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How to care for suede shoes

Suede shoes and brush for cleaning

Suede is a popular fabric for shoes, and it’s easy to see why. With that soft, downy feel to it and the smart, stylish look it has, suede is a very attractive material for adults and children alike.

Like any other popular shoe fabric, suede needs to be looked after in order to continue to look its best. In this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about looking after suede shoes. Keep reading to learn more.

What is suede?

Suede can be a tricky fabric to pin down if you’ve never really thought about it before. After all, suede is just… well, suede, right? In actual fact, suede is a type of leather with a slightly different production process that leaves that soft, almost fuzzy feeling we recognise as suede. This is due to lots of tiny, raised fibres that, together, function similarly to a very small, very soft carpet on the surface of the material. This can make suede a very popular fabric for shoes that are meant to be cosy, such as slippers.

It should be noted that, as a type of leather, suede is an animal product. There is such a thing as vegan suede, some types of which are made of polyester (a.k.a. plastic), and others cotton or rayon. For the rest of this article, we’ll focus on suede leather or animal suede, as this is far more common.

Is suede waterproof?

You may have been advised by shop assistants or helpful bystanders that you shouldn’t get suede wet, but is this true? In fact, yes - suede is not at all waterproof, and can be damaged by water stains. Because of this, it’s best not to let your little one wear their suede boots when it’s raining - or if it’s dry but there are still puddles about.

You can buy protector sprays to waterproof your child’s suede shoes, which will help to protect them from stains - we all know accidents can happen! However, even with these sprays, it’s best to do everything you can to avoid getting suede wet in order to keep it in the best condition.

How to clean suede shoes

If you can’t get suede wet, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to clean them. After all, it’s not hard to pick up dirt and debris on shoes when you go out. However, there’s a special method to be aware of when it comes to cleaning suede.

First, use a clean, dry cloth to brush away any loose debris. In some cases, this may be enough, but if not, you can graduate up to a specialist suede brush or a slightly damp cloth. The key here is to never get the suede too wet - a little surface moisture should dry off without staining. If in doubt, start drier and add a tiny bit of moisture as you go, so you can stop quickly if you think it’s too damp.

Most of the time, that should be all you need to do. In order to remove more stubborn suede stains, though, a specially designed suede mousse cleaner may be needed. Always check the instructions before using this product, and make sure to test it on a hidden area first so you can check for adverse effects.

How do you use a suede brush?

We mentioned that you could use a specialist suede brush to help clean your little one’s suede shoes, but what exactly is it? Essentially, a suede brush is a small, soft-bristled brush that might look quite like a nail brush - except that it’s designed for cleaning suede fabrics rather than your fingernails.

It works by gently removing dirt and debris from the delicate suede fibres to clean them. You should use short, straight strokes covering all directions to clean shoes with a suede brush - and as well as removing debris, this can help to restore the nap of the fabric, refreshing the look of the suede. This can also hide small imperfections such as scratches or dents.

Can you put suede shoes in the washing machine?

We know that as parents, anything you can do to save time that you could be spending with your family is an instant win. Unfortunately, though, putting suede shoes in the washing machine is likely to do more harm than good. As we’ve mentioned, suede and water aren’t good friends, so even popping them in on a gentle cycle is likely to leave stains on the fabric.

If you follow the care instructions well, though, and avoid letting your little one wear their suede shoes in wet or muddy environments, you’ll likely find that suede doesn’t need too much upkeep to stay in good condition.