How to Clean Suede Shoes

by Contributing Writer

Suede shoes are vulnerable to scuffs, scratches, and stains, and they're hard to clean.

Items you will need

  • * 1 suede protector spray
  • * 1 suede cleaning brush
  • * 1 small knife
  • * 1 nail brush
  • * 1 sponge
  • * 1 shoe tree / white tissue paper
  • * 1 crepe rubber / pencil eraser
Step 1

Brush out dirt. Make sure your shoes are dry, and use a suede cleaning brush to gently brush away dust or dirt. Brush in the same direction (don't go back and forth) to lift dirt out and make your shoes appear newer.

Step 2

Remove scuff marks. Use the suede brush to vigorously brush scuffed areas back and forth.

Step 3

Remove water stains. Water can discolor affected suede. To solve this problem, wet the entire outside of the shoe by applying a light coat of water with a nail brush. Use a sponge or dry cloth to soak up excess water, and then let the shoes dry at least overnight. Be sure to insert a shoe tree into the shoe while it dries so that the shoe doesn't shrink or lose its form. Once the shoes are dry, go over them lightly with a suede brush as in step 1.

Step 4

Remove oil or "unknown" stains. Use the suede brush to scrub the stain as you would for a scuff. Use the nail brush to scrub stubborn stains with warm water. Grease stains can be particularly difficult to remove from suede, so badly stained shoes may never look good again.

Step 5

Protect your suede. Spray a coat of suede protector spray on your shoes when you first get them and after each cleaning. Follow the manufacturer's directions, and make sure to remove excess dirt before spraying the shoes.


    • If shoes are muddy, wait until the mud dries, and then proceed to brush it out with a suede brush or nail brush as you would other dirt.
      *   If you're dealing with wet shoes and don't have a shoe tree, you can crumple up some white tissue paper and stuff it tightly into the toes of the shoes.
      • Take the laces off for a more thorough cleaning. If your laces get dirty, you may be able to put them in the laundry, depending on what they're made of. Otherwise, you can buy new ones.
      • If you're not going to be wearing your shoes for an extended period, wrap them in tissue paper and place them in a shoe box. Store them away from excess humidity and light, as suede can become moldy in moist conditions, and bright light may discolor your shoes.
      • You can always use a paper towel to soak up water on your suede if you accidentaly got some on there. Just use pressure and be patient


    • Exercise caution when using suede protector spray. Make sure you have adequate ventilation, and follow the directions and cautions on the label. Some sprays may be flammable.
      *   Don't use crumpled-up newspaper in place of a shoe tree. When the newsprint becomes wet it may stain the shoes.