How To Clean Suede Shoes?


Suede shoes are majorly beloved because of their velvety texture, classy look, and warmth. The velvety aesthetic is often the USP of most suede shoes. However, as ironic as it may seem, this very feature that makes suede shoes so great, can become its undoing. The velvety material is prone to staining from moisture, oils, dirt, marks of salt, and even grime. The trickiest part is that because moisture ruins suede shoes, you cannot exactly just rinse your suede shoes clean – it may give counterproductive results. So how to clean suede shoes?

There are many alternatives for cleaning suede shoes. You can either opt for the commercially available cleaners made particularly for suede shoes, or you can opt for natural, homemade, DIY methods of cleaning.

How to clean suede shoes?

Clean Your Suede Shoes Using White Vinegar

White vinegar is one of the handiest, most accessible, multipurpose liquids that you can keep in your kitchen cabinets. From acting as a deodorizer to a surface cleaner, you must be familiar with a lot of the non-cooking applications of white vinegar. One such situation in which this wonder liquid comes in handy is in cleaning your suede shoes.

Pre-Cleaning Requirements

Before diving into the what’s and how’s of cleaning suede shoes with vinegar, it is important to know a few tips. Always ensure that your suede shoes are completely dry before you begin the cleaning process. Stains on damp shoes are harder to remove. Blot up as much moisture as you can with a paper towel, and then let the shoes dry naturally. Do not put them under direct sunlight and do not use a blow dryer. Once your shoes are completely dry, start collecting the materials you will need to clean your shoes.

Things Needed For Cleaning Suede Shoes With White Vinegar

  • Preferably a Suede Brush or a normal toothbrush will work just fine
  • A Suede Eraser
  • A microfiber cloth
  • An emery board nail file
  • White vinegar
  • Protective Spray for Suede Shoes

Step 1: Start By Brushing The Loose Particles Off The Shoes.

Firstly observe the pattern of the nap of the suede shoes. It is advised that you brush the shoes in the direction of the nap pattern. Use a suede brush if you have one. Otherwise, a normal toothbrush will work just as well. Preferably get a suede brush – it costs just around $5 to $7 and is easily available on Amazon.

If the stain or stuck particles don’t budge despite brushing, try brushing in a back-and-forth manner on the particular area.

Step 2: Use The Suede Eraser To Rub Out The Stains.

Here also, you can opt for a clean block eraser if you don’t have a suede eraser. But you should consider getting one of those suede erasers as they are available easily on Amazon at rates as low as $4.

Another fun tool to use here is an emery nail buff. It can be used to buff out some of the harder and stronger stains.

The key to remember in both of these actions is that you need to be gentle. If you rub or buff too hard, you may harm the suede shoes’ velvety material.

Step 3: Bring In The White Vinegar.

Use the microfiber cloth to dip in white vinegar and wipe the stains on the suede shoes. Remember that you should only dampen the shoe, do not soak it. Do not worry if you see a slight color change—vinegar does that to the damp velvety material.  But as soon as the shoes dry, the color will return to its original shade.

Step 4: Brush The Dry Shoes Again.

Once you clean the stains with vinegar, let your shoes dry naturally. After they are completely dried, brush them to remove any dust particles.

Step 5: Apply The Protective Spray For Suede Shoes.

Many protector sprays are designed particularly for suede shoes. You can get one easily at Amazon for prices as low as $7. Even if your suede shoes are pre-treated, it is a good idea to apply an additional layer of protection.

Different Stain Removal Techniques For Suede Shoes

While the steps mentioned above remain consistent for all kinds of stains, there are some minor detailing changes that you may need to focus on to get a better result when dealing with some particular kinds of stains.

Removing Stains Caused By Dirt

Steps 1 and 2 from the 5 steps mentioned above remain the same. Let the shoes dry completely, then rub the stains. But in case the dirt or mud stains are very strong, use a steamer to remove the stains. Then let the shoes dry completely. Then rub or buff the shoes.

Removing Nasty Oil Stains

In case your shoes have been stained by oil or grease, you may consider applying a small amount of cornstarch directly to the stain. Let the shoes soak up the starch solution for a few hours. Then rub and remove the stains.


Suede shoes have a classy look – but they need to be maintained. Even with protective sprays and pre-treated shoes, the best way to keep your suede shoes clean and classy is to avoid wearing them on potentially messy terrains and to clean them regularly – though not too often.


  1. What are the natural ways to clean suede?

White vinegar and rubbing alcohol are natural ingredients that help clean suede.

  1. Can water be used for cleaning suede shoes?

Never use water to clean suede – it will cause more damage to the shoes.

  1. Is baking soda a good alternative for cleaning suede?

Yes, you may sprinkle baking soda on the stain, let it soak for a few hours, and then rub it off with a dry cloth.

  1. Is suede leather resistant to scratches?

No, on the contrary, suede leather scratches very easily.