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What is the Best Way to Clean Suede?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 21, 2024
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You should clean suede only with products recommended for suede leather rather than just using a general leather cleaner. Vinegar or soap may also be used to clean suede in some cases, but you should always test any cleaning products on an area of the suede item that does not show. Suede stains very easily, so the best way to avoid having to clean suede constantly is by spraying on a good protective spray made exclusively for suede leather.

A suede eraser or a pencil eraser is a good item to have on hand when you clean suede. A suede eraser is a block-shaped cleaning tool made for cleaning suede shoes and other suede items. The cleaner in the eraser forms crumb-like particles that help to get under the surface of the suede to lift up ground-in soil. A dried stain may come out of suede if you apply pressure with a pencil eraser, or a suede eraser.

A metal suede brush is great to use after you clean suede with an eraser as it can smooth the roughened surface. The metal bristles can help bring back a fluffier texture to the suede. The brush should be used in circular movements for best results. A suede brush is usually good for use on any suede item such as shoes, coats or sofas.

You can clean suede that becomes wet with a suede brush. It is a good idea to stuff clean paper carefully into wet suede shoes after cleaning so that they retain their shape. A suede metal brush is often good for removing scuff marks from suede shoes.

A towel can be used to scrub a suede leather sofa and clean suede coats and even suede shoes. Use a dry towel to scrub the suede. You can usually use just a little bit of vinegar to clean suede, but, again, be sure to first test it in a location that does not show on the sofa, garment or shoes.

Body oils may stain the collar of a suede coat or the back of a suede sofa. A soft dry cloth may work if the stain is fairly light. A suede brush may also work. If the oil stain is really heavy, a degreaser leather cleaner made especially for suede leather may be your best bet. Cold water and glycerine soap often work well to clean suede work or garden gloves that are heavily soiled. You should manipulate the gloves as you clean them to help the gloves keep their shape. Hang the clean suede gloves to dry.

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Discussion Comments
By anon320854 — On Feb 20, 2013

I bought a suede dress. Can I dye it?

By anon245229 — On Feb 04, 2012

I have a pair of grey bucks which got either champagne or beer stains on them. What is the best way to get those stains out?

By anon243939 — On Jan 30, 2012

I purchased a suede jacket at a thrift store. How can I clean it since I don't know where it has been? I know it sounds silly but I had been pricing this jacket at the regular stores and it was over $100 dollars and this was to me at that time the bargain of a lifetime.

I guess it really wasn't now that I think about it, but I have it now and it's my mistake. Help, if you can. Thank you in advance. Not so much clean but refresh.

By anon160843 — On Mar 17, 2011

I have just bought a pair of suede boots from ebay and one of them is slightly lighter brown than the other due to being on display. How can i correct this?

By anon139449 — On Jan 04, 2011

I have a suede jacket and had an accident with eating and now an oil stain is permanently embedded on my coat. Can you please tell me how this can be removed?

By anon124997 — On Nov 08, 2010

My 19 month old daughter was lying on our suede sofa and had an accident that went right through her diaper and clothes (diarrhea). How do I clean it and can I save my sofa?

By anon122622 — On Oct 28, 2010

Formaldehyde: 1 teaspoon mixed with half liter of water will get rid of pet urine smells. It is an irritant! Wear gloves and open all windows. Do not inhale fumes. This works for the most stubborn smells.

By anon110935 — On Sep 14, 2010

For PFC M, an old pharmacist gave me this secret years ago. If you put a small amount of boric acid inside the shoes and leave it there for a day of two, it will take the bad smell out of the shoes. It does work for me.

Good luck, M.A.

By anon105410 — On Aug 20, 2010

I am a U.S. Marine and my MCCUU desert boots reek something awful. Boots are an expensive piece of equipment and I do not want to replace this good pair (broken in and have served me well). Anyway, how do I get the smells out of them? It is mostly fire/smoke/refuse smell. Thank you. Respectfully, PFC M

By anon88436 — On Jun 04, 2010

My son's nose bled on our suede sofa. How do I clean this?

