You know that feeling when you get home from a long day and you see your suede shoes covered in mud? It’s almost too much to bear. Luckily, cleaning your suede shoes isn’t as hard as it seems, and your shoes aren’t destined for the dustbin just yet, so long as you follow these suede cleaning tips.
How to clean suede shoes of mud
Let your suede shoes dry out before you do anything else!
If you try to clean your suede shoes before the mud on them has dried out, you will find it much more difficult to remove. All of the dirt will get pushed deeper into the material making it almost impossible to get it all out.
It’s also important that you do not put your sued shoes in the washing machine. This will likely ruin your shoes and will cause the suede to deteriorate faster.
However, when drying your suede shoes, don’t dry them by the radiator, you’ll need to have a little patience and let them dry naturally. Quick-drying can lead to water running, causing water and salt stains.
It’s also a good idea to scrunch old newspaper into the shoe. This helps to dry the shoe out from excess water, whilst helping retain its shape in the process.
Use a suede brush (or even a nailbrush or old toothbrush)
Once your suede boots have dried out, the first method is to try and brush the mud off your suede shoes. This tends to be the best way to go about it.
There are specially made suede brushes available at shoe shops, but don’t worry if you can’t find one, any soft bristle brush such as a toothbrush or a clean nail brush will work just fine.
Make sure to brush gently, following the direction of the suede, and keep going until you have brushed all the mud away and off your suede shoe.
The brushing method usually works really well for light mud stains and ones that have penetrated deep into the suede.
If this method doesn’t quite cut it, it might be time to try the next method.
Check out this video to see how to use a brush to remove mud from your suede shoes
Clean the whole suede shoe
Cleaning suede shoes with water isn’t normally recommended as it leaves the material with visible water damage. However, warm water is sometimes necessary to totally remove mud and other stains from your suede shoe.
There is a trick to doing it this way though. You have to make sure to clean the whole shoe with water, even the sections that aren’t stained.
This method will cause water stains on your shoe, but if the whole shoe is water-stained, you won’t be able to tell and your shoe will still look great even though your shoes won’t quite be their original color.
You can use paper towels, a sponge, a clean cloth, or a brush for this, but it is important to clean your shoe slowly and carefully, without scrubbing.
More cleaning methods for suede shoes
If the above methods just don’t quite work then there are lots of different methods that will still remove those tougher stains from your pair of suede shoes.
Use a suede cleaner (or suede cleaning kit)
Suede cleaners are specially formulated to remove dirt and stains from your suede shoes. They work really well for all types of stains, and ones that have penetrated deep into the suede.
When using a suede cleaner, simply follow the instructions on the bottle to clean your shoes. They usually come in a bottle that has a brush to help you work out the stain, however, all suede cleaners are slightly different so make sure to follow the instructions.
It’s a good idea to test a small inconspicuous spot on your shoe to check it doesn’t damage or mark your shoe before using it properly. Like using water to clean suede, you may need to clean the entire shoe to get an even finish.
Use white vinegar
Vinegar is a great option if you want a natural method to clean your suede shoes, whilst also working on those tough stains such as grease stains or oil stains.
Just mix equal parts of water and vinegar together in a bowl. Using a cloth, wipe the solution onto your shoe to clean it, then with another cloth or sponge, wipe it over the whole suede shoe to remove the residue.
The vinegar smell will go once the solution is dry so don’t worry about that.
You may need to use your brush in conjunction with vinegar to properly remove the stain.
Freeze your shoe
While this method might seem strange, it’s a specific way to get rid of anything sticky that may be staining your shoes such as chewing gum or wax.
Simply put your shoes in the freezer for a few hours until they are frozen solid, then try and pick out as much of the wax or gum as possible from the shoe. It will be harder to remove if it’s been stuck into the shoe for a while so try to do this as soon as you know it’s been stained.
If there are any bits lefts after picking as much off as you can, use the hard brush to force the last few bits off.
Then simply wipe over your whole shoe with
Using hydrogen peroxide is specifically for getting blood stains out of your suede shoes. It’s important to note that it can discolor suede so use with care, and only on the stained area.
Simply soak a soft cloth or cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide, and blot onto your shoe until the stain is gone then wipe over the whole shoe to remove any residue. Repeat if necessary and then let your shoes dry naturally away from direct heat.
This method will damage your shoes a little, and they won’t look brand new, but they will still look better than leaving certain stains on your shoe.
This is the perfect method for dark stains such as ink stains, that are impossible to get out. This method physically removes the bit of suede that is stained.
Simply use fine-grain sandpaper, rub over the area to take away the dark bit of your shoe. Make sure you don’t press too hard or you will damage other sections of suede too. Stop right away once the stain has gone.
Use an eraser
This is a great method for scuffed shoes and some types of stubborn stains. Using the rubber material of any type of eraser (a pencil eraser will even do) rub it carefully over the affected area in a circular motion. It may make it different from the rest of the shoe, if this is the case, continue to use the rubber over the whole area.
Professional dry cleaner
If all else fails, it may be time to take your suede shoes to get cleaned by a professional. Your local dry cleaner will know their stuff, so if you want the easiest of methods, then this might be your best bet.
Looking after your suede shoes ( and preventing stains)
Once you’ve stained your suede shoes it can take some work to get them looking brand new again, and sometimes this will be impossible. But there are ways you can protect your suede shoes so stains can’t cause so much damage
Use a suede protectant spray
Using a suede protector spray is really simple to do, and will protect your shoes from future stains. It creates a barrier between the material and dirt so it can’t soak into the shoe as easily (especially as suede by itself is super absorbent).
Make sure to read the instructions on the protector spray to make sure you are protecting the shoe in the right way.
Wear your shoes in the right conditions
Suede is definitely not an all-occasion type material. While it looks great in all weather, It’s not made for it. It’s best to wear your shoes in dry conditions. It’s also a good idea to keep them in your cupboard if you know you’re going somewhere they might get stained ( e.g. an arts and craft birthday party with your kids).
Use a suede renovator brush
A suede brush will keep your shoes in good condition even if there are no obvious stains. Using a suede renovator regularly will remove those subtle dirt particles and can stretch out their life for around 6 months to a year.
How to clean mud and other stains from suede shoes
It can be hard to keep suede shoes looking their best, but hopefully, these hacks will help you get your shoes back into tip-top condition! With proper care, you can prevent and remove stains on your suede shoes (including stubborn mud). So next time you get unwanted suede stains, give one of these methods a go to make your shoes look brand new again.