Clean Suede Shoes: Caring and Cleaning Tips

Clean Suede Shoes

Unlike normal rubber shoes, leather shoes like suede shoes require special care for them to stay clean and maintain their appearance.

Suede is a type of leather that has a velvety surface, giving it an elegant and luxurious look. However, this material is also prone to staining and damage if not properly cared for.

Things You Need to Get Started

Cleaning Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and methods, it can be quite simple.

Here are some tips for cleaning your suede shoes:

Use Suede Erase

Using a suede eraser is probably one of the best ways to keep your suede shoes clean. A regular pencil eraser might not be sufficient to tackle tough stains or scuff marks that can appear on suede.

The suede eraser is specifically designed to rub dirt, scuff marks, and even some stains off of the delicate material without causing damage. These erasers are also designed to handle the tricky task of cleaning nubuck, another type of leather that's similar to suede.

To effectively clean your suede shoes of any debris, start by using the suede eraser to gently rub off any surface dirt or marks.

This should be done with a fair amount of caution to avoid causing any unnecessary damage to the shoes.

Remember, suede and nubuck are both delicate materials and a little care goes a long way in preserving their elegant look.

After using the suede eraser, you can brush off the residue with a suede brush to keep the nap looking fresh. This easy method can significantly prolong the lifespan of your suede or nubuck shoes and keep them looking their best.

Read related article: How to Care for Suede Shoes

White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

white vinegar

An unorthodox, yet quite effective method of cleaning suede shoes involves using household items such as white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. These substances can generally clean the surface of the shoe without causing damage, if used correctly.

  1. Start by dampening a clean cloth with a little white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Be careful not to overly dampen the suede, as too much liquid can cause additional staining.
  2. Next, gently rub the dampened cloth over the stained area, always moving in one direction. This will help to lift the dirt without disturbing the nap of the suede.
  3. If the stain persists and it doesn't work, repeat the process a few times. Be patient, as some stains may take multiple attempts to fully remove.
  4. Once clean, leave the suede to dry naturally. Avoid placing it near heat sources as this can cause the suede to shrink or warp.
  5. After the shoe has dried, use a suede brush to fluff the nap and restore its original texture.

This method should be your next step if a suede eraser is not able to remove the stain.

Crepe Brush

Stone and Cleark Crepe Brush

Specifically designed for suede, a crepe brush is an essential tool for cleaning and maintaining your suede shoes. It has soft rubber bristles that are gentle on the delicate material of suede, yet effective in removing dirt and stains.

To use the crepe brush, simply rub it back and forth over the surface of your suede shoes. The rubber bristles will lift any dirt or debris from the material, leaving it looking clean and refreshed.

After brushing, use a suede eraser to tackle any stubborn stains or marks on your shoes.

Additional Tips When Cleaning Your Suede Shoes

Tips When Cleaning Your Suede Shoes

Read related article: How to Waterproof Suede Shoes

To give you more of a head start while cleaning your suede shoes, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Baking Soda or Cornstarch: If a shoe cleaner is not available, these household products can be a lifesaver. Suede shoes and boots are often prone to oil or grease stains. In such cases, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda or cornstarch on the stained area. Let it sit for a few hours (ideally overnight). These substances will absorb the grease from the suede fiber. Afterward, use a suede brush or an old toothbrush to gently remove the remaining particles.
  • Suede Protector: Once your suede shoes are cleaned, using a suede protector can help prevent future stains and scratches. Suede can become easily damaged, but a good quality protector can provide an extra layer of defense against dirt, water, and other potential hazards.
  • Vacuum for Loose Dirt: Another way to clean suede shoes is by using a vacuum cleaner. This can be very effective in removing loose dirt particles from the surface before you start the cleaning process.
  • Avoid the Washing Machine: While it might be tempting to just throw your suede shoes in the washing machine, this can cause serious damage. The washing machine can shrink the suede, distort its shape, or even scratch the surface. Always make sure you're cleaning your suede shoes by hand.
  • Cleaning and Protecting: Remember, the longevity of your suede shoes is not just about cleaning, but also protecting. Always store your shoes properly after wearing and cleaning them. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this could cause the suede to become dry and brittle.

Storage Tips

As mentioned, suede shoes require proper storage to maintain their quality and appearance. Here are some tips for storing your suede shoes:

  • Use a Shoe Tree: Placing a shoe tree in your suede shoes helps to absorb any excess moisture, keeping the shape of the shoe intact.
  • Stuff with Newspaper: If you don't have a shoe tree, using crumpled newspaper can also help maintain the shape of your suede shoes.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Avoid storing your suede shoes in hot, humid areas as this can cause damage to the material. Instead, keep them in a cool and dry place with good air circulation.


Proper care is critical if you want your suede shoes to maintain their luxe, velvety appearance for years to come. Just like any stubborn stain, the key lies in regularly cleaning your suede shoes. Although suede is known to be durable, it's not a fan of soaking up too much liquid.

It's important to keep your suede shoes from becoming too damp, as water can leave unsightly marks and stains. They can generally be cleaned using the steps to clean outlined above, which if followed properly, will ensure your shoes remain in top condition.

Remember, although suede might require a little more care and attention, the end result of beautiful, well-kept shoes is undoubtedly worth the effort.

Make sure to check our wide range of shoe-cleaning products here at Stone and Clark. From horsehair brush to a complete leather, canvas, and suede cleaner kit, we have everything you need to keep your shoes looking fresh and new.

12PC Leather Shoe Shine & Care Kit for Men & Women

3.5 oz Mink Oil Leather Care Kit with Applicator

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