How to clean suede so it looks like new

Suede is such a special material and can really add a pop to your outfit, but many people avoid it because it needs a little TLC to keep it looking fresh.

Suede cannot be cleaned with water like other fabrics. If water comes into contact with suede, it will stain the material or alter its appearance. The best way to clean suede is to buy a suede cleaning kit that usually includes a cleaning brush and special eraser. With these tools, you can brush away dirt and fluff up the fibres to keep your suede looking new.

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Luckily, caring for suede probably isn’t as hard as you think it is. Here’s how to clean suede shoes, bags and other items to keep them looking great.

Use the suede brush

To remove light stains on suede, brush the stained area in one direction. Brushing over and over in the same direction helps to loosen the surface layer of dirt from the fibres.

Once the surface is looking a little better, keep brushing using a back-and-forth motion with a bit of force. This motion targets the ground-in dirt that’s stuck under the surface fibres. If your suede item isn’t too dirty, this may be all the care it needs for now.

Use the stain eraser for tougher stains

For tougher stains and dirt, use the eraser that comes in the suede cleaning kit. Rub the eraser over the stain while pressing down with some force. Keep rubbing for a few minutes or until the stain is gone. This part can get messy as the eraser works its magic so do it over some newspaper or take it outside.

Try white vinegar or rubbing alcohol

If the eraser hasn’t been able to remove the stain completely, it’s time to reach into the pantry. Grab some white vinegar or rubbing alcohol and pour a little bit onto a clean, white washcloth. Rub the dampened cloth onto the stain then let the area dry completely. Unlike water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol won’t stain suede.

Once it’s dry, use the brush to fluff the fabric back up and brush away any loosened dirt.

Read: Clean up with this guide to taking care of your shoes

Shave lightly with a razor

Suede fabric can start to look a bit stringy after a while but just reach for a new razor to sort it out. As with using a razor to shave pills off woollen jumpers, gently shave the strings off the fabric wherever you notice them.

After using the razor, use your brush to fluff the fabric and ensure it’s looking even.

Use the suede brush again

After all that brushing, scrubbing and shaving, suede can appear a bit dull. To brighten it up, rub the dull spots with a white washcloth dampened with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol and leave it to dry. After it’s dry, fluff up the fabric one last time using the brush and ensure it looks even all over.

Apply a protectant spray

The final step (or ideally the first step after purchasing anything suede) is to protect your item with a suede protectant spray. Apply your suede protectant spray according to the package directions. Not only will this extra step keep your suede cleaner for longer, but it will also make it easier to clean in the future.

How to treat extra tough stains

Water

If the above tips haven’t helped with a water stain, you may have to resort to using more water. It might sound counterintuitive but adding water can help remove water stains on suede.

Use a spray bottle to lightly spritz water across the surface of the item where the stain is located. Gently brush the surface using the suede brush or new toothbrush. Blot up any excess water with a clean cloth or paper towels, then let dry completely. Don’t try to quick dry the item and avoid drying it in direct sunlight because it may cause the colour to change or fade.

Oil or grease

Sprinkle the stain with cornflour to try to soak up the oil or grease. Let it sit overnight and then brush away the powder in the morning. Lightly wet the stain with a damp brush, then brush away the stain.

Read: Make your white shoes look new again

Mud

Let the mud dry completely before cleaning your item. Once it dries you should be able to break it off in chunks. Use your brush to get rid of smaller pieces of dirt.

Wax or gum

Put your item in the freezer to harden the wax or gum. Then break it off in chunks and brush away any smaller particles.

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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