How to clean and protect mens suede shoes


Everything you need to know to keep your suede shoes in top condition.
Image: gogoiso

If you’ve ever been put off buying a snazzy pair of suede shoes because you think they’re a nightmare to keep clean, you’re in for a surprise. Because while it’s true that suede takes a bit more care than leather, the extra effort really is minimal. Here’s all you need to know to keep your suede kicks in top condition.

Quick tips on how to clean and protect suede shoes at home:

  • Apply a suede protection spray regularly to avoid damage.
  • Remove any dirt as soon as it’s dry with a clean cloth or a suede brush.
  • For tougher stains, a suede rubber or pencil eraser works just as well.
  • Use talc or cornflower to absorb liquid stains.
  • Don’t wear your suede shoes if rain or snow are forecast.



Protect suede shoes with a simple spray-on product.
Image: Shutterstock

That it’s easy to damage the soft nap of a pair of suede shoes is perfectly obvious, but why let your shoes get ruined in the first place? Especially given the fact that suede protection is a simple matter of spraying the correct water and stain proofing product on your shoes before you use them, and then every couple of months thereafter.

You may also wish to protect your shoes from the vagaries of the British climate by reserving your suede for those days when you’re as certain as you can be, that it won’t rain – an increasingly achievable ambition given how much more accurate Met Office weather forecasting is than it was when Michael Fish got it so badly wrong.



Keep your loafers looking good as new with regular use of a suede brush.
Featured: Prestige Penny Loafers from the suede collection at Samuel Windsor

Of course dirt and grime are unavoidable, but with the help of a soft cloth, a suede brush – which you can buy online for about a fiver – and a little elbow grease, most muddy missteps can be rectified before they do your shoes any serious mischief.

If you do get mud or other debris on your suede shoes, simply wipe off the worst of the crud and allow them to dry before giving them a once over with your suede brush. You should brush gently in the direction of the nap until you’ve removed all the dirt.

Tougher stains may require the services of a suede rubber, or if you don’t have one, a standard pencil eraser will do. Crepe rubber suede brushes are another option for removing tough stains.



Swift action with a suede rubber will resolve many mishaps.
Image: Nor Gal

You’re mid flow on your favourite topic, so much so that you don’t notice the ketchup oozing from your overstuffed burger. The next thing you know, a dollop of the red stuff falls to the ground, splattering the toes of your precious suede brogues.

On returning home, you bin your shoes and vow never again to wear suede to a barbecue. Don’t be such a drama queen. All you needed to do to save your shoes from annihilation was was take swift action.

Treat accidental spills by powdering the affected area with talc or cornflower. This soaks up the liquid, preventing it from penetrating the nap of the suede. Let the shoes dry out thoroughly before giving them a brush. All good? Now all you need to do is learn not to drone on about your model trains.



Don’t let rain or water damage ruin your favourite pair of shoes.
Image: Muneeb Syed on Unsplash

Do you already have a pair of suede shoes ruined by water stains? There’s no need to despair – there’s life in the old treads yet. Here’s what to do:

It’s counterintuitive, but the first step on the path to renovating water-damaged suede is to wet it. Dip your suede brush in water and use it to thoroughly dampen your shoes with an even coat of water all over.

Now stuff your shoes with paper – not newspaper which can stain – or a shoe tree. This helps your shoes keep their shape while they’re drying. Allow the shoes to air for a full 24 hours or until they’re completely dry.

At this stage the water marks should be far less noticeable. Now give the suede a once over with your now dry suede brush, and watch that nap return to its former glory.



A burst of steam from an iron works wonders on flattened suede.
Featured: Prestige Lightweight Brogue in Navy Suede from Samuel Windsor

Over time, suede can sometimes flatten, but there’s no need to despair. To revive the nap, back brush it with your suede brush, going against the nap of the suede until the fibres stand up once again.

You may also find that brief exposure to a burst of steam from a steam iron can help fluff up your suede, returning it to its former condition.

Got salt stains? No problem. Dampen a clean rag with a little white vinegar and apply to the suede, working it into the affected area before allowing it to dry before giving the shoes a brush.

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Posted in How To - Shoes.