How to clean suede shoes and suede sneakers

Written by mimi abney
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How to clean suede shoes and suede sneakers
Clean your suede footwear with common household products. (suede female shoes image by terex from

Supple suede shoes attract more dirt and dust than do their smooth leather counterparts. You can easily clean your suede shoes of stains and surface dirt without damaging the napped leather.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Vacuum cleaner with attachment
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • Emery board
  • ½ cup water
  • Suede brush
  • Suede protectant
  • Terrycloth towel

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  1. 1

    Clean surface dirt. Using a vacuum cleaner with a small attachment, skim your suede shoes. Allow the suction to remove dust and dirt.

  2. 2

    Brush your shoes with a small-bristled brush. For dirt trapped beneath the suede nap, apply the brush to your shoes using small and short strokes.

  3. 3

    Remove scuff marks with an emery board by rubbing the board across the grain of the suede. Use a circular motion to lift the dark marks from your suede shoes and suede sneakers.

  4. 4

    Apply diluted vinegar to stubborn suede stains. Mix two teaspoons of vinegar with ½ cup of cold water. Dip the end of a terry cloth towel into the vinegar solution and dab your footwear gently with the towel. Let the soiled area dry for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the stain (and any vinegar residue) with a suede brush.

  5. 5

    Dry water drops with a towel. After wearing your suede shoes and suede sneakers in the rain, blot the footwear with a terrycloth towel. Air-dry the shoes in a well-ventilated space. Be sure to remove all the moisture to prevent mildew stains and odours.

  6. 6

    Fight future stains with a silicone suede protectant. After cleaning your footwear, coat the shoes with the sealant. Reapply this protectant on the top surface of your suede shoes and suede sneakers after every second or third wearing.

Tips and warnings

  • Test your suede for damage before cleaning with vinegar. Avoid damage to the nap or discolouration of your suede footwear with a patch test.
  • Suede stones, suede erasers and ultra fine sandpaper will remove small amounts of dirt from suede. But these cleaning tools are not as effective as a small-bristle suede brush.
  • If your suede footwear is completely soaked with water, take the shoes to a suede and leather cleaner for professional repair.

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