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6 tips for cleaning suede shoes

6 tips for cleaning suede shoes

Suede is the most fragile and delicate material to care for. It easily attracts stains and dirt, and tends to quickly lose the fluffy look that gives it such elegance. The importance of caring for suede shoes is often overlooked, but regular maintenance can extend their lifespan and keep them looking like new. In this guide, we reveal the 5 key steps to take:

1. Protecting suede shoes

Use a waterproofing product

Waterproofing is absolutely essential to ensure the durability and water resistance of your shoes. It is imperative to apply a fresh coat of waterproofing to your shoes after each cleaning. This should not be an occasional action, but rather a regular practice to maintain the effectiveness of the protection.

Avoid adverse weather conditions

Suede can easily be damaged if exposed to too much water or humidity. It is therefore advisable to avoid wearing suede shoes on rainy days.

Proper shoe storage

Next, we recommend that you store your nubuck shoes in their box, away from light and any source of excessive heat.

2. Preparation before cleaning

Remove dust and light dirt

The first step is to remove the dust from your suede shoes, an essential step in removing the film that covers them. This facilitates subsequent cleaning and restores your suede to its original fluffy appearance. To dust your shoes, use a small brush with soft, sturdy bristles. Move the brush from front to back, then in the opposite direction.

Use a brush suitable for suede

For maximum dust removal, opt for a brass brush. Use this brush in regular strokes over the surface of your nubuck shoe, always following the same direction, from inside to outside.

Testing the cleaning effect on a small area

Always start with a test on an inconspicuous area to make sure your suede reacts well. If the test is conclusive, you can proceed with cleaning.

Brown suede boots
Brown suede clogs

3. Suede cleaning methods

Special rubber for suede

To clean a stain on worn suede, using a suede eraser is an option. Slightly more corrosive than a brush, it's effective at erasing marks, removing dust, and giving an even polish and revitalized shine. When cleaning with an eraser, use circular movements from the center of the area to be treated, towards the ends, to avoid marks. If a suede eraser is not available, a white rubber eraser can also be used.

Baking soda

In the event of persistent stains, grandmotherly tricks can be employed to clean your nubuck shoes, notably by using baking soda. To do this, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with three tablespoons of warm water in a container. Soak a cloth or sponge in the mixture, then gently tap the stain to be cleaned (avoid pressing too hard). Finally, leave the shoes to air-dry.

White vinegar

To treat persistent stains, white vinegar is an option to consider. Soak a brush in white vinegar and gently scrub your suede shoes with it. If your shoes are particularly dirty, you can also immerse them directly in a mixture of warm water, white vinegar and a little washing-up liquid.

4. Suede drying and post-cleaning care

Let your shoes dry naturally

Adopting natural drying methods preserves the original shape and color of the shoes. Artificial drying techniques, such as the use of a hair dryer or radiator, are strongly discouraged, as they can cause deformation of the material.

Use a protective product after cleaning

Protective products keep out external elements such as dirt, dust and fine particles. This helps to preserve the suede surface and avoid potential damage.

5. Techniques for certain types of stain

Oil and grease stains

Sprinkle cornstarch over the stain and leave for a few hours. Instead of using a suede brush, gently wipe off any remaining residue with a cloth, or use a hand-held vacuum cleaner to lift it from the shoe.

Hard stains, chewing gum

In the case of chewing gum, place your shoes in the freezer until the gum hardens. Then simply pull or scrape off the stain.


Soak the clean cloth in a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and gently dab the stain. Let the shoe dry, and repeat the operation if the stain persists.

6. Additional tips

Open-toe brown suede sandals
Look with suede sandals

Do not rub vigorously

Suede is a delicate material that can be easily damaged by over-aggressive cleaning. It is therefore important not to rub vigorously to avoid damaging the leather.

Avoid aggressive products

Some household products can be too aggressive for suede and cause irreversible damage. It is therefore preferable to use gentle products suitable for cleaning suede.

Call in a professional cleaner if necessary

If you're faced with particularly stubborn stains, or if you don't feel comfortable cleaning your suede shoes yourself, it's best to leave the cleaning to a professional. It's also advisable to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some manufacturers provide specific instructions for cleaning their suede shoes. It's important to follow these instructions to avoid damage.

Don't machine-wash suede shoes

We strongly advise against putting your suede shoes in the washing machine. This method of cleaning can deform the shoes and damage the material. However, if this is your only option, use a very gentle, low-temperature wash cycle (20°C or 30°C). Protect your shoes during washing by preventing them from hitting the sides of the drum, for example by wrapping them in a towel.

Now that you know how to clean suede shoes, you can keep your favorite shoes in good condition and extend their lifespan.

Revive your suede shoes color

To revive the color of your suede shoes, start by gently brushing the surface with a suede brush or soft bristle brush to remove dirt and dust residues. Next, use a spray bottle specially designed for suede shoes to lightly moisten the surface, but make sure not to over-wet the suede.

Once the shoes are dry, use a block of suede rubber to remove stubborn stains or marks. To revive the color, apply a recoloring or suede-specific product in a tone similar to the original color . Gently work the product over the entire shoe surface with a clean cloth and allow to dry completely. Finally, brush the shoes again to restore texture and shine.

Use a suitable stain remover

Using a stain remover specially designed for suede shoes is essential to maintain their appearance and durability. A suede stain remover can help effectively remove stubborn stains, such as water, food or dirt stains, while preserving the integrity of the material.

It's important to choose a suede-specific stain remover to avoid damaging the material. Before using a stain remover, it's advisable to test the product on a small, discreet area to check its compatibility with your shoes. Then it's easy to apply:

  • Start by gently brushing the surface to remove any dirt or dust.
  • Next, shake the stain remover and spray it evenly onto the stained areas, keeping the bottle at a distance of about 15 to 20 centimetres from the shoes.
  • Leave the stain remover to work for a few minutes according to the product instructions.
  • Once the time has elapsed, use a suede brush or clean towel to gently scrub the treated area, working in a circular motion to help remove the stain.
  • Finally, let the shoes air dry completely before wearing them again.

It's important to follow the stain remover manufacturer's instructions carefully for best results and to avoid damaging the suede.

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