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How to Clean Suede Shoes

Four Methods:

A lot has changed since Elvis sang, "You can do anything, but lay off of my blue suede shoes." Suede shoes, however, are still vulnerable to scuffs, scratches and stains, and they're still hard enough to clean that anybody who owns a pair can sympathize with the King's plea. Has too much rockin' around the clock taken its toll on your suede shoes? Follow these steps to get them looking good as new.


Cleaning Dirt and Scuff Marks

  1. Get a suede brush and make sure your shoes are dry.Suede has a soft grain that is best cleaned with a special brush, which you can purchase with a suede cleaning kit. If your shoes have a care label, use whatever the manufacturer suggests. Suede is also very sensitive to water, so basic dirt and scuffs are best dealt with when the shoes are dry.
  2. Brush gently to remove dirt.Use the suede cleaning brush to lightly brush away dust or dirt that has accumulated on your shoes. Don't go back and forth: brush repeatedly towards the same direction. Once you get off this layer of grime, your shoes will already look newer.
  3. Brush vigorously to remove scuff marks.When you scuff your shoes, the suede's grain can get pressed down in one direction. Lift the grain by brushing scuffed areas vigorously back and forth. Again this is best done with a suede brush.
    • For scuffs that are too matted down to respond to the brush, try scraping the area with a knife to lift the nap.
  4. Use an eraser for stubborn marks.Scuffs and marks that won't brush out can often be removed by rubbing with a pencil eraser or a piece of crepe rubber (the crinkled rubber that many shoe soles are made from). You can also by a special suede eraser designed for just this task. Apply a moderate amount of pressure and increase as tougher marks require.
  5. Protect your suede.Once they are clean (or when you first get them), spray a coat of suede protector spray on your shoes. This will help prevent further stains and marks. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

Removing Water Stains

  1. Wet the entire outside of the shoe.Apply a light coat of water with your brush. Water can discolor suede, but properly applied water can also remove those stains.
  2. Use a sponge or dry cloth to soak up excess water.Dab gently until the leather is evenly wet without visible water stains.
  3. Stick paper and shoe trees in your shoes.Especially if you used a large amount of water, put dry paper in the shoes to help blot out excess water on the inside. Shoe trees (or just wads of paper) will help the shoes retain their original shape. Do not use newspaper because excess ink can soak into your shoes.
  4. Let the shoes dry at least overnight.Put them in a dry, well ventilated spot and let the water evaporate.
  5. Once dry, go over the shoes lightly with a suede brush.This will help shake out the grain back to its original look.

Removing Special Stains

  1. Get out oil or "unknown" stains with a nail brush.Use a suede brush to scrub the stain as you would for a scuff. Then use a nail brush to scrub stubborn stains with warm water. Grease stains can be particularly difficult to remove from suede, and badly stained shoes may never look good again.
    • Some recommend cornstarch for oil stains if the oil is still wet. Sprinkle it over the stain and then leave it overnight. The next day brush away the starch and mist the stain with an iron.
  2. Let mud dry before cleaning.Wipe away the excess mud without pushing too hard against the suede, then leave your shoes to dry in a sunny spot. Once the mud has hardened, you should be able to break off the larger chunks with your hands. Then use a suede brush to break off the remaining dirt particles.
  3. Put shoes in the freezer for wax and chewing gum stains.If you get gum stuck to your shoes, put them in freezer for a few hours. The gum will eventually become hard enough that you can chip it away in large chunks. Finish off with a suede brush.
  4. Lift blood stains with cotton balls and peroxide.Dab at the stain with a peroxide-soaked cotton ball slowly until the blood comes out.
  5. Get at ink before it sets—then use sandpaper.If you spill ink on your kicks, grab a towel and try to blot it up quickly. If it sets, scrape the stain off with sandpaper. A cotton ball with rubbing alcohol can also help in these dire circumstances.

