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Cleaning My Suede Shoes & Jacket – How I Did It

Tuesday, 9th October, 2018

Cleaning My Suede Shoes - How I Did It

So suede…It’s something which I really do like, and got on board with a couple of years ago. When it comes to jackets, a suede jacket is a great option to have when you want something different to cotton or the traditional leather jacket, and come in a range of colours. Shoes are once again another good option, and no matter what you’re style, be it Chelsea boots or derby like me, it’s always a good thing to have it as an option.

The biggest drawback of suede is how to care for it. Whether it’s shoes, a jacket or something else, suede is notoriously difficult to not only keep clean, but to keep protected. Stains and marks occur, and this is one material which you don’t want it to happen to.

I’ve got a few suede jackets as well as a few pairs of shoes, and decided that I really needed to get them clean, and looking their best again.

Here’s how I got on, including what I did, and the tools I used.

Cleaning Products To Clean And Protect Suede Shoes

Products & Tools To Clean Suede

Suede cleaning and protecting is quite specialised, and the products are probably not going to be something you have lying around your house, at least I didn’t. There could be some hacks to clean suede using household products, but to be honest, I didn’t want to risk anything. I went and made myself a little kit of some specialised products. I bought:

  • Scotch Guard Water Repellent – aka suede protector, to protect them after cleaning
  • A Suede Brush – To clean up the suede
  • Nubuk Eraser – Also known as a suede eraser or suede block

Shoes & Jackets

Just a note on what I cleaned. I have 2 jackets which I haven’t featured here, and these 2 pairs of shoes. My blue suede Uggs, and grey pair of Kurt Geiger suede shoes, both which I really love. I haven’t worn either for a while, because I didn’t want to damage them, and they weren’t looking their best.

How I Cleaned My Suede Shoes

First up it was using the brush to get off all the excess dirt and marks. I did that and it went OK, but there were still plenty of water marks, especially on my blue Uggs. To try to get rid of these, I used the suede eraser aka Nubuk eraser, and managed to get the marks off pretty well. I then brushed them again with the brush, using the rough bristles of the suede brush.

The grey derby shoes were a different story. I tried to clean them the same way the best I could, the toe at the front was discoloured and it was what I was looking to improve. But then it became apparent, this is because the suede was worn away, not because they were dirty. I tried to do the best job I could, they look better, but the fronts are always going to look odd.

Here’s some before and after pictures…

Uggs Before Cleaning

Before picture above… You can see the water marks which makes them look a bit grubby.

Uggs After Cleaning

Here are the after pictures. What do you think? I was really happy that the big marks came off and now they’re gone. You can see one of the water marks but it’s quite faint. You have to really look to be able to see it, and know where it was.

Before And After Suede Kurt Geiger Shoes

Here’s the before and after of the derby shoes, before to the left, and after to the right. As mentioned, the toe and front part of the shoes was the biggest problem. Since the suede is worn at the fronts, they’ll never be back to the way they were. But I’ve had a look at how they were originally, and they always had that darker shade to the fronts. The sides do look cleaner.

Suede Protection – Prevention Is Better Than Cure

It’s that old saying, prevention is better than cure, and it’s definitely true when it comes to suede. When I bought all of these shoes and jackets I wanted to wear them immediately. I was excited to put them on and wear them out, and didn’t use suede protector. I didn’t really think it would be such a big problem, but this was of course a mistake. The lesson here for myself and you guys is that you should definitely use a suede protector BEFORE wearing your stuff out!

In England we have the problem of rain, puddles and if you’re going on a night out, the real possibility of drinks getting spilled on your shoes. Liquid is the natural enemy of suede, so protecting them is a must.

I got myself some Scotch Guard water repellent, and it was really easy to use. I can’t tell you how good the product is, as I’ve not been caught in the rain yet, but time will tell. It won’t mean that I can go swimming in these, but it gives that added confidence if I accidentally step into a puddle, or get splashed.

So there you have it, that’s how I got my suede looking as good as it possibly can again. In the future if I get any more, I’ll definitely be looking to protect it before wearing. If you’ve got any stories or tips on how you keep your suede looking it’s best, let me know 🙂


Michael Adams

Written By: Michael

Founder and editor of Michael 84, A UK men's blogs covering the best of fashion, style, tech, grooming, fragrances and lifestyle.


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