Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Suede shoes look great when they are brand new but as anybody who has ever worn this type of footwear knows you do need to do some maintenance on them if you want to keep them looking great. Today I want to talk about one type of maintenance that is common with this material and that is how to fix bald spots on suede shoes.
Worn or bald spots on suede can often make people believe that their shoes are now unwearable but in fact, with some of our tips and hacks, it is possible to fix this problem and prolong the life of your footwear.
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Reasons for Bald Spots on Suede Shoes
Suede shoes are different from leather as they have a raised nap on the material. When your suede shoes are new this nap is upright giving the shoes their nice finish however over time this starts to get marked or damaged.
Wear and tear are the number one reason for scuff marks, stains, and bald spots on suede shoes. As you walk around in your shoes you are going to knock them against surfaces or you will be walking in less than ideal conditions and that will start to make the flatten or damage the nap in certain areas. Whilst wear and tear can’t be avoided using a suede protector and brushing the shoes with a suede brush after each use can help to limit any damage.
The weather can also impact the suede fibers and speed up the process of bald spots. Wearing your suede shoes in the rain or leaving them in direct sunlight means that they are being subjected to temperature extremes and too much moisture. Suede is a material that doesn’t age well in harsh conditions so where possible try and wear your shoes in weather conditions that are less likely to impact your footwear.
Of course dirt, grime, and oil stains should also be considered when wearing your favorite shoes. Suede shoes are not going to hold up well in muddy or dirty conditions or in a work setting where there are products around that could harm the material.
Finally, you should think about how your store your suede shoes. Throwing suede shoes into a pile of other shoes is going to leave them battered and will cause damage to the nap. Make sure you store them in a place where they are not on top of other shoes and in a place where they aren’t subject to temperature extremes or dampness.
Can You Fix Bald Suede Shoes?
The good news is that unless your suede shoes are incredibly damaged it is possible to fix bald spots and remove stubborn stains with some of our simple tips for reviving your footwear.
Whilst we can give you some tips and pointers on some of the actions you can take to help clean suede shoes and make them look like new please be aware that anything you do is at your own risk. If you are in any way worried about any of the methods we talk about test an inconspicuous spot on your shoes first. If your shoes are particularly expensive talk to a local cobbler as they may be able to resolve the problem professionally.
Cobblers have specialist equipment, tools, and knowledge that enable them to repair even the most difficult shoe problems so they are always great people to talk to if you have any doubts about how to repair your shoes.
How Do You Fix Worn Suede Shoes?
We are going to talk about how to fix bald spots on suede shoes with the methods outlined below. Where possible choose the simplest options first and if they don’t work you can move on to some of the more complex solutions to see if they will work.
Some of our favorite methods for helping to restore suede fibers include:
- Using a suede eraser.
- Using a suede brush.
- Sneaky Suede Revive Stick
- Working with fabric glue.
- Using sandpaper.
- Ironing your shoes.
- Using rubbing alcohol
Fix Worn Spots With A Suede Eraser
If you have never heard of a suede eraser it is a great cleaning product that comes in a block shape and is made of natural rubber. It is a great product to use your fixing bald spots on suede especially if they are not very large.
All you need to do is gently rub the eraser over the affected area when the suede is dry and it should pick up any dirt or grime that is held in the fabric. The eraser also helps to raise the nap in the suede so that the bald spot becomes invisible again.
There are a couple of alternatives that you can use if you don’t have a suede eraser around. Firstly you could try a normal pencil rubber and rub that over the affected area when your suede shoes are dry.
Alternatively, some people have used a magic eraser to help clean suede and raise the nap of the fabric.
We always recommend that you should use tried and tested methods first. A suede eraser is less likely to cause any damage to your shoes and likely to give you the best results.
Revive Your Shoes With a Brush
An alternative to a suede eraser is a suede brush. There are a number of different suede brushes on the market but the ones that we find the most effective are the brushes that have both rubber and nylon or metal bristles.
When you rub any bald spots on suede shoes with the brush you are helping to lift up the nap of the fabric which helps to restore the original look.
