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How to Clean an Old Suede Vest

by Lisa S. Kramer, studioD

A suede vest can be a classic and versatile piece in your wardrobe. An old one hanging in your closet or one you just bought at a second-hand store might need some sprucing up before you wear it out. Suede is a luxurious fabric that is high-maintenance when it comes to cleaning, but several methods are easy and cheap to complete at home.

Remove small, dry stains from your suede vest by rubbing an unused brown art gum eraser into the stain. Do not use the pink type of pencil eraser as it may smudge pink dye on your suede garment.

Use a damp paper towel or clean white towel dipped in white vinegar to remove larger dry stains.

Remove stubborn dry crusted-on stains or scuff marks by gently scraping them off with a emery board fingernail file. Remove caked-on mud by gently brushing it with a toothbrush.

Treat new oil stains on a suede vest by applying cornmeal or talcum power to the stain and letting it sit overnight. Shake the cornmeal or talcum powder off your vest and gently brush the stain with a nylon bristled brush, such as a toothbrush.

Restore an old suede vest by rubbing a clean, dry white towel, suede brush or nylon lint brush over the entire surface of the vest to bring up its nap. You may also steam it with a garment steamer to restore the nap.

Items you will need
  •  Brown art gum eraser
  •  Damp paper towel or clean white towel
  •  White vinegar
  •  Fingernail file or emery board
  •  Toothbrush
  •  Dry cornmeal or talcum powder
  •  Suede brush or nylon lint brush
  •  Garment steamer, optional


  • Take the vest to a suede cleaning professional if you cannot remove stains yourself.


  • Do not use chemical stain remover on a suede vest, because it can permanently damage the garment.

About the Author

Lisa S. Kramer is a licensed attorney practicing civil litigation and estates and trusts law in southern Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude. Kramer earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision/Valueline/Getty Images