How to Restore Suede Shoes

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How to Restore Suede Shoes

Suede shoes are soft, comfortable, and perfect for just about any occasion. The delicate material does not stand up well to all conditions though. Over time, suede shoes become stained and matted but are not ready for the garbage. It is possible to clean suede shoes, restore them to their original condition, and make them look like new. Shoppers can purchase used suede shoes and restore them to like new condition or find the supplies to clean and restore their favorite pair of shoes. Before beginning the process, people should take the time to determine which materials they need, how to clean them, and how to restore their original texture.

Materials Needed for Restoring Suede Shoes

Suede shoes may be expensive, but cleaning and restoring them is not. While special tools and cleaning supplies for suede are available, many household materials work just as well. Before beginning the restoration process, suede shoe owners should gather a white towel or cloth, paper towels, a suede brush or soft toothbrush, and fine grain sandpaper. A suede shoe cleaner kit contains all tools needed for scrubbing and brushing the shoes. Choosing towels and paper towels without colors or patterns ensures that dyes do not transfer from the cloth to the shoes and damage the suede.

Preparing the Suede Shoes

Before cleaning or restoring suede shoes, people must prepare the suede by removing any mud or dirt. The mud must be dry before working with the shoes. Placing paper towels inside the shoes help them retain their shape and dry quicker. Shoe restorers should use the suede brush or soft toothbrush to loosen and remove the dirt from the surface. Rather than scrubbing with the brush, users must brush gently in one direction. Those whose shoes do not have a significant amount of dirt or mud on them can skip this step.

Cleaning the Suede Shoes

After users remove the dirt from the surface, they may begin cleaning the stains from the suede. The method for cleaning suede shoes depends on the type of stain. Brushing on a regular basis helps keep the shoes from becoming too soiled. Shoe owners may wish to use a protective spray to keep dirt and other debris from sticking to the shoes.

Removing Water Stains

Water is suede's biggest enemy, so people should avoid wearing their suede shoes on days when rain is in the forecast. However, avoiding water is not always possible. If shoes do have water stains, then using a bit of water helps remove them. Users should wet the entire surface of the suede shoes with a damp cloth so that they can dry evenly and remove existing water spots. People should never use a hair dryer or other heat source to dry shoes, but should let them air dry instead.

Removing Oil Stains

Cornstarch is the best product for removing oil stains from suede shoes. The process takes a while, so people should be sure to clean these stains well in advance. To remove oil stains, users simply sprinkle the cornstarch liberally over the stain and allow it to sit overnight or longer for very oily stains. The next day, users brush it off and clean the area with cool water. For very stubborn stains, shoppers can purchase a specially formulated suede shoe cleaner, such as Kiwi.

Other Cleaning Methods

While dirt, water, and oil stains are by far the most common, other types of stains require more vigorous cleaning methods. The table below lists other materials safe to use on suede shoes as well as the type of stains they clean.

Cleaning Method

Type of Stain

White vinegar

Food and oil stains

Stubborn water spots


Scuff marks

Small dirt stains

Hydrogen peroxide

Blood stains


Wax or bubble gum

Steel wool

Dry dirt stains

Rubbing alcohol

Ink spots

When using any of the liquid products mentioned above, users must ensure they do not completely saturate the shoes. Instead they should blot the stain with a small amount of the cleaner on a clean cloth. If using steel wool or a pencil eraser, then users must avoid scrubbing the spot and brush in one direction instead. This reduces the chances of damaging the suede.

Restoring the Surface Texture of the Suede

Moisture makes suede stiff and flat rather than soft. Once the shoes are clean, the next step is restoring the texture of the suede. Before beginning this process, people must ensure that the shoes are completely dry. The texture or fuzz of the suede is also known as the nap. With a bit of fine grain sandpaper, users easily bring the nap back up to its original appearance. Users gently brush the suede in a circular motion with the sandpaper to restore its texture.

How to Buy Suede Shoe Care Products on eBay

Whether shopping for a used pair of suede shoes or the supplies to restore an old pair of shoes, shoppers can find everything they need on eBay. Users start by performing a basic search to return all listings that match the keywords they specify. From the initial search results, shoppers narrow down the list further by selecting options from the refinement menu, including condition and price. Shoppers then take the time to read item descriptions and view photos to determine which items they wish to purchase. Evaluating the seller's feedback rating helps shoppers find a reputable seller to purchase from. eBay provides a large selection of all the items needed to clean and restore a pair of suede shoes.

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