your suede shoes are looking a little worse for wear, you can restore them using a suede brush (for dirt and light stains), a suede eraser (for tougher stains) and a rubber crepe brush (for restoring the nap).

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

A pair of soft suede boots or a plush suede jacket is a luxurious addition to any wardrobe. But suede — a type of leather made from the soft underside of an animal hide — isn’t as durable as traditional leather and tends to scuff and stain more easily. Luckily, you can keep your suede looking its best by regularly cleaning and protecting it. Follow these steps to restore your suede to its original beauty.

How to Clean Suede, Leather and Upholstery 03:32

Follow these easy tips to clean and protect suede, leather and upholstery.

Materials Needed

  • suede bristle brush
  • suede rubber crepe brush
  • suede eraser
  • cornstarch
  • vacuum cleaner
  • suede protector

Remove Dirt With a Suede Brush

Suede is a natural material that can generally be cleaned without the use of any liquids. Because the fibers are so close together, you can simply brush dirt away in most cases with a suede brush (Image 1). Suede brushes have both stiff metal bristles and soft nylon bristles and are specifically designed to clean suede. The technique is simple: For small spots, brush the fibers in one direction until the spot is removed. Harder-to-remove stains will require more pressure or brushing in multiple directions. Once you’ve removed the stain with the suede brush, you can restore the nap — or the raised, fuzzy texture — by using a rubber crepe brush in one direction (Image 2). The rubber will lift the fibers of the suede and restore it to its original look.

Tackle Tough Stains With a Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is an inexpensive product that works for tougher stains that your suede brush can’t knock out. Use a suede eraser like you would a pencil eraser, rubbing the spot until the stain begins to lift. Once you’re satisfied, use your suede bristle brush to brush away any bits of eraser left behind. Finally, use the rubber crepe brush to restore the look of your suede, brushing in one direction until it looks like new.

Cleaning suede with suede eraser

How to Clean Suede: Tackle Tough Stains With a Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is an inexpensive product that works for tougher stains that your suede brush can’t knock out. Simply use a suede eraser like you would a pencil eraser, rubbing the spot until the stain begins to lift. Once you’re satisfied, use your suede bristle brush to brush away any of the bits of eraser left behind. Finally, use a rubber crepe brush to restore the look of your suede, brushing in one direction until it looks like new.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Clean Oil Stains With Cornstarch

If you have a fresh oil stain on your suede, you can soak up the oil using household cornstarch. Sprinkle cornstarch on the oil spot and leave it for a few hours (Image 1). Remove the oily powder without rubbing it into the fabric, either by knocking the dust off or using a vacuum (Image 2). If the first pass doesn’t remove all the oil, repeat the process with a second application of powder. Once the oil is gone, use your crepe brush to return the suede to its original look.

Protect the Suede

Once your suede is clean, it’s a good idea to spray it down with a suede protector. There are many safe products to choose from. Follow the instructions for applying your suede protector and wait until the item is dry before you use it again.

Spraying suede boots with suede protector

How to Clean Suede: Spray With Suede Protector

Once your suede is clean, it’s a good idea to spray it down with a suede protector. There are many safe products to choose from. Follow the instructions for applying your suede protector and wait until the item is dry before you use it again.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

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