How to Clean Suede Shoes

The Right Way to Clean Suede Shoes

Brown shoes in box, close-up
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When it comes to caring for suede footwear, the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" definitely applies. Suede and nubuck look great, but they're very finicky materials. One minor slip up could ruin a pair of shoes for good.

If you've invested the money in a quality pair of shoes, you'll want to keep them in good condition, especially if they're suede. After you've purchased a pair of suede or nubuck shoes, the first thing you should do is weatherproof them.

You can and should weatherproof all of your shoes.

No amount of weatherproofing is going to make your shoes completely impenetrable to the elements, but it will still provide a good amount of protection. Certain weatherproofing sprays are made for certain types of shoe materials. If you're treating suede, use a silicone spray formulated specifically for suede and nubuck, like the Kiwi Suede Protector.

If you have a pair of suede shoes that are dirty or have set-in stains, there's still hope. Here are some tips for cleaning your suede shoes:

  1. Use a suede cleaning block. A suede cleaning block, also called a suede eraser, is great for removing even the heaviest, most deeply embedded dirt and stains. Make sure to brush in the same direction. Brushing in different directions can make some suedes appear two-toned. You can also use a rubber eraser; just make sure it's clean.
  2. Follow with a suede brush. After cleaning, use a suede brush. A suede brush has bristles that are often made from brass that restore the nap of the suede.
  1. Apply a water repellent. Now that you've taken the time to treat the stains, preserve your hard work by applying a silicone spray to your shoes to prevent water spots and stains.

These cleaning tips can also be used on other suede or nubuck items, like purses and jackets. There are a few other important things to keep in mind:

  • Test any product on a small, inconspicuous part of the shoe before tackling a large stain.
  • Never use a wire brush or shoe polish on suede or nubuck.
  • Use products that are formulated specifically for the material of your shoes: full grain leather, suede, patent leather, etc.

If you want to clean your suede shoes yourself, you can often find suede erasers and brushes in the same package, like the Kiwi Suede & Nubuck Care Kit, but if you're afraid to take the cleaning into your own hands for fear of causing further damage, find a shoe repair shop near you and let the professionals take care of it.