Im not ashamed to admit that laundering my clothes is still something Im getting the hang of. Blouses and bottoms arent the problem — I know which garments should be washed in cold vs hot water, and when to use low vs high heat for their dry cycle. Its footwear that really trips me up, like how to clean suede shoes without completely ruining them.
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If youve ever hesitated to buy clothing or pair of shoes for no reason other than the fact that you were unsure how to properly clean and care for that piece, I can relate. After a traumatic experience wearing UGGs in a snowstorm as a teenager (sorry, Mom), suede shoes have been a weak spot for me. I own two precious pairs, and only wear them on very special occasions, in very specific weather conditions.
However, its now more than a decade later, and (in my opinion) Im much more responsible with my belongings. Ergo, I reached out to a few experts to weigh in on the easiest ways to clean suede shoes, and they were happy to share their best tips.
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Use Protectant Spray as a Precautionary Measure
Tamar Miller, founder of Bells & Becks, recommends using a tried and tested protectant spray formulated without silicones on new, clean shoes to help repel minor stains, spills and splashes.
“Make sure you use a spray that is recommended for fine leathers and suede in particular and follow the instructions carefully,” she says. (This one comes highly recommended on Amazon.)
Check the Weather Forecast
Suede shoes have never gallantly declared they could hold up through rain, sleet, or snow because, well, they cant. Even if you waterproof your pair with spray, Miller tells InStyle you should still avoid wearing suede shoes in damp weather conditions and near the beach as “water and harsh salts will stain, damage, and weaken the material over time.”
How to Clean Suede Shoes
Credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
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A nice steam shower doesnt just de-wrinkle your favorite blouse. According to the head of product line management of PUMA Sportstyle, Adam Pieters, hot steam and a Suede brush are a dynamic duo if you need to remove any marks on your shoes.
“There are people who enjoy getting their Suedes dirty,” he reveals, “but not me.” Instead, Pieters swears by steam to keep his pairs clean.
Dry Brush Them Regularly
In addition to spray, Miller recommends also investing in a suede dry brush with fine, natural bristles made of horsehair for regular maintenance and stain removal.
“Try using a suede eraser [on difficult stains] first by applying moderate pressure and gently rubbing back and forth,” she says. “Follow with your brush to remove any residue and restore the suedes pile.”
Be Specific When It Comes to Storage
You want to store your suede with extra care when putting it away for the season because its a natural material, Miller says.
“Opt for a fabric bag over plastic,” she tells us, as doing so will better protect it from dust and damage and allow for adequate air circulation.
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How to Clean Suede Shoes
Credit: Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Invest In a Suede Care Kit
Some brands, like PUMA, offer suede care kits that come fully stocked with everything you need to protect and clean your suede shoes. PUMAs kit, for example, includes a rain/stain repellent spray, brush, and a cleaning conditioner, Pieters tells InStyle.
“[Its] great to have on hand for not only protecting new suedes but also for treating any stains,” he says, adding his go-to product in the bundle is the repellant spray because it protects new suedes and the brush for any marks.
Pricier Pairs Might Require Professional Help
If a deeper clean is required or if youre dealing with wet stains, Miller recommends leaving it to the professionals to handle — especially for high-end suede shoes. Youve likely already invested a lot of money for your purchase, so its better not to risk a major mistake by messing around. More than likely, the pros will be able to help.