Cleaning Suede

May 5, 2004

Suede footwear is expensive and difficult to care for. Suede is one of the few materials which cannot be cleaned successfully with water. In fact, weather can transform the smooth, velvety surface into one that is harsh and uneven.


These simple ideas will help to extend the life of suede boots. Never wear them in the rain or snow. A light application of silicon spray before wearing them for the first time will help prevent water from doing too much damage. After spraying, dry the boots away from direct heat, which may stiffen and crack the suede. After they are completely dry, restore the nap by gently rubbing with fine sandpaper or an emery board.

The silicon spray will also help protect against soil build up and rock salt stains. Loose dirt should be removed after every wearing by brushing the boots with a dry sponge, towel, gum eraser or suede brush. Fresh rock salt stains should also be removed before they have a chance to set. Dab the stain with a little clear water.

Grease stains can be removed by applying a bit of dry cleaning solvent mixed with an absorbent such as fuller's earth or sawdust. Never use a dry cleaning solvent alone, for it will leave rings and spots that cannot be removed. And even when used with an absorbent, dry cleaning solvent, should be used very cautiously. Solvents may remove color from suede, for the color is only on the surface. Always test the solvent mixture first on a tiny inconspicuous area of the shoe.


It may be best to have suede boots professionally cleaned by a reputable suede cleaning establishment. Resist the temptation to wear new footwear until you have polished them first with a stain-repellent product or plain shoe polish.

To remove salt stains from leather shoes and winter boots, wipe them with a solution of 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

To cover ugly scuff marks on leather, use a matching color in acrylic paint, indelible felt marker, or crayon.

Remove light scuff marks with an art-gum eraser.

For a speedy clean and shine on patent leather, rub a minute amount of petroleum jelly over your shoes and buff or use a spray glass cleaner.

Leather footwear should be aired out after every wearing, and periodically sprayed inside with a disinfectant or clothes deodorizer. Store them in soft cloth or tissue paper, never in plastic bags. Cornell Cooperative Extension Yates Association

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May 3, 2016

To remove stains from things like your Ugg boots, coat, jacket, gloves, and anything made from real suede, use an eraser. Even a eraser on a pencil will work, but it must be absolutely clean.


Just rub over the stain and it will disappear completely. After I do this, I use a small brush to get new looking results.

Remove Suede Stains with Clean Pencil Eraser

July 23, 2010

I have a brown suede skirt that I LOVE but when I took it to have it dry-cleaned, they wanted $50! I don't love it enough to spend a couple hundred dollars a year to clean it. I thanked the woman behind the counter but said, "No Thanks."


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 297 Posts
November 25, 2011

To get sticky adhesive off suede items, gently run with a pink eraser then wash the suede in the laundry as usual on the gently cycle.


February 11, 2005

I use (very inexpensive) granules for grease/oil on shop floor. I use coffee bean grinder to make fine powder (comes in 1/4 inch granules) and rub into oil stain on suede shoes.


Voila! It works!


March 28, 2005

To save on cleaning bills and headaches, don't buy anything in suede! It seems that every issue of Daily Thrifty Tip has a request on how to get a stain out of suede.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
February 22, 2012

I have a lovely dark brown leather wallet with suede sides. Somehow it got light make up stains on it! I have taken spots out with white powder before, the powder absorbs grease.


24 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

May 13, 2021

A week ago, I bought a gorgeous vintage Penny Lane-style suede/shearling coat (eBay). Made in the 1970s, it's roughly 52 years old (almost as old as I am). It's in excellent condition with just a few spots here and there. No odors and clean sherpa lining.

Usually, I clean all my other leather and suede clothing, handbags, etc. with Obenauf's and won't use anything else. Specialized leather/suede cleaners are out of the question. I've had terrible experiences with regular dry cleaners and prefer to DIY. If you have any other suggestions that I could try naturally, to keep me out of dry cleaner hell. My motto is reuse/repurpose and buy vintage. This coat still has lots of life left in it. Thanks in advance.


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
May 13, 20210 found this helpful
Best Answer

I will say that I've spot cleaned this type of suede and it turned out okay so I believe you can do this if the spots/stains are small and not too many.


One thing that sometimes happens when you clean spots is the cleaned area will be lighter than the rest of the garment. Try to feather out as you clean and this may not happen.
Always remember, no matter what method you use - do not wet the coat; just lightly clean with a damp cloth.
Most sites recommend a few drops of plain hair shampoo or mild detergent (no Woolite); dab at spot and then wipe soap away with a damp cloth:

Martha Stewart's blog on this:
Other tips:


Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 440 Answers
May 24, 20210 found this helpful
Best Answer

Suede is a far more delicate material than leather. Regular light cleaning should ensure that your coat always looks its best.
Use a two-sided suede brush to clean your coat. The wire side is effective in removing dry mud or dirt and the soft side can then be used to buff up the nap. Only ever use the wire brush on dry suede and never apply extreme pressure or you may damage the surface of the suede. Always brush in the direction of the grain.


If your coat is stained, rub the area with a white pencil eraser or use a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar applied to tackle stains with a sponge. Spraying rubbing alcohol onto stains and rubbing with a sponge is also an effective method of stain removal.

If you have oil stains, then apply an absorbent substance such as corn starch, baking powder or talcum powder and leave overnight.

Water stains can be removed by spraying the jacket with a mist of water and then soaking up the moisture with paper towels.

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May 4, 2021

I have this mark on my suede headboard. I'm not sure what it is. Ihave tried using a steamer to get rid of it but it didn't work.

