How to Refinish Leather Suede That Is Too Nappy

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Suede is made by sanding leather to produce a nap. Suede has many of the same qualities as smooth leather, including flexibility (a suede garment will conform to the wearer's shape); durability (it resists temperature extremes and is resistant to tears and punctures); and longevity (with proper care, suede can retain its qualities for many years. However, suede tends to require more delicate care than smooth leather and shows scuff marks more than smooth leather. Because the surface of suede has no protective barrier, you must be careful to handle the suede gently when refinishing the nap.

Things You'll Need

  • Suede brush
  • Suede degreaser (optional)
  • Fine grit (150 or less) sandpaper or steel wool
  • Cotton towel
  • Suede protectant
  • Brush away excess dirt away using gentle circular strokes with a suede brush or toothbrush. If the suede is wet, wring the moisture from the suede with a clean cotton towel, and let it dry completely before brushing the suede. If the suede is very dirty or has soiled areas, apply a suede degreaser before brushing.

  • Sand the suede with fine-grit sandpaper using circular strokes. The nap should rise, and some of the fibers should flake off. Wipe a clean cotton towel over the surface of the suede to remove the fibers and assess the condition of the nap. If necessary, continue sanding until you have removed a sufficient amount of the nap. Take care not to remove too much of the nap -- once it is gone, it leaves the suede more vulnerable to soiling.

  • Brush away any remaining nap fibers with a suede brush, being careful not to brush too vigorously. Wipe again with the cotton towel, or gently vacuum the remaining fibers with a vacuum attachment or a small handheld vacuum cleaner.

  • Spray a suede protectant on the suede after refinishing the nap to produce a barrier against soiling and staining. Reapply the protectant every six months, being sure to spray it in a well-ventilated area on dry suede.

Tips & Warnings

  • Brush suede with a suede brush once a week to keep the nap looking fresh, and avoid exposing suede to excess heat, dryness, or moisture that can lead to cracking and mildew growth.
  • Never use products formulated for smooth leather on suede or use household chemicals such as alcohol, turpentine, or mineral spirits on suede.

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References

  • Photo Credit suede female shoes image by terex from Fotolia.com
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