How to Clean Suede & Aniline Leather Shoes

Updated February 21, 2017

Like all leathers, suede and aniline products are soft and smooth; some people consider leather to be a particularly stylish material. Suede and aniline are softer than other leather products, however, and so can become dirtier faster and present more difficulty with cleaning. Leather will soak up water, and so a simple rinse will only further damage your suede or aniline garments or shoes. Instead, employ some home-based methods for optimum cleaning.

File at any scuff marks or mud spots with a nail file. Do not file too hard, or you risk damaging the leather. File only surface dirt and grime.

Wipe the suede surface with a dry, clean towel. This will remove residual dirt or grime.

Attack dried stains with a pencil eraser. Scrub gently at the stains; wipe away eraser shavings and removed dirt with the clean towel.

Soak the corner of a clean rag in white vinegar. Gently scrub at remaining stains with the rag; the vinegar will not damage the leather like water does. Allow the leather to dry, and check your work; reapply vinegar if necessary.

Finish cleaning the shoes with a suede brush; the brush will remove any residual contaminants, and will also flatten the leather for a shinier look.


If stains are too stubborn, consider trying a professional leather cleaning product or taking the shoes to a professional cleaner.


Never clean suede or aniline with plain soap and water, as water will soak into the leather and damage the material.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail file
  • Clean towel
  • Pencil eraser
  • Clean rag
  • White vinegar
  • Suede brush
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.