How to Use Sandpaper to Clean Suede Shoes

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Created by subjecting grained leather to a sanding process, suede is a soft, velvety fabric that is susceptible to oils and water spots. But with pretreatment and proper care, a pair of suede shoes will endure years of use. Suede shoes may be cleaned with commercially available suede cleaner. Over time, the buildup of oils and grim can flatten the nap of suede, making the shoes shiny and smooth to the touch. Sandpaper can restore the texture of suede and restore life to everyday shoes.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean soft cloth
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Suede waterproofing spray

Place your shoes on newspaper to protect the workspace. In addition, paper will prevent additional dirt from the table or ground from transfering to the shoes if they should tip over.

Lightly rub the suede with a fine grit sandpaper of a designation of 100 or higher to remove surface oils. Rub in small, concentric motions. This should remove dirt and oils that were resistant to prior cleaning attempts.

Use a medium-grit sandpaper if the results are minimal. Medium grit sandpaper has a number between 60 and 80 printed on the reverse side. The coarseness of the sandpaper will loosen the oils, restoring the nap.

Treat suede with a suede protector available at shoes and leather stores after you've removed the stain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Verify that the shoes are composed of suede. If the surface has a flocked feel or the phrase "manmade materials" is printed inside, the shoes are imitation suede. Sanding damages these materials. If there are holes, loose heels or severe fading, go to a shoe repair shop. Make necessary repairs before sanding shoes.

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