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How to Clean Suede Shoes (Using Household Products)

Last Updated: October 12, 2021

Suede shoes are a fashion trend that has been around for centuries. Whether you’re going for a casual or stylish look, suede shoes always have your back. But, as nice as they are, the one downside to them is keeping them clean. Luckily, there are actually plenty of household hacks for cleaning suede shoes that you may not even know about. We’re going to talk about how to clean suede shoes and share some simple tips and tricks that might just save your life.

If you’re ready to clean your shoes the right way that will extend their shoe-life like never before, let’s dive in and get started. 

How to Clean Suede Shoes, Heels, or Sneakers:

Step 1: Gather your supplies

For this method, you will need the following




Pencil Eraser

Step 2: Clean off excess dirt with a brush

When it comes to cleaning suede shoes, you’ll want to take your brush and scrub off any excess dirt and grime to ensure that the shoe is prepped for cleaning (NOTE: make sure the dirt is dry before you attempt to scrub it to avoid rubbing it in further!). You’ll want to use a gentle brush to do this (you can even get a special suede brush). If you can’t get your hands on a suede brush or want to save a few bucks, you can also use a soft makeup brush. 

Step 3: Use an eraser to pull up hidden dirt

Next, although it may seem odd, grab a simple pencil eraser and start working it on the stains and scuff marks. This will help to pull out any dirt and grime hidden deep within for the cleanest shoe possible.

Step 4: Soak Cloth with white vinegar and rub on the stain

If the eraser didn’t do as good a job as you wanted, you can also use white vinegar to get rid of stains and dislodge particles deep down. Simply take your cloth and dab the corner of it into the white vinegar and apply it to the shoe. You can rub this back and forth to dismember a stain or clean the shoe altogether. Alternatively, you can also use baking soda and micellar water to do this instead. 

Step 5: Apply a Suede Protector

And lastly, when it comes to cleaning suede, it is optional (but highly suggested) to apply a suede protector to ensure that your shoes stay better protected from dirt, grime, and water stains altogether.

RELATED: How to Clean + Disinfect Used Shoes

How to Clean Suede Shoes (With Household Products)

If you’re in a pinch and looking for some easily accessible household items you can use to clean your suede shoes, we’ve got you covered. 

White Vinegar

In replacement of a suede shoe cleaner, you likely have some white vinegar stored in your cabinets. This is best for food and salt stains.

The key is doing it in small doses to ensure your shoes don’t become overwhelmed by the vinegar. It is also important to note that the suede will appear to change color, but this is only temporary while you clean it. It will go back to normal after you have swept away the excess afterward and let the shoe dry!

Mild Soap + Water

No vinegar? You can also use a mixture of mild soap and water to substitute as a suede cleaner.

We don’t recommend dish soap, but a mild hand soap or even children’s shampoo works great.

Baking Soda or Corn Starch

Baking soda or corn starch works wonders for oil stains. Simply sprinkle a generous amount directly onto the stain and let your shoes sit overnight. Gentle scrape off the baking soda into the trash, then brush off the rest with a clean towel.

Even if you don’t have any of these in your pantry, they’re incredibly cheap to purchase!

Toothbrush or Makeup Brush

If you don’t have a special suede brush on hand, a toothbrush or soft makeup brush will do wonders. Although it may take a bit longer or seem silly, using a gentle brush like this will get the job done correctly in no time.

The key here is ensuring that whatever brush you use is gentle enough not to scratch your shoes, so either of these would be perfect. Of course, you can always invest in a suede brush to get the job done more efficiently.


While there are erasers made for suede shoes, you can also use a regular eraser or rubber to get the job done.

Overall, while this may seem cheap and ineffective, it works and will save you unnecessary money in the future. Be sure to raid your cabinets before you go rushing to Walmart or Amazon so you can clean your shoes without a suede brush.

Bottom Line

When it comes to the question of how to clean suede shoes, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Although some of these ideas may seem silly, these are great things to keep in mind when cleaning your shoes in the future or for getting rid of water stains. 

Whether you decide to stick with household items or buy up a cleaning kit to be prepared, you can be sure that any of the above products will be excellent in restoring your suede shoes back to their prime. Cleaning suede doesn’t have to be expensive, they just need a little extra love and care sometimes.

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