You might have heard that it is tough to clean suede shoes. That’s true to some extent. However, there is no rocket science behind the process. You just have to be careful and there will be nothing to worry about.
One thing that you should know is that you can’t wash them. So, if you have an instant urge to wash & rinse anything that’s dirty, curb it right here.
By reading this article, you will know exactly how to clean suede shoes. Let’s see:
Take some warm water (preferably 200 ml). Add 1 teaspoon of regular detergent or dish soap (mild). You can use this solution to clean the laces, soles, and trims or logo on the shoe. If you want you can purchase a shoe cleaner as well.
Remove the laces, and inner soles (if they are removable). Dip the laces in the solution of dish wash and water. Soak them for 5-10 minutes. Take them out and brush them off with a medium bristled brush. Rinse the laces in clean water, squeeze out the excess water and hang them to air-dry
For cleaning inner soles, dip the medium bristled brush in the solution and rub it in back and forth motion on the sole with slight pressure. Take a clean cloth and wipe away the residue.
Once they are clean, make sure you clean the brush and leave it to dry. If you are going to use the same brush to clean suede shoes.
You will have to assert pressure while buffing and rubbing. The shoe should be able to stay stable while you will assert pressure while buffing and rubbing. You can either put a shoe tree inside the shoe or fill it with paper wands completely. This helps the shoe to maintain a stern shape while cleaning. Some people might advise you to fill newspaper or magazine papers inside the shoe. However, that is not ideal as sometimes the ink on such printed papers transfers to the shoe.
Check out the list below and make sure you have these things in one place to clean suede shoes.
You can find all of the brushes mentioned above online or at your nearest retail stores. You can also buy a suede shoe cleaning kit. It generally consists of all these brushes and a shoe cleaning solution as well.
How well you clean suede shoes depends on the brushes you will use. So, make sure you don’t miss any of these. Here are the reasons why you need different brushes:
Take a medium-bristled brush. Rub it all over the upper portion of the shoe. You have to brush off in the direction of the suede grains. Do not change the direction or brush back & forth if there are no stains as it will make the suede grain scattered. This does not look good.
What is suede grain?
Leather grain refers to the composition and appearance of the hide. It is similar to wood grain, which refers to the texture and appearance of wood fibres.
The process of removing stains depends on the type of stains. Here is what you can do:
If there are scuff marks, dirt or dust spots:
Pro-tip: If there is too much mud on the shoe, wipe away the excess mud using any stick, nail filer, etc. Leave the shoe as it is, once the mud gets hard, it will be easier to break it by hands only.
Use a suede brush and rub the stain in the direction of suede grains gently. If the stain goes away, then wipe it off with a clean cloth. If the stain still persists, use an eraser to rub the stain gently. Once the stain is gone, use a suede brush to wipe away eraser residue.
The remedy that you will read here might seem absurd but hold on and follow the steps exactly as described.
Take a clean cloth or microfiber towel. Wrap it around your finger and dip it in clean water. Then compress the cloth o the water stain. Be sure that you do not oversoak the shoe in the water.
If this does not work, then you can try the second method.
Use a medium-bristled brush. Dip it in water and apply the thinnest possible coat of water on the whole uppers. Then, take a sponge or a clean dry cloth to soak up the excess water. Dab the sponge or cloth gently all over the uppers until the suede is evenly wet and you can’t see any water stains. Let the clean suede shoe air-dry overnight. Once it dries out completely rub the whole upper part with a suede brush to get the grains back to their original look.
Caution: Be extremely gentle while applying water. And make sure you do not put excessive water on the shoe.
Caution: We do not recommend using steel wool on dry stains. You can use something blunt like a butter knife to scrape off dry stains. Steel wool is often sharp and it may cause marks on the shoe even with the slightest pressure.
Take the medium-bristled brush. Dip it in the shoe cleaning solution and rub vigorously on the midsole. Don’t splash water on the uppers. If the midsole still has some dirt marks, then take the stiff-bristled brush. Dip it in the solution and rub it all over the midsole. Sometimes a thin layer between the midsole which is directly connected to the suede remains dirty as the bristles of the brush can’t reach it. You can take a microfiber towel, dip it in the cleaning solution and buff the area with gentile pressure with your fingers.
Caution: Be careful while rubbing the midsole. You must avoid the watery solution to get to the suede. As it may further create water or soapy stain on the shoe. The key is to do it all slowly and maintain control.
The process of cleaning undersole is the same as cleaning the midsole. You just have to use a stiff-bristled brush on the outsole.
Once you clean suede shoes it is time to protect them from further dirt, dust & stains. A suede shoe protector is the best thing to use for this purpose. It is a waterproof spray which can be easily found online or at your nearest retail stores. A shoe protector acts as a barrier against puddle splashes, rain, mud, and dust. Hence, it will prevent stains and keep your shoes clean for a long time.
In general, you have to spray it slightly all over the upper portion of the shoes. However, the exact way of use differs from product to product. Hence, you should refer to the label of the products.
You may already know that water is the biggest enemy of suede. If your shoes have got wet, you should waste no time treating them.
Try to soak up as much water as possible immediately after your shoes get wet. Take a clean towel or microfiber cloth and blot the uppers.
Use a soft-bristled brush and gently brush the uppers gently in a back and forth motion. You can use a toothbrush for this purpose as well.
You can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process. Do not use a hairdryer on dry real suede leather as it will dry out the leather grain. And it may get stiff and eventually crack.
Ask someone to hold the dryer and start it on a medium or high heat setting over the suede while you are brushing it. You can do this for 2-3 minutes in a row, then relax for a few minutes if you want. And repeat the process 4-5 times.
If you need to dry the suede shoes quickly, then you might send them to shoe dry cleaners as well. They have high-end machines to process shoes. Hence, you can expect clean and dry suede shoes from them.
You just cannot wash and rinse a suede shoe, remember this whenever your shoe gets dirty. Gather everything that is needed to clean suede shoes, especially the three different brushes mentioned above. Remove and clean the laces and inner soles separately. Then you should clean one part of the shoe at a time. For cleaning the uppers you should use a medium-bristled brush to get rid of any dirt & debris. To remove stains you should go for the different stain removal methods and stain removers explained above in the article. Then, dip a medium-bristled brush in the shoe cleaning liquid and rub the midsole until it gets clean. Do the same on the outsoles, but using a stiff-bristled brush. Wipe away the residue with a clean cloth. And spray some suede protectors. That’s what you have to do in a nutshell.
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