Conventional wisdom states that suede shoes need to be cleaned by a professional. While this may be the safest choice, especially if your shoes are new and expensive, you may decide to clean them yourself. Fortunately, there are several home remedies that may work to get your suede shoes clean.
To keep cleaning to a minimum, take proper care of your suede shoes. Avoid getting them wet. Choose different shoes for rainy days, and even the day after it rains when puddles, mud and wet grass are likely to get your shoes dirty. If your suede shoes do get wet, soak up the water with a towel immediately and let them air dry. Do not use a hair dryer. After they are dry, use a suede brush and brush lightly to restore the nap to its original condition. You can also use steam to restore the nap. Hold the shoes near steam (over a tea pot, for example) for a few seconds, which will loosen up the nap without getting it too wet. Then let it dry and use a suede brush if necessary.
In addition, you can purchase a spray designed especially for suede to help protect it from stains and water damage. However, even if your shoes are protected, you still should keep them away from water.
The safest method to get your suede shoes clean is to take them to a professional cleaner. But this can be expensive. If you decide to clean your shoes on your own, you should first test any of the following home remedies in an inconspicuous spot to be sure you do not inadvertently damage the suede.
First, try a suede brush. Brushing helps remove dirt, pollen and other debris. You can also try a pencil eraser to remove stains. Rub lightly and use only when the stain is dry. You can also try a nail file to remove scuff marks and dried mud. If your shoes are stained with a wet stain like soda, first soak up as much of the liquid as possible with a towel and then lightly rub the area with a cloth soaked with white vinegar. You can try the vinegar method on dry stains as well.
Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.