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Suede shoes, nubuck boots and white sneakers with suede inlays are extremely fashionable but also incredibly difficult to maintain. Suede looks impeccable on your feet, but it also easily picks up dirt, salt and grease stains. But don’t worry — there are numerous hacks and methods for how to clean suede shoes.
One of the first things you should do when you purchase a pair of suede shoes? Treat them with a waterproof and stain-resistant solution so they’re already geared up and ready to take on the world. The worst thing you can do is wait until after a stain has graced the fabric to use treatment — set your shoes up for success and be proactive.
But if you already have a stain, what then?
First off, suede is sensitive to water, which makes cleaning suede shoes a bit more difficult. The worst thing you can do is go at your suede shoes with a wet cloth.
To clean suede shoes, you’ll need to invest in the proper tools. Having a suede brush is probably the most important thing, but you may also need a suede eraser and special suede cleaning spray, depending on the type of stains you’re trying to remove. Erasers work to remove tough stains by scratching off a thin layer of suede material, but you’ll want to do this sparingly. On the other hand, brushes are good for an all-over general clean as they work to replace the material’s nap. Get the tools, then get to work.
How To Clean Suede Shoes
You’ve bought your kit, you’ve got dirty suede shoes — what’s the next step? It all depends on how messed up your shoes are. If there’s a faint smudge on your suede shoes, there’s less chance it becomes permanent the sooner you clean it.
The first thing to do is to create a workspace. Whether you’re going to clean the shoes on the floor or a table, place newspaper, plain tissue paper or a towel underneath the shoes. Remember to be gentle when cleaning your shoes. Suede, while beautiful, is a fragile fabric. Rubbing too briskly or too hard can lead to discoloration, bald spots or even a hole. If your shoes are wet, wait for them to dry before you tackle any stains.
How to Clean Minor Stains From Suede Shoes
For suede shoes that are only slightly marred with dirt, use one of the following tools: suede brush, suede eraser or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and then gently brush the tool in a back and forth motion over the stain until it lifts out. Use a light hand, as you don’t want to damage the suede under the spot.
How to Tackle Heavier Stains
First, gently go over the stain with the brush. Move it back and forth, using very little pressure. It may take a while before you see a change. Once the dirt has been loosened and lifted, apply the cleaning solution to a clean washcloth or rag. Gently spot the stain with the formula. While working on the stain or stains, go over a small section at a time. While this is tedious, it ensures that the shoes, once cleaned, will look brand new.
After the shoe has been cleaned, you may notice a few “strings” of loose suede. Take a disposable razor and gently shave them off the shoe. Go back over the shoe with the brush to neaten up the area.
As a finishing touch, you might want to very lightly go over the shoe with a soft cloth or a clean washcloth. To protect your suede shoes from future damage, spray them with water and stain repellant.
If you’re stuck with dirty or stained suede shoes, get one of the below shoe cleaner kits. They will help your shoes look as good as new with minimal effort.
1. Pink Miracle Shoe Cleaner Kit
Since 1985, Pink Miracle’s original cleaning kit has kept suede shoes looking better than the day you first took them out of the box. It’s the No. 1 leading choice for cleaning shoes and sneaks. Because it’s a concentrate, keep in mind that a few drops go a long way, so don’t overuse it! Be sure to read the directions carefully to achieve that sparkling, brand-new look. Not only is it safe to use on suede, but also on leathers, vinyl, nubuck, canvas, cloth and more.
2. Cadillac Select Premium Water Repellant
This water-repellent and stain-proofing spray from Cadillac creates an invisible, silicone-free layer of protection around your soles so your shoes stay dry, thus giving your kicks a longer lifespan. This protective coating is designed to protect against dirt, oil, water and other stains. The silicone-free formula keeps your shoes’ material from suffocating and helps them last longer without any unsightly stains.
3. Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner
Marketed as the premium sneaker solution, the Jason Markk Shoe Cleaner Kit comes with everything you need to make your shoes look new again. The kit is 98.3% natural and completely biodegradable. It includes a cleaning solution, two different brushes and a suede eraser. Altogether, these tools can remove stains from all the materials on your high-end sneakers.
4. Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaning Brush
If you’re only in the market for a solid cleaning brush, this is a great option. Made of hog bristle, it’s a little softer than other brands, which makes it perfect for softer materials like suede, premium leather or cotton mesh. Its walnut wood handle is handcrafted and easy to hold.
5. Miscly Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Brush + Eraser
A four-way brush specifically made for suede and nubuck? Uh, yes, please. And hear us out — you don’t even need any sprays. Use this baby by itself and watch it work its magic. Handle light and heavy cleaning issues by using various sides of the brush to get the exact squeaky clean you’re looking for. It’s really small, making it extra easy to pack. The brush even comes with a small magic eraser for extra tough marks.
6. Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Stain Eraser
The Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Stain Eraser works to get rid of stains by rubbing them off the sensitive material. It won’t work on any stains that have been absorbed into the fabric, but it will get rid of the annoying black marks that seem to appear out of nowhere on suede shoes. With 170 five-star reviews on Amazon, this stain eraser has helped many get more life out of their suede and nubuck.
7. Red Moose Suede and Nubuck Cleaner Kit
Everything you could need to clean suede is here in the Red Moose kit. This five-pack kit includes Suede Renew Spray, Cleaning Brush, Suede Brush, Suede Eraser and Water & Stain Repellent Spray for all those hard-to-clean spots on your shoes. Not only does this kit clean the material, but it also conditions for a softer feel. After using this just once, your suede shoes will look good as new.
8. Blanco Shoe Cleaner Kit
The Blanco Shoe Cleaner Kit can clean gum, dirt build-up and more from suede and leather shoes. To use, simply wet the brush and apply a small amount of the cleaner to it. Scrub your shoes using the foaming action of the cleaner, then wipe clean with a towel and air dry.
9. Gear Aid Revivex Suede and Fabric Boot Care Kit
Keep your boots in tip-top shape with the Gear Aid Revivex Suede and Fabric Boot Care Kit. The included suede eraser lifts stains and replaces the nap, while the cleaner and brush take care of the rest of the boots’ exterior. But the water-repellent spray is probably the most important piece, as it restores any waterproof coating to your boots after cleaning.
10. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
If you’ve ever used a Magic Eraser on a wall or in the kitchen, you know the white square gets the job done. If it can make crayons disappear, imagine what it can do for dirty shoes. Many footwear experts rave about how it can make even the toughest stains vanish.