How to Clean Suede Vans

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You can clean your suede shoes.
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Vans are more than just shoes – they're a treasured possession, and for some people, they're an attitude. Your beloved pair of suede Vans can withstand a lot, but they need regular maintenance, or they'll start looking downright grubby. These shoes aren't cheap, and it would leave a hole in your style arsenal if you had to toss them. Happily, cleaning suede Vans is pretty quick and simple.


Cleaning Suede Vans

Suede is expensive and can be damaged easily, so it's always wise to start with the least-intensive cleaning options and only use wet products if stains persist. First, if the shoes have removable laces, take them out and wash them separately. Next, use a suede brush to remove any dry mud or debris clinging to the shoes. (Clapping the shoes together and running your hands over them will also work if you don't have a suede brush, but this is a cheap tool, and it's a good thing to keep on hand if you own suede shoes.)


Sneaker wipes may remove some spots and imperfections on your Vans, but check the packaging to make sure the brand you have is safe for suede. Finally, use a damp melamine sponge (Magic Eraser) to clean the white rubber around the sole of the shoe. Sometimes, these steps are enough to get suede Vans looking like new again, but if not, there are some more intensive steps you can try.

Deep Cleaning Suede Vans

Water is not a friend to suede, so keeping the shoes as dry as possible is important when you're cleaning them. Don't toss them in a washing machine or spray them with water. Spot clean dirty areas instead.


First, try mixing equal parts water and white vinegar. Dip a cloth in the mixture, press it against any stains and then let the shoes air dry. If that doesn't work, try stirring a few drops of dish soap into a small cup of water and using a clean toothbrush to work the lightly soapy water into the stains. In either case, it's advisable to brush the shoes with a suede brush after the treatment to smooth the suede before it dries.

Vans makes its own brand of cleaning products designed specifically for its shoes, which you may want to try if your shoes have stubborn stains. If nothing else works and you're determined to save them, take your Vans to the experts at a shoe-repair shop.


Protecting Suede Vans

Protecting suede Vans is all about protecting your investment. Buying a new pair will set you back a not-insignificant sum, but starting over with a new pair of Vans also means losing the worn-in feeling of the old pair. Ideally, you'll wear one pair to the point that they feel just right and then maintain their appearance.

Treat suede Vans with suede-protector spray after every cleaning. It will help keep the material water-resistant and should keep stains from setting in, minimizing the need for future cleaning. Be sure to let the shoes dry for a full day before wearing them. Vans also sells cleaning kits that include protector spray and deodorizing spray.