How to Clean Suede

Three Methods:Everyday Suede CareRemoving Stains from SuedeTaking Care of the Toughest Stains

Suede leather, as opposed to suede fabric, is made from the soft inner layer of cow, deer or pig hide. Suede garments, shoes, handbags and other accessories are delicate and beautiful, but very easy to scuff and stain. This article provides information on everyday care for suede and how to remove dirt and stains.

Method 1
Everyday Suede Care

  1. 1
    Use a suede brush. Suede brushes usually have a wire-bristled side for brushing off debris and a rubber-bristled side for buffing up the nap of the suede. Gently brush your suede jacket, shoes or accessories, first with the soft side, then with the wire-bristled side.
    • Use the brush to remove dirt and dust that has collected on your suede item. The brush will also remove scuff marks.
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    • If your item is muddy, allow the mud to dry before brushing it off.
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    • Brush in the direction of the fabric's grain to avoid tearing or damaging it.
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    • Avoid brushing too hard with the wire-bristled side. Use gentle, short strokes to freshen the nap.
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    • A toothbrush or textured cloth may also be used.
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  2. 2
    Use a suede protector spray.[1] Suede protector sprays may be purchased at leather stores or other places that sell suede. They protect the suede from water and other elements that might stain or damage it.
    • Spray the protector all over the suede item, taking care not to soak it in any one area. Allow it to dry according to the instructions on the package.
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    • Use the suede protector at least once a year to keep the suede in top condition.
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  3. 3
    Wear suede properly. Avoid wearing suede in conditions that may damage it, such as rainy or snowy weather. Hot, humid weather is also not optimal for suede.
    • Avoid spraying suede with perfume, cologne, hairspray, or other items containing chemicals that might harm the suede.
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    • Protect suede from sweat and oils by wearing a layer of clothing between the suede and your skin. Socks, shirts, and scarves are useful for protecting your suede from these types of stains.
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  4. 4
    Store suede properly. Suede items should not be left out in the sun, since it could fade and warp the leather. Store suede items in a cool, dark closet.
    • Wrap items that you don't use often in sheets or pill covers, or store between sheets of white paper.
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    • Avoid storing suede with newspaper, since the ink may leak onto the leather.
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Method 2
Removing Stains from Suede

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    Don't let it sit. Treat stains immediately after they occur. The longer they sit on your suede item, the greater the chance that the stain will be permanently soaked into the leather.
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    Prepare the suede item for cleaning. Before using any techniques or products on the suede, rub the surface of the item with a clean towel. This brings up the nap and prepares the surface for cleaning.
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    Remove dry stains using a pencil eraser. Don't use a pink eraser, as this can transfer pink dye onto your items. Instead, use a colorless a white or brown gum eraser.
    • If the pencil eraser doesn't work, gently rub a nail file over the dry stain.
    • Avoid using a chemical stain remover. It could create even more damage, especially if it isn't designed for use on suede.
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    Remove water stains by blotting immediately. Use a cloth to blot the liquid. Don't apply too much pressure, as this will force the water deeper into the fabric. Allow the water to dry after blotting.
    • If the dried water stain is a different color from the rest of the item, try spraying the entire item with a light mist of water and allow it to dry. This will help the spot blend in.
    • If your suede shoes got soaked, stuff them with paper or a shoehorn before letting them dry, to prevent the suede from getting misshapen.
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    Remove coffee, juice, and tea stains with a paper towel. Place a paper towel directly over the stain, and a second towel on top of that. Apply pressure to the stain using your hands or by placing books on top of the towel.
    • Try rubbing off the stain using a wet towel dipped in white vinegar. Don't completely soak the suede; just use the dampened towel to swab at it.
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    Remove oil or grease stains with baking soda. Blot excess oil liquid and sprinkle the spot with baking soda. Let it sit for a few hours, then brush it away using a suede brush.

Method 3
Taking Care of the Toughest Stains

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    Use a leather cleaner made specifically for suede. If none of the techniques you've tried appear to be working, buy special leather cleaner. These can be used to remove oil or grease stains from suede shoes and garments.
    • If possible, use a cleaner made of natural ingredients. Some leather cleaners actually do more harm than good.
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    Consider having your suede professionally cleaned. It may be expensive, but sometimes turning to an expert is the safest and most effective way to take care of suede items.
    • If you have suede clothing, take it to a dry cleaner that works with suede. Ask a dry cleaner if they also handle suede purses and other accessories.
    • If you have suede shoes, take them to a cobbler. Cobblers have the appropriate skills and supplies to tackle the toughest stains.


  • Never store suede items in plastic.
  • Not all suede items can be cleaned the same way. Be sure to read labels and follow the instructions for cleaning.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean towel
  • Suede brush/toothbrush/nail file
  • White or brown eraser
  • White vinegar
  • Suede-specific leather cleaner
  • Protective spray

Article Info

Categories: Laundry | Washing Delicates