Suede is a much softer and more vulnerable material than ordinary leather. Not only can it stain quicker and easier than leather, it’s also much trickier to clean. Unlike leather, stains on suede can actually be made worse by normal cleaning materials, such as using soap and water, so knowing how to clean suede is hugely important if you own boots, shoes, jackets, or other accessories made from this delicate material.
How to Clean Suede Boots
If you need to clean suede shoes or boots, it can be so tempting to try to simply spot clean them using water, but this can cause additional water stains to appear, making your boots look old, scuffed, and discoloured. That’s not to say water is completely out of the question when cleaning suede – you just need to know exactly how to clean suede boots using liquid. Additionally, a good quality suede brush is essential tool for all suede garment owners. Here’s the best way to use a suede cleaner without damaging the material:
- Firstly, use a suede brush to get rid of any surface dirt from your boots or shoes. This will simply help get the suede cleaner before more intensive treatments. Be sure to brush with the grain of the fabric, rather than against.
- If your boots are quite scuffed at the edges, again, use the suede brush, but use a vigorous back-and-forth movement to remove any loose fibres. Try to stay as close to the scuffed area as possible, instead of scrubbing at undamaged suede.
- Stubborn stains do need to be treated with water – but since spot cleaning can create water marks, clean the entire boot, so that any discolouration isn’t noticeable.
- Use the suede brush to apply a small amount of water to the whole shoe, scrubbing at the stained area. Insert a shoe tree, or some rolled up paper to keep the shape of the boot, and allow it to dry naturally. Don’t use newspaper, as the ink could transfer to the fabric.
- If your boots have been left with salt marks from water, use a small amount of white vinegar as suede cleaner. The smell of the vinegar might be quite prominent the first few times you wear the boots, but it will fade over time.
How to Clean Suede Jackets and Accessories
Cleaning suede jackets and accessories should be tackled in much the same way as cleaning suede boots and shoes, but there are some slight differences in the methods and the suede cleaners that should be used:
- Again, start with a suede brush to loosen the fibres of the fabric. This will get rid of any surface dirt, and give greater access to deep, ground in stains.
- To remove stains – particularly oily residues or sweat marks – apply a thin layer of corn starch to the garment and leave for a few hours – preferably overnight. The corn starch will absorb the stains and lift them out of the material. Then, use a suede brush to remove the flour.
- Steam cleaning also works well for removing stains from suede jackets, but be careful not to over-saturate the material. The best way to steam clean a suede garment is to hang it in a steamy bathroom, following a hot bath or shower.
- Finally, if you need to use heavier duty suede cleaner, you could check out dedicated leather cleaners that are suitable for suede. As with water, however, you’ll want to use the solution all over the garment, rather than simply spot cleaning, to avoid any discolouration.