How To Clean Suede Shoes Without Suede Cleaner Like a Pro

A pair of suede shoes

Table of Contents

Suede shoes are a stylish and versatile addition to any wardrobe. However, they can be a bit tricky to maintain, especially when it comes to cleaning. Traditional suede cleaners can be expensive and may not always be readily available. But don’t worry, there are several ways to clean suede shoes without using a suede cleaner. This guide will walk you through the steps to clean your suede shoes like a pro, using items you probably already have at home.

Understanding Suede

What is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather with a napped finish, commonly used for jackets, furniture, and of course, shoes. It’s known for its softness and flexibility, but it’s also more susceptible to damage and staining than other types of leather.

One of the key aspects of suede is its texture. The raised fibers, or “nap”, give suede its unique feel. However, these fibers also make suede more vulnerable to dirt and grime. Therefore, cleaning suede requires a gentle touch to avoid damaging the nap.

Why Regular Cleaning is Important

Regular cleaning is crucial to maintaining the look and feel of suede. Dirt and grime can build up over time, dulling the color and damaging the texture of the suede. Regular cleaning can help prevent this buildup and keep your suede shoes looking their best.

Additionally, cleaning your suede shoes regularly can help extend their lifespan. Dirt and grime can wear down the fibers of the suede, causing them to break down over time. By keeping your shoes clean, you can help prevent this wear and tear and keep your shoes looking great for years to come.

Materials You Will Need

Before you start cleaning your suede shoes, you’ll need to gather a few materials. Most of these items are likely already in your home, making this a cost-effective alternative to traditional suede cleaners.

  • A soft brush (an old toothbrush will work)
  • White vinegar or rubbing alcohol
  • A clean, dry cloth
  • A sponge
  • White eraser

Steps to Clean Your Suede Shoes

Step 1: Brush Off Loose Dirt

Start by using a soft brush to gently remove any loose dirt or grime from the surface of the shoe. Be sure to brush in the direction of the nap to avoid damaging the suede. This step will help prepare the shoe for cleaning and make the process easier.

If you’re dealing with a stubborn stain, you may need to apply a bit more pressure. However, be careful not to brush too hard, as this can damage the suede.

Step 2: Apply Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

Next, dampen a clean cloth with a small amount of white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Gently dab the stained area with the cloth, being careful not to soak the suede. These substances can help break down the stain and make it easier to remove.

Once you’ve applied the vinegar or rubbing alcohol, let the shoe dry completely. This can take a few hours, so be patient. It’s important to let the shoe dry fully before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Brush the Shoe Again

Once the shoe is dry, use your brush to gently brush the surface of the shoe again. This will help lift the nap and restore the texture of the suede. If the stain is still visible, you may need to repeat the previous step.

Remember to always brush in the direction of the nap to avoid damaging the suede.

Step 4: Use a White Eraser

If the stain is still visible after brushing, you can use a white eraser to gently rub the stained area. The eraser can help lift the stain from the suede, leaving it looking clean and fresh.

Be sure to use a white eraser, as colored erasers can leave behind dye that can stain the suede.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Preventing Stains

One of the best ways to keep your suede shoes clean is to prevent stains in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you keep your shoes looking their best:

  • Avoid wearing your suede shoes in wet or muddy conditions.
  • Use a suede protector spray to help repel water and prevent stains.
  • Store your suede shoes in a dry, cool place to prevent mold and mildew.

Dealing with Water Stains

Water can be particularly damaging to suede, causing discoloration and stiffening of the material. If your suede shoes get wet, blot them dry with a clean towel as soon as possible. Then, let them dry naturally, away from direct heat or sunlight.

Once the shoes are dry, you can use a soft brush to restore the nap of the suede. If water stains remain, you can use the vinegar or rubbing alcohol method described above to remove them.

When to Seek Professional Help

While these methods can be effective for cleaning suede shoes, there are times when it’s best to seek professional help. If your shoes are heavily stained or damaged, a professional cleaner may be able to restore them to their former glory.

Similarly, if your shoes are a valuable or sentimental pair, you may want to consider getting them professionally cleaned to avoid potential damage.

Remember, the key to keeping your suede shoes looking their best is regular care and maintenance. With these tips and tricks, you can clean your suede shoes like a pro, even without a suede cleaner.

Join the Cleaning Pros at

Ready to elevate your cleaning game beyond just suede shoes? Become a part of the family! Our free email list is your gateway to mastering the art of cleaning all your cherished items. From tackling simple spills to handling major cleaning challenges, we’ve got you covered with expert advice and pro tips. Subscribe now and never be stumped by a stain again. With, you’re always equipped with the knowledge to clean like a pro!

Was this article helpful?
Something seem wrong? Let us know. We rely on your reviews.