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How to Clean Suede Shoes

The appeal of wearing new suede shoes is often diminished by the fear of ruining them with dirt, water or spills. Simply using a waterproof protectant won't keep all harmful substances from damaging your footwear. Suede is a type of leather that has a soft nap that picks up dirt similar to how a carpet holds onto debris. Instead of avoiding your favorite men's or women' dress shoes, there are different methods to keep them clean. Check out these tips to make your suede shoes last through the season and beyond.


When you're done wearing a pair of suede shoes and you want to remove any built-up dirt, take a suede cleaning brush and use a one-way motion to remove the dirt. Brushing it back and forth will only set the dirt deeper into the nap.


To remove scuffs from your shoes, use a suede eraser to rub out any tough marks in a one-way motion. Suede erasers should remove most tiny marks, but if you have a stubborn scuff that your eraser won't fix, bring it into a shoe repair specialist.

Oil Stains

Oil leaves a nasty dark spot on suede. If you catch the oil spot early enough you can most likely prevent that dark stain from developing. Once you notice the oil spill on your shoes, sprinkle corn starch and let it sit and absorb the oil overnight. The next day, brush off the corn starch with a suede brush.

Salt Stains

In the winter, it's possible that your suede boots or heels may build up salt stains from icy sidewalks. They look like white lines on your suede shoes. To get rid of these unsightly stains, use white vinegar. Moisten a clean cloth with white vinegar and use a circular motion to rub out the salt stains.


If you accidentally step in a mud puddle, let the mud dry before trying to remove it. Use a butter knife to chip off chunks of dried mud. Then if there's any left over, use a suede brush in a one-way motion to get the finer pieces from in between the nap.


We can't always predict the weather or when an accidental spill will occur. You might think water is suede's arch nemesis, but a little moisture can also help fix a water spot. To fix a water spot, stuff your shoes with white paper to help absorb dampness from the inside of the shoe. Then use a spray bottle to spritz the entire shoe lightly with water. This will even out the tone of your suede and ultimately save you from uneven coloring.