A Complete Guide on How to Clean Faux Suede Shoes

Do you own a pair of faux suede shoes or boots? Are they looking a little grubby?

Learn how to clean faux suede shoes to keep them looking good.

No matter how hard we try, preventing our shoes from getting dirty or stained is a never-ending task. Accidents happen, whether it’s a spilled glass of red wine, a dollop of ketchup or a splash of grease.

Then there’s the weather—bright sunshine when you leave home and soon enough the heavens open and there are muddy puddles everywhere.

We detail what faux suede is and how you can clean and protect it.


What Is Faux Suede?

Suede comes from the inner side of an animal hide. It’s sanded to raise the nap giving it a soft, velvety touch. While it looks and feels amazing, it can be very delicate and hard to look after.

Faux suede has the appearance and feel of real suede, but it tends to be more durable. It also has a lower price point making it more affordable. It’s a good option for vegans since it’s not made from anything animal-based.

Plastic in the form of polyester is the basis for faux suede. It’s woven into a very fine, thin fabric which is durable and soft. The fibers are raised to give it a smooth feel.


How Do You Care for Faux Suede?

While strong and durable, faux suede can stain and soil easily. Caring for shoes made from this man-made material is very similar to caring for the real thing.

How To Clean Faux Suede Shoes

One essential item for cleaning faux suede shoes is a suede brush. It will remove dirt and dust which gets trapped in the fibers and help keep them raised and feeling soft.


What You Need

  • Suede brush.


What You Do

  1. Check the shoes are dry. If they’re wet or damp, you’ll smear the dirt everywhere.
  2. Using the suede brush, brush the shoes from the bottom working your way up to the top. A brush with nylon bristles like this from Shacke is a good choice.



Pro Tips

  • The welt of the shoe is the area between the sole and the upper. Use the hard rubber ridge on the suede brush to clean in this recessed area.
  • If you don’t have a suede brush, a soft toothbrush will do the job. It might take a bit longer due to the smaller surface area.
  • When removing dust and dirt use the bristle side first. Once done, the nodule side can be used to raise the fibers of the faux suede.


How to Clean Faux Suede Shoes

Brushing alone might not be enough to get the job done. Sometimes you need to use more tools from your arsenal.

Clean Faux Suede Shoes for women

Here are some things you can do to clean faux suede shoes.


1. Spot Cleaning

What You Need

What You Do

  1. Firstly brush your shoes to remove dirt and debris using your suede brush.
  2. The suede stain eraser resembles the one you use for erasing marks of pens or pencils on paper. Gently rub it over the stain.
  3. Keep going until the mark is gone.
  4. Raise the fibers again with your suede brush.

Pro Tips

  • Ensure you use a clean eraser or you’ll spread more dirt and marks on your shoes.
  • Be very gentle—you don’t want to damage the material.

This video shows an eraser being used on suede; it’s the same method for your synthetic material.


2. Cleaning All Over

If your shoes are particularly dirty, they might need an all-over clean. A suede brush and eraser just won’t cut it.


What You Need


What You Do

  1. Begin by removing dirt and dust with the suede brush as we outlined above.
  2. Take your clean cloth and dampen it with cold water. Wring it out well so it’s not soaking wet.
  3. Working from top to bottom, wipe your shoes all over with the damp cloth.
  4. Next, dampen your sponge with the cold water, again wringing it out well.
  5. Take your faux suede cleaner and apply a small amount to the sponge.
  6. Rub the cleaner all over the shoes. Again work from the top down and be gentle.
  7. Cover the whole shoes evenly to avoid leaving watermarks.
  8. Dampen another clean cloth with water and use this to wipe away the cleaner. Make sure you don’t saturate the shoes.
  9. Allow the shoes to air dry. This could take up to 24 hours.
  10. Use your suede brush to raise the fibers again once they’re completely dry.


Pro Tips

  • When you apply the cleaning product, ensure your sponge is dirt-free. You can do this by rinsing it and wringing it out regularly as you wipe it over your shoes.
  • Remove stubborn stains with your eraser.


3. Home Remedy for Cleaning Faux Suede Shoes

Commercial products aren’t always necessary, even though they’re designed for the job at hand.

What You Need

  • Gentle dishwashing soap.
  • Cold water.
  • Small bowl.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Clean cloth.
  • Suede brush.


What You Do

  1. Once again, begin by removing dirt and dust as outlined above.
  2. Place cold water in your bowl—about half full is fine.
  3. Take your gentle dishwashing soap and add a few drops to the water in the bowl. It should be enough to create a foam but not discolor the water.
  4. Use your toothbrush to mix the water and soap to create foam on the top.
  5. Remove the toothbrush from the solution and shake off excess water.
  6. Apply the solution to your shoes with the toothbrush using small, circular movements.
  7. Work from top to bottom of the shoe until it’s all clean.
  8. Using a clean cloth, wipe away the foam.
  9. Let your shoes air dry.
  10. Use a suede brush to raise the fibers.


Pro Tips

  • Saturating the shoes could leave watermarks so take care.
  • If you have visible marks, remove them with your eraser first.
  • Stuff your shoes with some old rags or paper to help them retain their shape while cleaning them.

This video shows this method of cleaning in action on nubuck suede shoes. It’s the same method for faux suede.


Protecting Faux Suede Shoes

Faux suede will look better and last longer with an extra bit of protection from a waterproofing spray. It helps repel water and prevent marks and stains taking hold.


What You Need


What You Do

  1. Brush your shoes with the suede brush using the method we covered above.
  2. Evenly coat your shoes with the spray holding the can about six to eight inches away from them.
  3. You should not saturate the shoes, just leave them damp.
  4. Dry the shoes overnight. Make sure they’re in an area that’s well ventilated and away from direct sunlight or heat.
  5. They will take in the region of 24 hours to dry.
  6. Use your suede brush to raise the fibers again.

Pro Tips

  • To ensure the spray won’t alter the color of your shoes, do a patch test on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Sprays can damage embellishments and buckles so make sure you cover them up before spraying.
  • Two coats will give more protection, but let the shoes dry between applications.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Faux Suede Shoes in the Washing Machine?

This is a resounding “no”. Just like suede or nubuck, you may damage the raised fibers and integrity of the material if you saturate it. Use the methods we’ve outlined to keep your faux suede shoes clean.


Is Faux Suede Waterproof?

Faux suede is a fabric and while it might be treated to repel water, it isn’t waterproof. It’s a good idea to follow the method we’ve outlined and to give your shoes protection right out of the box. Repeat this regularly, about every three weeks, to help prevent stains and repel water.


How Do You Get Scuffs Out of Faux Suede Shoes?

Scuff marks can happen easily—maybe you catch the toe of your shoes on some stairs or the sidewalk.

To remove them use the methods we’ve detailed. Firstly, brush them with a suede brush. Use an eraser to remove the scuff and then brush again to raise the fibers.


Head Out in Your Clean Shoes

Faux suede is used to make shoes, sneakers and boots. It’s also incorporated as accents in lots of types of footwear. While man-made and durable, this fabric can stain and mark pretty much as the real thing does.

Treat them with care and use a waterproofing spray to protect them. Make sure to brush and clean them regularly.

Following the ways we’ve outlined for how to clean faux suede shoes will keep you stepping out in style. We hope you enjoyed our guide and found it useful.

Go clean your shoes and let us know how you get on. Don’t forget to share.


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