What are Some Tips for Cleaning Suede?

Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn

Suede's soft feel and attractive look make it a popular material for jackets, shoes, purses, and even furniture. Unfortunately, it's one of the most difficult fabrics to maintain and does not react well to stain removal. Cleaning suede can be a tedious chore, but depending on the level of cleaning required, steps can be followed with some degree of success.

A brush for cleaning suede shoes.
A brush for cleaning suede shoes.

If at all possible, suede should be sent to a professional dry cleaner. However, since this is not always an option, there are a few ways to approach a home cleaning instead. First, determine whether the item is actually suede or just a faux suede fabric. Suede clothing articles are often just an imitation fabric and a quick peek at the tag can spare a lot of headaches. Many faux suede articles can be laundered in the normal fashion at home, though some will still say to dry clean only.

Vinegar, which can be used to clean suede.
Vinegar, which can be used to clean suede.

Real suede should never be put in the washer, as even water can stain suede permanently. If suede does come into contact with water, absorbent towels should be pressed into the wet spots to soak up as much of the dampness as possible. Once this is done the garment should then be left to dry on its own.

Suede's softness and attractiveness make it a popular material for jackets, shoes, purses, and more.
Suede's softness and attractiveness make it a popular material for jackets, shoes, purses, and more.

Cleaning suede stains at home begins with the nap. A clean towel should be rubbed against the suede until the nap has all been "fluffed" up. Bringing up the nap exposes more of the surface and loosens any dirt particles embedded in the nap. Next, use a pencil eraser to rub out any visible stains.

Clean towels may be used for cleaning suede.
Clean towels may be used for cleaning suede.

Stain removers should never be used when cleaning suede, but if stains remain after the eraser attempt, a slightly damp towel can be used to rub against the stain. White vinegar can also be mixed with the water used to dampen the towel, but be very careful not to soak the towel. Just a bit of water and vinegar should be applied. When this is done, wait for the suede to dry and determine the progress.

A special brush made for cleaning suede can be used to dislodge any dirt left once the suede has dried. The brush should be used lightly. In fact, all contact with the suede should be gentle, because more damage can be done to the delicate suede surface while cleaning suede. If stains are still visible at this point, the only alternative is take it to a professional dry cleaner.

Some stains on suede items can be rubbed out with a pencil eraser.
Some stains on suede items can be rubbed out with a pencil eraser.
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn

Joining the wiseGEEK team has helped to satisfy Hillary’s insatiable curiosity for knowledge. She also manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. Hillary has a passion for satirical writing and enjoys traveling, especially to places of historical importance.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon61663

Used a clean eraser on oily stained collar and took stain out. Took about an hour. Worked great.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: