How to Clean Suede Shoes: 4 DIY Hacks

The best way to clean suede shoes is by using a suede cleaning kit, which includes a brush and suede eraser. You can also use items around your home for cleaning, including white vinegar, steel wool, steamer and emery board. For best results, treat with a suede protector spray when new and after cleaning.

If you’re wondering how to clean suede shoes, you’ve come to the right place. Suede is sleek and stylish, but it can also be impractical. It scuffs quickly and isn’t always easy to clean.

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to cleaning suede shoes and boots.


How to Remove Dirt and Scuff Marks from Suede Shoes

Suede is notorious for accumulating dirt and scuff marks. Fortunately, it’s often easy to remove in a few simple steps.

This is what you need:

Follow the steps below:

  1. Grab your suede brush and gently sweep away dust particles and dirt that sit on your shoe. Make sure you repeatedly move in the same direction. Avoid going back and forth as this can rub the dirt further into the grains.
  2. To remove scuff marks, whisk firmly back and forth. Scrapes occur when the grain gets pressed down in one direction. If the marks don’t respond to the brush, gently scrape them with a knife to lift the nap.
  3. For stubborn scuffs and marks, use a pencil eraser and rub the blemishes. Administer moderate pressure, and increase for the tougher targets. You can also use a suede eraser, like the Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Stain Eraser. They generally include these in cleaning kits.
  4. Once the surface is clean, use a suede protector spray to prevent further marks and stains. Apply a coat and allow it to dry—follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


an infographic about how to clean suede shoes



If you’ve got mud on your boots, wipe away as much as possible when wet. Then let the mud dry and use the method above to clean the particles.

Removing Water Stains From Suede

Removing Water Stains From Suede

There’s nothing worse than water stains. Fortunately for you, we have an easy method for removing them.

You’ll need the following:

  • A suede brush.
  • Water.
  • Paper.
  • Cloth or sponge.
  • Shoe trees (optional).

This is what you do:

  1. With your suede brush, apply water to the entire surface of your shoe. Administer only a light coat. Although water can discolor suede, using it correctly can remove the stains.
  2. Take a sponge or cloth and soak up any excess water from the surface. Dab it lightly until it’s evenly wet, and there are no visible water stains.
  3. Grab your paper and stuff it inside your shoes. This helps to soak up excess water from the inside. If you’re worried about the shape of your suede boots, use shoe trees to preserve their form.
  4. Set your shoes aside, and allow them to dry overnight in a well-ventilated spot.
  5. Once dry, use your suede brush—when dry—to restore the appearance of the grains. Sweep lightly in the same direction for an even look.


Avoid using newspapers to stuff your boots. The ink from the paper can transfer to the suede, leaving an even bigger mess.

Use plain white paper. If you don’t have any, use a rolled-up towel or cloth.

How to Remove Oil Stains

How to Remove Oil Stains from suede shoes

Oil stains can really mess up suede appearance, and removing it isn’t as straightforward—some shoes may never recover. Still, you can try our method below.

Here’s what you need:

  • Suede brush.
  • Nail brush.
  • Warm water.
  • Cornstarch (optional).

Follow the steps below:

  1. Begin by working with the suede brush in back-and-forth motions. If the stain disappears, finish by brushing toward the same direction. If not, follow the steps below.
  2. For tougher stains, use a nail brush and some warm water. Apply the water and scrub the stain.
  3. Once the blemish fades and the site is dry, go over with your suede brush to restore the grains.


If the oil stain is fresh or wet, use cornstarch. Sprinkle a generous amount over the stain and let it sit overnight. The following day, wipe it away and mist with an iron.

How to Clean Suede Using Other Home Remedies

Cleaning Suede Using Other Home Remedies

Besides the methods above, you have a few other home treatments to implement.

White Vinegar

White vinegar works wonders as a suede cleaner on resistant stains. All you do is apply a modest amount of white vinegar using a soft towel or rag. Allow it to dry and go over with a suede brush.

This is a fantastic way of removing salt stains. However, do a patch test before. Apply a small amount in a less noticeable spot and wait a few hours to see if any discoloration occurs. Read more in our guide on how to get salt stains out of leather or suede boots.

Steel Wool

For dry stains, you can try steel wool. Brush the blemish vigorously until it fades. Once gone, you may have to rough up the rest of the shoe for an even look.

Be careful—using too much pressure can damage the grains.


Steamer and Emery Board

If you don’t have a suede brush, try a steamer and an emery board. Scrub the stain with the emery board on a nail file, and then steam with an iron. The heat opens up the pores, making it easier to clean.

What Is the Best Thing to Clean Suede Shoes With?

what the tools to clean suede shoes

Suede consists of soft grain that’s best to clean using a special cleaning brush made for suede. It’s easy to damage the texture, so make sure you use the proper tools.

A suede cleaning kit is an excellent investment if you’ve purchased a pair of expensive suede boots or shoes. Scuffs, stains and marks are easiest to remove when acting fast.

Cleaning suede when dry is best. The material is sensitive to water, so unless your shoe is full of water stains, wait till the suede has dried.

Frequently Asked Questions

questions on cleaning suede

How Do You Clean Light-Colored Suede?

With light colors, it’s essential to know how to clean suede you. If you’re not careful, you could alter its appearance. For small, less stubborn stains, you can easily use a simple cleaning kit with a brush and suede eraser. Follow the same steps as in the first section.

If the blemish persists, try either rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. This is what you do:

  1. Administer a small amount of either rubbing alcohol or vinegar to a white cloth or towel, and rub the stain.
  2. Set your shoes aside and let them dry completely.
  3. Once dry, use your brush to restore the texture.
  4. After finished, you can treat the surface with a suede protector. Use a thin coat or according to instructions. Allow your shoes to dry before wearing them.


After cleaning, the texture of your suede shoes can become dull and stringy. To combat this, gently use a razor to remove those longer bits. After this, take your brush to re-fluff the grains.

Can You Use Soap and Water to Clean Suede Shoes?

There are varied opinions about using soap and water to clean suede shoes. The issue is that this material discolors easily, so using soap to clean it could make a small stain worse.

Instead of soap, we suggest using a cleaner, like the Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner Brush And Solution. This works to clean the soles and the suede.

Can Suede Shoes Be Washed in the Washing Machine?

Suede is a type of leather that’s been physically or chemically abraded to create a napped finish. Although this gives it a more decorative finish than regular leather, it’s also more delicate. Read more about suede shoes in our Nubuck vs. Suede comparison.

Choosing to clean your suede boots in the washer isn’t the best idea. Still, it depends on the manufacturer. Some may say it’s fine for an occasional turn in the washing machine.

For regular cleaning, we suggest that you adhere to the methods above.

The Takeaway

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Knowing how to clean suede shoes is essential when owning a pair. This delicate material is prone to blemishes and scuff marks that decrease its appearance.

Fortunately, you have an array of methods to try whether the stains are small or stubborn. Investing in a suede cleaning kit is an excellent idea to keep your shoes looking fresh.

We hope you found our guide helpful. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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