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Easy Steps to Clean Suede Shoes, Couches and More

Learn how to clean suede shoes, jackets, bags and furniture with our step-by-step guide. These easy steps will help you remove stains and keep them looking great.

Clean tan suede shoes on floor

Suede is a beautiful and luxurious material, but cleaning it can be challenging. The porous nature of suede makes it susceptible to stains and dirt, which can ruin its appearance if not cleaned properly.

Before you begin cleaning your suede item, it’s important to know what tools you’ll need. A soft-bristled brush, a suede eraser or block, a clean white towel or cloth, and white vinegar are all essential items for cleaning suede.

It’s important to use only gentle tools and avoid using water or harsh chemicals that can damage the delicate fibers of the material.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Suede Items?

Suede is a beloved material that exudes both luxury and style. From jackets and shoes to furniture, suede adds a unique touch to any outfit or living space.

However, keeping suede clean and well-maintained can be a daunting task for even the most diligent individuals. As durable as suede is, over time, dirt, stains, and wear can make suede items look tired and unappealing.

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to clean your favorite suede pieces without damaging them in the process. 

Materials You Need to Clean Suede

Some items you’ll need include a suede brush, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, cornstarch or baking soda, and a clean cloth. It’s also crucial to read any care instructions provided by the manufacturer before starting. Taking preemptive measures can prevent damage while ensuring that your pieces remain in good condition for longer. 

  • Suede Brush and Eraser (you can get both in a suede cleaning kit)
  • Soft cloths (microfiber is ideal)
  • Cornstarch or baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar and/or isopropyl rubbing alcohol, or a commercial suede cleaner 
  • Suede protector spray (optional)

Firstly, get a soft-bristled brush or suede eraser to remove dirt and debris from your suede item. A clean, white cloth will also be necessary to absorb any excess liquid used during the cleaning process.

Additionally, consider investing in a specialized suede protector spray that can help shield items from stains and water damage.

Pros and Cons of Suede Protector Sprays

Suede protector sprays sound like such a great idea. For the most part, they are – but there are also potential downsides to be aware of.


Prevents Stains and Damage: The primary benefit of suede protector spray is its ability to repel water, oil, and other substances that can stain or damage suede.

Longevity: Regular use can prolong the life of your suede items by protecting them from wear and tear.

Ease of Use: Most sprays are easy to apply – just spray it on evenly and let it dry.

Restores Appearance: Some sprays can help revitalize the appearance of old or worn-out suede.


Can Alter Color: Some users report a slight change in color after applying the protector, particularly on lighter colored items.

Requires Regular Application: For best results, you should reapply the protector every few weeks or months, depending on how often you use the item.

Chemicals Used: Some consumers may be concerned about the chemicals used in these sprays. Always check if it’s safe for you and doesn’t exacerbate any allergy you have.

Not Completely Foolproof: It’s worth noting that while these sprays offer protection, they don’t make your suede items completely impervious to stains or damage.

Always remember to test any product on an inconspicuous area first to check for any undesired effects.

Loosen Dirt and Debris: How to Brush Suede Properly

Before you start removing stains from your suede, you should loosen any dirt and debris on the surface of the material. This allows for a more thorough cleaning process and prevents more damage from being done during the stain removal process.

Take a soft-bristled brush or a suede eraser and gently brush the surface of the suede in a back-and-forth motion. Be sure to apply only light pressure to avoid damaging the delicate fibers of the material. For particularly stubborn dirt or debris, you can also use a specialized suede cleaning block to remove it effectively.

It is important to note that different types of suede require different types of brushes. For example, fine suede requires softer bristles while sturdy suedes may require stiffer bristles. Additionally, some brushes may be too harsh for certain types of suede, so it’s essential always to use caution when selecting your tools.

What’s a Suede Eraser?

Think of it as the Magic Eraser of cleaning suede. A suede eraser is a special type of cleaning tool designed specifically for use on suede materials. It’s generally small and block-shaped, much like a typical pencil eraser.

How to Use it:

Rub the suede eraser gently over the surface of the suede. As it moves across the material, it picks up dirt, dust, and even some light stains, helping to clean and restore the suede.

Along with removing unwanted particles, the suede eraser also helps to lift and fluff the nap (the raised fibers on the surface) of the suede that can become flattened with wear or exposure to moisture.

Start with Dry Cleaning Methods

Since suede shouldn’t come into contact with water regularly, always start with the cleaning methods that involve dry items. Brushes, erasers and powders. When they fail, that’s when you move onto the wet stuff.

Removing Oil or Grease Stains on Suede: Cornstarch

The first step in removing stains from suede is to identify the type of stain. For oil-based stains like grease or butter, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the affected area.

Blot the Stain: If the stain is fresh, use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot as much of the grease as possible. Be careful not to rub it in further.

Apply Cornstarch: Generously sprinkle cornstarch directly onto the greasy stain. The cornstarch will act as an absorbent, soaking up the oil from the suede.

Let it Sit: Allow the cornstarch to sit on the stain overnight, giving it ample time to absorb as much grease as possible.

