Cleaning Suede

by April Reinhardt
(last updated August 28, 2017)

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:

  • To bring up the nap of the suede, rub the surface with a clean bath towel. If you have suede shoes, try rubbing them with a low grit sandpaper to bring up the nap.
  • Dry stains might be removed with a pencil eraser. Rub the surface gently and then increase the pressure until you see the stain disappear.
  • Wet stains should be blotted and dried immediately with a bath towel or paper towels. Avoid rubbing paper towels on wet suede, as the paper may disintegrate and leave behind bits of paper in the leather. Allow the suede to dry completely before attempting a chemical stain remover.
  • If you have muddy suede boots or shoes, scrub the dirt away with a nail file or sandpaper.
  • Purchase a leather cleaner from a leather shop to remove body oils and stains from suede furniture.

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.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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