How to Clean Your Beloved Suede

A person wearing a black suede boot and using a white pencil eraser on it
You love your suede and nubuck boots, garments and accessories, but they’re not washing machine safe or safely cleaned by common chemical stain removers. Don’t ruin the delicate soft leather with the wrong cleaning approach. So what is the secret to suede cleaning?

How to Clean Suede 101

Soaked/Muddy Suede Boots & Shoes

Got wet suede boots or shoes? Dry them out faster by placing paper inside them to help soak up the moisture from the leather. This also helps the shoes and boots keep their shape. If there’s also mud on your beautiful, ultra-comfortable shoes or boots, resist the temptation to scrub it off right away because this will set a stain. Instead, use the paper trick and wait for the footwear to dry before brushing away the dried dirt with a suede brush. You should be as good as new.

Coffee, Juice, Tea Stains

Uh-oh! A spill on your new handbag! Wait, you got this: Soak up the offending liquid with a paper towel as soon as you can, applying good pressure and then dab at the stain with a towel dampened (but not soaked) with white vinegar. Voila!

Grease & Oily Stains

Ooh. A grease spot on your cool suede shirt or jacket! Talk about unsightly. Luckily, there’s a way to clean it: Blot the stain with a cloth or paper towel to remove as much of the spot as you can and then cover the stain with baking soda. Let the baking soda soak up the grease/oil for a few hours before buffing it clean with your suede brush.

Hard, Dry Stains

You will read on the web how you can make dry discoloration stains, including scuff marks on suede and nubuck, disappear with a pencil eraser. Is it true? Yes, it is! How cool is that? But one tip: Using pink erasers can grind pink dye into your leather, giving you a whole new problem to deal with. Erasers that are brown, colorless or white deliver the best results.

Stubborn Stain?

None of the above approaches making the critical difference for your suede or nubuck item? You can escalate the matter to higher powers by purchasing special leather cleaner from a leather goods specialty store. If that doesn’t work, go professional: Some, not all, drycleaners perform suede cleaning.

Suede Care

Beyond knowing how to clean suede, it’s important to know how to care for it in general:

  • Suede Brush — Available at stores like Target or leather good specialty stores, suede brushes are helpful for routine buffing, making scuff marks disappear, and also for cleaning certain types of stains. If you have suede, have a suede brush.
  • Proper Suede Storage — Suede can fade and even warp with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, so storing your suede items in a closet is best.
  • Chemical-Free — Hairspray and perfume can discolor or damage the texture or smell of suede clothes and fashion accessories. Keep the two separated as much as possible.
  • Look at the Weather — Suede boots and shoes get soaked easily when it’s rainy or snowy out, and sadly, suede is just not meant for that kind of exposure to the elements. Soft leather footwear, however, can be treated with suede protector spray once a year to give them some water resistance, which will help to reduce or avoid damage or wear if you get caught in inclement weather. Suede protector spray is available at specialty leather goods stores.

Let Molly Maid Help

We’re happy to offer our clients and followers household cleaning advice because we’re experts at household cleaning, please contact your local Molly Maid to ask about home cleaning services that meet your schedule, budget and cleaning needs — including complete household dusting that will further improve your indoor air quality!