facebook tracking

How to Clean Suede Boots in 4 Easy Steps

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

How to Clean Suede Boots Cartoon of Chelsea Boots next to a Suede Brush and Vinegar Bottle

Those suede boots sure looked sexy in the store, didn’t they?

But now after six months, they’re starting to look a little worn out.

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. 

A pair of suede boots (like these beauties from Velasca) is an excellent way to add some texture and class to your outfits, but they can look a little dingy over time. 

In this article, we’ll break down exactly how to clean suede boots. The methods are surprisingly easy and fast, and you only need a few items to get started. 

Say goodbye to sweaty feet.
Say hello to the last boot socks you'll need.
Discover →

What You’ll Need

  • Suede Brush
  • Suede Eraser
  • Vinegar or Suede Cleaner
  • Clean cloth

Most stains in suede can be removed with a suede brush. If you’re looking to bring your favorite boots back to life, a brush can help. Say you own a pair of light tan boots and they’re looking grey—it might surprise you how much you can restore the natural color and texture with a suede brush. 

Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Cleaning Brush Kit

This little kit does the job to bring your suede or nubuck shoes back to life. The handle on the brush is sturdy and well placed and the bristles are just the right level of stiffness.

Buy Now at Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Even if you plan on giving your boots the full wash, you’ll need a brush to bring out the knap that makes suede special. 

Slight grease stains and more stubborn dirt spots can be rubbed out with a suede eraser. These are just small chunks of crepe rubber. You rub them against the suede and then use the brush to finish the job. 

For harder stains like water, salt, food, wine—or more commonly for us: beer—you might need a cleaning solution. 

We recommend trying the other methods first because liquids should be applied only as a last resort.

For a quick homemade suede cleaner, just open a bottle of distilled white vinegar and apply to the stain. 

How does vinegar clean suede shoes?

White vinegar is effective at breaking down stains on suede without damaging your shoes or changing the color. Lightly spray a clean cloth with vinegar and apply gently over the target areas of your shoe.

question icon

If you want a more targeted product specifically for cleaning suede, there are a few suitable options. 

One of our favorites is Otter Wax Suede Cleaner. It’s easy to spray on, which reduces the risk of saturating the leather and causing an even more unsightly stain than what you started with. 

Otter Wax Suede & Nubuck Cleaner

This is one of my go-to suede boot cleaners---it’s easy to spray on, which means you're less likely to damage the leather and cause an even more unsightly stain than what you started with.

Buy Now at Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

How to Clean Suede Boots in 4 Simple Steps

Step 1: Dry the boots and knock off the dirt

Moisture is the enemy of suede boots and so you want to make sure they’re dry before you kick off the cleaning process.

Use a clean dry cloth to dab the boots and absorb any moisture. If they’re wet inside, stuff them with paper and leave them overnight to dry.

Once dry, grab your boots by the ankles and knock the soles together to remove any dust, dirt, or caked on mud. 

This will loosen up any grime so you don’t have to gunk up your brush. If you have a spare clean cloth, you can also quickly give your boots a quick once-over to achieve the same result. 

Step 2: Use your suede brush 

Suede brush is the first tool you’ll use to try to remove any stains. 

When brushing down your suede boots, only swipe in one direction. You likely won’t damage your boots if you brush at them in every direction, but to restore the knap and get that velvety texture back, you want to only brush one way. 

Are suede boots hard to maintain?

We believe this is a bit of a myth—suede gets an unfair rap. Once you know how to take care of suede boots, caring for them is no higher maintenance than regular leather. By following guides such as this one, scratches can be buffed away and stains can be dealt with.

question icon

After you’ve given them a good brush, check to see if the stains are still there. 

Most of the time, this step is all you need. Suede is more durable than many people think, and a simple brushing will do the trick.

If you still have a stain move on to…

Step 3: Rub your boots with your suede eraser

A suede eraser is a piece of crepe rubber, which will grip the leather much closer than the brush. Dirt stains can be stubborn, so don’t be afraid to put some pressure while rubbing them out. 

You might notice the suede becoming more dull, flat, and grey-looking. Don’t worry, that’s the rubber buffing the dirt out. Once you use the brush, these dull areas will look refreshed and good as new. 

