How to Clean Suede Shoes With Vinegar Like a Pro

A pair of suede shoes

Table of Contents

Suede shoes are a stylish addition to any wardrobe. However, they can be a bit tricky to maintain. One common household item that can be used to clean suede shoes is vinegar. This article will guide you through the process of cleaning your suede shoes with vinegar like a pro, ensuring they stay in top-notch condition.

Understanding Suede and Its Care

What is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather with a napped finish. It’s made from the underside of the animal skin, which gives it a soft and velvety texture. This unique texture, however, makes suede more susceptible to damage and stains than other types of leather.

Despite its delicate nature, suede is quite popular in the fashion world. It’s used in a variety of items, including jackets, handbags, and of course, shoes. The soft, warm, and comfortable feel of suede makes it a preferred choice for footwear.

Caring for Suede Shoes

Proper care can significantly extend the lifespan of your suede shoes. This involves regular cleaning, protecting them from harsh weather conditions, and storing them properly.

One of the most effective ways to clean suede shoes is by using vinegar. Vinegar is a mild acid that can remove stains and restore the nap of the suede without causing damage. However, it’s important to use it correctly to avoid discoloration or other potential damage.

Materials Needed

Before you start the cleaning process, gather all the necessary materials. This will make the process smoother and more efficient. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • A soft brush (a toothbrush will work)
  • A dry towel

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Suede Shoes With Vinegar

Now that you have all your materials ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of cleaning your suede shoes with vinegar.

  1. First, remove any loose dirt or debris from the shoes. You can do this by gently brushing the shoes with a soft brush.
  2. Next, dampen a clean cloth or sponge with a little white vinegar. Make sure the cloth is damp, not soaking wet.
  3. Gently rub the stained area with the damp cloth. Be sure to rub in the direction of the nap to avoid damaging the suede.
  4. If the stain is stubborn, you may need to apply a little more vinegar. However, be careful not to soak the suede.
  5. Once the stain is removed, blot the area with a dry towel to remove any excess vinegar.
  6. Allow the shoes to air dry. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a heat source as this can cause the suede to shrink or become hard.
  7. After the shoes are completely dry, brush them again with a soft brush. This will help to restore the nap of the suede.

Additional Tips and Warnings

Preventing Stains

Prevention is always better than cure. To keep your suede shoes looking their best, try to avoid wearing them in rainy or snowy weather. Water can cause stains and damage the texture of the suede.

Additionally, consider using a protective spray designed for suede. This can provide a layer of protection against stains and water damage.

Dealing with Tough Stains

Some stains may be too stubborn for vinegar alone. In such cases, a suede eraser can be a useful tool. These are available at most shoe stores and can be used to remove a variety of stains, including oil and ink.

For extremely stubborn stains, consider seeking professional help. A professional shoe cleaner will have the necessary tools and expertise to restore your shoes without causing further damage.

Storing Suede Shoes

Proper storage is essential for maintaining the condition of your suede shoes. Always store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If possible, keep them in a shoe box or a dust bag to protect them from dust and dirt.

Using shoe trees can also help to maintain the shape of your suede shoes and prevent creases from forming.


Cleaning suede shoes with vinegar is a simple and effective method that can help to keep your shoes looking their best. However, it’s important to remember that suede is a delicate material that requires careful handling. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first before applying vinegar to the entire shoe.

With proper care and maintenance, your suede shoes can remain a stylish and comfortable part of your wardrobe for many years to come.

Become a Suede Cleaning Expert

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