How to Clean White Suede Shoes Safely

Summer is the perfect season for wearing suede shoes. You don’t worry about getting your favorite suede sneakers soaked in the rain or dirt.

Types of Suede Fabrics

When buying a new pair of suede shoes, we should distinguish genuine leather suede and microsuede, a type of polyester microfiber.

Genuine suede is a type of leather sanded on the inner side of the skin and rubbed to make a shaggy soft feel. Suede is a very delicate material: it’s not water-resistant and requires more maintenance compared to leather.

Suede is a much softer and more exposed to stains than ordinary leather. Suede shoes quickly get scuffs, stains, and scratches. It can be a challenging task to keep your fashion suede shoes clean and looking brand new.

Microsuede is a newer synthetic material that has the same soft finish as the real suede but none of the drawbacks. High-quality microsuede is durable and easier to care for: you can launder or dry clean it by following the label instructions.

Defend Your Suede Sneakers From Damage

Great suede shoes require great responsibility. Without adequate care and maintenance, suede shoes become brittle and don’t look as good as they should.

Photo via Instagram / @luciaspix

If your sneakers are genuine suede, make sure to clean them only by hand and never put them in a washing machine. Always check any tags and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your shoes.

Although it might be expensive, the safest way to clean suede shoes is to get them to a professional dry cleaner. To save time and money, of course, you can perform some minor cleaning jobs at home.

5 Steps to Clean Suede Sneakers The Proper Way

Step 1. No-no to water

Do not try to clean suede sneakers with water. Water can damage the material and cause further stains to appear.

If you got suede sneakers wet, you should quickly remove as much water as possible using a soft microfiber cloth, paper towels, or at least toilet paper.

Then stuff shoes with paper towels to hold their shape and use a dryer to speed up the process; use a clean, soft brush moving it back and forward to restore the suede nap before it hardens. Otherwise, your kicks will look scuffed and discolored. In the worst case, the damage will be irreparable.

Step 2. Cleaning Loose Dirt & Stubborn Marks

Before cleaning, make sure your sneakers are completely dry. Remove the shoelaces and insert shoe trees to help your sneakers hold the shape.

You might want to buy one of essential suede cleaning kits: a suede eraser, a soft bristle brush, and a crepe brush, or all-in-one brush cleaner.

Photo via Instagram / @theskatelabshoewall
  • Use a suede eraser to get rid of stains and black marks. Don’t rub too hard not to over-saturate the suede;
  • Use a bristle suede brush to remove dirt. Brush gently in one direction;
  • To revive the suede nap use a crepe brush. Brush vigorously back and forward to lift the scuffed suede grain.

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Step 3. Remove Stubborn Strains With a Suede Cleaning Solution

Use the minimal amount of cleaning solution applicable specifically for suede. We suggest using these Best-selling Suede leather cleaners to remove stubborn stains.

Choose liquid-based sprays or foam solutions. They are more eco-friendly than aerosols. Apply the cleaning solution directly onto a dirty area. Follow the label instructions carefully.

You might need to repeat the cleaning process several times before you get the result you want. Remember, suede is a delicate material, and some cleaners might do more harm than good.

Step 4. Touch Up Suede Faded Color

Cleaned dirt and stains thoroughly with professional cleaner should be enough to restore the original white color. However, if the color faded, use a Color Renovator Product to make your shoes look new.

Make a patch test before use on a hidden area.

  • Spray 5-10 inches from the shoes;
  • Restore nap with a soft brush;
  • Let it dry for 20 min.
Photo via Instagram / @defyboardshop

Step 5. Protecting & Storing

Once you buy a new pair of suede footwear, apply a suede protector against dirt build-up and water. Repeat the process after each clean and a day before wearing.

Keep suede sneakers dry. Although the protector helps to waterproof your footwear, it might not be enough to safeguard delicate material. Keeping your suede shoes dry will help to save your favorite shoes brand-new look and extend its life.

Store your shoes in a dry, dark place. Pack them in a storage bag or an original box to prevent from color fading, sweating or messing up with dust. To pack up your suede sneakers when traveling, don’t use plastic bags, instead, use a cotton shoe bag or at least an old pillowcase.

Remove Stubborn Stains Using Common Household Items

Now when you know how to clean suede sneakers, you can hang on to your favorite suede kicks for longer! However, stubborn stains and marks can spoil your footwear and mood. Give a try to common household items before you decide your shoes are dead.

Scuff & Scratch Marks

Wipe dirt off-dry suede shoes with a bath towel and use a pink pencil rubber to remove discolored scuffs and scratch marks. Rub gently back and forward to fix the blemishes and finish with a soft brush to lift the nap.

Salt Water Lines

Let the shoes completely dry and use a soft toothbrush to brush off as much dirt and salt as possible. Avoid any cleaning solutions and clean them with water instead. Use small amounts of water to remove white stains and blot with a clean, microfiber cloth afterward.

Resistant Water Stains

Apply white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to stubborn salt lines and water stains. If you fail to get rid of a stain with methods mentioned above, apply a small amount of vinegar with an ear cotton buds. Let it air dry and then finish with a crepe brush.

Oil & Grease Stains

Try using cornstarch, baking soda or talcum powder to soften the stain if it is still moist. Leave it overnight to absorb the oil and clean with a soft suede brush the next day.

Photo via Instagram / @defyboardshop

Wax & Chewing Gum Stains

Put shoes in the freezer for a night to get off a gum stuck to your shoes. The gum will become hard to strip it away in chunks. Revive the nap with a suede brush.

Blood Stains

If the bloodstain is fresh, wet a cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide or at least in cold water and gently rub the stain. If the stain has already dried, use a suede stain-removal spray until the blood comes out. Do NOT use laundry detergent to bleach the stain.

Ink Stains

If you drop ink on your sneakers, take a bath or paper towel and blot it up immediately. If the ink stain sets, use sandpaper to get rid of it.

Dry Mud

Try a steamer to soften dried mud without using water. Steam dirty spots with iron or kettle to lift the suede nap and make cleaning easier. Just wipe off the dirt with a bath towel or microfiber cloth.

Wine Stains

Baking soda is the most common household solution that can remove wine stains. First, blot the stain as much as you can, then apply baking soda, and let it soak wine. Finish brushing off the baking soda.

Vomit

It’s easy – buy a new pair of sneakers.