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Suede Shoes. We see them, we love them, and would want to rock them at every given opportunity. However, when we think about how complex the cleaning process can be, we tend to ditch the idea altogether. Why go through the stress and long hours of maintaining a suede when you can just stick with other easy-to-maintain alternatives? We get you.

From questions like, “What is the best thing to clean suede shoes?” to “How do you fix wet and dry suede shoes?” and “Can you wash suede shoes?” having suedes can seem like a chore. Fortunately, you can experience the comfort of wearing suede shoes without worrying about getting stubborn stains off. This article is dedicated to showing you how.

Why Wear Suede Shoes?


  • There are many reasons to rock suede shoes—from its chicness to versatility,  sustainable options, etc., suede remains a wardrobe essential
  • While suedes easily attract dirt, they can also be easily cleaned using effective DIY methods, so you have nothing to worry about 
  • Since suedes are delicate, the key to maintaining them is ensuring that there are no harsh materials in your cleaning toolkit.

Why Wear Suede Shoes?

It can seem easier to just wear other types of shoes instead of bothering your head about suede shoes. But if you truly want to make a lasting impression by elevating your style, suede shoes shouldn't be just an option but a necessary part of your "shoe-rope."

First, suede shoes add an extra layer of panache to any piece of clothing, making you look more sophisticated than ever. Its unique texture gives it a luxurious and refined look that you can't ignore. When it comes to making a fashion statement, suede shoes help you to play it safe. It's the go-to shoe for whenever you're in doubt.

With sustainability leading the trends in the fashion industry today, suedes may naturally not be your favorite choice. However, many sustainable brands have sprung up to challenge the status quo in the industry. A good example is Black Tulips' eco-friendly suede shoes that are sourced ethically from natural materials, designed considerably, and crafted with top-notch quality. Although these shoes might get dirtier with numerous wears, the techniques described below will help to solve this problem.

What Household Items Can I Use to Clean Suede Shoes 

The first step to cleaning suedes is to understand what tools and supplies you can and cannot use. Suedes are pretty sensitive and delicate. So, regardless of how careful you are, you can easily damage them by using the wrong materials.

Here are some of the acceptable cleaning tools for suede shoes:

  • Suede cleaner (rubbing alcohol and white vinegar are good alternatives)
  • Soft cloth
  • Suede cleaning brush (you can go with a toothbrush, soft-bristled shoe brush, or microfiber cloth
  • Suede rubber eraser (pencil eraser is a good alternative)
  • Corn starch (optional)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Suede protectant spray (optional)

These are the supplies you shouldn't use on your suedes:

  • Water 
  • Soap 
  • Heavy chemical solvents like bleach
  • Colored fabric 
  • Dryers

Note that while suedes are water resistant, this in no way translates to water tolerance. You can easily stain and damage your suede shoes with water, so it's advisable to not expose them to moisture or wear them in the rain. Therefore, it goes without saying that you shouldn't try to maintain them with water.

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4 Easy Steps to Clean My Suedes 

Now that you know what to use when maintaining your suede shoes, it's time to dive into the cleaning process:

1. Prep! Prep!! Prep!!!

First things first, ensure that your suede shoes are ready to be cleaned before you begin. This simply means that they should confirm that they are completely dry before you start cleaning. 

Wet suede shoes are always darker than their color. As such, they mask the stains, making it difficult for you to see them clearly as you clean. Again, cleaning wet suede shoes only helps to spread the dirt and worsen the situation.

Here's how to dry your suede shoes properly before cleaning:

  • Blot (not rub) the suede with an absorbent and uncolored cleaning cloth, allowing it to soak up as much moisture or water as possible
  • Use a suede brush to buff your damp shoe gently 
  • Leave it to dry naturally or close to a fan 
  • Stuff your suedes with newspapers to allow them to absorb more moisture 

2. Remove Excess Debris

When you've confirmed that your suede shoes are perfectly dry, it's now time to use the suede brush or toothbrush to remove dirt from the shoe's surface. If there are minor scuff marks you need to remove, raise the suede fibers off the shoe using quick but gentle back-and-forth strokes. 

