Suede is a stylish but delicate material and there are several techniques for cleaning suede items. We explain each method below.
Cleaning method #1 – Brushing (after heavy use)
This involves a brass wire brush or an actual suede brush (the kind with a visibly fuzzy nap). Perform quick, light strokes while using either one so the bristles get deep into the fibres removing dirt or dust.
Do NOT press too much except for stubborn marks. Don’t brush on top of a hard surface, instead place a towel underneath the garment.
Always brush the nap of the suede in one direction. This keeps the garment looking consistently clean and tidy.
Alternatively, try a suede eraser (or a standard pencil eraser) to remove dirt smudges or stains – and it's okay to rub harder with this option.
If the nap of your garment looks tired and flat, hold it above steam from a kettle (or better yet a steam cleaner) for a few seconds and then proceed to brush.
Cleaning method #2 – Dab with water (for wet garments)
This is a legitimate way to use water for preventing stains – particularly on a clean wet jacket. If you just spilled water, apply pressure on it with a cotton towel.
If you have the patience to wait for the moisture to dry, you may avoid a water stain. For jackets that are water-stained but not soaked, spray/brush a thin layer of water evenly over the area. Brush the stains gently and work around the edges.
The next step is the same whether the jacket was soaked in the rain or covered with water. Use a sponge or dry cloth to soak up any excess water. Dab gently until the leather is evenly wet.
Leave the jacket overnight in a dry, ventilated area. Once dry (or while still drying if you prefer) go over the jacket lightly with a suede brush. This helps to bring it back to its original look.
Note: Never put a suede item next to a heater or in a dryer. The high heat can cause it to shrink, fade, become warped or as stiff as denim.
Cleaning method #3 – Cornstarch / talcum powder
If you spilled liquid on your suede item, pat the affected spot with a clean cloth and apply a layer of corn starch or talcum powder. Let it settle overnight. Then use a suede brush to remove the dried powder. Don't be tempted to clean wet stains, you will only make them worse.
Once the stain is dry, rub it using either (A) a suede cleaning block, (B) an emery board, or (C) a low-grit sandpaper, but rub carefully. When you have removed the stain, brush and spray the item. Then use an eraser to restore the nap.
Cleaning methods for specific types of stains:
- Mud Stains: Wipe away excess mud without pushing too hard against the suede, then leave to dry. Break off larger chunks of dry mud before finishing with a suede brush.
- Blood Stains: Dab at the stain with a peroxide-soaked cotton ball slowly until the blood comes out.
Wax/Chewing Gum: Put your item in the freezer for a few hours to harden the gooey substance so that you can chip it off. Finish with a suede brush.
- Coffee/Tea/Juice: Place two layers of paper towel over the stain before you start using a brush. Apply moderate pressure with your hands or a flat object.
- Ink Spills: Quickly grab a paper towel and try to blot the ink up. If it sets, scrape the stain off with sandpaper or try rubbing with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
- Salt Lines: Apply a small amount of white wine vinegar through a soft rag or towel. Let it dry and then agitate with a suede brush.
- Oily/Unknown Stains: Use a suede brush to scrub the stain as you would for dirt or dust. Then use a nail brush with warm water to scrub off stubborn stains.
For stubborn stains on your suede – Try professional cleaning.
If all else fails and the stain is not coming off:
- Take your stained suede item to a dry cleaner who specialises in leather and suede
It may not be the cheapest solution but it guarantees results and you don’t risk ruining the suede. This would also be a great thing to do BEFORE you stow away the winter suede jacket during the warmer months.
Here is the reality of suede items; they are bound to wear and lose their stylishness over time. It helps to know how to remove stains, but suede garments will never be completely safe from rain, snow or salt (unless you keep them in your wardrobe forever).
The good news? You can take protective measures so that you can wear suede in most weathers (except from heavy rain). All you need is a suede protector spray, found in shoe repair stores or drugstores. Our suede is water and dirt repellent but can be further protected with a waterproof silicone-based spray with a neutral colour.
When you have this spray at home, learn to use it after cleaning your suede and the item has fully dried. Here is how to apply the spray to suede items:
- Check that the suede material is clean and dry (you should have used the appropriate cleaning method first).
- Test the spray on a small area to see if there is a change in colour.
- If the colour is fine, spray the suede-covered areas on the top and then spray the entire item evenly (some slight darkening overall is natural). Don't oversaturate.
- Do one final quick brush in a single direction over the suede.
- Let the item air dry on a towel for 24 hours in a ventilated area.
How often should you spray your items? We recommend spraying suede jackets once every 2 months.
Note: Do NOT use leather creams or shoe polish. They don't work on suede and can disrupt the fibres and spoil your suede items even if not stained or dirty.