HOW TO CLEAN SUEDE LEATHER BOOTS & SHOES

2 Sep 2019

Everyone knows suede as a cool, stylish leather material, but it can be temperamental when it comes to scuffs, stains, and marks. You might be surprised to know that it just takes some household items to get your boots and shoes back in shape, clean, and looking good again.
 
Here is the Ariat step-by-step guide in how to clean suede leather boots and shoes.
 
You will need:
  • A soft bristle brush or suede cleaning brush (a toothbrush will work)
  • A clean cloth or bath towel
  • Newspaper or something else similar
  • Water
For tough scuffs and stubborn stains, you might also need:
  • A pencil eraser
  • White vinegar
To prevent future stains:
  • Suede protector
  • Water proofer

STEP BY STEP

1. DRY THE BOOTS OR SHOES
To clean suede boots and shoes, they need to be dry first. If they are not already dry, stuff your boots (or shoes) with newspaper—it will help keep the boots’ shape while they dry. (Definitely keep them out of direct sunlight.) If the boots are completely saturated with water, remove the insole and place a towel or paper towel inside. To speed up this process you can use a hair dryer on a low heat setting, but just be careful not to burn the leather.
 
2. STUFF THE BOOTS OR SHOE
If you haven’t already, stuff each boot or shoe with newspaper or something that serves a similar function so that the boot maintains form while you brush or wet the boot (for water stains).
 
3. BRUSH TO REMOVE DIRT AND DEBRIS
Using a soft bristled brush, brush gently against dried dirt and scuff marks. Make sure to brush in the same direction, unless you come across tough scuffs, where you may need to brush back and forth to loosen the grain. If that is the case, make sure to finish by brushing with the grain (in the same direction you were brushing before) to leave consistent brush marks and make everything look good.
 
4. WIPE DOWN WITH A DRY, CLEAN CLOTH
Following your brushwork, wipe the surface with a dry, clean cloth to remove any dust or small particles that stubbornly remain. Just like when you were brushing, make sure to wipe down in the same direction to leave a clean, consistent grain pattern. If your footwear is looking good as new already, you can skip to step 8. If you still have scuffs or stains, continue reading.
 
5. REMOVE TOUGH MARKS WITH A PENCIL ERASER
For scuffmarks or dirt that you cannot brush out, use a pencil eraser and rub vigorously back and forth on the area. Finish off by using your brush again and brushing down the grain.
 
6. REMOVE WATER STAINS BY WETTING THEN DRYING
If water has discoloured an area of your boots, wet a brush or clean towel and gently wet the exterior of the boot around the stain. Once done, remove excess water with a dry towel. Stuff the boot with newspaper and let dry overnight.
 
7. REMOVE TOUGH STAINS AND SALT MARKS WITH WHITE VINEGAR
If your boots and shoes have fallen victim to salt stains or other tough marks, you can use white vinegar to try to dislodge the stains. Wet a towel or cloth with white vinegar and apply to the stained area. Let the boot dry (keeping that newspaper inside the boot) and then use your brush as you would to remove other marks and revive the grain.
 
8. APPLY SUEDE PROTECTOR (AND WATER PROOFER FOR PROTECTION IN SNOW)
To prevent stains and marks in the future, and avoid having to complete this again, be sure to spend some time protecting your footwear from future damage with a protector of some kind.
 
SUEDE PROTECTOR: Always test the product first on an inconspicuous spot such as the inner part of the shoe or boot. After you have made sure the suede protector doesn’t harm or discolour the boots, it’s time to apply. Make sure your boots are dry and cleaned to your liking and then apply suede protector to all exterior areas of the boot.
 
WATER PROOFER: If you live in an area where it snows, protecting your boots with a water proofer is a great idea. Not only will this help against watermarks but they often help prevent salt stains too. The water proofer will likely appear to darken your boots when first, but they will lighten again over time. Keep in mind that water proofer only helps repel water and needs to be reapplied from time to time.
 
Finally, the hard work has paid off. Your suede has been revived and you can continue wearing your favourite leather footwear once again.