How to Clean Suede Shoes, Clothes, and Furniture

suede stains

Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Suede is natural or dyed leather that has a napped or fuzzy finish. It is a thin, porous leather and is not as durable as a solid hide. But with a few cleaning tips, suede can be kept stain-free, soft, and supple for many years.

How to Clean Suede

To keep suede looking its best, use a soft-bristled brush to brush away loose soil and dirt. This can be done after each wearing or at least weekly. Allow damp suede to slowly dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Use the brush or an emery cloth to raise any nap that is crushed.

Immediately dust any oily stains with cornstarch or talcum powder to begin stain removal. Suede can easily absorb oils and soil. Large or heavily-oily stains should always be treated by a professional leather cleaning expert, but some smaller stains can be successfully removed at home. Always test the cleaning solutions and steps on a small, hidden area first to check for any discoloration or damage.

Remove Stains from Suede Shoes, Clothes, and Furniture

  • To remove a stain that is already dry: Use a clean, soft cloth to gently rub the area and remove any dried-on surface stain. The cloth will also restore some of the texture to the nap. If the stain remains, gently rub the area with a pencil eraser or art gum eraser. As a last resort for tough stains, use an emery nail file to gently rub the area. After each step, brush the stained area with a suede brush to restore and smooth the nap. Again, test these steps on an inside seam before you tackle the outside of the garment.
  • To remove an oily stain: As soon as possible, sprinkle the stain with baby powder, foot powder or cornstarch to absorb the oil. You should see the powder begin to look oily after an hour or so and it should then be brushed away with a soft brush. Repeat the process until the powder no longer changes color or texture. Next, brush well to restore the nap of the suede.
  • To remove a wet stain: Use a clean, soft cloth to blot away as much moisture as possible. 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. When no more moisture is transferring, allow the suede to dry completely away from direct heat. If the stain is gone, just use a suede brush to restore the nap. If the stain remains, follow the steps recommended for a dry stain.

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

    Remember, for best cleaning results find a dry cleaner that specializes in leather care.

    How to Remove Sticker Glue from Suede

    Kids with stickers, sticky name tags, and even tape are not good news for suede coats 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.

    Because most stain removers like Goo Gone or other chemical glue removers can damage suede, the key to remove the adhesive is to work carefully and slowly to loosen the sticky stuff from the fibers of the nap.

    If the sticker or tape is really stuck, dampen it lightly with a wet paper towel and use the edge of a spoon or a credit card to ease under one corner. Slowly edge the spoon under the sticker and GENTLY scrape it away. Allow the area to dry slowly and completely before moving to the next step.

    Once the offending sticker is gone and the suede is completely dry, use an art gum eraser to gently "erase away" the residue. Use a gentle touch and lots of patience. Don't rub too hard, just lightly rub the surface and the eraser will pick up the leftover glue in the nap.

    When the glue is gone, gently brush the area with a suede brush to restore and smooth the nap.

    As a last resort, use an emery board nail file to gently rub the area. Again, brush the stained area with a suede brush to restore and smooth the nap.

    How to Remove Sticker Glue and Stains from Microsuede Fabric

    Microsuede and Ultrasuede are man-made fabrics with a brushed finish that resembles the nap of natural suede leather. Other sueded fabrics are made from silk, cotton, and synthetic fibers. The fabrics are knit or woven and then the finish is treated with chemicals or physically sanded to create the soft, napped finish.

    There are distinct advantages to these fabrics over natural suede because they are easier to clean and much more resistant to spills and stains. Many of these fabrics can even be machine washed. Plus, they appeal to consumers who are opposed to using animal products.

    The same art gum eraser treatment can be used with these fabrics to lift away sticky residue. This works especially well with Microsuede upholstery that is difficult to remove or toss in the washer. You can also use commercial goo and glue removers on these fabrics. Carefully read labels before using any stain removal product. For other types of stains, follow the stain removal tips for the specific problem.