How to Wash Suede Shoes

by Kimbry Parker
Water is the enemy when it comes to cleaning suede shoes.

Water is the enemy when it comes to cleaning suede shoes.

Suede, a type of leather, has a soft, velvety feel. Although suede has a unique appearance, it can easily become damaged and dirty. When suede shoes get dirty, you need to clean the shoes to maintain their appearance. Submerging suede shoes in water for cleaning won't help – water damages and discolors suede -- but you can wash dirt and grime from your shoes without getting them soaking wet.

Let wet mud or dirt dry onto the suede before cleaning. Once dry, brush off as much loose dirt and debris as possible using a suede brush. Use gentle strokes when brushing. Brush in only one direction to avoid disturbing the nap and altering the color of the suede. Wipe over the shoes with a damp, warm rag to remove any residue. Moisten a clean rag with undiluted white vinegar and use it to gently scrub off any dirt stains that remain. Let the shoes dry, then use a suede brush again to restore the nap.

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to remove road salt stains from suede shoes. Moisten a suede brush with the vinegar solution and rub it gently over the suede until the stains disappear.

Remove water stains from your suede shoes with water. Stuff newspaper inside each shoe, then spray the shoes with water so the suede is damp. Pat the shoes with a dry rag to soak up the water. Let the shoes dry completely, then brush with a suede brush to restore the nap.

Apply steam to clean suede using a hand-held steamer, tea kettle or iron to open up the pores, then brush the shoes with a suede brush to remove dirt and grime.

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Items you will need

  • Suede brush
  • Rags
  • White vinegar
  • Newspaper


  • Apply a suede protectant spray to the shoes prior to wearing them to protect them from water, dirt and other stains.
  • Remove light dust from suede shoes by brushing them with a dry rag.

About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images