Other Home Treatments

  1. Apply white vinegar to recalcitrant stains.If a stain is giving you trouble with normal methods, apply a modest amount of vinegar with a soft rag or towel. Let it dry and then agitate with a suede brush. This can also be a good method for getting rid of salt lines.
  2. Use steel wool on dry stains.Brush steel wool vigorously against dry stains. However, be aware that this may require roughing up the rest of the shoe for an even look once the stain is removed.
  3. Try an emery board and steamer.If you don't have a suede brush, agitate the suede with the emery board nail file, then steam it with a kettle or iron. The heat should help open up the pores of the suede and make cleaning easier.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is using a toothbrush okay?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, clean toothbrushes can be used to clean suede. Brush off as much dirt and debris, including salt from sidewalks, when the shoes are completely dry. Try to avoid any type of "cleaner" if you can and stick with water. If the suede is extremely stained from salt, then use a toothbrush and water. Blot afterward with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Question
    How do I get an oil stain out of my suede shoe?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Try using cornstarch to soften the stain. Then lightly wet the rest of your shoe in the area around the stair in order to match the hue of the shoe with that of the stained portion of the shoe.
  • Question
    What is the spray I should use for suede?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Silicone sprays are good. They darken the color slightly but evenly if you apply them with reasonable care. They can make a big difference, especially in making water roll right off. Once you try this, you will never wear a pair of suede shoes without spraying them first!
  • Question
    How do I remove vomit from suede boots?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Throw them away -- it's easiest! But if you must keep them and want to try, remove the vomit quickly from the shoes with a wet rag and use water, baking soda, vinegar and a toothbrush to clean the stain. If a water stain results, clean the entire shoe.
  • Question
    Is there a good substitute for a suede brush?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    As noted in the article itself, you can use a rubber/eraser, an emery board/nail file or a nail brush.
  • Question
    How do I restore faded-out black suede?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Fiebings sells great suede and leather dyes that you can use to re-dye your shoes, but you can also shop around for suede dye.
  • Question
    How do I get a blue stain from my jeans out of my suede boots?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It it better to deal with it before it dries. In case it is dry, water and a sponge with a little bit of detergent can do the trick.
  • Question
    Can I use shoe polish on leather jacket?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. If you have scuff marks or wear, you can use such polish in the same way by following the manufacturer's instruction for using it on shoes. Just use a clean cotton cloth (like an old t-shirt) to first apply the polish, then wipe off any excess and buff to shine. Make sure that your jacket is 'real' leather, as many 'leather' products these days are not the best quality. Test the polish and rubbing with a cloth, on an inside area that doesn't show, just in case it flakes or peels.
  • Question
    How can I remove mildew from my suede shoes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Use the bathroom cleaner Scrubbing Bubbles in small amounts. Spray it on and leave it for 45 seconds. Then wipe it up with a damp cloth. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub at the stains if they are set in. Be patient and just take on one area at a time.
  • Question
    How can I remove scratch marks from my suede boots?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Use a suede brush. If this doesn't work, you can use a suede eraser. You can find these at some shoe stores and most shoe-repair shops.
Unanswered Questions
  • What can I do to get rid of a white stain from suede shoes?
  • How do I clean suede shoes that have gotten wet and dirty in snow and rain?
  • How do I clean jam stains from suede shoes?
  • How do I remove a black coal spot from suede shoes?
  • How do I remove glue from suede shoes?
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Quick Summary

To clean suede shoes, gently brush the shoes with a suede cleaning brush while the shoes are dry. Avoid getting the shoes wet or you could damage them. Once you've gotten off all the dirt and scuff marks with the brush, go back with a pencil eraser to remove any stubborn stains. You can also apply a small amount of white vinegar to the stains and then go over them with the brush again.

