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 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.
What You’ll Need to Clean Suede Boots
- Suede Brush
- Suede Eraser
- Vinegar or Suede Cleaner
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.
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.
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.
How to Clean Suede Boots
Step 1: Knock off the dirt
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 rag, 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.
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 rag or brush).
If the eraser and brush still haven’t taken care of the stain, it’s time to move to the last resort.
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.
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’ve developed a penchant for 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.
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.