​Cleaning Suede Boots: 5 Ways to Make them Last


A pair of suede boots are a staple in every stylish wardrobe. Certain styles of shoes come and go, but never suede boots. You can wear them whenever and wherever. Pair them with almost any outfit (from casual to formal) and you will look absolutely stunning.

Suede is a precious fabric with an interesting appearance and texture that makes it super special and sophisticated even without the flashy colors or excessive adornment. But there’s one caveat when wearing suede boots: they can get ruined easily.

Because of this, many people avoid wearing suede shoes. Some don’t even try.

Suede care and maintenance is a hot topic. But if you’ll pay attention to the steps we’ll talk about later, you will be surprised how easy it can be!

Keep reading this article if you wish to know how to clean suede shoes at home, what specific tools and cleaners you need, and the best ways to preserve the strength and beauty of your shoes.

Ready? Let’s get started.


What is suede?

To uncover the best way to clean suede boots, it’s important to understand the properties that make this particular type of leather one of the most vulnerable textiles out there.

Suede is a type of fuzzy leather commonly used in jackets, shoes, furniture, and other products. It’s made from the underside of the animal skin, and has a velvety napped finish and softer grain. Suede is pliable but less durable than leather which is made from the outer skin.

For these reasons, suede boots are much more susceptible to dirt, scuffs, and scratches than traditional leather boots. It’s also not waterproof.

But it doesn’t mean that you should stop wearing or buying suede shoes! If you know how to take care of them properly, you can get all the styles of suede boots you like without worrying about anything!

cleaning materials

What you need to clean suede shoes

Cleaning suede shoes isn’t as complicated as you think it is. In fact, you just need a few items to get started. You probably have them at home.

White vinegar

Vinegar is a known disinfectant and stain remover. Many people use it to clean stains off various surfaces, like wood, tiles, carpets, etc. If all else fails, you can rely on white vinegar to clean suede shoes effectively.

Shoe eraser

You can buy a suede eraser online for as low as $7. Some known brands are Nubuck and Crep but you don’t always have to stick to expensive ones. Even the cheapest suede erasers work and they work so well. In fact, you can use a pencil eraser as an alternative in case you find yourself needing to clean your suede shoes and you don’t have a suede eraser at home.

Suede cleaning brush

The most important tool you need is a suede brush. It’s a special brush that has very soft or fine bristles. A cleaning brush lets you get rid of the dry stain and white residue that the eraser left behind.

Cloth or towel

Because you shouldn’t apply the vinegar directly on your suede shoes, you will need a soft cloth or towel for wiping off stains.

How to deal with dirt and scuff marks

Before anything else, take note that  suede is best cleaned when dry. If your shoes have a care label, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

suede boots stains

How to remove salt stains from suede boots

During snowy winter months, the salt we use to get rid of snow can leave ugly white patches on our suede shoes. Tough grime like salt stains is usually removed using vinegar. Start by brushing off any loose dirt from your boots. In a small bowl, mix equal parts water and vinegar. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently apply it on the affected areas. Let it dry and then brush it off with the cleaning brush. Rinse it, and put your shoes to dry.

If you happen to apply more water on your suede shoes, place paper or shoe trees inside your shoes and put them away in a ventilated area to speed up the drying process.

How to remove scuff marks

To deal with marks, you will need - again - a suede brush and a rubber cleaning stone. To start, brush the scuff mark back and forth until the mark is gone and the nap of the suede has been restored. If the mark is still there, rub it with a cleaning stone. Some people use an eraser instead of this.

How to remove stains from suede shoes

Other stains, such as food or wine, can all be removed using a cleaning stone or suede eraser. Rub the stain vigorously while applying just a moderate amount of pressure.

suede shoes winter

How to remove mud, oil, and color from suede shoes

How to clean mud

No matter how careful you are, shoes are shoes and they can get in contact with all forms of dirt, including tough-to-remove mud. Again, make sure that your shoes are dry before you start cleaning. Brush off loose dirt. For marks and other debris that won’t go away easily, use a suede eraser or cleaning stone.

How to remove oil-based stains

Oil-based stains like grease are the hardest to deal with and often, you will need a commercial suede shoe cleaner. It’s important to deal with the stain quickly because the longer it stays, the harder it takes to remove it.

Apply cornstarch on your suede shoes and let it sit overnight. The cornstarch will absorb most of the oil. This makes cleaning easier and more effective. Use a soft eraser to remove the mark completely the next day.

How to Care for your Suede Shoes

Taking care of your suede shoes doesn’t just involve cleaning them when there are visible stains and marks. While suede seems too delicate and vulnerable, in reality, if you know how to take care of them, your beautiful pair of boots can last for a long time.

Here are ways to protect your suede shoes:

Apply a suede protectant spray

Applying a waterproofing spray will give your shoe protection against stains. You can purchase this product online at a fairly inexpensive price. Apply the protectant according to the package instructions. It will not only protect your shoes over the long-term. It also makes cleaning much easier.

Keep ‘em dry

Suede becomes really fragile when it’s exposed to water. If your suede boots get wet, be sure to dry them. Leave them outdoors or in a ventilated space to dry. Do not attempt to dry your shoes using a hair blower or putting them in the dryer as these can cause permanent damage.

Suede boots are stylish shoes that are perfect for any season or occasion. However, compared to leather, suede has a soft, napped finish that is vulnerable to getting damaged when exposed to water and stains.

Complicated as it may seem,  cleaning suede shoes is fairly easy. In fact, you only need a few things - suede brush, eraser, vinegar, and cloth. Different kinds of stains require different cleaning approaches. Whatever dirt or stain you’re dealing with, make sure to dry your shoes first before you remove it.

Mariam Simmons

Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.