How to Restore Black Suede

by M.H. Dyer ; Updated February 22, 2017

Allow wet suede to dry naturally or blot it gently with a soft white towel.

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Black suede upholstery, purses, jackets or shoes are especially striking, but are a big investment. Unlike leather, which is made from the top of the animal's hide, suede is constructed from the underside of the hide, which gives suede its napped quality and luxurious, velvety feel. Because suede is thinner, it is usually less durable than leather. With a little patience and persistence, you can often restore worn or soiled black suede to its original glory.

Remove surface dirt and dust by brushing the suede with a suede brush.

Brighten the appearance of suede by wiping the suede gently with a small sponge dipped in white vinegar. Vinegar is especially effective for dark suede shoes with salt stains. The vinegar won't damage the suede, and the odor dissipates when the vinegar dries. Just don't wipe too hard, as rough handling may damage the nap.

Hold scuffed or matted suede over the spout of a steaming teapot for about a minute, then brush the suede lightly with a suede brush to restore the nap. Repeat if the suede still appears matted, but don't expose the suede to the steam long enough so that it's dripping wet. Allow the suede to air dry, then brush it gently.

Remove light stains by rubbing a brown art gum eraser over the suede. Don't use a pink or light-colored eraser, which may show against the black color.

Eliminate crusty, dried stains on black suede by scrubbing the stain lightly with a soft toothbrush or suede brush.

Touch up faded or scuffed spots lightly with a black crayon, then rub the color into the suede with your finger. Repeat until the spot blends with the surrounding suede.


  • Once black suede is restored, protect it with a waterproofing spray made especially for suede. Spray the suede whenever it becomes damp or after brushing.

    Don't attempt to restore severely damaged or stained suede at home. Take it to a drycleaning professional who specializes in the care of suede and leather.

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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.