There's nothing like strutting your stuff in a new pair of suede shoes. The material keeps your feet warm, looks chic, and lasts for years. Despite everything suede offers, however, the material will get dirty over time. There's no need to panic, though -- we're here to teach you how to clean suede and how to keep it that way.

How To Clean Suede Shoes

Before you begin cleaning, you'll need to protect the material. To do this, crumple up some newspaper and stuff it into the shoe. You'll also want to insert a shoe horn. This will ensure that the suede is kept taut as you clean dirt from it. In the long run, it will make it easier for you to lift any grime, too.

Invest In A Good Brush

a person cleaning their suede shoe with a brush

Suede is one of those materials that requires its own special tools for stain removal. A good suede brush will gently remove any grime without causing harm to your shoes. It will easily remove things like dried mud, salt, or coffee spills.

  • Brush gently in the direction of the fibers if you're trying to remove everyday dirt.
  • Brush back and forth more vigorously when removing scuff marks or harder-to-clean stains.

Erase Those Stains

a man cleaning his suede shoe with an eraser

When you purchase a pair of suede shoes, you'll usually get some of the tools you need for upkeep. One of those tools is an eraser that's safe to use on suede and helps pull any stubborn grime from the material.

  • Use the suede eraser the same way you would use an ordinary eraser. Apply some pressure and move the eraser back and forth over stains.
  • Eraser shavings will come off, so make sure you're working over newspaper or a cloth.

Use Vinegar

a woman cleaning her suede boot with a cloth

You seldom see a cleaning article that doesn't mention baking soda or vinegar. Well, this article is no exception. You'll need a bit of elbow grease and vinegar to get rid of the really caked-on dirt.

  • Apply some white vinegar to a dish towel or the end of a bath towel.
  • Rub the stain until it's gone, and then let the shoe sit until it dries.
  • Once the shoe is dry, gently brush away any remaining grime.

Apply Rubbing Alcohol Or Peroxide To The Stubborn Stains

a woman putting peroxide on a cotton pad

When you're dealing with something harder to remove, like blood or ink, you'll need a stronger solution. Peroxide or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball will usually do the trick.

  • For blood, dab the area with a cotton ball soaked in peroxide until the stain lifts.
  • For ink, if the stain sets before you can get to it, use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Additional Tips And Tricks

We all know that stains don't stop there, so don't worry if you're dealing with another issue. We have the solutions you're looking for right here.

  • If you happen to get gum on one of your suede shoes, place the shoe in the freezer until the gum hardens. Once it has hardened, chip it off and scrub away any remaining grime with a suede brush.
  • If you get mud on your suede shoes, wipe away any excess before letting the rest dry. Once it has dried, you can chip away at the dirt and wipe any remaining particles with a suede brush.
  • You can use talcum powder for liquid stains. Pat any liquid dry with a cloth first, and then sprinkle some powder over the stain. Let the powder sit overnight, and then remove any residue with a suede brush.
suede shoes next to various brushes

What Not To Use On Suede

Suede is a tough material to maintain, but if you have the right tools and know how to use them, things will be much easier.


A little water isn't off the table when cleaning suede -- you just need to be careful how you use it. Don't spot treat with water, since your suede can develop water stains.

What you want to do instead is use a good suede brush and a small amount of water to gently brush the entire shoe. Even if you're not cleaning with water, it's important to clean both shoes at the same time. This prevents any noticeable discoloration and keeps your kicks looking identical.

Soap And Water

That being said, don't scrub your suede shoes with soap and water to remove any stains. You'll more than likely wind up making things worse by discoloring or permanently staining them. Vinegar, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol don't stain suede, which is why they're often turned to in times of crisis.

woman spraying her suede boots

How To Maintain Suede

Of course, one of the best things you can do for your suede is to protect it before any harm actually befalls it. You can do this in several ways:

  • Purchase a suede protectant. When you purchase your shoes, you'll almost always come across a protectant that will preserve them from any stains. Apply it according to the instructions on the back. You should aim to spray your suede once every week or so.
  • Try to keep your shoes dry. As much as you might love to wear suede shoes outside every day, wet weather can be disastrous for suede.
  • Store your suede shoes in a safe, dry place to avoid any spills or discoloration.

If you own suede shoes, it's important to know how to care for them. Be sure to follow the instructions on any protectants, and if you're in serious doubt about how to pull those stains from the surface, get your shoes professionally cleaned.

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