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How to Soften Suede Gloves

Updated April 17, 2017

Suede gloves are popular for warmth and also for gardening as heavy work gloves and for hockey gloves. Suede is wonderful to touch, but it's difficult to keep supple and clean. Water, dirt, sand and soil are all enemies of suede. When the gloves become wet or grimy they also can become hard. It's important first to clean the gloves and then to work to restore their soft texture. Professional products, as well as home tested ideas are available to ensure success.

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  1. Clean your suede gloves by brushing them to remove any surface dirt. Use a metal brush sold for suede or a toothbrush or other cleaning brush. Try your technique on an inconspicuous spot first to be sure you aren't rubbing too hard. Once clean, continue to brush and knead your gloves to soften them.

  2. Rub cornmeal over your suede gloves and work it into the fabric. Then brush it off. The cornmeal will remove dirt and also start to soften your gloves. Once clean, use a brush, or pencil eraser, to help raise the nap and soften their texture.

  3. Wipe ground-in dirt with a rag soaked in a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water. Wring out the rag and gently rub in on the stained area. Soak up any moisture with a dry rag. As your gloves are drying knead them with your hands occasionally to help bring back the suppleness. Brush them with a stiff terrycloth rag.

  4. Spritz your gloves with a shot of steam from a steam iron. Rub them with a terry cloth rag to remove any dirt. The heat and moisture will soften the texture. Knead them with your fingers to help them stay supple as they dry.

  5. Tip

    Check with the care label of your gloves. Some recommend cleaning them in a washing machine to remove dirt and restore the softness.


    Oily products are not recommended for suede. Although lanolin and others work well for leather, they create oily spots on suede. Some dry cleaning chemicals will disolve the glue that holds the gloves lining to the suede. Try other cleaning methods before you resort to dry cleaning for gloves.

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Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Cornmeal
  • Pencil erasers
  • Metal suede brushes
  • Terrycloth rag
  • Steam iron

About the Author

Clare Bills is a writer, speaker and artist living in Ames, Iowa. She holds three Bachelor of Arts degrees, as well as a Master of Science in journalism/public relations. Bills worked in public relations for more than 15 years and now writes for several magazines and online sites. She is also the author of a foodblog: Nana Clare's Kitchen.

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