How to Clean Suede


Knowing how to clean suede is a must if you own suede furniture, shoes, clothing, purses, or gloves.

What is Suede?

Real suede is a softened form of leather with a velvet nap-like finish. Suede is made from animal skin, usually cowhide. The hide is removed and tanned to soften and remove hair. Suede is made of a thinner piece of hide so it may not be as durable as a thicker piece of leather. To make the suede finish, an emery wheel is used to roughen up the hide and create the soft velvety nap.

How To Clean Suede

Suede is difficult to clean without changing its color or texture. Having a professional dry cleaner that knows how to clean suede is often preferable to attempting to clean it yourself as you may cause more damage. Dry cleaners are trained in safe cleaning techniques for suede so the nap stays soft.

Types of Stains

The types of stains that occur on suede are numerous; some are easier to clean than others. Suede picks up dirt in everyday use. Even water will stain suede. The tawny color starts to turn black or dark gray over time if not taken care of. Prevention is the best method in keeping suede clean. Suede can be treated with a water or stain resistant product, but this is no guarantee in keeping it clean. Do not wear suede on a rainy or wet day. Follow regular maintenance and cleaning tips as follows to keep your suede looking new.

Brush Regularly

Loosen up the debris on suede by rubbing the area with a clean, dry washcloth or soft brush. A good habit to get into when you own a favorite suede garment is to brush it regularly. Shoes, for example, could be placed in shoetrees after they are worn and then brushed with a special suede shoe brush. Brushing prevents the build up of dirt in the nap.

Dry Stains

Stains that are considered 'dry stains' occur on suede over time, because dirt and dust settle in the nap. The first step in cleaning dry stains is to use a clean dry cloth to rub up the nap. Then brush the suede with a soft bristle brush. If the stain is still there, try using a clean pencil eraser to rub it off.

Wet Stains

Immediate clean-up of wet spills on suede is important. Use a dry cloth or white paper towel and blot it up as quickly as possible. Allow the suede to air dry at room temperature. Do not apply heat, such as a blow dryer, because this may darken the suede and leave spots where the liquid was. Shoes and suede hats will require wooden shoetrees or hat forms so they will not become misshapen while drying.

Further Tips For Taking Care of Suede

Storing your suede properly is as important as knowing how to clean suede. If your furniture is suede, keep the sun off of it. Sun can fade suede, especially if it is dyed suede. Brush or vacuum your furniture regularly with a soft bristle brush to remove dirt and dust. Store colored suede clothing in a dark closet. Consider covering it with a dust cloth. Do not lose heart if a favorite suede garment gets stained, suede that loses its color or becomes stained can be dyed to a new or darker color.

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How to Clean Suede