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How to remove stains from suede shoes

Updated April 17, 2017

Suede is a soft, elegant and expensive material. Suede shoes are especially vulnerable to stains, not only because of their constant contact with water, dirt and grime, but also because of their absorbent surfaces. Suede, unlike patent leather, is more likely to succumb to water or stain damage and it is vital to protect them with waterproof sprays. However, should the shoes become stained, you can remove them by rubbing the nap with a variety of abrasive surfaces.

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  1. Work the nap up by rubbing the shoes with a low-grade sandpaper. The nap consists of small fibres or threads that project from the surface of the suede. The fibres are usually flattened against the fabric, in one direction, and you need to fuzz them up to clean them.

  2. Rub a suede eraser against the stain to lift the grime or dirt from the nap. Then massage a towel against the stain to work up the nap again.

  3. Dry wet shoes with a towel if the wet stains are recent. If the wet stains are old, re-wet the entire shoe with a spray bottle and dry with a towel. Insert crumbled newspaper to retain the shape of the shoes. The old stains should blend in after the suede has dried.

  4. Draw out any pernicious stains, such as ink, blood or oil, while still fresh with a paper towel. Be careful not to blot the stains too hard or you will push the stain into the suede. Let the stain dry. Then rub a suede eraser against the stain to remove it. If that fails, use sandpaper to rub out the stain.

  5. Blot vinegar onto tough stains with cotton balls. Gently massage the area and let it dry. Then work the nap with a toothbrush.

  6. Freeze any wax stains by putting the shoes in the freezer overnight. Then break off the frozen wax by rubbing the wax with a toothbrush. The wax will start to crumble against the pressure from the nylon bristle. Brush off as much broken pieces of wax as possible and comb through the suede with a suede brush to remove any remnants.

  7. Spray on a coat of waterproofing agent designed for suede and leather to protect against future stains.

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Things You'll Need

  • Low-grade sandpaper
  • Suede eraser
  • Towel
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towel
  • Vinegar
  • Freezer
  • Toothbrush
  • Suede brush
  • Waterproof spray

About the Author

Nikki Cash graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's in film/TV, where she won an MPAA Scholarship. Since graduating, she has written and produced an independent feature film starting her career as a writer in 2005. Cash enjoys writing eHow articles with topics ranging from home improvement to crafts.

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