By anon75216 — On Apr 06, 2010

A bunch of bottles of Sunflower oil drenched my suede shoe (Woodland). can you help in how to clean it?

By anon73839 — On Mar 29, 2010

I was transporting suede coaches that got caught in a rain storm and are soaked. Is there anything I can do to save them?

By anon63342 — On Feb 01, 2010

How do you remove ball point ink stain?

By anon56410 — On Dec 14, 2009

Having a suede sofa when you have kids is probably not the smartest move.

With some of the problems above, I wonder if you could dye the suede a darker color so the stains don't show?

By anon50026 — On Oct 25, 2009

And I thought my problem was weird! Here it is: a bunch of bottles of olive oil fell off a grocery store shelf, broke and drenched my suede shoe in EVOO. The dry cleaner I took it to said soap and water. Didn't work. Help!

By anon46765 — On Sep 28, 2009

LOL. OK i have a good one. I have a pair of my suede combat boots, still with good soles, just bad stains from my job. any ideas how to clean them? they're really discolored.

By anon46494 — On Sep 26, 2009

how do you get dried banana out of a suede sofa? My little girl thought it was funny.

By anon45044 — On Sep 13, 2009

I have a light brown leather/suede motorcycle jacket. How should i remove or clean dirt, insects and rain from parts of my jacket that have suede?

By Hayleyy93 — On Jun 21, 2009

My cousin has accidentally spilled alcohol on my mams suede couch and blamed me; I used clothes stain remover to get the damp patches off and rubbed it with a cloth.

The stains had gone but the couch is a dark brown and the rubbing had made it lighter and rough. I tried a suede shoe brush to make it fluffier which has worked but you can still tell because it's still light.

How can i make the light patches look darker? Pleasee help!

By anon32041 — On May 15, 2009

A great reviver and odor remover, as well as getting rid of minor grease stains on suede, is to sprinkle item with baby powder, leave overnight, shake and then brush out residue. Your garment/shoes will look brighter, cleaner, smell fresher with no ill effects or damage to the pile.

By anon32025 — On May 15, 2009

I have a suede leather jacket that has faded in one spot due to hanging where it was in the sun, what can I use to repair this problem?

By anon29558 — On Apr 04, 2009

I have a pair of suede shoes (I believe they are made of suede anyway). They are comfortable for walking, etc. Obviously I didn't know anything about a suede protector prior to wearing, now they are pretty 'dirty'... what shall I do? I need to find cobblers who might offer shoe cleaning, I think they are not common in Asia.

By anon27260 — On Feb 25, 2009

i've read a couple of times about "degreaser leather cleaner made especially for suede" but no one's mentioning any names or other specifics, does anybody know?

By anon24847 — On Jan 19, 2009

I borrowed my mom's NEW suede gloves-- and well, Took the dog for a walk- being a caring citizen picked up the "caca" which got all over the gloves. $100 to dryclean GLOVES!! help!

By AuthorSheriC — On Nov 17, 2008

nklhathu: You could also try a water and vinegar solution to move salt stains on suede boots, but the stains sound like they have been there a long time. Salt stains should usually be removed from suede right away before they set. Hopefully, the vinegar and water and eraser method will still work for you though!

By AuthorSheriC — On Nov 17, 2008

Dece & Ruffin: The eraser method I described in the article is known to work to remove stickers from suede. Try several different erasers and rub the eraser gently over the sticker bits. The next option is too ask at your local building supply store for a "goo" remover and try it first inside a seam in the jacket.

Damncouch: You may need a degreaser leather cleaner. Ask at your local home building store or even furniture stores that sell suede sofas. Be sure to try the product first in an area that doesn't show such as on the bottom of the couch.

nklhatha: It's unusual -- and unfortunate! -- that the suede protector didn't protect the boots from marks. Was it not of good quality? In any case, rub the marks with a pencil eraser. Try several different types. I hope this works!

