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15th November 2023 EDT FEATURES

How to Clean Suede Sneakers: A Comprehensive Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to care for your favorite suede sneakers.

How to Clean Suede Sneakers: A Comprehensive Guide
How to Clean Suede Sneakers: A Comprehensive Guide

The rise of New Balance and its myriad of lifestyle sneakers, alongside other footwear brands, has introduced sneaker enthusiasts to a precious textile with lots of character: suede.

There’s something undoubtedly luxurious and enticing about slipping our feet into these velvety treasures. The paradox? This joy can be quickly stifled by the looming thought of that first scuff or stain.

Understanding this unique material is pivotal before diving into its care. Formed from the inner layer of animal hides and treated to attain its signature nap—soft and textured—suede can be a magnet for dirt and stains, posing a critical question: how do we maintain the beauty of our suede shoes?

How to clean suede sneakers

How to Clean Suede Sneakers:

Step 1: Dry Brushing

Begin by brushing the dry suede shoes to remove loose dirt and debris, always moving the brush in the direction of the fibers to avoid damaging the nap.

Step 2: Dealing with Stains

For surface stains on suede, use a suede eraser (yes, they exist!), or, in a pinch, opt for a clean pencil eraser or household cleaning eraser. Gently rub the eraser against the stain, following the direction of the fibers.

To address more stubborn stains, gently apply a bit of suede shoe cleaner, white vinegar, or rubbing alcohol with a slightly damp cloth. Employ quick, side-to-side motions, ensuring the suede is only lightly moistened, not soaked. Allow it to dry and repeat if the stain persists.

Step 3: DIY Methods

For liquid spills, blot with a clean towel, apply a layer of cornstarch or baking soda, and let it sit overnight. Brush away the next day.

For dry stains, consider using a nail file to gently abrade away the mark. For waxy or gummy residues, freeze the shoe for a few hours and gently break off the material.

Step 4: Freshening Up

To revitalize the nap, steam the shoes over boiling water and re-brush them. For an extra splash of freshness, consider a specialized suede shoe spray and leave them to dry for an hour.

Commonly Asked Questions: Suede Shoes Dos & Don’ts

How to clean suede sneakers

Can I use water and soap to clean suede sneakers?

No! Suede’s absorbent nature welcomes stains when wet. Use the aforementioned cleaning agents and avoid soaking.

How to weatherproof suede shoes?

Suede protectant sprays offer a defense against water and stains. However, approach new products with cautious optimism and check reviews before full application.

What should I do if my suede sneakers get wet?

When a spill occurs, blot it immediately with a clean microfibre towel that doesn’t leave lint. Time is of the essence to prevent a permanent stain. If there’s mud involved, wait for the shoes to dry before cleaning it off. 

For drying, avoid the dryer; instead, stuff with newspaper or air-dry near a fan to prevent any further damage.

How should I store my suede sneakers?

Suede shoes despise humidity! Store them in a cool, dry place and use shoe trees to maintain their shape.

How often should I clean my suede sneakers?

Opt for a light brush every few wears, and a deeper clean as you notice stains or every month, ensuring they stay in tip-top shape!

Maintaining suede isn’t a Herculean task with the right knowledge on how to clean suede sneakers. Regular, gentle care and adherence to product guidelines ensure they remain a sustainable staple in your sneaker rotation.

For more insight on keeping your sneakers in top-notch condition, don’t miss our related story on How to Prevent and Get Rid of Mold on Sneakers. And speaking of pristine, explore an exclusive array of suede treasures on the SNKRDUNK App.