Ways & How

How to Clean Suede Shoes

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Learning and mastering how to clean suede shoes is quite easy. Although suede shoes are made of a kind of leather with a “nap” — a soft, raised, textured surface — and therefore require a bit more maintenance than conventional leather, they can be quite the fashion statement and are a joy to have and use. With some investment in time and care, you can enjoy suede shoes and use them for a long period. Suede is susceptible to scuffs, dirt, mud, and liquids because of its nap. Unfortunately, the particular characteristic that gives suede its beauty makes it hard to maintain. So before using your suede shoes, it’s best to give them a coat of protective spray. These sprays are available at shoe stores and well-stocked department stores. Give your shoes a light pass with a suede cleaning brush to clean off surface dirt and lift the nap (brush in one direction only). Then, following the manufacturer’s instructions, spray your suede shoes with a protective coat. Bear in mind, though, that this is not a permanent sealant. After each use, you should inspect your shoes for dirt or damage so that you can deal with it immediately and keep the problem from getting worse.

e way you clean suede shoes will depend on what caused the dirt or damage to them.

    1. Shiny spots or scuff marks. These are usually caused by the spot being rubbed or pressed too hard or too often, resulting in the nap getting worn. To deal with this, you need a suede brush. Give the nap a brisk but light brushing, always only in one direction, to lift it and restore it to its usual appearance.

    2. Surface dust and dirt. Suede shoes particularly fall prey to this, being so close to the ground, with the nap almost magnetic to dust and dirt. But provided that these are not too bad and are dealt with after every wear, they can be brushed off with a suede cleaning brush. Doing this before putting the shoes away will keep the dust from getting deeply embedded in the nap.

    3. Water. Stains caused by water are harder to deal with because they leave marks on the suede. Try to offset the obvious signs of staining by using a nail brush or stiff bristle brush to apply a thin layer of water over the surface of the whole shoe. The intent is to give the suede a uniform appearance and minimize the look of the stains. Sponge off or use a lint-free cloth to absorb the excess water. Put a shoe tree inside the shoe to ensure that it doesn’t lose its shape when you leave it to dry. Don’t ball a sock and leave it inside the shoe: if it absorbs water from the shoe, you may have an odor problem to deal with. If you don’t have a shoe tree, you may use any balled white paper (not newspaper — it could leach ink inside the shoe).

    4. Mud. This is particularly hard to remove. Never attempt to remove mud while it is wet, because doing so will just spread it around and make the problem worse. Leave it, and when it is dry, use a nail brush to remove most of it until only a patch remains. Brush away the remaining mud with a suede cleaning brush. Be particular about brushing the whole shoe up to the edges, and removing dirt that may have gotten into the detailing.

    5. Heavy stains. For these, you need a suede eraser or a cleaning block. This is usually sold together with a suede cleaning brush in shoe stores. Use this like an eraser to rub the dirt off the shoes. It will crumble off, just like a pencil eraser does, and will usually remove the worst stains and dirt, including the deeply embedded ones, from the suede.

You should be able to enjoy your shoes more now that you’re equipped with these tips on how to clean suede shoes.


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