by April Reinhardt
(last updated January 20, 2014)
Suede is a leather without the hard, exterior surface. Its napped finish makes it less durable than leather, but also much softer. Suede is exceptionally difficult to clean because of its textured nature. The open pores in suede absorb liquid quickly, trapping stains and dirt. Because it is soft and supple, suede is used to make clothing, purses, shoes and boots, and even furniture. Today we have faux-suede materials such as Ultrasuede and Microsuede that are much easier to clean, but less durable than genuine suede. Modern tanning techniques make it possible to waterproof suede and make it somewhat stain-proof, but such applications also increase the price of already-costly suede leather.
Since suede is so expensive, it is wise to clean it properly. You could cause irreparable damage to your suede leather if you decide to do it yourself. If in doubt, take your garments to a dry cleaner to have them professionally cleaned. If you decide to do it yourself, try these tips at home:
Protecting your suede leather against stains is advisable. Wear a scarf to protect the collar of your favorite suede jacket or shirt against makeup and sweat stains. Store suede shoes in cotton pillowcases instead of plastic bags, since cotton promotes air circulation. Protect suede furniture from light, since leather fades. If you have a suede couch, move it to the other side of the room every few months to avoid patches of sunlight fading. Always spray your newly purchased suede with waterproof and stain proof chemicals to protect them from damage.
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