This step helps to cover the scuff marks while also removing the loose debris that may have contributed to them.

3. Remove Surface Marks

If you notice that there are still marks on your suede shoe's surface, use a suede or pencil eraser to take them off. This step allows you to apply a little pressure to remove the surface marks effectively, but don't overdo it. All you need to do is rub the surface with just enough energy to get them off without damaging the fabric.

This stage also requires you to rub the shoe surface with side-to-side motions. However, if it doesn't show any signs of improvement, move to the next step.

4. Focus on Stubborn Stains 

Stubborn stains are marks that wouldn't go away even with a suede eraser. To get these stains off, you'd have to employ a more aggressive method using an acidic liquid like rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. This helps to break particle clumps apart, making it easier for the stains to come off.

While treating stubborn stains, it's important to dampen the suede lightly instead of drenching it with the liquid. Also, rub the shoe with a quick back-and-forth motion and leave it to dry. Repeat this process as often as you need to until the stubborn stains come off. You can apply a suede protector to finish off if you wish.

Other Techniques for Cleaning Suedes Shoes

The general method of cleaning suedes as described above works in most cases. However, there are other techniques that are more suitable for specific types of stains. Let's take a look at them:

  • Wax or Gum Stains

Did gum or wax stain your suede shoes? All you have to do is harden the gum or wax by putting the shoes in the freezer. Scrape or peel them off when you're sure they're hard enough. Easy peasy!

  • Grease and Oil Stains 

For oil and grease stains, apply small amounts of cornstarch to the stain and wipe it off after a few hours. Use a hand vacuum or clean cloth instead of a suede brush for this technique. You can also use baking powder to remove grease stains from your suede shoes.

  • Blood Stains 

If you have blood stains on your suedes, don't fret. Simply dab the area with a clean towel or cotton ball dipped in hydrogen peroxide and allow the shoe to dry. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.

How to Store Suedes 

The best way to maintain your suede shoes is to prevent them from damage in the first place. As always, prevention is always a better approach to shoe care than trying to treat them. And it all starts with learning how to store your suede shoes correctly.

Here are some best practices for keeping suede shoes when not in use:

  • Keep your suede shoes out of sunlight to ensure that the colors don't fade
  • Don't apply heat to your suede shoes 
  • If you need to keep your suedes away for extensive periods, place them in a shoe box or bag after wrapping them in tissue paper 
  • Your suede shoes should always be stored in cool and dry places to prevent molds from forming

Your suede shoes need all the TLC they can get to keep looking new for longer. Be sure not to starve them.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Can I Use Alcohol Wipes on My Suede Shoes?

Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol wipes to remove tough stains from your suede shoes. However, ensure that you use them with caution and only in small amounts to avoid further damage to your shoes.

  • How About Scratches on My Suede Shoes?

You can remove scratches from your suede shoes by applying suede conditioner to the affected area. Next, brush the leather fibers with a suede brush.

  • How Do You Clean Suede Shoes Without Water?

You can clean suede shoes by substituting water for rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. Start by removing the debris from your dry suedes using a suede brush. Use a suede eraser to remove stubborn stains and apply rubbing alcohol sparingly to stubborn stains. Finish off with a suede protector.

  • How Should I Treat My Suede Shoes?

Treat your suede shoes with a suede conditioner and soft cloth in straight motions, ensuring that they're evenly spread. Waxes, creams, and oils are good suede conditioners. They enhance your shoe's resistance to scratches.

  • Can I Clean Suede Shoes with Soap and Water?

No. It's not advisable to use soap and water on your suede shoes because they only worsen the stain. Water can stiffen the fabric and ruin it.

Can I Clean Suede Shoes with Soap and Water?

Wrap Up

We hope that this article has provided the answers to all your concerns about suede shoes. Now that you know how to keep them looking new for longer, it’s time to take the fashion world by storm one classy suede shoe at a time. We’re rooting for you!