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How to clean suede and faux (fake) suede shoes, boots etc.

Updated on July 30, 2013

Suede feels soft and luxurious, it is almost impossible to tell faux suede from the real thing too.

Suede is soft, warm and cozy, whether it's the real thing or not.
Suede is soft, warm and cozy, whether it's the real thing or not.

Suede is one of those materials you either love or hate. It is soft and warm to the touch but suede, even the faux variety, can be a devil to get clean once it gets grubby and if you have boots or shoes they can get dirty quite often.

A professional dry cleaners may be your best bet at getting out dirt and stains but if that's not an option, for whatever reason, you can have a go at cleaning it yourself, it's not as scary as it sounds as long as you know the right way to go about it. It is also important to act quickly, dirt and stains are far easier to remove before they are left to go hard.

Dry cleaners can be very expensive and might even end up charging you more to clean an item that it originally cost, so if you want to save yourself some money try cleaning suede yourself. If the suede you want to clean is on a piece of furniture remove it first if at all possible. I know that a lot of furniture manufactured today comes with removable covers, which is a great idea. If you don't have those and have to clean the item without moving it, then put down a dust sheet or something to protect your floor covering. Cleaning suede can be a messy business.

A suede cleaning kit should include the following readily available items.

An eraser, the top of a pencil type is fine

Paper towels

White vinegar

Small soft brush

Small fluffy hand towel

Small sponge


Suede boots, nice looking but what can you do when they get dirty?

Great to look at but avoid those puddles if you want to keep them looking like this.
Great to look at but avoid those puddles if you want to keep them looking like this.

If the mark you want to try to clean away is already dry first brush the suede with a soft brush to bring up the pile and expose the dirt. Now rub an eraser over the stain, don’t rub too hard as this can destroy the nap of the fabric and ruin the look of the suede forever.

Next take an almost dry sponge and rub the effected area to remove even more surface dirt and leave to dry. If the stain is still wet then blot as much of the dirt away with paper towels, sponge a little clean water over the stain, leave it to dry and then try the eraser method. Finally give the item a good brush.

As a last resort use a very small amount of white vinegar on a small fluffy hand towel and rub in a circular motion over the stain. Only do this for a short time and keep checking the material as you are cleaning it if it starts to discolour stop using the vinegar.

If the item you have cleaned is a pair of shoes or boots and they are in any way damp, then stuff them with something to help keep their shape as they dry.Never leave a suede item in direct sunlight as suede is very prone to fading and as it dries you will find uneven patches appear which will never go away.


Ever considered faux suede?

Sometimes the suede or leather items you have really need to be cleaned by a professional but this can be very expensive. There are a great many imitation or faux, suede and leather items on the market now which look and feel just like the real thing, and they clean very well and very cheaply, you can use ordinary tap water and a little mild detergent so why not consider switching - it could save you money and save the animals hides.

JC fashion boots are on sale at Amazon, they look and feel just like real suede but are easier to clean and no animals were killed to produce them.

If you could find a faux suede or leather alternative to the item you want would you buy that instead?

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  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Do give it a try Fay Paxton, let me know what you think of it.

  • profile image

    Fay Paxton 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this hub. You have no idea how timely it is. I've never tried faux suede, but I'll have to pay more bad could it be?

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank you for the kind words. It can cost an arm and a leg to get suede/leather cleaned can't it. The faux type looks really good and it cleans up a lot easier and cheaper too.

  • JerseyGirl profile image

    JerseyGirl 7 years ago from Jersey Shore

    I really liked this hub - thanks for publishing. I have had suede jackets and boots in the past - just to find out that having them cleaned by a pro would cost me more than the actual item! I've tried to clean suede on my own; but unfortunately, my results were very less than acceptable. I'm now thinking that faux may be the way to go! It's been hot these past few seasons - I may just give it a try!