How to Clean a Suede Jacket at Home

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When Ben Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, he was probably thinking about suede. Still, all the founding fathers’ pithy advice isn’t much help when your four-year-old decides your new suede jacket would be the perfect canvas for his next Crayola masterpiece. Even the most carefully-guarded garment is bound to get grungy after a while, if it’s actually worn. So what is the best way to clean suede, without spending a bundle on professional cleaning? A penny saved is a penny earned, after all.

Things You'll Need

  • White pencil eraser
  • White bath towel
  • Nail file (not metal) or fine-grade sandpaper
  • Talcum powder of corn starch
  • Nylon bristle brush or nail brush
  • Steam
  • Oatmeal
  • Tenderly leather cleaner

Erase stains with a white pencil eraser. Rough the suede up with a bath towel to raise the nap and rub the stain vigorously with an eraser. Rubbing the stain gently with a nail file (not metal) or fine-grade sandpaper works, too.

Cover grease splatters or stains with talcum powder or corn starch. Let the jacket sit overnight so the powder can absorb the oil, then brush it off with a nylon brush.

Steam the jacket very lightly. Then brush the entire garment with a nylon brush to remove grime and raise the nap. Use a garment steamer, or simply hold the jacket over a pot of boiling water. Be careful not to get the suede moist; you just want to heat it up.

Rub dry, uncooked oatmeal all over the suede jacket and let it sit overnight. Brush the oatmeal off in the morning with a nylon brush.

Rub Tenderly leather cleaner all over the suede jacket with the sponge applicator that comes with the cleaner, and let it dry. Tenderly is safe for use on all kinds of leather, even suede, but it is still best to coat the entire garment, because slight color changes will be less noticeable. You don’t want to have one glaring “clean spot” on your jacket.

Tips & Warnings

  • White vinegar is often used to clean suede. On the up side, it works. On the down side, it makes your jacket smell like vinegar.

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