How To Wash Suede

If you have a beloved pair of blue suede shoes, keep them looking their best by learning how to wash suede properly.  Regular, gentle maintenance does wonders for suede. The material cannot be polished like leather or scrubbed like other fabrics so learning how to wash suede is an important skill if you love the fabric, upholstery or those spiffy blue suede shoes.

To Wash Suede You Will Need;

  • Thick bath towel
  • Clean washcloth
  • Pencil eraser
  • Stale bread
  • Suede brush
  • Cornstarch
  • Sandpaper
  1. Rub suede with a thick bath towel to loosen the dirt. This also helps raise the nap.
  2. Blot with a thick towel if your suede item is caught in an accidental downpour.  Place several clean, neutral colored towels over the wet suede and press down.
  3. Stuff wet suede items with paper towels or washcloths while drying. Shoes or hats especially need to be stuffed in order to keep their shape. Coats should be laid out and blocked.  Do not use any heat to speed up the drying process.
  4. Stains can be erased, literally. Use a clean pencil eraser and gently rub out the stain.
  5. Stale bread is also a fantastic and cheap eraser. Let a crust less piece of bread become hard and dry and then rub on the dirty suede. This will soak up the stain and release the dirt.
  6. Try not to simply spot clean suede. If washing a suede couch or chair, be sure to use the same method over the entire surface. A warm washcloth can be rubbed over the upholstery to wipe off daily grime and raise the nap of the entire piece of furniture.
  7. Lightly brush suede with a rubber, nylon or brass wire brush. Use one that is specially made for cleaning suede. This will help remove any embedded mud or dirt.
  8. Vacuum the surface. This removes anything that might have been stirred up after washing suede or brushing it.
  9. Apply suede conditioner. This special product is available at shoe repair shops to help rejuvenate the color. 
  10. Attack body oil stains with a degreaser created especially for suede products.   The formula can help restore otherwise hopelessly stained suede.
  11. Dry cleaning is a common way of washing suede.  Consult the professionals if you come across a troubling stain on a favorite item. They will be able to access the damage. Otherwise, washing suede at home is perfectly acceptable for smaller day to day stains.
  12. Store suede items in breathable fabrics, like a pillow case. Be sure the items are stored in a dark place if possible as well.          
  13. Suede fades easily but can be dyed with a commercial dye from a leather repair center. Be sure the garment is completely clean before restoring to its original color or changing the color.
  14. Cornstarch can be sprinkled over a grease stain on suede. Grease stains may not come out, but for the best chance, cover with cornstarch or baby powder to soak up the grease. Then scrape up as much of the grease as possible. Sandpaper can be used to gently rub the area and release the stain.
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