How to Remove Common Stains From Suede Shoes, Clothing, and More

Suede is a delicate material that can easily pick up stains. From grease spots on shoes to food spills on jackets, suede seems to attract and absorb liquids. While suede can be tricky to clean, stains don’t have to be permanent. With the right products and techniques, you can often remove stains from suede shoes, clothing, furniture, and accessories.

Understanding Suede

Suede refers to the underside of animal skins that have been split of the top grain layer. This makes the fibers shorter and produces a soft, velvety nap. The delicate texture gives suede its appeal but also makes it prone to stains.

Unlike leather, suede has a more open and absorbent surface. The napped finish soaks up moisture easily, allowing stains to sink in quickly. Suede also lacks the protective finish of glossy leathers. This means spills aren’t repelled and suede is more vulnerable to damage.

When evaluating a suede stain, consider these factors:

  • Fiber saturation – How deep has the stain penetrated into the suede? Surface stain vs deep-set stain.
  • Stain age – Was it recent or set-in over time? New stains are easier to lift.
  • Stain source – What caused it? Food, dirt, oil, makeup? Identifying the stain source helps pick the best removal method.
  • Suede color – Is it a light or dark shade? Light suede shows stains more but is easier to clean.

With care and patience, even stubborn stains can be removed from suede. It just takes the right techniques and products.

Cleaning Supplies for Suede Stains

Having the proper supplies on hand will make suede stain removal much easier. Stock up on these cleaning essentials:

  • Suede brush – A soft brass brush to lift dirt and refresh napped texture. Avoid wire brushes that can damage suede.
  • Vinegar – The acetic acid in white vinegar breaks down stains and cuts through grease. Dilute with water for best results.
  • Rubbing alcohol – Helps disinfect and deodorize suede. Use sparingly to avoid excessive drying.
  • Nail polish remover – Acetone-based formulas melt away sticky stains from gum, adhesive, lipstick. Avoid conditioner-infused options.
  • Dish soap – A degreasing dish detergent like Dawn helps emulsify oily stains. Use mild formulas, not heavy-duty grease cutters.
  • Saddle soap – Specially formulated for leather and suede. Contains gentle cleansers that lift dirt and oil.
  • Suede cleaner – Look for spray-on products or suede cleaning blocks. Check they are suitable for your suede item.
  • Clean rags – Absorbent cotton cloths, microfiber towels, or suede cleaning sponges to dab away stains.
  • Stain remover stick – Handy solid formulas that conveniently scrub away localized grime and dirt.
  • Soft-bristle brush – For working surface stains and fibers. Avoid hard brushes that could damage suede.

Gather your supplies so they’re ready to tackle any suede cleaning challenge. Having the right stain fighting tools will make the process quicker and more effective.

How to Remove Common Suede Stains

Suede can pick up an array of stubborn stains in daily life. Here are tips for lifting some of the most common suede offenders. Always start with the gentlest method first before progressing to stronger cleaners.

Oil and Grease Stains

Shoe polish, cooking grease, motor oil, and other slick substances can seep into suede. To remove oily stains:

  • Generously sprinkle baby powder or corn starch over the stain. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the powder absorbs the grease.
  • Using a suede brush, brush the powder over the stain to loosen and lift it away.
  • Prepare a cleaning solution of 2 cups lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons dish soap, 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Use a clean rag to gently blot and dab the stain.
  • For tough oil spots, place a paper towel under the stain. Apply a small amount of nail polish remover to the stain and gently rub with a soft-bristle brush.
  • Allow suede to fully dry then use a suede brush to restore the nap.

Food and Drink Stains

Food and drinks like wine, coffee, ketchup, and chocolate can really sink into suede. To clean:

  • For wet stains, blot immediately with an absorbent rag to soak up as much liquid as possible.
  • Sprinkle baby powder, cornstarch, or baking soda over the stain to draw out moisture and absorb discoloration.
  • Prepare a mild soap solution of 2 cups warm water and 1 tsp liquid dish or hand soap. Use a sponge or soft cloth to gently dab the stain. Avoid rubbing.
  • For stubborn marks, spot treat with a dab of nail polish remover applied with a soft bristle brush. Check for colorfastness first.
  • Use a suede brush to bring back the texture and finish drying.

Makeup Stains

Cosmetic mishaps like foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick are common suede offenders. Clean with:

  • Baby powder or cornstarch to draw out oily makeup stains. Let sit 10-15 minutes.
  • An oil-free makeup remover applied to the stain with a cotton ball. Use gentle, lifting motions.
  • For heavy stains, spot treat with a little nail polish remover on a soft bristle brush.
  • A soapy solution of 2 cups water and 1 tsp dish soap. Use a clean rag to blot and lift makeup.
  • Stuff the suede with paper towels and let dry fully before wearing again.

