How to Change Leather to Suede

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Things You'll Need

  • Leather cleaner

  • Spray bottle

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Dish soap

  • 80-grit wet/dry sandpaper

  • Nail file (optional)

  • 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper

  • 320-grit wet/dry sandpaper

Imbue your own leather items with the softness of suede.

Elvis Presley articulated the delicateness of suede when he said, "You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes." Created by exposing the underside of animal skin, suede has a much softer feel than leather, making anything made with the material seem like a precious commodity. If you have leather shoes, a leather coat, piece of leather furniture or some other item that you wish had the supple, delicate feel of suede, manipulate the leather.


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Step 1

Wipe down the leather with a cloth dampened with leather cleaner.

Step 2

Fill a spray bottle with 1 part water, 1 part part rubbing alcohol and a drop of dishwashing soap. Spray the leather.

Step 3

Sand lightly and evenly with 80-grit sandpaper while the leather is still wet. Sand until the "tooth" of the leather is consistently raised, or the leather has a rough, fuzzy look. Use a nail file to get into hard-to-reach crevices.

Step 4

Spray the leather again, then continue sanding with 220-grit sandpaper. The higher grit will soften and even out the previous sanding job.


Step 5

Rewet the leather one more time and finish softening the leather by sanding with 320-grit sandpaper.

Step 6

Brush the leather with a soft brush to comb out the leather tooth and to get rid of any loose matter left from sanding.

Step 7

Restore any coloration lost by sanding or change the color completely with leather dye. Apply leather dye with a paintbrush.



Mason Howard

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.