Here's How to Clean Suede Shoes in 3 Easy Steps
Plus, the expert-backed trick for preventing stains in the first place.
Elvis Presley famously sang, "Don't you step on my blue suede shoes"—and while that's just a famous line in a song, the late singer was on to something. It's hard to keep suede clean. Time and wear-and-tear can ruin even the most well-kept shoes, and while a trip to the dry cleaners is always an option, that cost can quickly add up. We're all about saving money and DIY cleaning hacks, so we asked several experts how to clean suede shoes from the comfort of your home, and it's way easier than we initially thought.
How to clean suede shoes:
Step one: Use a brush
Unlike your dirty plates, don't add any moisture to your suede shoes before you start to clean them as adding water could escalate the stain or make it bigger. For salt and soil stains, let the shoe completely dry before you attempt to scrub it out. "Use a suede eraser or a stiff brush (like a nail brush) to remove any loose dirt," suggests Andy Sutton, Head Designer for Gola Classics. When brushing, remember to brush with the grain in the same direction the suede naturally sits to prevent ruining the suede.
Step two: Apply a cleaning solution
For tougher stains from oil or grease, Sutton recommends using a nail (or suede) brush and warm, soapy water to scrub the suede in small circular motions. This should do the trick, but if the stains are still persistent it may be time to enlist help from something a little stronger.
Steve Sedlbauer, President of Cougar Shoes, recommends avoiding, "using (household) detergents or spot-cleaners, as they can lead to uneven color fading." Instead, apply a gentle cleaning solution specifically formulated for shoes, like this best-selling Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner from Nordstrom.
Step three: Prevention is key
Remember, moisture is suede's enemy. As with most things in life, prevention is key, so Sutton recommends setting your shoes up for success by coating them with a waterproof spray that will repel moisture and keep suede intact. A quick treatment will add a protective layer and deter moisture from setting in so that your suede shoes will be spot-free for years to come!