By nklhanthu — On Nov 07, 2008

I have a pair of light tan suede boots that I dearly love. I helped a friend move last x-mas and got salt stains all over them--even though they were "supposed" to be protected with suede protector, how can I clear them? I have tried several dry cleaning places, but with no luck.

By Dece — On Oct 20, 2008

I also stuck a sticker on my brand new suede jacket and can't get it all off!!!! I am upset. Can anyone help me?

By damncouch — On Jul 15, 2008

good afternoon everyone..if you can, can youpleasehelp me quick......i have a son who has autism he wanted to put baby oil on his body, but didn't ask for help..he got a huge spot in the middle of my new suede section couch......what do i do? plzzzz help

By ruffin — On May 01, 2008

I have a suede jacket & stupidly put a sticker name tag on it. I got most of it off but there's still a little bit left. How can I get it off?

By AuthorSheriC — On Mar 24, 2008

Re: Cat pee stains on suede shoes -- sorry, I meant to add this with my post on the ink and gasoline stain above!

By AuthorSheriC — On Mar 24, 2008

Re: Marilyn -- Very interesting comment about Roberts Shoe Store and the white suede! I can't imagine anything harder to keep clean than white suede!

By AuthorSheriC — On Mar 24, 2008

Re: Ink stain and gasoline stain: If the eraser method described in the article doesn't work, professional help may be needed. If a professional product or service still won't help, then perhaps adding some creative appliques or embroidery that suits the pieces might work. A creative solution of some kind may be necessary!

By AuthorSheriC — On Mar 24, 2008

Re: Odors on suede. Vinegar neutralizes odors and is considered quite safe on suede. But be sure to try rubbing a cloth lightly dampened with vinegar on an inside seam or area that doesn't show first. You want to make sure that it will not damage your garment or sofa! Rub lightly across the grain. This should help on all types of odors. Let me know if this works! I do this at home and it helps! I also use this trick to freshen up bath mats and kitchen mats from pet odors/hair etc.

By MarilynM949 — On Mar 21, 2008

Roberts Shoe Store carries a little bag with white powder in it for keeping white suede leather shoes looking like new. Roberts Shoe Store can be found on the internet. We used to call these "bunny packs" when I was in grade school, and even girls wore white buck shoes.

By Shirilee — On Mar 21, 2008

I have a 25yr old pair of suede shoes I recently retrieved from the back of the closet since the style has come back into fashion. I cleaned the black marks with an eraser, (which I had first cleaned by rubbing it on white paper) then I rubbed over the whole shoe with very fine steel wool (No. 0000) I tore a piece off and used it like a soft cloth with a circular motion gently, and then against the nap to raise it. It worked a treat, my shoes look fabulous and thoroughly modern!

By anon7656 — On Jan 31, 2008

I think in all situations these methods are a good first step; however, if you have something you can't take care of yourself, take it to a professional. Be sure to tell them what you've already done to the item so that anything they use to clean it won't negatively interact.

By anon7379 — On Jan 25, 2008

Yuck! My husband ate at a Mexican restaurant and now his suede jacket reeks of onion and various food odors! How do you eliminate this odor from the jacket??????

By anon6680 — On Jan 06, 2008

Yeah I would also really enjoy knowing how to get pee stains off of my suede shoes. haha my cat went a little bonkers.

By ddefreitas — On Jan 01, 2008

What do I use to clean ball point pen ink from my suede jacket?

By awingerter — On Nov 06, 2007

I spilt gasoline on my suede coat. It turned the spots pink. It is a washable coat, it says to not dry clean it.

By anon4513 — On Oct 21, 2007

I would love an answer! I have a suede dress (Bavarian Folk Dance) and my friend's baby, shall we say, leaked his entire diaper on me. How does one "clean" tinkle of any kind off suede, and have it not retain that smell?

By anon796 — On May 04, 2007

how do I clean and rid the smell of dog urine on my suede couch?

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