How to clean suede
Keep your suede looking great.
To many people, suede has a certain luxurious appeal not evoked by other leather products. Perhaps it's because it is soft to the touch and is so supple. In other words, wearing suede just makes you feel good. It looks rich, too! But although many suede products are reasonably priced, many hesitate to buy them because they don't know how to clean suede.
What is Suede?
Suede is made from the opposite side of the hide that is used for most shiny leathers, such as that used on handbags, jackets and shoes. By buffing the flesh side of the hide, suede is produced; the buffing creates a velvet nap effect by raising the fibers.
Caring for Suede
You can ensure a longer life of whatever suede item you've purchased if you take certain defensive actions as soon as you bring it home. In fact, you can start before you even leave the store. Just buy some of the protective sprays that are now available specifically for suede. For shoes, definitely get a waterproofing spray to prevent stains and water spots; preferably get a spray that also can be used on outerwear jackets (if you've also bought a suede jacket). If the store doesn't stock these products, your shoe repair place probably does; you can definitely purchase them online.
You can keep your suede shoes and garments looking new for a very long time by properly caring for them. In addition to using protective sprays, you should also brush the suede regularly using either a suede brush or a clean terry cloth towel. This will clean the suede and will raise the nap.
Neat's foot oil can be used on the backside of suede garments to keep them remarkably supple and soft for an exceptionally comfortable fit. By taking proper care of the backside of the suede, you can keep your garment looking good for many, many years.
Removing Stains on Suede
Sometimes, even with the best of care and caution, suede can get a spot or stain on it. As with most things, there are solutions to the problem that date way back—before the convenience of sprays. One such solution uses stale bread. Remove the bread crust and let the bread become stale and rather hard. Then, using the edge of the stale bread, very carefully and gently rub the stains and dirt. They should magically disappear.
More Tips on How to Clean Suede
• Somehow, your suede shoe (or any other suede apparel) has gotten a spot of salad dressing or oil. Don't panic, but act quickly. Before the spot is fully absorbed by the suede, try sprinkling a liberal amount of cornstarch on the spot, tap lightly with you finger and let it sit for an hour or more. After you've shaken off the loose cornstarch, lightly brush with a suede brush or soft towel.
• A clean brown art gum eraser (not the pink kind) has also been used successfully to erase dry stains. Just gently rub the eraser across the suede.
• A damp cloth that has been dipped in white vinegar can be used to remove stains that brushing did not completely remove. Rub the cloth (not too hard) on the stain, but do not soak it. Remove the vinegar smell by allowing the item to air out.
• Steam is also quite helpful in refreshing suede. If you don't have a steamer, use a tea kettle and hold the suede item about six inches away from the steam. Keep the moisture from penetrating the suede to a minimum. Just steam the suede long enough to get it hot. Then use a suede brush to bring the nap back up.
Now you know how to clean suede; but if you have any doubts or are hesitant to go the do-it-yourself route, there are many commercial dry cleaners that specialize in suede cleaning. Although the price might be higher than for a fabric garment, it may be worth it when you consider your suede purchase price.