How to Care for Suede Shoes

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How to Care for Suede Shoes
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How to Care for Suede Shoes

Suede is a popular material in the making of shoes, but its specific properties make it vulnerable to damage from everyday wear. To get the most out of suede shoes, they must be protected and cared for properly. The first step in caring for suede is determining what type of suede was used to construct a pair of shoes. There are three types of suede commonly utilized in shoemaking, and each type has varying degrees of durability that will determine care methods. The next step in caring for suede is protecting it from the elements, particularly water. To add protection, a number of products can be applied to its outer surface. Lastly, if damage does occur, wearers can employ cleaning methods that will minimize damage and restore the suede to its original condition. To care for suede properly, buyers can find a multitude of specially designed products at their local shoe and department stores, mass retailers, and online shopping websites, like eBay. Using these products helps to ensure that wearers will get a long-lasting life out of their favorite suede shoes.

Different Types of Suede

There are three different types of suede that are used in the construction of shoes. Each has specific properties that will affect the suede’s longevity. Most of these properties center on a suede’s thickness and nap, which is the texture of the suede’s surface.

Type of Suede


Sheepskin suede

Thin skin suede with velvety nap; most delicate suede type

Cowhide suede

Thick skin suede with coarse nap; fairly durable

Pigskin suede

Thick skin suede with porous, short nap; very durable

Sheepskin suede is the most difficult suede type to care for because it is easiest to damage. Its thin skin makes it more susceptible to cracking when cleaning. For this reason, it is always a good idea when caring for sheepskin suede to keep it away from any heat, which contributes to cracking.

Protecting Suede Shoes

The first step in caring for suede shoes is protecting them from damage caused by water, dirt, and corrosive elements, such as salt, that might be used on streets or pavements. To achieve this, suede protectors can be used. Suede protectors are formulated to repel water from the surface of suede, which will protect its nap and color.

Where to Apply a Suede Protector

A suede protector should be applied to any part of a shoe that is made from suede. Although suede can be used to construct most of a shoe, it can also be applied to add embellishment to a shoe that is primarily made of other materials, like canvas. Whether suede is a major element in a shoe’s construction or simply a design detail, the methods for applying a suede protector are the same.

Apply a Suede Protector

Although users should read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before applying a suede protector, most protectors use the same application process. Spray the protector liberally onto the suede’s surface until the suede looks wet. Let the suede dry naturally for at least twenty-four hours. Refrain from using any methods to speed up the drying process, like applying heat, sunlight, or a fan, because these can cause the suede to crack.

Buffing the Suede’s Nap

After the suede has dried thoroughly, the surface of the suede should be buffed to restore the texture of the suede’s nap. This could be accomplished with a soft brush or a dry towel. Lightly buff the surface of the suede using a circular motion until the nap has been has been lifted from the suede’s surface. When finished, lightly brush the suede in a uniform direction according to the natural grain of the nap to achieve the most consistent look to the suede’s surface.

When to Apply a Suede Protector

Suede protectors should be applied before a pair of suede shoes have been worn for the first time. This is to ensure that the suede is protected from the weather and any accidental spills that might occur. Since the protector wears off, users should plan to apply a suede protector every two weeks to maximize the protector’s benefits.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

No matter how careful a wearer might be, it is inevitable that suede shoes will get wet or dirty. Water is a problem for suede because it can easily cause marks to form on suede’s porous surface. Dirt is an issue for suede because it can get into suede’s nap and cause discoloration. Suede is difficult to clean because the pigmentation used to dye suede is only on the suede’s surface. Chemical detergents that can be used on other types of shoes may remove the dye from suede. For suede shoes that have become significantly stained or dirty, the best advice is to take the shoes to a professional cleaner. For small amounts of dirt or water damage, a number of methods can be used.

Cleaning with Wool Detergents

Wool detergents can be used to clean suede. Wet the suede with warm water and apply a wool detergent diluted with water to the surface of the suede with a sponge. Using a gentle, circular motion, rub the suede’s surface, particularly in marked areas. Use cold, clean water to rinse the suede thoroughly and immediately squeeze or press out any excess water. Allow the shoes to dry naturally before restoring the nap by buffing it with a dry towel or soft brush.

Cleaning with Suede Erasers and Brushes

Suede erasers and brushes can be used to clean the surface of suede and should be used on suede that is dry. Suede erasers are blocks made from art gum that can lift up dirt from the surface of suede. To use a suede eraser, hold the eraser firmly while rubbing the surface of dry suede to remove marks. Particles from the eraser will break off during the removal process as the eraser picks up dirt. Suede brushes can be used in conjunction with erasers to restore the suede’s nap. After an eraser has taken away dirt, a suede brush should be applied in circular motions to lift the suede’s nap back to its original condition.

Storing Suede Shoes

Since suede shoes might need to be put away for a season or two due to inclement weather, wearers should take some precautions to guarantee that their suede shoes will be in top condition when they can be worn again. Suede should be stored in a cool, dry place to minimize the chance that mildew can form on the shoes. To protect the shoes from dust, store them in cotton bags or pillowcases, which will allow the suede to breathe. Never store suede in plastic or vinyl bags, because vinyl or plastic bags will promote the formation of mold and mildew.

Buying Suede Shoe Care Products on eBay

eBay can be a great resource for suede shoe fans to find care, cleaning, and storage products to keep their suede shoes looking as good as the day they were new. On eBay, buyers can find suede protectors from well-known manufacturers like KIWI or Wilsons. In eBay’s Housekeeping and Organization section, buyers can find cleaning towels and cloths that are soft enough to apply to suede’s nap. Buyers also have a range of shoe organizers, storage bags, and storage boxes available from which to choose when they need to take their suede shoes out of commission during bad weather months. Starting the eBay purchasing process is easy; simply register to create an account.

eBay’s Customer Support

eBay’s Customer Support page provides a centralized location for buyers to access tools that help to make their purchasing experience go smoothly. Buyers can find many self-service tools to manage their activity wisely and how - to videos that guide buyers through the purchasing process. eBay also provides a list of the most popular questions buyers ask on its Customer Support page, like how to contact PayPal, eBay’s preferred purchasing platform.

Rules and Policies for eBay Buyers

eBay has instituted a number of Rules for Buyers that eBay users should read before purchasing any products. These rules were developed to ensure that buying on eBay is as safe, fair, and fun as possible. Buyers should pay close attention to eBay’s bidding and paying policies and its rules on leaving Feedback. If a problem arises with a transaction, buyers should follow eBay’s Resolution Policies to find an agreeable way to handle the issue.


Suede is a fashionable and comfortable material used in the construction of shoes, but it’s easily damaged by the elements when worn every day. To get more from an investment in suede shoes, buyers should practice a few care methods that can protect and prolong the suede’s usability. Since suede is made from a range of skins that vary in degrees of thickness, buyers should know what type of suede was used to make their shoes. Knowing this helps buyers choose the correct care methods for their shoes. Protecting suede by applying specially formulated sprays goes a long way in minimizing any damage that the suede might sustain while being worn. When suede gets dirty, wearers can clean their suede with gentle methods suitably developed for suede’s unique properties. Luckily for wearers, the popularity of suede shoes has made buying care products easy at local stores and online marketplaces like eBay.

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