How to clean and protect suede - and all the tools you need to do it

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How to clean Suede

  • Suede is animal hide that's been sanded on the inner layer for a velvety, textured feel and appearance.
  • However, it's less durable than leather, more prone to staining, and harder to care for.
  • We've put together a few tips and tricks to teach you how to clean suede and take care of it.
  • You'll need a water repellant spray and a suede brush to keep your suede items in tip-top shape.

Elvis had good reason to croon, "But don't you step on my blue suede shoes. Well, you can do anything, but stay off of my blue suede shoes."

While suede certainly has a velvety, rich appearance, it's equally undeniable that it stains, scuffs, and flattens easily. That's why it's so important to know how to take care of suede.

A periodic brush and cleaning will keep your suede shoes, jacket, hat, pants, and furniture looking as fine as the day you bought it.

But even more importantly, you need to treat any wear-and-tear on suede promptly to avoid permanent stains or damage to the material.

While it's not really difficult to clean and care for suede, it does take more attention than many other types of leather, which is why we decided to lay out the proper way to care for your suede shoes, clothing, or household décor.

Basic suede care

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The best way to keep your suede shoes, hats, home furnishings, and gloves looking good is with regular preventative care. While as a general rule, you should leave suede garments at home on days when rain is in the forecast, inevitably at some point you'll be caught in an unexpected shower, step in a puddle, or walk across wet grass.

That's why suede clothing, footwear, and accessories should all be treated with a water-repelling spray like Apple Brand Garde Rain & Stain Repellant.

To be safe, first test the spray in an inconspicuous area. If all is well, go ahead and apply the spray all over your suede shoes or other suede items, and let it dry completely. While you still should avoid water while wearing suede, the protectant will greatly diminish the chances of staining should the suede get wet. Reapply it once each season for the best protection.

Regular brushing of your suede is another must, whether it's a wearable item or home décor. A good suede brush like the Redecker Suede Brush, which has both brass wire and natural pig bristle for a thorough but gentle cleaning, whisks away dust and dirt while restoring the suede's nap.

You really should brush your suede after every wear, or use the brush on your suede furniture weekly, but if that seems like too much trouble, then aim for once a month or so.

Brush the suede thoroughly all over the surface, working in back-and-forth motions only. Don't make circles or push the nap into different directions. Regular brushing is the best way to keep suede looking good and remove dust or light stains.

Removing stains from suede

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It happens: Your suede shoes have mud or dirt on the toes or along the sides or rain has stained your suede hat. No need to worry: Just use your suede brush.

Often, a thorough brushing is all that's needed to remove the grime, but if things are looking extra dirty, you'll need to go a bit further.

  1. If the stain is dry, grab a pencil eraser. Work the eraser over the stain, making small circular motions and applying light pressure. Brush the suede to restore the nap once the stain is gone.
  2. Stain still there? Head to the pantry for some white vinegar. Pour a little bit onto a clean, dry cloth, and rub the vinegar into the stained suede. You want to dampen the suede, not soak it. Let the suede air dry, and then brush the spot to remove any lingering marks.
  3. If oil gets onto your suede, sprinkle the spot with enough cornstarch to cover it completely, and let it sit for several hours. Then use your suede brush to remove the cornstarch, and hopefully, the oily stain along with it. If there is still a visible mark, use white vinegar as outlined above.
  4. Wet stains, including water, should be blotted with a towel as much as possible before allowing the suede to air dry. Never set your suede near a heater or use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process, as that can fade or damage the material. If the suede dries with a watermark, you'll want to treat it with white vinegar, let the suede dry once more, and then brush it thoroughly.

Buy Apple Brand Garde Rain & Stain Repellent on Amazon for $13.99

Buy the Redecker Suede Brush on Amazon for $14.99

Check out our guide to the best shoe polish you can buy.

Check out our guide to the best leather protectors you can buy.

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