How to Keep Suede From Going Stiff

by Mimi Bullock ; Updated September 28, 2017

Shield your suede hat from body oil contact by first putting on a scarf or headband.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

Real suede, a textured calf leather, has a fine, soft nap that flattens and stiffens when not properly maintained. Exposure to water and contact with body oils and the environment can all wreak havoc on expensive suede garments and accessories. Properly clean and store your suede to keep it looking soft and supple.

Items you will need

  • Suede brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Crust of stale bread
  • Pencil or suede eraser bar
  • Hand steamer
  • Brass-bristled brush
  • Waterproofing spray
Step 1

Clean the suede with a soft suede brush. Wipe away surface dirt and trash that you see. You may use an unused toothbrush, if you have no suede brush. Shoe owners can also use a stale crust of bread to remove dirt from suede.

Step 2

Remove scuff marks from suede with a pencil eraser or suede eraser bar. Rub the eraser over the marked area until the scuff disappears.

Step 3

Steam the suede with a hand steamer. Hold the steam wand approximately 10 inches from the garment. The steam will soften the nap. Turn off the steamer and work the nap with a brass-bristled brush to lift and restore the suede. Work in small sections until the entire garment is refreshed. Do not wet or saturate the garment with steam.

Step 4

Spray restored suede with a waterproofing spray. Allow the waterproofing treatment to cure overnight before wearing the garment.


  • Avoid storing suede near a direct heat source or in the sunlight. This will dry out your suede quickly.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Mimi Bullock's writing reflects her love of traveling the back roads of small towns and sampling the local cuisine. As a regular feature writer for "Southern Hospitality Traveler" and journalist for "Beachin' Magazine," she gets to experience the rich heritage of the southern culture. She is also a licensed cosmetologist who has her own skin care line.