Dirt and Grime

Environmental dirt, soil, and grime can dull suede over time. To freshen up dirty suede:

  • Use a suede brush or eraser cleaner bar on dry stains. Brush gently in one direction.
  • Apply saddle soap or suede cleaner sparingly to a damp cloth. Wipe dirty areas using light motions.
  • Make a solution of 2 cups warm water, 1 tbsp white vinegar, and 1 tsp dish soap. Dip a sponge in the solution and gently wipe away grime.
  • Avoid excess moisture and allow suede to dry fully before wearing again.

Ink and Dye Stains

Ink pens, markers, and fabric dye can leave lasting discoloration on suede. To clean:

  • Apply nail polish remover to a cotton ball and gently dab the stain. Avoid rubbing motions.
  • Make a paste from baking soda and water and gently scrub over the stain using a soft brush or toothbrush. Rinse paste away with clean water.
  • For stubborn ink spots, use a bleach paste of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 1 part baking soda. Apply to the stain and let sit 1-2 hours before rinsing.
  • Once dry, use a suede brush to blend any lightened areas. Apply suede cleaner and conditioner to help soften fibers.

Suede Stain Removal Methods

When tackling suede stains, follow these general guidelines:

Blot, Don’t Rub

Rubbing or scouring can grind dirt and stains deeper into the delicate suede fibers. Instead, gently press and lift straight up to remove spots.

Work From the Outside In

Start blotting or cleaning along the edges of the stain, moving inward toward the center. This prevents spreading or enlarging the stain.

Let it Dry Fully

Suede takes longer to dry than regular leather. Stuff wet suede with paper towels or air dry completely before wearing or brushing again.

Use Light, Lifting Motions

Gently dab, blot, and brush stains away. Never scrub aggressively. This can damage the nap and fibers.

Test Cleaners First

Try stain removers like nail polish remover, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide on an inconspicuous area first to ensure they don’t discolor or damage the suede.

Brush After Cleaning

Once dry, use a suede brush to lift crushed nap and restore the texture. Brush in light motions following the direction of the natural nap.

Condition After Cleaning

After deep cleaning suede, apply a suede conditioner. This replenishes oils and keeps suede soft and supple.

By tailoring your cleaning method to the type of stain, you can successfully tackle even tough suede spots and spills. With care and patience, stains don’t have to ruin your favorite suede items.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

From sneakers to loafers, suede shoes easily show dirt, salt stains, and scuffs. Use these techniques to remove stubborn shoe stains:

  • Daily care – Use a suede eraser bar to rub away surface dirt after each wear.
  • Salt stains – Mix 1 tbsp white vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Dip a rag in the solution and gently dab salt stains to dissolve them.
  • Oil/grease – Sprinkle cornstarch on oily spots. Let sit 10-15 minutes then brush away. Clean with saddle soap on a damp rag.
  • Mud – Let mud dry fully then use a stiff brush to remove dried dirt. Avoid adding water which can set mud stains.
  • Scuff marks – Buff away minor scuffs with fine grit sandpaper or emery board. Don’t scrub hard enough to damage the nap.
  • Winter stains – Create a DIY spray cleaner by mixing 1 cup water, 1 tbsp dish soap, and 1 tbsp white vinegar. Spritz over shoes and wipe clean.

Remember to brush shoes after cleaning to revive the texture and use cedar shoe trees to absorb moisture and help retain the shape. With regular care, suede shoes can look stylish for many seasons.

Cleaning Suede Jackets and Coats

Suede jackets are a classic wardrobe staple but the soft finish needs special care. Follow these tips when cleaning suede outerwear:

  • Spot clean only – Suede jackets should only be professionally dry cleaned. Avoid washing machines or at-home wet cleaning.
  • Use suede cleaners – Opt for spray-on suede cleaners or cleaning wipes made specifically for suede and nubuck leather. Avoid regular household cleaners.
  • Treat stains promptly – Don’t let stains set on your suede jacket. Sprinkle with baby powder then brush away to prevent setting.
  • Soft-bristle brush – Use a suede brush to remove surface dirt and refresh the nap finish after spot cleaning.
  • Check the liner – Many suede jackets have a polyester liner that can be gently hand washed if very dirty. Allow liner to fully dry before wearing the jacket again.
  • Protect from rain – Water can stain and discolor suede permanently. Spray suede protectant sprays on jackets to repel moisture before wet weather.

With attentive stain removal and regular brushing, a quality suede jacket can last for many seasons before needing professional cleaning.

Cleaning Suede Furniture

From sectionals to headboards, suede is a popular furniture fabric for its soft texture and stylish look. But family homes need kid and pet-friendly durability too. Clean suede furniture by:

  • Vacuuming often – Use the brush attachment once a week to lift dirt from the nap.
  • Spot clean spills – Immediately blot wet spills with a rag. Use a stain remover stick or gentle cleaner to lift set-in stains.
  • DIY cleaning solution – Mix 2 cups warm water, 1 tsp dish soap, and 1 tbsp white vinegar. Dampen a soft cloth and gently wipe dirty areas.
  • Suede-safe products – Look for leather and suede cleaners marked “safe for upholstery” before using.
  • Brush stubborn dirt – Use a soft suede brush to lift embedded dirt and debris. Apply pressure as needed.
  • Condition regularly – Apply suede conditioner 2-3 times a year to moisturize and protect. Wipe away excess.

