You didn't buy white suede shoes because you were looking for low-maintenance footwear. You bought them because they look awesome — or at least they looked awesome when they were brand new and perfectly clean. Naturally, white suede shows every smudge of dirt and fleck of mud that gets on it, and because suede is so delicate, cleaning white suede shoes isn't like cleaning white tennis shoes or other footwear.
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It's important to use a suede brush and eraser made especially for this purpose. There's no magical white suede shoe cleaner that will perfectly restore your dirty shoes, but these simple tools can make a big difference.
Things You'll Need
How to Clean White Suede Shoes
Step 1: Remove Dried Debris
Starting with completely dry shoes, grab a suede brush and brush the shoes to loosen and remove any dried dirt or other debris. Use one-way strokes against the direction of the suede's nap or use back-and-forth strokes to work at any stubborn dirt patches. If you're concerned about your shoes losing their shape while you work on them, stuff them with newspaper first.
Step 2: Erase Spots and Smudges
Use a suede eraser to rub at any visible dirt that remains. The suede brush and eraser may be sufficient to clean mildly dirty white shoes. If not, continue with more advanced cleaning strategies.
Step 3: Spot-Treat Stubborn Stains
You don't need any white suede shoe cleaner or other liquid shoe cleaners if you have white vinegar on hand. It's an effective stain remover and shouldn't cause any noticeable damage to white suede. Still, test the vinegar on a small patch of suede at the back of the shoe first to make sure no discoloration occurs. If not, use a microfiber cloth to blot dirty areas with vinegar. Let them dry and repeat as necessary.
Cleaning white suede shoes is one of the many ways Magic Erasers can be useful around the house. You might not want to risk using an abrasive Magic Eraser product on brightly colored suede, but it should be fine as a white suede shoe cleaner. Test it on an inconspicuous patch of suede before using the Magic Eraser on more noticeable parts of your shoes.
If your shoes have been dirtied with anything greasy, clean oil from suede using cornstarch. Let the cornstarch soak into the oily spot and then rub it with your finger.
Step 4: Brush the Suede Again
Brush clean suede shoes with the suede brush to lift the nap, essentially fluffing up the fibers to keep the suede from looking matted.
Step 5: Seal With Suede Protector
Spray clean shoes with a waterproofing suede protector to make them resistant to water and stains in the future. Let the spray dry completely before wearing the shoes again.
Ideally, suede shoes won't get wet. They should never be machine washed or submerged in water. If your shoes are dirty because you got caught in the rain or snow wearing them, the first step for cleaning white suede shoes is to get them as dry as possible. With a clean cloth, blot (don't rub) the water from the material until the shoes are damp. Use your suede brush to brush the shoes and let them air dry completely before moving on to the next cleaning steps.