Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Whilst suede shoes look great they are not the easiest shoes to look after. Cleaning suede shoes so that you remove scuff marks and water stains doesn’t have to be difficult but you need to know the right products to use. So we have collated our methods to help you learn how to clean suede shoes with baking soda and other household products that you might have around the home.
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How Do You Clean Suede Shoes Naturally?
Suede shoes can actually be maintained and kept looking good without buying specialist products if you start to look in your cleaning cupboard. With the right household products, you can clean everything from oil and grease stains to water marks without resorting to more expensive shoe cleaners.
Cleaning suede shoes can and keeping them looking great can be done with products such as:
- Baking Soda
- Magic Erasers
- Micellar Water
- Rubbing Alcohol
We’ll discuss some of our favorite methods of keeping your favorite suede shoes looking great and how you should use these products without ruining your footwear.
DIY Suede Cleaners Include The Baking Soda Method
Most people wouldn’t think that baking soda could be used for cleaning suede but in fact, it is one of the simplest methods for making your suede shoes look better.
To clean suede shoes with baking soda you first need to make sure that you gently brush any dirt or debris from your shoes. You can either use a suede brush to do this which is the most suitable tool for the job or alternatively you can use an old clean toothbrush.
When your suede shoes have no more loose dirt on them you should now sprinkle baking soda over the suede section of your shoe uppers and let it work its magic. Baking soda is great at absorbing any grease stains and ingrained dirt from the suede leather. Usually, you only need to leave the product on the shoes for half an hour or so and it will act as a great cleaner.
Now all you have to do when the time is up is shake off any excess baking powder when the time is up and use your suede brush to finish off the job. If you find that there are some stubborn stains then just repeat the process until you have the desired result.
Baking soda is a cheap item that most people have in their pantries making it a great solution to clean suede quickly and easily.
Cleaning Suede Shoes with Vinegar
The next one of our suede cleaning tips involves another store cupboard staple and that is white vinegar. White vinegar is a really versatile product not just in the kitchen but for cleaning everything from limescale to making your windows sparkle.
To use white vinegar to clean suede pour a small amount onto a soft cloth and then rub the product gently into the area where you have the stain. The suede surface should not stain if you use this method and you should hopefully find that the stain disappears. Now allow your shoes or suede boots to air dry.
When the vinegar has dried all you now need to do is use your suede brush to go over the area to lift the nap and hopefully your shoes should look as good as new.
Can You Use Vinegar and Baking Soda on Suede?
Whilst you can use vinegar and baking soda on your shoes separately we would never advise you to use them on your shoes together.
When vinegar and baking soda are mixed a chemical reaction takes place which causes the product to froth up and start producing carbon dioxide as well as sodium acetate which is a salt. This chemical reaction would damage your shoes rather than act as a suede cleaner.
Stick to one product at a time and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Whilst this mixture may damage your suede shoes it’s worth noting that this is a great way of cleaning the drain in your sink.
How to Clean Suede Shoes Without Suede Cleaner By Using Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol or Isopropyl alcohol as it is also known is another product that you may have lying around your home. Rubbing alcohol is a product that can help to remove grease stains, oil stains, and even blood stains without damaging the nap of the suede.
To use the product make sure that your suede sneakers or shoes aren’t wet and spray or pour a small amount of the alcohol onto a clean dry cloth. Rub the product into the stain and allow the alcohol to dry.
When the process has finished use a suede brush to restore the fabric nap.
Remember that if you are in any doubt about ruining your shoes make sure that you test a small area first in an inconspicuous area.
Rubbing alcohol is also great for solving another shoe problem and that is mold on leather. If you spritz the product onto any mold on leather and allow it to work for a few minutes before rubbing it off it should remove the mold completely. Just make sure that your use a leather conditioner afterward as it can dry out your shoes.
How to Clean Scuff Marks With a Magic Eraser
If you have scuff marks on your suede leather shoes or boots then another simple product that you can use to help is a magic eraser.
