How to Take Care of Suede Shoes

Leah Bourne
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How To Take Care of Suede
Photo: Getty Images

Suede shoes, boots, and jackets are a big fashion yes. Keeping your suede in good shape? That’s where things get more complicated—wintry elements like rain, sleet, and snow aren’t particularly kind to suede items, and April showers just make things worse. That said, with a little bit of planning, and some extra attention, you don’t have to make fashion choices based on inclement weather.

MORE: How to Break in Three Types of Shoes

Here, our six tips to make sure you suede shoes and boots look as good as new.

1. Seal your suede.

You wouldn’t hit the beach without sunscreen, and similarly you shouldn’t hit the streets in suede without properly protecting them first. Everywhere from drugstores to shoe repair stores carry protective sprays, and we’re big fans of Gear Aid ReviveX Nubuck Suede & Fabric Water Repellent ($8.25; available at Amazon), in particular. A thin application of a suede sealant will last for several months (yes, you do have to treat suede every couple months) and will help repel dirt, and stop stains before they start. A tip to keep in mind before actually spraying: We strongly recommend brushing with a suede brush before and after you spray it.

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2. To treat a liquid spill, clean with talcum powder or corn meal.

If you spill liquid on your suede item, pat the area with a clean cloth or towel and then apply a layer of corn meal or talcum powder. Let it set overnight, and then brush the suede the following day with a suede brush to remove the dried powder.

3. Treat dried stains—like dirt—with white vinegar.

Approach dried stains, like dirt, a little differently. For a quick fix, rub off dirt with a kneaded eraser or an emery board. For heavier stains, blot the stain using a small amount of white vinegar and a clean towel. Repeat for as long as necessary until you see your stain disappear. This is a great way to get rid of both water and salt stains.

4. Bring your suede back to life with a toothbrush. 

Should your suede begin to look tired and flattened, scrub it with a clean toothbrush or terrycloth towel. If it’s really in bad shape, hold your shoe above steam—even from a teakettle—for a few seconds, and then brush it.

5. Whatever you do, don’t clean suede with water.

This might seem counterintuitive, but don’t try to clean suede with water alone, which can affect both the color and texture of suede.

6. If all else fails, get your suede shoes professionally cleaned.

Obviously, this is a solid way to ensure your suede looks it’s best. This is also a great thing to do before you put your winter suede boots or jacket away in storage during the warmer months.

MORE: How To Care For Every Item In Your Closet: 101 Tips

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