How to Clean Suede Leather Boots


When winter rolls around, boots hit the market shelves in hundreds of different materials, styles and colors. Among the most popular materials for boots are leather varieties, particularly suede. Suede is often more pliable than other types of leather. Therefore, it's more comfortable to wear. However, the fabric has one major flaw. It stains easily and can be difficult to clean. Here are some tips for cleaning suede boots.

Things You'll Need

  • Graphite Eraser
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Suede brush
  • Suede cleaner
  • Suede block or eraser
  • Soft dry cloths

Assess the problem and the amount of damage. It is often important to know exactly what type of dirt or stain is on the boot. Suede cleaners work in a lot of different cases, but each one has certain “exemptions” from cleaning. Additionally, unusually large or deep stains may require the skills of a professional suede cleaner.

Try removing loose dirt with a suede brush. If it isn’t already set into the fabric, that procedure can often solve the problem.

Do a patch test on a part of the boot that can’t be easily seen before employing any of the following steps. Different leathers respond in different ways so don’t “assume” there won’t be a problem; leaving the boots looking worse than they did before.

Use a graphite eraser on minor dirt and surface stains as soon as you notice them. That will prevent them from setting into the fabric. Use a suede brush, working in circular motions, to bring back the boot’s natural nap.

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water. Using a soft dry cloth, blot the mixture into the boot gently. Use a clean paper towel to blot away excess liquid. Let the boots dry and determine if the problem has been resolved. If not, move on to one of the other steps below.

Choose a suede cleaner. Be sure to choose one that specifically says it can remove your particular stain or dirt issue. Follow the instructions on the suede cleaner. In most cases, that will include the following. Use a soft dry cloth to help loosen any dirt. Next, gently work the suede cleaner into the boot with a soft toothbrush or another clean cloth. Allow it to sit for a certain amount of time. Sweep the cleaner away with a clean, soft toothbrush. Use a suede brush to return the material’s nap once the stain has been removed.

Try a suede eraser for heavy duty cleaning jobs that can’t be removed by the less abrasive suede cleaners. Rub the eraser into the stained area and continue to rub until it is removed. Then use a suede brush to return the nap of the material.

Take the boots to a professional suede cleaner if none of the above techniques work. While this option can be expensive, it may be preferable to having to purchase new boots.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always confirm the fabric of the boot. There are a lot of faux suedes in today's marketplace. Pre-treat boots with a stain repellent before you wear them. This will help to avoid dirt and stains. It is usually best to let dirt or mud dry on the boot surface before trying to remove it. Otherwise, you may end up making the problem even worse.
  • Remove liquid stains like soft drinks, wine and even water as quickly as possible. Do this before they set into the nap of the leather. Salt stains can discolor the suede fabric. It is important to remove such stains as quickly as possible.

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