How to Clean Suede

One of the downsides of being a fashionista: your clothes are bigger divas than you are. If you don’t know how to clean suede, for instance, you have a chic, high-maintenance garment on your ends that looks amazing until it gets dirty.

But take comfort my fashionista, because dirty does not mean ruined. You can make that suede jacket look practically like new as long as you know what do to. Read on to find out.

How to Clean Suede

1. Read the Directions

Not all suedes are created equal. Some versions of the fabric are easier to clean than others, so check the label to see what you’re working with.

2. Choose Your Weapon

Depending on the mess you’re dealing with, you may need a blade or knife, a suede brush (a nylon nail brush or toothbrush will do), and crepe rubber or a #2 pencil. You may also need a bath towel or even low-grade sand paper. The tools are diverse depending on what you’re garment and your mess, but combined, they’re still be cheaper than dry cleaning. Another tool you’ll want: good cleaning products, of course!

Luxury Shoecare Suede & Nubuck Brush and Block Kit, $10, Dillards

3. For Slight Defects: Ladies, Start Your… Brushes

Use a suede eraser, crepe rubber, or a pencil eraser to remove marks, shine, and some dry stains. The suede eraser works great, and they only cost a few dollars. Whatever you use, start out gently and add pressure as needed. If dealing with grime or stains, you’ll be able to see the marks actually lift off of the suede and onto the rubber—even marks that have been ground deep into the suede. When finished, use the suede brush or bath towel to work the fabric back into its original smoothness.

Latex & Suede Eraser, $11.81,

For clumps of dirt or scuffs, use a nail brush or toothbrush and gently rub back and forth. If the small suede stain is dry, use a pencil eraser to literally erase the stain away. Make sure you use a new pencil eraser that hasn’t been used to erase pencil marks, lest you create more stains for yourself to clean up.

4. For Second-degree Flaws: Rain on Your Suede

If the suede is recently wet, let it dry and then try using the suede brush or bath towel. If the water marks are old (most common with suede shoes), one method to try is re-wetting the whole item with a spray bottle and then sponging off excess moisture. When the suede dries, the trouble spot should blend with the rest of the suede. If your get suede shoes wet, insert crumpled paper to maintain shape as they dry.

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Catherine Brock

Catherine Brock is a writer, editor and marketer who's been sharing wisdom online since 2002. She's been featured on, and ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis and KCAL9 Los Angeles. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. Learn more about Catherine.
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