Cleaning 101: How to Clean Suede Shoes

Cleaning 101: How to Clean Suede Shoes

Wondering how to restore suede shoes at home? Whether faux or genuine leather, these home remedies for cleaning suede provide everything you need!

Written by Tenley Haraldson. Reviewed by Cleaning Expert Sean Busch.

Anyone who has suede shoes knows that it's a notoriously difficult fabric to keep clean. If you're struggling with a pair, our expert cleaning tips will help you restore suede shoes at home – naturally.

Natural Suede Cleaners to Keep Handy

You might have read about DIY suede cleaners, but we don't think that risking a pair of your favorite boots is worth it. That's why we purchase products from companies that are experts in suede stain removal:

  • Suede & Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit: Most suede shoes can be cleaned with a good kit that contains soft and wire-bristled brushes, as well as a variety of erasers to buff blemishes.
  • Otter Wax Suede Cleaner: If you need a natural suede cleaner, Otter Wax uses cruelty-free ingredients like aloe, castile soap, and witch hazel to eliminate stains.

Important Tips for Cleaning Suede Shoes

Before wearing your suede shoes outside, apply a suede waterproofing spray. Once a year is probably fine (though this depends on how often you wear them). If you're waterproofing already-worn shoes, check out our cleaning tips:

  • Always spot treat shoes in an inconspicuous location.
  • Completely treat both shoes: Spot cleaning and suede are not friends.
  • Consistently brush suede to dislodge dirt and foreign fibers.
  • Tricky stains may require taking shoes into a cobbler or a leather specialist.

Can You Clean Suede with Soap & Water?

can you clean suede with soap and water

Honestly, soap isn't really the way to go because of potential staining. Even worse, suede tends to stain with water. We always recommend using a brush and cleaning kit, but water could work if you need to tackle surface marks (like a hand sanitizer stain on suede).

The key is a light hand, consistent motion, and never applying water directly to the suede. Use a slightly damp suede brush or microfiber towel and gently rub over the entire shoe to ensure that there aren't uneven spots. Let your shoes dry completely before wearing them.

How to Restore Suede Shoes at Home – Without a Kit

how to restore suede shoes at home

There are a few home remedies to clean suede shoes. Though we always recommend using the suede cleaning products (mentioned above), if you don't have them, you might have luck with a home remedy for cleaning suede shoes:

Rub Fresh Stains with Brushes

For fresh stains, try to soak up remnants with a dry microfiber towel. Gently blot the stain, and then gently buff it out with the brush in your suede cleaning kit.

Wondering how to get wax out of suede? What about chewing gum or miscellaneous sludge? Stick your suede shoes in the freezer overnight and the frozen grime will probably be much easier to remove.

How to Get Wax out of Suede

how to remove candle wax from suede shoes

Scuffs and marks happen, so try to restore your suede shoes' texture with a plain razor. Make sure that it comes without a moisturizing strip and that it hasn't been used (or you might be dealing with soap stains). Gently run the razor with the grain to create a smoother texture.

Baking Soda to Erase Odors

remove odors from suede shoes

All shoes can get stinky. Grab a simple carton of baking soda, sprinkle the inside, let it sit overnight, and shake them out in the morning.

How to Get Oil out of Suede

how to get oil out of suede

Anyone who's battled oil stains on clothes knows how hard it can be. Instead, sprinkle cornstarch directly on the stain to soak up the grease or oil. Let sit for 10 minutes (more if particularly large) and shake it off.

How to Clean Faux Suede Shoes

how to clean fake suede shoes

Also known as "alcantara", faux suede is more stain-resistant and durable than genuine leather. But the good news is that cleaning fake suede shoes requires pretty much the same products and techniques. Basically, treat your faux suede like real suede and it should last for years.

At Puracy, we understand how important it is to find natural cleaners that work hard to get your home – and shoes – clean.