What is suede?
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Our editor(s) chose or reviewed the goods featured in this article independently. We may receive an affiliate compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on one of our links, but this never impacts our view.
Suede is a type of leather made from the underside of animal hides, which gives it a soft and velvety surface. It is often made from lambskin, but it can also be made from other types of animals, including goats, pigs, calves, and deer. Suede is softer and thinner than traditional, full-grain leather, and it is not as strong or durable.
The term “suede” comes from the French word “gants de Suede,” which means gloves from Sweden. However, the term eventually came to refer to any kind of leather with a napped surface. Suede became popular in the 20th century and was associated with high-end luxury due to its soft, delicate feel.
To make suede, the underside of the animal hide is separated from the top layer, creating a thin and flexible leather. This means that suede is split leather, as opposed to full-grain leather. Some leather manufacturers will turn the hide inside out, creating an appearance of suede, but with the same toughness and rigidity as traditional leather. This is not true suede.
The texture of suede can vary depending on the type of hide used. Lighter leathers, such as those from younger animals, tend to have a soft and smooth texture, while the nap of suede made from thicker hides, such as those from cows and deer, can be tougher.
How durable are suede shoes?
Suede shoes, with the right maintenance, can last as long as full-grain leather shoes, but in most cases, the opposite is true. Suede is a type of flexible leather that has a great drape and can be easily shaped. As a result of its thinness, however, it does not stand up to wear and tear as well as heavier leathers.
Dust and grime may easily get trapped in the nap of suede shoes, ruining their sleek appearance and giving them a nasty, worn-in feel. Additionally, they are much more susceptible to damage from moisture and stains than full-grain leather footwear.
Suede shoes have these flaws, but with the right maintenance, they can endure a long time. That means putting them somewhere dry and out of the way when they’re not in use to prevent damage from moisture and stains, as well as cleaning and conditioning them regularly. Suede footwear, if properly cared for, can look and feel like new for years.
Is suede waterproof?
Suede is not naturally waterproof, and it is highly susceptible to water damage. If suede shoes or boots get wet, the water can cause stains on the surface of the suede that is difficult to remove. Additionally, water can weaken the fibers of the suede and cause it to shrink or lose its shape. For these reasons, it is best to avoid wearing suede shoes in the rain and to protect them from water whenever possible.
There are finishes and treatments that can be applied to suede shoes to make them more water-resistant or waterproof. These products create a barrier on the surface of the suede that helps to repel water and prevent it from soaking into the material.
These finishes are not permanent and may need to be reapplied over time to maintain their effectiveness. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any finishes or treatments to suede shoes to ensure the best results.
How to clean your suede shoes
Rub the exterior of your shoe with a clean bath towel
To clean your suede shoes, you can start by using a clean bath towel to rub the surface of the suede gently. This will help to remove any surface dirt or debris from the shoes.
When rubbing the suede, it is important to be gentle and avoid rubbing too vigorously, as this can damage the fibers of the suede and cause it to lose its shape.
You should also rub in the direction of the grain or nap of the suede, which is the direction of the raised fibers on the surface of the material. Rubbing in the opposite direction can cause the fibers to become matted or flattened, which can affect the appearance of the suede.
Brush gently with a cleaning brush for suede shoes
After you have gently rubbed the surface of your suede shoes with a clean towel, you can use a suede-cleaning brush to gently brush the shoes.
A suede brush is a specially designed tool with fine, stiff bristles that are designed to lift dirt and debris from the surface of the suede without damaging the fibers. Suede brushes can be found at most shoe stores or online.
To use a suede brush, gently brush the surface of the shoes in a back-and-forth motion, following the direction of the grain or nap.
This will help to lift any dirt or debris that is embedded in the fibers of the suede and restore the texture and appearance of the shoes. Regularly brushing your suede shoes down in this way can help to keep them looking clean and refreshed.
Protect the suede with a spray
Once you have cleaned and brushed your suede shoes, you may want to protect them from future damage by applying a suede protector spray.
Suede protector sprays are specially formulated to create a barrier on the surface of the suede that helps to repel water and stains. These sprays are usually applied in a fine mist and are designed to dry completely odorless and colorless, so they won’t alter the appearance of your shoes.
To apply a suede protector spray, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. This usually involves holding the can about 6 inches away from the shoes and applying a light, even mist over the surface of the suede.
Be sure to cover the entire shoe, including the soles and seams, but try to avoid oversaturating the suede, as this can cause it to become stiff or lose its shape. Once the protector spray has been applied, allow the shoes to dry completely before wearing them.
Applying a suede protector spray can help to make your shoes more resistant to water and stains, and it can help to extend the life of your shoes.
Suede Erasers: How to remove small stains
If you have small stains on your suede shoes that you want to remove, you can try using a suede eraser. A suede eraser is a specially formulated bar of rubber that is designed to remove stains and marks from the surface of suede.
