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How To Clean Suede Shoes (The 3 Best Ways & Extra Tips)

How To Clean Suede Shoes

Suede shoes in different styles come back every season without fail - they feel great and look fantastic. However, with our unpredictable British weather, it’s vital you know the best ways to clean suede shoes - so your sandals, boots or moccasins look fantastic no matter what adventures you go on.

How To Clean Suede Shoes (The 3 Best Ways & Extra Tips)

3 of the best ways to clean suede shoes

When cleaning suede, make sure you’re following the best advice and any manufacturer guidelines - doing it wrong can cause more damage. Our three best ways to clean suede shoes are some of the most reliable.

Remember, it’s always best to avoid getting your suede shoes wet or dirty when you can - which is easier said than done if you live in the UK where rain showers are an almost daily occurance. Cleaning them, even with our best-practice methods, can sometimes result in them being rougher than before, and some stains are very hard to remove.


1. With a suede brush

The very best way to clean suede shoes is with a suede brush. These brushes are specifically designed to keep shoes in tip-top condition.

General upkeep

It’s always good to periodically brush down your suede shoes. Even if there are no obvious marks or stains, it helps to prevent dirt building up in the material and keeps the shoes looking great over the course of their lifetime. Do this, as a minimum, once a month - and whenever you see any dirt or dust on the shoes.

Ensure the suede is completely dry before brushing, and brush all over the shoe. Don’t brush up and down or side to side; instead, brush in a single direction.

How To Clean Suede Shoes (The 3 Best Ways & Extra Tips)

Cleaning mud off suede shoes

  1. Immediately brush off any big chunks of mud using your fingers. Be careful with this: you don’t want to push or press mud deeper into the suede, so only remove the biggest chunks that come off with very little pressure.
  2. Leave the mud to dry. Suede is very sensitive to moisture, so it’s important that the mud is dry before you clean it.
  3. Use your suede brush to gently rub the dirt off the material. Always only brush in one direction, rather than back and forth. Once the majority of dirt has been removed, brush more vigorously until the shoe is clean.

Tip: If stains are matted down into the suede and aren’t affected by the brush, then try using a knife to lift the stain up. Once lifted, use the brush again.

2. With a nail brush or toothbrush

If you don’t have a suede brush, you can use a nail brush - or failing that, a toothbrush. It’s much better and more effective to use a suede brush as they are designed for cleaning suede, but where this isn’t possible these other kinds of brushes can be helpful.

Use the nail brush in the same way as a suede brush to remove ingrained dirt or to tackle muddy patches.

3. With vinegar

Vinegar is ideal for tougher stains that you’ve tried removing using a brush, but are proving stubborn. Cleaning suede shoes with vinegar is often also effective on salt lines.

  1. Apply a modest amount of white vinegar to a clean, soft cloth.
  2. Dab the vinegar on the stain and ensure the whole mark is treated with the vinegar.
  3. Let it dry.
  4. Use your suede brush to brush the mark again and it should prove significantly more effective.

How To Clean Suede Shoes (The 3 Best Ways & Extra Tips)

Extra tips for cleaning suede shoes

Be sure to read our extra tips on how to clean suede shoes, which covers any additional or more unusual stains that might affect your footwear.

Keeping shoe shape

Screw up some old paper and put it inside the shoe to help it keep its shape. This is particularly helpful if the shoe gets wet in a sudden downpour and you’re leaving it to dry before cleaning. It can also provide more support during the cleaning process, helping you to brush the suede more effectively.

Cleaning chewing gum and wax off suede

Chewing gum or wax won’t come off easily with a brush. Pulling at them can sometimes cause more of a problem as the gum or wax gets pressed into the suede material as you try to pull it off.

The best thing to remove chewing gum from suede shoes is to put the shoes into the freezer. This will freeze the wax or gum so it becomes hard and can be chipped off in large chunks.

It’s best to put your shoes in a carrier bag before putting them in the freezer to prevent dirt and bacteria from the bottom of the shoe from coming into contact with any food.

After chipping off the chewing gum, you should then brush the shoe down with your suede brush.

Cleaning blood off suede

In the event of a stubbed toe while wearing sandals or a nose bleed, for example, you may need to clean blood of your suede shoes.

  1. Carefully apply peroxide to a clean cotton wool ball and dab on the stain.
  2. Be gentle and patient with this and don’t rub it as that could make the stain bigger.
  3. If it’s a tough stain, you might need to use multiple cotton wool balls, but the peroxide should lift it from the suede material.

Tip: Don’t use water to remove stains from your suede shoes as this could cause more damage!

Removing ink stains

Ink is usually detrimental to suede shoes so do your best to avoid any ink spills! If they do happen though, immediately dab (don’t rub) the ink off your shoe to remove as much of it as possible before it dries. 

If any remaining ink does dry and set into the suede, you can use sandpaper to rub it off. Be aware that this will damage the material, as it removes the stain by removing some of the suede on which the ink is set. Because of this, you should use sandpaper extremely sparingly and immediately stop as soon as the stain is gone. It will mean the shoes are no longer as good as new, but the stain will be gone and the area won’t be as noticeable.

How To Clean Suede Shoes (The 3 Best Ways & Extra Tips)

Shoes beyond repair? Yogi Footwear has a massive range of suede shoes in different styles for men and women. Explore our collection.

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