How To Remove Common Stains From Suede Shoes, Clothing, and More

How to Remove Stains From Suede

The Spruce

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Suede is natural leather that is thin, porous, and not as durable as solid hide. So, unlike solid leather, it needs special treatment if you want to remove dirt, oil, or sticker residue.

Learn how some common household ingredients can clean minor stains from suede and microsuede (synthetic suede) clothing, boots, slippers, and upholstery.

Always test cleaning solutions on a small, hidden area first to check for any discoloration or damage before proceeding with the stain treatment.

Stain Type Various
Detergent Type None
Water Temperature Do not use water
1:08

Click Play to Learn How to Quickly Remove Stains From Suede

Before You Begin

Use a soft-bristled brush to brush away loose particles from the suede surface. This should be done each time you finish wearing the item or at least weekly. Suede can easily absorb oils and soil that sit on the surface, so prompt removal means fewer stains.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Suede brush
  • Soft, white, clean cloth
  • Pencil eraser or art gum eraser (for removing adhesives)
  • Blunt knife or plastic edge (for removing adhesives)
  • Emery nail file or emery cloth (optional)
  • Commercial glue remover (optional for synthetic suede)

Materials

  • Baby powder or cornstarch (for oil stains)
  • Commercial glue remover (optional for synthetic suede)

Instructions

tools for removing suede stains

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Removing Dried Stains From Suede

Each of the following steps gets progressively more abrasive, so try the gentlest first. These techniques also work for minor scuffs on suede.

  1. Gently Rub the Stain With Cloth

    Rub the area gently with a clean, soft cloth to remove any dried-on surface stain. The cloth will also restore some of the texture to the nap.

    using a cloth to rub the suede stain

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Try a Pencil Eraser

    Rub remaining stains gently with a pencil eraser or art gum eraser.

    using an eraser on a suede stain

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  3. Use an Emery File if Necessary

    Carefully scrub with an emery nail file to remove extremely stubborn stains.

    using an emery board on suede

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Removing Oily Stains From Suede

  1. Sprinkle the Stain With Powder

    Sprinkle the stain with baby powder or cornstarch to absorb the oil and let it sit for an hour. Depending on the amount of oil on the suede, the powder may appear oily after sitting.

    Brushed away the saturated powder with a soft brush.

    sprinkling powder on a suede stain

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Repeat the Powder Step

    Repeat the step above until the powder no longer changes color or texture within an hour.

    Brush off the loose powder and scrub lightly with a suede brush to restore the nap.

    using a soft brush on a suede shoe

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Removing Liquid Stains From Suede

  1. Blot the Stain

    Blot away as much moisture as possible with a clean, soft cloth. Put the cloth directly over the stain and apply some pressure to draw the moisture away from the suede and into the cloth.

    Keep turning the cloth to a clean, dry area and continue blotting until the area appears dry.

    blotting a wet suede stain

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Allow the Stain To Dry

    Allow the suede to air dry away from direct heat or light.

    letting suede shoes dry

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  3. Use the Powder Method

    If traces of the stain remain after air drying, follow the steps recommended above for removing a dry stain.

    using an eraser on a suede stain

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

    Tip

    Suede can be waterproofed using a specially formulated spray to help prevent moisture stains. Before using, test on an inside seam because it can change the color, look, and texture of your suede garment.


Removing Sticker Residue From Suede

Stickers, sticky name tags, and tape can be tough on suede coats, shoes, and furniture. Quite often when the tag or tape is pulled off, some sticky glue or residue is left behind on the nap of the suede.

Tip

Avoid stain removers like Goo Gone or other chemical glue removers because they can damage natural suede. The key to removing the adhesive is to work carefully and slowly to loosen the sticky stuff from the fibers of the nap.

  1. Dampen the Area

    Dampen the sticker or tape and surrounding area lightly with a wet paper towel.

    dampening sticker residue on suede

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Scrape Away the Sticker

    Lift one corner of the sticker or tape carefully with the edge of a blunt knife or a credit card. Continue prying the entire sticker and gently scrape it away.

    using a blunt edge to scrape away residue

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  3. Allow the Spot To Air-Dry

    Allow the area to dry slowly and completely away from direct light or heat.

    Allowing the suede jacket to air dry completely

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  4. Erase the Residue

    Remove any remaining sticky residue with an art gum eraser. Use a gentle touch and lots of patience. Do not rub too hard; just lightly rub the surface and the eraser will pick up the leftover glue in the nap.

    using an eraser on sticker residue

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  5. Use an Emery File if Necessary

    Rub the area gently with an emery board nail file as a last resort for stubborn stickiness.

    using an emery file

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Removing Adhesive Residue From Synthetic Suede

Microsuede and Ultrasuede are man-made microfiber fabrics with a brushed finish that resembles the nap of natural suede leather. These materials are easier to clean and much more resistant to spills and stains than natural suede.

Most synthetic suede fabrics can be machine-washed. Simply follow the directions on the care label. For stickers or adhesive stains, follow the steps below.

  1. Lift Sticky Stains With a Gum Eraser

    Lift away the sticky residue with an art gum eraser. Using a gentle touch, just lightly rub the surface and the eraser will pick up the leftover glue in the nap.

    This works especially well with microsuede shoes or upholstery that cannot be tossed in the washer.

    using a gum eraser on synthetic suede

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Try a Commercial Glue Remover

    Follow the product instructions for a commercial glue remover, which is generally safe to use on synthetic suede fabrics.

    using a damp cloth on synthetic suede

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

When to Call a Professional

If the stain is large or unusual, take the suede garment to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the proper treatment. 

Additional Tips For Handling Suede Stains

Once you remove a stain or scuff from the suede, brush the stained area with a suede brush to restore and smooth out the nap or the natural, soft texture of the suede.

Brushing should be your last step for each of the suede treatment methods.