What is a Suede Brush?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Suede brushes are handy cleaning devices that help to keep a variety of suede clothing and accessories looking fresh and new. Equipped with a combination of soft and metal bristles, a brush can be used to revive the short nap on suede material while also helping to deal with surface stains. Many brushes are inexpensive, making it easy to keep several different sizes on hand for different projects.

Special cleaning products can be applied to suede before using a brush.
Special cleaning products can be applied to suede before using a brush.

These brushes traditionally have a long wooden handle, and a body that is composed of a solid wood base and a series of bristles. Usually, the brush will include two types of bristles. Metal bristles are located in the interior section of brush design, while softer bristles surround the perimeter. Horsehair is often used as the medium for the soft bristles. This combination of hard and soft bristles allows the suede brush to firmly deal with raising the nap and dislodging foreign substances, while still gently massaging the material.

A suede brush.
A suede brush.

Several variations on the traditional suede brush are available today. One popular model configures the handle to also double as a shoehorn, which allows the device to easily provide double duty. As an additional advantage, the rubber head included on the shoe horn end of many models also serves as an excellent buffing agent for welts on the suede material.

One popular option for cleaning suede is kits that combine a cleaning agent with a brush, all in one unit. Typically, the cleaner is sprayed onto the suede item and allowed to set for a few moments. With the small brush situated on the top cap for the cleaner, the kits help to make it easy to keep the cleaner and the brush in a small case with suede shoes or gloves. Often, the brush included with these kits will be constructed of plastic bristles rather than a metal and horsehair combination.

Other gentle cleaning agents can be used with the suede brush, in professional cleaner is not available, but it is a good idea for individuals to read the cleaning instructions that come with the suede item, as different manufactures use a variety of treatments on the material that may negatively interact with different cleaning agents. People should always follow the manufacturer recommendations for cleaning and caring for suede, or they run the risk of permanently discoloring or otherwise damaging the texture of the item.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Are there special instructions on how to use a suede brush? My natural inclination is to brush the suede with circular motions, but I don't want to do more harm than good. Is this the correct way to do it?


I find it surprising that a suede brush doesn't scratch the suede. I've always been nervous about using one, for that reason. I had suede shoes once that got pretty scratched up. They were a favorite of mine, so I guess I've been a little overprotective of my suede items since then.

I think I'll have to break down and get a suede cleaning brush though. It sounds like it will actually help keep my suede in good condition, instead of damaging it.

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