How to Clean Suede Boots and Make Them Lustrous Again

Suede is a tricky material to clean. But, with the right approach, it is easy to clean even the dirtiest suede boots and make them lustrous again.

Most guides out there on the web teaches you to take care of dirt and stains only. A complete process to clean suede boots comprises much more than that.

Your suede boots are not clean until they are free from not only dirt and stains but also from strings, odor, and bacteria. The complete process of cleaning suede boots includes:

  • Removing set dirt from suede boots.
  • Removing all types of stains from suede boots.
  • Snipping off frayed strings from suede boots.
  • Eliminating odor from suede boots.
  • Fluffing up the nap of suede boots.

I wrote this guide to fill the vacuum and create the most complete guide on how to clean suede boots the right way. Follow the guide and your boots will rock again.

12 Steps to Clean Your Suede Boots

dirty suede boots

No matter how dirty your suede boots are, follow the 12 steps given below and you will end up with a squeaky clean pair. Follow the guide in the same manner as laid out below. Here you are:

Prepare the Workspace

I must warn you beforehand. Cleaning suede boots is a messy task and cleaning the floor after the job is done is an even more clumsy task. To avoid the mess, prepare your workspace as suggested below:

  1. Choose a well-ventilated space for the cleaning process. We will be using some spray solutions during the process and do not want to inhale unnecessary fumes.
  2. Arrange a table that you do not need for other things for a few hours at least.
  3. Lay some newspapers on the table covering the surface completely.
  4. Put your suede boots on the table and remove the laces.
  5. Optional but you may consider wearing rubber gloves on your hands to avoid making them dirty.

Gather the Supplies

You will need a few items to follow this guide and clean your pair of suede boots. Most of them will be available in your house. Here is the list of things you will need:

  • A suede brush.
  • A crepe rubber eraser.
  • A few pieces of lint-free cloth.
  • A mixing bowl.
  • Some water.
  • Some vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
  • Some newspapers.
  • Some dry papers.
  • Some cornstarch.
  • A safety razor.
  • A suede protectant.

Dry the Suede Boots

I can not scream out enough the importance of drying your boots for any dampness before cleaning them. If the suede is wet or even dampened, you will only work the dirt deep into the pores instead of removing it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Remove the laces and insoles from the boots.
  2. Add some balls of newspaper inside the boots.
  3. Leave the boots in shade,
  4. Let the boots air-dry overnight.
  5. In the morning, your boots will be fully dry.

If you are short of time and want to speed up the drying process, do not use any heat source or direct sunlight. Instead, use my guide on how to dry wet boots without damaging them or buy yourself a boot dryer.

Shake Off the Loose Dirt

Most loose dirt and mud will fall from the boots with a light tap. You may also use your thumbs to loosen the build-up of dirt and shake it off the boots. Here is how to do this:

  1. Take each boot of the pair in each of your hands.
  2. Raise the boots a little up into the air over the table.
  3. Bring the boots closer and bump them into each other with some force.
  4. Keep doing this until the loose dirt stops falling from the boots.
  5. Replace the dirty newspapers on the table with new ones.

Brush Away the Stubborn Dirt

Time to target the set dirt. To remove the stubborn dirt build-ups, you will need a suede brush. If you are in a pinch for money, you may use a soft bristle brush. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Brush the suede upper in one direction using moderate force.
  2. Do it for a couple of minutes and you will see the set dirt starts coming off.
  3. Brush away the scraped dirt and clean the surface.
  4. Brush the suede upper in another direction using moderate force.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the dirt stops coming off.

Congratulations! By this point in the cleaning process, you have got a completely dirt-free pair of suede boots. But, the job is not over yet. We still need to remove stains, strings, and odor from the boots. So, without further ado, let’s continue.

Erase the Easy Stains

Suede leather can get stained easily. Most stains on suede are easy to remove just by erasing them with a suede eraser. Some hard ones can survive the eraser that we will tackle later in this article. For now, let’s remove the easy ones:

  1. Take a suede eraser made of crepe rubber.
  2. Rub the stained area with the rubber using soft hands.
  3. Keep increasing the pressure as you encounter tougher stains.
  4. Brush away the bits of stains and eraser every few seconds.
  5. Keep repeating steps 2 to 4 until the stains go away or stop getting any fader.