Use the suede eraser on the midsoles, too. This should pill the dirt up and it’ll fall off easily (or with a little help from a clean cloth or brush). 

If the eraser and brush still haven’t taken care of the stain, it’s time to move to the last resort.

Velasca Ofele

With suede calfskin leather, the Velasca Ofele is my top pick for a suede Chelsea boot. The knap is finer, the leather is sturdier, and the overall construction and style are well worth the cost.

Check Best Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Step 4: Apply cleaning solution to the stain and wait

You can either buy suede cleaner, or you can use distilled white vinegar. 

For the vinegar method, just dab some onto the stain and let it sit for six to eight hours. Once it’s soaked for a while, use the eraser and then brush. You should have stain-free boots. 

Don’t mix the vinegar with water as any extra liquid can damage your suede. 

Can dry cleaners clean suede boots?

Yes, because dry cleaners wash your shoes with little or no water, it’s perfectly fine to send your suede boots to a dry cleaner. Just do yourself a favor and read a few reviews first.

question icon

We have a few suede items beyond just our boots, so we have the Otter Wax Suede Cleaner on hand. It’s easy to use because the spray cap allows for easy application and you don’t have to worry about soaking the leather through with vinegar and creating a fresh stain. 

Step 5 (optional): Spray on suede protector

If you’re often spilling on your suede boots, or you want that fresh “out-of-the-box” look for longer, use a weatherproofing spray. 

We like the classic Scotchgard Suede and Nubuck Protector. Just hold the can about 10 inches away from your boots and give them a single spray-on coat. Let them dry for an hour and you’ll have an extra layer of protection from salt and water stains. 

Scotchgard Suede and Nubuck Protector

This is worth having in your locker if you're often spilling on your suede boots, or if you just want to maintain that 'fresh out of the box' look for longer.

Buy Now at Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Get Cleaning

Cleaning your suede boots really is that easy. 

It’s a much simpler process than cleaning other kinds of leather boots—no conditioning balm or polishing necessary.

Again, most stains are easily removed with just a simple brushing. 

If that doesn’t do the trick, try a suede eraser and rub out any stubborn dirt stains. 

When you’re fighting against something more permanent, like grease, food, water, or salt stains, you can either make your own vinegar-based cleaning solution and dab it on, or you can use a pre-formulated spray-on cleaner.

When it’s all said and done, you can get out the toughest stains in eight hours or less.

So what are you waiting for? Get cleaning and step out in your good-as-new suede boots.


What can I use to clean my suede boots?

The best way to clean suede boots is with a suede brush. This inexpensive and easy-to-use tool will get out most stains on your suede boots and usually have them looking good as new. If that doesn’t work, try a suede eraser. If your boots are still looking a little rough, use a vinegar-based solution to dab out any stubborn stains.

How do you clean suede shoes without a suede brush?

While a suede brush is the most important tool for cleaning suede, you can also use a clean toothbrush. It’s not as effective, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, most people usually have a spare toothbrush on hand. We do recommend getting a suede brush though as they’re usually available under $10.

How do you clean dirty suede?

You can clean suede in four easy steps: knock the dirt off, use a suede brush to restore the knap, use a suede eraser to buff out grime stains, and finally, use a suede cleaning solution to remove any final stains that might remain. Use the suede brush once more and you’re done.

Can you clean suede with water?

No, it’s not recommended that you use water to clean suede. Vinegar will work in a pinch, but a suede brush and suede cleaner are the best, and you can usually find both for under $20.

Say goodbye to sweaty feet.
Say hello to the last boot socks you'll need.
Discover →

BootSpy Spring 2023 Picks

Thursday Captain
Rugged and stylish boots
Thursday Captain
Check Best Price
Flint and Tinder Waxed Trucker Jacket
Paired with a sweater, it's all you need for winter
Flint and Tinder Waxed Trucker Jacket
Check Best Price
If you click these links and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Our Favorite Boot Sock
Camel City Mill Lightweight Wool Work Sock

Made in the USA from Merino wool, these work socks really are something else in terms of quality. They feature compression through the arch and calf which helps your feet recover after a long day. Plus, because they're Merino wool, they're breathable and help reduce foot sweat.

Check Best Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.