To use a suede eraser, simply rub the bar gently over the stain in a circular motion. The eraser will work to lift the stain from the fibers of the suede, leaving the surface looking clean and refreshed.
After you have used a suede eraser to remove a stain, be sure to follow up by brushing the affected area with a suede brush.
This will help to restore the texture and nap of the suede and ensure that it lies in the right direction. Suede erasers are a convenient and effective way to remove small stains from suede shoes and other suede items, and they are safe to use on a variety of different colors and shades of suede.
White Vinegar: Your helper for tough dirt and filth
If you have tough grime or stains on your suede shoes that are difficult to remove, you can try using white vinegar to help lift the stain. White vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that can be effective at removing a variety of different stains, including those on suede. To use white vinegar to remove a stain from suede, follow these steps:
- Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a small bowl.
- Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the mixture and gently blot the stain.
- Allow the mixture to sit on the stain for a few minutes to allow the vinegar to penetrate the fibers of the suede.
- Use a suede brush to gently brush the stain, following the direction of the grain or nap.
- If the stain does not come out the first time, try repeating the process a few times until the stain is lifted.
It is important to be gentle when using white vinegar on suede, as the acidity of the vinegar can cause the fibers of the suede to weaken or become damaged if it is applied too heavily. Be sure to brush the area thoroughly with a suede brush after applying the vinegar to restore the texture and appearance of the suede. If you are unsure whether vinegar will damage your suede shoes, you may want to test a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire shoe.
The biggest NO: Do not put your suede shoes in the Washing Machine
It is generally not recommended to wash suede shoes in a washing machine. The agitator and harsh detergents in the machine can damage the fibers of the suede and cause the shoes to lose their shape or become stiff.
Additionally, the heat of the dryer can cause the suede to shrink or become misshapen.
Instead of washing your suede shoes in a machine, it is best to clean them by hand using the methods we have outlined above, such as gently rubbing the surface with a clean towel, brushing the shoes with a suede brush, and applying a suede protector spray to help protect them from water and stains.
If your suede shoes are extremely soiled or heavily stained, you may want to consider taking them to a professional cleaner who has experience cleaning suede. A professional cleaner will have the tools and knowledge to effectively clean your suede shoes without damaging them.
How to treat suede shoes
The use of a suede conditioner is recommended for treating and preserving the life of your suede footwear. To maintain its plush feel and supple texture, suede requires specific care and treatment using a suede conditioner. After cleaning your shoes, use a suede conditioner. These might come in the form of wax, oil, or cream.
Applying a tiny amount of suede conditioner to a soft cloth or brush is the first step in treating suede. Using your fingers, work the conditioner into the suede in straight motions, alternating the direction of your strokes so that the substance is spread evenly across the shoe.
After applying the conditioner, let it remain for a few minutes so that it may absorb into the suede’s fibers. Then, brush the shoes softly with a suede brush to bring back the suede’s nap and texture.
After treating the shoes with a suede conditioner, you can take precautions against spills and stains by adding a protective finish. To keep your shoes appearing clean and new, use a protective finish, which is a solution that forms a barrier on the surface of the suede to repel water and stains.
When putting a protective finish on your suede shoes, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations precisely.
In conclusion, suede is a delicate and luxurious fabric that requires special care to keep it looking its best. While it is not as durable as traditional leather, suede can be kept in good condition with regular cleaning and protection.
To clean your suede shoes, you can use a variety of methods, such as gently rubbing the surface with a clean towel, brushing the shoes with a suede brush, and applying a protective finish to help repel water and stains. If you have small stains on your suede shoes, you can try using a suede eraser or a mixture of water and white vinegar to lift the stain.
For tougher stains or heavy soiling, you may want to consider taking your shoes to a professional cleaner. With the right care and attention, your suede shoes can remain soft, supple, and looking their best for years to come.
How do we test shoes?
We decide which shoes are the best to be part of our reviews via trial. We purchase the best-performing shoes out there and put them next to each other, identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
We also spend at least 12 hours going through all the reviews, filtering the fake ones and giving you a clear view. If you’d like to understand our rating system better then please read our
Rating System breakdown.
I’m George and I’ve been a shoe enthusiast since I remember myself. The first shoes I bought with my own money were the Air Jordan XII and boy did I love them. Since then, I've been obsessed with all the latest news about shoes, their technology and the research processes of the manufacturers.
As I grew up and had to work (dammit) I also started researching shoes that can keep me comfortable whilst at the job but also keep my posture proper. I'm growing old y'all!
I hope the reviews and news I bring you will help you make the right choice.
- ArticlesJanuary 6, 2023Can you wash suede shoes
- BrandOctober 18, 2022Nike Zoom Fly 4 vs. Tempo NEXT: A Side-by-Side Comparison
- Work ShoesOctober 17, 202211 Best Skechers Shoes for Standing all day (Updated 2022)
- ArticlesAugust 23, 2022Can shoes cause shin splints