How to Care for Suede & Leather

by Katie Leigh

Keeping suede and leather items of clothing looking new and untarnished is a fairly easy task. One of the most important things to remember when caring for suede and leather is that exposure to inclement weather conditions can stain and scuff the items. Additionally, both suede and leather items need cleaning and preventative maintenance on a regular basis to ensure the material remains soft, supple and moisturized. Failure to do this can result in cracked and dry material.

Items you will need

  • Waterproofing spray
  • Emery board
  • Suede brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Dry-cleaning solvent
  • Sawdust
  • Leather lotion
  • Sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Gum eraser
  • Padded or wooden hanger
  • Breathable cloth garment bag
  • Newspaper

Caring for Suede

Step 1

Treat new suede with a waterproofing spray. Give the item a light coating of the spray, then place it in a cool area. Once the suede is dry, rub any areas that look dull or mussed with an emery board to fluff up the fibers.

Step 2

Clear loose stains, such as dirt and sand, with a suede brush. If the stains are sticky, such as rock salt or mud, dab at them with a soft, damp cloth.

Step 3

Mix a few drops of dry-cleaning solvent with a handful of sawdust and apply it to any stains that are greasy or set-in, such as oil. Brush the area with the suede brush after the stain is removed. Dry-cleaning solvent can discolor suede, so test it on a hidden area before applying it to the stain to make sure it won't damage the item.

Step 4

Visit a professional suede cleaner for stains that can't be removed using one of the home care methods.

Caring for Leather

Step 1

Apply a waterproofing spray to leather items when they are new. Dry the items in a cool place, then condition them with a leather lotion to keep the material soft and breathable. Repeat this treatment about every three months to make sure they don't become stained or cracked.

Step 2

Allow wet leather items to air-dry in a cool place; direct heat from a dryer, heater or fireplace can dehydrate the leather. Apply a leather lotion to the items when they are nearly dry to restore flexibility to the fabric.

Step 3

Wipe away dirt, rock salt, dust and other surface stains with a dry sponge. If stains or marks remain, treat the leather with a cloth dipped in a solution of 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

Step 4

Rub away surface scuff marks with a gum eraser.

Step 5

Store leather clothing on wide wooden or padded hangers to keep the fabric from stretching out. Place the clothes in a breathable cloth garment bag to keep them from getting dusty; never store leather items in plastic bags, as that can dry out the material. Stuff leather shoes and handbags with newspaper to help them retain their shape.