How to Take Care of Suede Boots
Suede boots and shoes look great, but they can be a bit difficult to take care of. Elvis knew this, and if you want to keep your blue suede shoes looking their best there are few things you’ll want to do.
Suede can actually be easy to take care of and clean if you take a couple simple steps.
First, let’s take a look at what suede actually is.
What is suede?
Suede is a material made from leather that has a naturally raised, fuzzy grain. This gives it an elegant matte finish that holds color well. We love suede for this soft texture, but this is also what makes it trap dirt and stains easily.
You can find suede in a variety of fun colors, but care is pretty much the same regardless of color.
Storage & Care
To prevent your footwear from getting stained or damaged in the first place, we have 3 simple suggestions.
- Treat your shoes with a Suede Protector - Suede protector is inexpensive and easy to find, but makes an enormous difference. By treating your shoes/boots with this protective spray, you prevent them from getting stains in the first place. Water beads up and rolls off of your shoes rather than soaking in and causing them to warp.
- Avoid Water - The easiest way to ruin a pair of suede boots is to get them wet. Avoiding puddles or wearing them on rainy days will help them look better for longer.
- Storage - If you’ve read our other guides, you know that we’re big fans of shoe trees. They’re especially important for suede due to the material’s tendency to warp. Shoe trees will help them retain their shape after coming in contact with moisture (whether its a puddle or your sweaty foot).
We suggest cleaning suede shoes in different ways depending on what they need.
Water Stains - As we said before, water is the enemy of suede. It might be counterintuitive, but we actually use water to remove these stains. The reason this works is that usually watermarks come from the minerals in the water rather than the water itself. Dabbing these stains with a wet towel allows the water-soluble minerals to dissolve and be removed.
How to clean:
- Put shoe trees or crumpled paper inside your shoe. This will help it keep its shape so it doesn’t warp the material when it gets wet again.
- Wet a soft towel & dab the stain to remove marks. Be careful not wipe too hard or you may damage the textured surface.
- Allow time to dry
- If this doesn’t fix the issue, see the “tough stains” instructions below
Light dirt - sometimes you just need to remove a bit of light dirt that is caked to the surface.
How to clean:
- Using a suede brush (or a firm bristled toothbrush), brush the surface of the suede. You can brush pretty vigorously since the bristles won’t damage the textured surface.
- If light marks remain, use the “water stains” instructions above.
More dirt - If you have tough dirt stains that are harder to get off, you can use the edge of a knife to (carefully) scrape dirt. If you’re worried about damaging your shoes, you can also use a pencil eraser.
Tough Stains - Sometimes you have pesky marks that won’t just brush off no matter how hard you try. This can be easily solved with a little bit of vinegar.
- Put shoe trees or crumbled paper inside your shoe. This will help it keep its shape so the vinegar solution doesn’t warp the material.
- Mix together equal parts water and vinegar
- Wet a soft towel with the vinegar solution
- Dab the stain with the wet towel
- Allow to dry
Depending on the type of shoe or boot you have, you may need a different type of lace. A 3 eyelet suede boot like a chukka will actually use dress shoelaces.
Taller boots or shoes with more eyelets may use boot laces as well. The safest bet is usually to measure the laces you’re trying to replace to ensure your new ones fit well.
Do you have any tips for taking care of your suede boots? Let us know in the comments!