Suede brushes can also help to tackle scuff marks and help to lift any dirt or grime that is trapped within the fabric. As suede brushes are relatively inexpensive it makes sense to buy one if you regularly wear suede shoes as they can be used to maintain your shoes between each wear.
Can You Fix Peeled Suede With Household Products?
There are two products that can help act as a suede cleaner or stain remover and they are distilled white vinegar or alternative rubbing alcohol. The reason they work well is that they don’t cause permanent stains on the suede leather.
If your bald spots or peeled suede are caused by a stain then they are great products to help lift it. Just use a clean plain cloth and pour a small amount of one of the products onto the cloth and rub it into the stain. Add more if needed but do this bit by bit.
Leave your shoes to dry and when the product has evaporated just use your suede brush to raise the nap again. This should help your suede boots or shoes look as good as new.
Fixing Bald Spots With Sandpaper
Learning how to fix bald spots on suede shoes can sometimes be as simple as getting hold of a DIY favorite and that is sandpaper. Suede shoe repairs with Sandpaper can help to fix bald spots because the rough surface can raise the fabric’s nap.
The key to doing this without damaging your suede shoes is starting with a fine sandpaper grit and gently rubbing over the problem area in a circular motion to see if that helps to fix bald areas. If that is not enough then think about using a medium grit to see if that is making a difference to the shoe.
If you don’t have any sandpaper in the house an emery board that you use to file nails can also do a similar job. Just make sure it is the type of emery board that is gritted and not the metal kind.
Using Water to Restore Your Suede
Under normal circumstances, you really want to avoid getting suede leather shoes too wet as this can cause water stains on the fabric however sometimes a little water can work well for bald patches.
Bald patches are generally just areas of suede material that have been flattened over time because of wear and tear, dirt, or stains. Water can help to lift that flattened material providing you do not saturate your shoes.
Just place some water in a spray bottle and spritz it on the impacted area. Then use a soft cloth to rub and lift the nap in that shoe section. Blot off any excess water with either another clean dry cloth or paper towel. Air dry the shoe and it should have restored the suede leather.
Water can also help actually remove water stains as well which seems contrary but it does help. Just spray the water over the area with the water stain and then use your suede brush over the stain line to help it disappear. Use paper towels to blot the area dry and hopefully the water stain will also have gone.
If You Have Bald Patches Use Steam
Our next solution to help you learn how to fix bald spots on suede shoes needs to be used with some caution because it involves steam. The steam can come from an iron, a steamer, or alternatively a kettle to help lift those suede fibers.
Without sounding too obvious steam is incredibly hot so you need to be super careful when trying this method as you absolutely do not want to burn yourself or damage your shoes or boots.
So cautiously find a way of holding your shoes over the steam from the warm water for a few minutes. The idea is to heat the suede and allow the moisture to permeate the fabric but not to start to saturate with water. When you think you have done enough remove the shoe and gently use a suede brush to brush the material to remove any dirt, grime, or marks whilst at the same time lifting the fabric.
You can use a clean cloth or paper towel to remove any excess moisture and then allow the suede to dry naturally.
How to Prevent Bald Spots on Suede Shoes
Whilst it is useful to know how to fix bald spots on suede shoes we are great believers in prevention rather than cure. Whilst you obviously can’t avoid damaging suede with constant use you can do things that will help to limit the damage.
To take care of suede leather shoes try where possible to wear them in good weather conditions. Getting them wet will cause water damage and stains.
Use a suede brush on them after each wear to brush off any dirt or grime. Then store your shoes or boots in an area that is away from direct sunlight and isn’t near heat sources such as hot radiators.
Use a suede protector before wearing your shoes to help them to repel stains and moisture. Crep Protect is recommended for Suede and Nubuck and is a great product for helping to lessen water damage and stains.
For more specialist cleaning products if you do get a stain, you can try Saphir Omnidaim Nubuck & Suede Cleaner which is a liquid that helps to penetrate into the material to remove stains.
Follow these simple steps and you should find that your shoes will stay looking good for longer.
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