How to Freshen Suede

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Keep suede boots looking fresh with regular cleaning and maintenance.
Keep suede boots looking fresh with regular cleaning and maintenance. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Suede is a luxurious material favored by interior decorators and fashion enthusiasts, but it also has a reputation for being easily ruined. While it's true that suede can start to look shabby if it's not properly cared for, it can also be freshened up without much effort. With some simple maintenance and extra care you can buy suede shoes, clothing and furniture without worrying about keeping it in good shape.

Freshening the Nap

A soft, fuzzy nap is what separates suede from regular leather. The quickest way to freshen the look of suede when it begins to look flat or shiny is to fluff up the nap. Buy a suede brush to ruffle the nap, or use a toothbrush or textured cloth or bath towel and give the suede a quick rub to give the nap some extra loft. If the suede has been neglected and is particularly flat, use something slightly rougher such as sandpaper or a razor blade to lift the nap up. If the nap just needs a quick lift or you are concerned about wearing down the suede by overusing the suede brush, try sticking masking tape on the suede surface and quickly removing it to pull up the fibers.

Cleaning Spots and Stains

Even small spots and stains can affect the look of a pair of suede shoes or a piece of suede clothing. If you notice a dried or crusty spot on your suede, gently rub the residue off with an old toothbrush or nail brush. You can also buy special suede erasers that remove marks and dried stains. If the debris doesn't come off with a brush or eraser, rub a small amount of vinegar on the spot with a damp cloth or swab. Oily stains can be cleaned off suede with cornstarch, if you catch the stains before they set. Apply the cornstarch directly to the suede and tap it into the suede with your finger. Allow the cornstarch to sit on the suede for about an hour so it can absorb the oil. Shake the cornstarch off the suede and brush off any excess with a brush.

Dealing with Water Marks

Most suede owners dread water, since it leaves unsightly marks on the surface of suede. If you notice your suede item has gotten wet, blot off the moisture as soon as possible with a dry cloth or paper towel. If you see discoloration from a water mark that has already dried, spray the entire item with water from a spray bottle and blot it dry with a sponge. This will allow the water spot to blend in with the rest of the fabric. If the affected piece is a shoe, stuff it with paper towel before spraying so that it doesn't lose its shape.

Commercial Suede Products

Maintain the freshness of your suede with a commercial suede spray or a similar product. These sprays provide a protective barrier from water marks and other stains. A suede spray cannot offer 100 percent protection against spots and stains, but if used properly, it can prolong the fresh look of new suede. Read the instructions on the spray bottle and respray your suede items as often as recommended.

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