How To Clean Black Suede Shoes

Suede is a material that almost always acts as an indirect status symbol purely because of how complicated it is to manage and maintain it.

You can’t wear suede unless you are fully committed to ensuring that you are ready to keep it safe and clean every step of the way, which is why wearing suede shoes is a feat that is not for the feint of heart.

I favor black suede shoes. I have always wondered how to clean black suede shoes.

This can be particularly challenging for a lot of people because, unfortunately, suede shoes look really freaking cool.

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More importantly, black suede looks absolutely amazing with most any outfit. They are basically guaranteed to bump your status up with your friends, which is extra problematic because black suede is also the most difficult to maintain.

In the event that you are considering going out on a limb and actually having a go at buying a pair of suede shoes, you are probably wondering what it might look like to maintain them.

Though caring for your dapper new pair of suede shoes might be more difficult than tending to the average pair of shoes, it is actually quite manageable so long as you are willing to keep up with it.

What is suede?

The first thing that you will need to know about suede is that it is actually a kind of leather.

This is why it requires a little extra maintenance to stay nice, why it costs so much, and why there are so many fake versions of it available.

The real enemy of suede and what makes it so difficult to maintain is that water can destroy it quickly.

The result is a complete destruction of appearance and feel that will make you want to weep every time that you look at it, and it is pretty difficult to save suede once it has been severely damaged.

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If you already own a nice pair of leather shoes, you might be familiar with using a specific brush to clean them. With suede, having a suede brush or equivalent alternative (and no that does not mean a used towel from your bathroom) is crucial to maintaining a long lifespan for your suede items. 

Maintaining black suede

Since suede is easily damaged and the world is full of hazards, it should come as no surprise that maintaining and cleaning your suede shoes is crucial when it comes to making sure that they last long enough to justify the cost.

Given the fact that suede is a material that is easily harmed, using the wrong kind of brush can actually do more harm than good.

When you consider that water is the ultimate enemy of suede as a material, it should come as no surprise that under most any circumstance you will not want to use water to clean it.

This is where the brush comes in because suede brushes are designed to clean and maintain without the need for a chemical.

When you brush your suede shoes, you will begin by brushing off any stains, dirt, or salt in order to stop these corrosive materials from damaging the leather.

Removing stains

If you find yourself battling a particularly resilient stain, you can apply more pressure with the brush and lightly scrub it in a back and forth pattern until the stain finally relents and takes its leave.

Remember, if you apply too much pressure, you will damage the shoes all the same. 

The tragic reality is that there are simply some stains that a suede brush will not be able to remove, and that is when you will need to call in the more heavy duty processes in order to save your stylish kicks.

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The most common solution to use on deep stains is a 1:2 ratio of vinegar and water.

In order to effectively use this kind of cleaner, you will need a soft cloth, preferably that has never been used before, that has been lightly dampened with the solution.

Under no circumstances should your cloth be wet or soaked because too much of the solution can actually damage the shoes further. When the cloth is suitably dampened, you will want to very lightly scrub the stain, taking care not to apply too much pressure or soak the shoe.

If you begin to notice that the shoe has become visibly damp, considere letting the shoe dry out before you return to the process of scrubbing.

Some particularly problematic stains may require multiple attempts at this process before they are full removed, but make sure that you let the shoes dry between each attempt in order to avoid over saturating the leather, which, much like everything else on this planet, can damage the suede. 

Take action soon

If you are lucky enough to catch a stain directly after your shoe’s watery assailant has made their move, there are also certain steps that can be taken to help lessen the damage when it happens.

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If you are ever unfortunate enough to get your shoes wet, you will want to make sure that you do everything that you can to dry them as quickly as possible.

You can do this by making sure that the shoes have plenty of room to breath and by mopping up any water that has soaked into them with a fresh, soft cloth. Once the shoes begin to dry, you will want to utilize the brushing technique in order to stop the water stains from setting into the shoe further.

Keep your black suede fresh

Though it might seem like black suede shoes are a lot of work to maintain, the payoff of owning shoes this nice is without question worth it as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

If you are the kind of person who shouldn’t be trusted with this sort of delicate material, it might be best to consider paying someone else to care for the shoes in your place.

This will ensure that you get to look great with your awesome shoes while leaving the actual dirty work to the professionals. In the event you end up with a complex stain that you think might be beyond you, this is probably the correct course of action, but for daily maintenance, you can care for these shoes with a little hard work and a lot of patience.

If your shoes are beyond repair check out our article: What To Do With Old Beat Up Shoes