Magic erasers are made out of melamine foam and are great at removing scuff marks not just on shoes but on walls and cupboards as well. I have a supply of them around the house as they are brilliant at removing marks that might normally be hard to get rid of.
If you are using a magic eraser do not apply too much pressure whilst you are gently rubbing it over the dirt or stain. This is because with too much rubbing you can remove some of the suede fabric in the process.
If you want to move away from household products and buy a specialist suede cleaner then there is a product called a suede eraser that you can buy. Crep Protect sells one of the most popular on the market and you use this without water to remove marks on suede.
Note that both the suede eraser and the magic eraser can leave particles behind as you clean your suede boots or sneakers which you will need to remove with your suede brush.
Using a Steamer to Remove Stains and Dirt From Suede
Another product I can’t do without in the house is a garment steamer. They no longer cost the earth and are brilliant for getting creases out of my clothes and bed linen but did you know that you could use them to help revive and restore suede items?
Hold your shoes approximately five or six inches from the steamer and allow the steam to hit the shoe surface for a few seconds at a time. Just make sure that you are not allowing water to form on the shoe. This can help to loosen dirt or stains that are difficult to remove.
When the steamer has done its job blot the area that you have been working on and allow the shoe to dry. Use your suede brush afterward to make your shoe look pristine.
If you don’t have a steamer in your house the steam from a kettle can also work but be careful not to burn yourself in the process of cleaning your shoes.
Dealing With Water Stains
Water stains on suede shoes are another problem and look unsightly. Believe it or not the best way to deal with this is with water which sounds completely contrary but it can do the job easily and effectively and costs nothing.
Just lightly spray some water onto the area which has the water stains and use your suede brush to go over the area to lift the nap. Blot off any excess water and allow your suede shoes to dry and hopefully, the problem has vanished.
How To Clean Suede Shoes With Household Products Like Micellar Water
Learning how to clean suede shoes with baking soda and other household products is one thing but what about beauty products? Do they work as well?
In fact, there is one product that can work and that is micellar water which I normally use for removing my make-up. Micellar water wasn’t heard of a few years ago and now it is on every supermarket shelf because it can remove face and eye makeup gently without harming your skin. It can also work well in cleaning dirty suede shoes.
Just get a dry cloth and put some micellar water onto it and start to gently dab the stained areas of your shoes with the product. If your shoes are particularly covered in grime make sure that you use different sections of the cloth each time so you are not spreading any dirt that you have removed.
When you have finished removing as many stains or dirt as you can allow your shoes to try before once again giving them a quick once over with your suede brush.
Using a Suede Protector To Keep Your Footwear Looking Good
Whilst it is good to know how to clean suede shoes with baking soda, vinegar, magic erasers, and all the other products that we have mentioned it makes much more sense to try and protect your shoes in the first place.
Using a protective spray to stop your shoes from becoming damaged from water or stains makes sense as it can keep your shoes and favorite suede boots looking as good as new. This is because a good spray forms a protective barrier on your shoes and boots to stop the rain and other stains from penetrating into the fabric.
Crep Protect Shoe Protector Spray is a market leader when it comes to protecting your suede footwear. You need to use the spray once every two weeks to keep up the protection but if you do this you won’t have to mess around with all the household suede cleaners that I have mentioned. This makes sense as a can doesn’t cost much in relation to expensive shoes and suede sneakers.
Investing in a Cleaning Kit
Whilst household items can be useful for cleaning suede garments and shoes, especially in an emergency they are of course not the recommended products to use by shoe manufacturers. That means they have the potential to ruin your shoes.
If you do have expensive suede shoes investing in a suede cleaning kit may not be the worst idea as it means that you can be assured that the products you are using have been specially tested for the material.
GEAR AID does a great suede and nubuck cleaning kit which comes with a protector and eraser and has great reviews. Think about buying it if you are in any doubt about using some of the cheaper methods on expensive suede sneakers, shoes and boots.
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