Brush Off: After letting it sit for an adequate amount of time, brush off the excess cornstarch using a soft-bristle brush or a suede cleaning brush. Be sure to brush gently and in one direction to avoid damaging the nap.

Repeat if Necessary: If some oil still remains, repeat steps 2-4 until you are satisfied with the results.

Brush: Once all grease has been removed, use a suede brush to restimulate and smooth out the nap of your suede item.

Remove Water-Based Stains from Suede

For water-based stains like mud or dirt, the suede has already gotten wet, and you’ll need wet cleaners for the job. 

Use a cloth dampened with white vinegar and gently blot the stain until it disappears. For ink or dye stains, try using an eraser or a clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol.

If these methods don’t work, don’t panic. There are products specifically designed for cleaning suede that are safe to use on most types of stains. Look for products like suede cleaner sprays or foams that come with easy-to-follow instructions on how to apply them correctly.

Step-by-Step Tips for Cleaning Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes can be a tricky task, but with some patience and the right techniques, you can keep them looking new. Here are some quick and easy tips to help you clean your suede shoes:

First and foremost, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. A horse hair suede brush is a must-have item when it comes to cleaning suede shoes.

Use it to gently brush off any dirt or debris on the surface of your shoes. Avoid brushing too hard or in a circular motion as this may damage the texture of your suede.

For tougher stains, try a brass suede brush. Or try using a clean pencil eraser for before resorting to using the web stuff to clean them.

If the stain is still there, try using a white vinegar solution (one-part white vinegar to one-part water) applied with a cloth. Gently rub the affected area in small circles until the stain lifts off.

Blot any excess moisture with a dry towel, then allow your shoes to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat.

If you’re dealing with oil-based stains like grease or salad dressing, try sprinkling cornstarch or baking soda over the affected area and let it sit overnight before brushing it off gently.

With these simple tips, you can maintain the beauty of your suede shoes and enjoy wearing them for years to come.

How to Remove Stains from Suede Jackets and Coats

For jackets and coats, you’ll follow the same basic steps as you did with suede shoes. Start by brushing off any loose dirt or debris with a soft-bristled brush. 

If stains remain, try cornstarch or baking soda on greasy stains or move onto vinegar or alcohol for other stains.

You may want to invest in a suede cleaner specifically designed for jackets and coats. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying the cleaner, as some products may need to be diluted with water before use.

Apply the cleaner to a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not damage or discolor the suede. If all looks well, apply the cleaner evenly over the entire surface of your jacket or coat using a soft cloth or sponge. Use circular motions and work in small sections at a time.

Once you have finished cleaning your suede jacket or coat, allow it to air dry completely before wearing it again. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or heat sources while drying as this can cause shrinkage and damage.

How to Clean a Suede Couch

Cleaning suede furniture can be a bit intimidating since it’s so delicate. But don’t worry, with the right tools and techniques you can keep your suede furniture looking new for years to come.

First, vacuum the entire furniture piece to remove any loose dust or debris. Use a soft brush attachment and gently vacuum in all directions. Avoid using water or any cleaning solutions on your suede furniture as it may cause water stains or discoloration. It’s harder to get anything wet out of a couch than shoes or jackets.

To remove stains from your suede furniture, try using a suede eraser or a dry cleaning solution specifically designed for suede. Always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area first before applying it to the stain.

Gently rub the eraser or cleaner onto the stained area in a circular motion and then brush with a soft-bristled brush to restore the nap of the fabric.

Top Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Suede

While cleaning suede can be a tricky task, there are some common mistakes that can make the job even more difficult. One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to clean suede is using water or other liquids.

Suede is a delicate material that is easily damaged by moisture. Using water or liquid cleaners can cause permanent damage such as discoloration and shrinkage.

Another mistake to avoid when cleaning suede is using harsh chemicals or solvents. This can cause the suede to become stiff and lose its softness and texture.

It’s important to use gentle cleaners and tools specifically designed for suede to avoid any unnecessary damage. Additionally, rubbing too vigorously on stains or using abrasive materials can cause damage and should be avoided.

Overall, when cleaning suede it’s important to take your time and handle the material with care. By avoiding these top mistakes, you’ll ensure your suede stays looking great for years to come.

Keep Suede Looking Great

When wearing suede shoes or garments, avoid exposure to water and moisture. In case of a sudden downpour or spill, use a dry cloth to absorb any excess liquid and then let the item air-dry away from heat sources.

Brushing your suede items regularly with a soft-bristled brush will restore the natural nap and keep them looking fresh. For added protection against water damage, you can use a specialized suede protector spray that creates an invisible barrier over the surface.

Storing your suede items properly is also crucial in maintaining their longevity. Keep them in cool, dry places away from direct sunlight or heat sources that could cause discoloration or texture damage. Store them in breathable dust bags or tissue paper to prevent any color transfer or crushing due to weight pressure.

Enjoy your Clean Suede

Caring for suede is tricky, but you just need to know how to do it. Remember to regularly brush and protect your suede items, and promptly treat any stains or spills to avoid long-term damage.

With these tips and tricks in your arsenal, your suede wardrobe and furniture will remain as luxurious and beautiful as ever.