Save Your Shoes & Purses! How to Clean Suede and Leather

How to Clean Suede

There are few materials more soft and luxurious than suede. But because of its nap finish, there are also few fabrics that are more prone to scuffs and stains. So, it’s important to know how to clean suede to protect your fashion investment.

When you purchase a new suede item, treat it with a stain and waterproofing spray before wearing. Then, reapply the spray about every six months.

To remove scuff marks, dirt or dried mud, brush back and forth with a suede brush or a clean towel. You can also try removing scuffmarks with a pencil eraser (yes, a pencil eraser). Another method for tacking stains is to rub them with a damp towel and white vinegar. For stubborn stains or scuffmarks, try lifting the nap with sharp knife or a nail file.

If you get suede shoes wet, dampen them all over to prevent uneven drying marks, and then insert shoe trees or stuff them with white tissue paper (newspaper ink could bleed) so they hold their shape. For other wet suede items, pat dry to remove excess water, then hang dry. Once the items are dry, brush thoroughly with a suede brush.

How to Clean Leather

Leather is a more forgiving material than suede (so take note if you’re prone to spilling), but stains happen, so you can protect the life of your items if you know a few simple tips on how to clean leather.

As with suede, prevention is key, so periodically treat leather items with a moisture protection spray, and condition the leather occasionally.

Before attempting to remove a stain from any kind of leather, first test a small area in an area that’s not noticeable.

To remove a stain from finished leather, take a gentle liquid soap like liquid hand wash, and add a small amount to a damp washcloth. Rub into a light lather in the washcloth before working on the stain. After you’re done rubbing out the stain, remove off excess water and soap with another damp rag and then wipe with a dry cloth. If you’re trying to remove a stain from unfinished leather, follow the same steps, but use saddle soap instead of liquid soap. In the winter, remove salt stains with a damp cloth to avoid damaging the leather.

Once the item has dried completely, condition the leather with leather conditioning cream or olive oil — just make sure to wipe away any excess to avoid changing the color of the material.

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