With regular cleaning and conditioning, suede furniture can better resist stains and everyday wear-and-tear.

How to Clean Suede Accessories

From gloves to purses, suede makes for stylishly soft accessories. But the delicate material is prone to staining from makeup, food, grease, and everyday use. Here are tips for cleaning suede accessories:

Suede Purses

  • Clean the lining first – Inspect inside compartments and clean liner with gentle soap and water if needed.
  • DIY cleaner – Mix 2 cups warm water, 1 tbsp vinegar, and 1 tsp mild dish soap. Dampen a rag and spot clean exterior.
  • Treat stains – Dab corn starch on any grease spots. Let sit 10-15 mins then brush away residue.
  • Stuff with tissue – After cleaning, fill purse with tissue paper to absorb moisture and retain shape as it dries.
  • Brush gently – Once fully dry, use a suede brush to revive the nap and texture.

Suede Gloves

  • Air out after use – Helps gloves retain shape and dry from hand moisture.
  • Spot clean only – Dab a soapy rag over any dirty marks. Never submerge entirely in water.
  • Remove stains – Use an art gum eraser or gentle abrasive pad to lift staining along seams.
  • Dry flat – Stuff gloves with tissue paper and allow to fully dry flat before wearing again to prevent creasing.

Suede Hats

  • Dry brush first – Use a suede brush to remove any surface dirt or dust.
  • Spot clean – Mix a mild soap solution and dampen a clean rag. Gently spot clean marks or stains. Avoid over-wetting.
  • Blot interior – If hat lining is sweat-stained, blot with damp rag and baking soda paste. Allow to fully dry.
  • Steam upside down – You can use a steamer or steam from an iron to freshen the exterior nap. Keep steamer moving constantly to avoid water marks.
  • ** Reshape while drying** – Stuff hat with tissue to hold shape as it air dries fully before wearing again.

With some care and attention, suede accessories can maintain their supple feel and stylish look.

Caring for Suede Long Term

While suede is a high maintenance material, taking proper care of your items will keep them looking their best. Here are some tips for maintaining suede:

  • Weatherproof – Treat new suede items with a protective spray to guard against moisture and stains. Reapply every few months as needed.
  • Rotate shoes – Give suede shoes a day to rest between wears. This prevents excessive dirt buildup in one area. Use shoe trees to help retain shape.
  • Hang up coats and jackets – Store on wide, shaped hangers in cloth garment bags. Don’t fold suede garments.
  • Brush often – Regular brushing lifts dirt from the nap before it becomes embedded. Helps restore texture too.
  • Clean stains promptly – Don’t delay treating spills and stains. Deal with them immediately for best results removing and preventing set-in stains.
  • Condition periodically – Every 3-4 months, apply a suede conditioner to hydrate fibers and renew water resistance.
  • Store properly – Keep suede items in a cool, dry place away from direct sun. Avoid plastic bags which don’t allow suede to breathe.

With attentive care, quality suede pieces can stay looking beautiful for many years. Put effort into maintaining your suede and it will maintain its supple look and feel.

Best Practices for Suede Care

Caring for suede takes patience and practice. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:


  • Work in small, gentle motions when spot cleaning stains.
  • Allow suede to dry fully between cleaning steps. Never rush the drying process.
  • Test cleaners and treatments on a hidden area first to check for discoloration or damage.
  • Use suede-specific products like cleaners, conditioners, brushes, and protective sprays.
  • Brush suede weekly using light, even strokes to lift dirt and refresh the nap.


  • Wash suede in the washing machine or dryer. Only professional dry cleaning recommended.
  • Use heat from hairdryers or irons which can scorch delicate suede.
  • Soak or saturate suede with excess water that can create permanent water marks.
  • Rub suede vigorously as this pushes in stains and damages the nap.
  • Use harsh chemical cleaners, bleach, or solvents not specially formulated for suede.

With the proper tools and techniques, you can keep your suede looking beautiful. Arm yourself with the right supplies and knowledge to clean and care for any suede surface.

Frequently Asked Questions About Suede Care

How do you clean oil stains from suede?

Sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch generously over greasy spots. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb the oil, then use a suede brush to lift away the powder and excess oil. You can also use a small amount of nail polish remover applied to a soft cloth or brush. Gently blot the stain -avoid rubbing motions.

What removes stains from suede?

For most stains, a solution of warm water, mild dish soap, and white vinegar can be gently dabbed onto stains using a soft rag or sponge. For tougher oil-