I also tried using a fabric brush but it didn't help. I'm not sure if it's the actual material?

A stain on a suede headboard.
A stain on a suede headboard.
A stain on a suede headboard.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
May 4, 20210 found this helpful
Best Answer

You could try an art gum eraser. If it is dirt, it will come off. If it is a stain, you may have to have it professionally cleaned.


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,298 Posts
May 20, 20210 found this helpful
Best Answer

There should be a label on the back of the headboard to let you know the material. From there, you can research care guide for that specific material (if its suede or what the fabric is to clean it).

I've been hearing about the BISSELL Little Green ProHeat Portable Deep Cleaner as a great cleaning tool!

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March 5, 2005

I have a request on how to get stains out of a tan colored suede vest. I took to the dry cleaners but they wanted 35 bucks to do it. Any way I can do it myself?



By kendra (Guest Post)
March 14, 20050 found this helpful

I used to work at Danier leather and have found that they offer a stone and a suede cleaning brush seem to work fairly well. They are cheap, so it might be worth a try. Even takle the vest in to them and they may have better ideas. They are usually pretty good about giving cleaning and care advice.

By (Guest Post)
January 4, 20060 found this helpful

I have a washable suede jacket that is too big so it would be nice to shrink it. What would happen if I put it in the front loading washing machine?? How do they make washable suede washable?

By ju-ju (Guest Post)
September 10, 20060 found this helpful

I read somewhere to try a fine-medium grit sandpaper. Well, I did just that today. Excellent results removing dirt, stains, and it rejuvenated the nap of the suede. Best part was, no chemicals or dollars$$$$

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April 13, 2020

How do I get dried chicken grease out of waterproof suede boots?

Cleaning Fat Stains Off of Waterproof Suede Boots - light gray suede boots


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
April 13, 20200 found this helpful

It looks like almost every site recommends using cornstarch.
I'm not sure how well it will work on dried fat stains and waterproofed boots may be even more difficult.
I think you should read several suggestions and settle on one to try. Maybe give it a little time and if necessary repeat it or try something else.

They do sell a suede cleaning kit that might help bringing the suede back to life after spots are gone.

Check out these sites to see if any look promising to you.

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October 10, 2015

My suede jacket was washed in a washing machine, then dried in the dryer. My jacket is now too small because it has shrunk. Is there anything I can do to "stretch it"?


Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
October 10, 20150 found this helpful

Leather is animal skin. Most leather clothing is usually neither washer nor dryer washable. Your suede jacket is most probably permanently shrunk.


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 337 Feedbacks
October 12, 20150 found this helpful

No likely. Leather is not washable nor dry-able. I do not know of any way to get it back.

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November 8, 2009

Does anyone have an easy solution for cleaning suede?

By Sabrina Barr


November 8, 20090 found this helpful

I once used psst (a spray on dry shampoo for the hair) and a suede brush on a jacket with good results. Try on an inside seam or a spot that is not obvious first for any discolorations. because suede is finicky a lot of cleaners refuse to accept them. Good luck, carla

November 8, 20090 found this helpful

If the suede is light colored (tan) a sprinkling of corn meal rubbed in will clean it.. An Nunley10 says, the dye process is questionable; so 'travel at your own risk'. Oddly enough the best Cleaners in Memphis were named Nunnelly :) (three 'N's) and they did clean all leathers.

Answer this Question

I have an ink line or permanent marker in red on my new suede jacket on the back. I need to found out how I can get it clean.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,


By Shelly (Guest Post)
December 16, 20040 found this helpful

Walmart sells a suede cleaning kit (pretty cheap) that looks like an eraser. I've had luck in removing all kinds of marks (including grease) from suede shoes. You might give it a try. In that there are no chemicals involved it certainly couldn't "hurt" your jacket.

By (Guest Post)
June 23, 20050 found this helpful

try Oreck's carpet cleaner. it takes perm marker out of carpet.

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January 20, 2014

Any tips for cleaning suede pocketbook?

By Tonella E.

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January 19, 2017

Because of its nap, suede requires some special care when trying to remove stains. This is a page about removing a butter stain on suede.

A piece of toast with melted butter.

August 8, 2016

This is a page about cleaning a suede jacket. Because of its nap, suede jackets should be cleaned following the best process for this type of leather.

Camel colored suede jacket with fringe

October 31, 2019

A new suede jacket or other piece of clothing can be quite stiff until broken in, as can items that get wet. There are a few ways to soften suede, including wearing it often, using a conditioner, or taking it to a dry cleaner or leather specialist.

A fringed suede jacket.

January 19, 2017

Candle wax is a challenging cleaning job, especially when you are also working with a surface such as suede. This is a page about cleaning candle wax on suede.

Melted votive candles surrounded by wax.

September 27, 2016

This is a page about cleaning blood from suede. Cleaning stains on suede clothing or other items can be a bit tricky. You need to take care not to damage the nap while cleaning.

Display of suede jacket, pants, boots, and umbrella

August 8, 2016

This is a page about cleaning a suede purse. Suede is a very attractive leather product, but it can be difficult to clean, in part because of it is highly absorbent.

Purple suede purse

August 8, 2016

This is a page about cleaning suede shoes. Just like smooth leather shoes you will need to routinely clean your suede shoes.

Pair of blue suede shoes on white background

March 3, 2016

This is a page about cleaning a suede couch. Suede upholstery has its own cleaning requirements to keep your couch looking nice.

Man's arms holding squirt bottle and small brush cleaning orange suede couch

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