Did this summary help you?
  • If you're not going to be wearing your shoes for an extended period, wrap them in tissue paper and place them in a shoe box. Store them away from excess humidity and light, as suede can become moldy in moist conditions, and bright light may discolor your shoes.
  • If your laces get dirty, you may be able to put them in the laundry, depending on what they're made of.
  • Avoid suede dyes. If you aren't able to clean your shoes with any of the above methods, the odds of fixing the problems with suede dyes is extremely low and may damage your shoes further in the long run.
  • If you catch it fast, you can prevent a water stain by applying pressure patiently with a paper towel right.


  • Exercise caution when using suede protector spray. Make sure you have adequate ventilation, and follow the directions and cautions on the label. Some sprays may be flammable.
  • Don't use crumpled-up newspaper in place of a shoe tree. When the newsprint becomes wet it may stain the shoes.
  • Avoid dry cleaning solvents. These solvents may do the job on your shoes, but contain extremely harsh chemicals that won't ever leave your home.

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Views: 4,299,232


Dec 10, 2019

"The mention of other tools that could be used it you didn't own a suede brush helped, and also the use ofcornstarch and vinegar. Good info to know. I kind of shy away from suede footwea, as I am always conscious of it becoming soiled or stained. Thanks"

Sharon Pank

Apr 27, 2019

"Great tips! Sometimes leather can get lightened in an area and won't accept polish. I've only done this on darkbrown and black. I use just a dab of permanent marker only on the area. Then I use the polish. The marker lets the polish grip the leather."

S. Doty

May 24, 2019

"I live in a small town, and knowing that there are items other than an actual suede brush to clean & refurbishis fantastic. The short video is informative also."

Joy McIver

Aug 5, 2019

"The different ways to clean are great. Tried both, my tan boots are cleaner and slightly worn at toe where I hadstained with food! But all is good! "

Sherry Seiber

Dec 1, 2019

"Scrubbing bubbles is the trick for almost any hard stain to be removed. One example: tobacco smoke on your homewalls. I use for laundry also!"

Snehal Bhole

Apr 10, 2019

"I was not aware of the suede shoe polish method and had applied polish from a cobbler which totally spoiled mysuede sandals."

Deanna Escobar

Aug 9, 2019

"Suede is one of the hardest things to clean. wikiHow is one of the best sites I use for "at home"solutions. Thanks!"

S. Doty

May 24, 2019

"Needed items other than a suede kit to clean 2 pairs of shoes. Having short video & alternatives to a kit ishelpful."
Rated this article:

Don Moore

Mar 20

"While my shoes are costly Blundstone shoes, they did badly with salt stains from winter. Thank you for your advice!"

S. C.

Oct 3, 2019

"Easy DIY with products that are normally kept in my household. "
Rated this article:

Margaret Robertson

Aug 13, 2019

"Great. Many choices and hints, as well as cleaning products."

Maria Romero

May 31, 2019

"Excellent tips on how to remove oil stains from Suede shoes."

Colan Dickagely

Feb 19, 2019

"I payed a good amount for my shoes and this really helped!"

Angela Robinson

Apr 30, 2019

"This was very useful and had easy instructions. Thank you!"


Mar 3, 2019

"Just brushed the dirt off with an old toothbrush. Thanks!"

Harry Roberts

Aug 22, 2019

"It was a useful tool and helped to safely remove stains."
Rated this article:

Lupie Espinoza

Jun 8, 2019

"Didn't know you could clean it without ruining it more."


Aug 1, 2019

"How to use dry methods for removal was helpful."


Sep 30, 2019

"Learning how to clean suede shoes helped. "


Aug 23, 2019

"The use of the brush worked really good."

Richmond Odudu

May 18, 2019

"Really helpful article. Thanks a lot."


Jan 2

"Good tips, helped me a lot."

Rapheal Okonkwo

Mar 4, 2019

"Nice. A very great impact."

Siobhan D.

Video: Quit RUINING Suede Shoes Jackets & Boots | ULTIMATE Guide To Cleaning Suede Leather

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Date: 08.12.2018, 00:42 / Views: 51441