Evaporate the Water Stains

As diamond cuts diamond, water stains on suede can be cured by the water itself. Suede is a porous material and can soak up a lot of water quickly. This soaked-up water dries on the surface and leaves it with nasty stains. Luckily, the water stains on suede are easy to remove. Here’s how:

  1. Dampen a lint-free piece of cloth with water.
  2. Wring the piece of cloth to remove the excess water.
  3. Put some dryer papers inside the boots to bloat the surface on the inside.
  4. Dab the stained area, and a bit of surrounding area, with the dampened piece of cloth until a little wet.
  5. Leave the boots for a while. The water will leave the surface with no visible stains on it.

Suck Out the Oil Stains

Oil makes nasty stains on the suede surface. It also makes the surface a little tacky making it catch more dirt easily. Fortunately, removing the oil stains from your suede boots is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Sprinkle some cornstarch all over the oil stains.
  2. Let the boots sit overnight or for a few hours at least.
  3. Brush away the powder in the morning to find out the stains are almost gone.

Congratulations! By this point in the cleaning process, your suede boots are free from all types of stains as well. But, do not leave the job half done. The task of removing the frayed strings and nasty odor from your suede boots is still looming over us. So, let’s continue.

Shave Off the Frayed Strings

From time to time, suede may develop a stringy appearance making it look messy and unclean. Take time to trim or snip off the frayed strings to restore the smooth texture of the suede and make it look tidy again. Here is how to do this:

  1. Take a safety razor to shave off the frayed fabric.
  2. Place it close to the surface but a bit into the air minding the fine nap.
  3. Shave the surface gently without applying any pressure.
  4. The moving razor will carry frayed strings with it as it moves across the surface.
  5. Finally, brush away the leftover stringy bits on the surface.

Remove the Bad Odor

The presence of a bad odor indicates your suede boots are carrying bacteria inside them. Unless your suede boots smell fresh, they can not be called clean even if there is no visible dirt or stain on the surface. Time to stop your suede boots from stinking.

Baking soda does all the magic here. It has the ability to bind smelly particles to itself and keep them locked in. Hence, once you remove the baking soda from the boots, you remove the bound smelly particles as well. Here’s how:

  1. Take 2-3 teaspoons of baking soda.
  2. Pour the baking soda into a pair of socks.
  3. Place the socks inside the boots and leave them overnight.
  4. In the morning, take the socks out of the boots.
  5. You will notice that your leather boots smell fresh now.

Congratulations! By this point in the cleaning process, it is safe to call your suede boots super clean. They are free from dirt, stains, strings, odor, and bacteria. But, before we call it a day, time to restore the original texture of the suede again. Let’s Continue.

Fluff Up the Nap Again

During the cleaning process, the nap of the suede may get pressed. It will make the pair appear dull to your eyes despite being clean. So, time to fluff up the nap again and make the pair look marvelous. Here’s how:

  1. Dampen a lint-free piece of cloth with some vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub the dampened piece of cloth all over the suede upper to smoothen the fibers.
  3. Leave the boots to air dry for a while until the liquid leaves the leather completely.
  4. Brush the suede one last time to fluff up the nap.
  5. Voila! your suede boots look clean, lustrous, and fabulous.

Spray a Suede Protectant

After cleaning your suede boots, create a protective barrier around them. It will make your boots a lot less prone to get dirty and very easy to clean in the future. I call this step a must-to-do one and not an optional one. Here’s how to do this right:

  1. Take a bottle of branded suede spray.
  2. Hover the bottle over the boots at least 6 inches away from the pair.
  3. Press the nozzle and swiftly move your hands all over the upper to apply an even coat of the spray on the surface.
  4. Let the boots sit on the table for a few hours until the spray cures fully.
  5. Consult with the guidelines printed on the bottle to find out if there is any need for another coat or not.

What’s Next

Congratulations! You deserve a pat on the back for following the guide to the tee. Your reward is an ultra-clean, lustrous, and marvelous pair of suede boots. You just saved yourself from buying a new pair by restoring your old one.

If you think you should contribute to saving the suede boots of others, give this guide a quick share. This way, other suede owners in your circle could benefit from it. Also, don’t forget to check our homepage for more boots care guides. Thanks!

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Liam Scout

Hey, I’m Liam Scout. I teach my readers how to style boots & shoes with different pieces of clothing and how to take better care of them. Follow my guides to double the charm and lifespan of your footwear. Thanks!