How to Care for Suede Shoes

Suede shoes have special looks of warm and tender expression, but they can easily get dirty because the surface is a bit shaggy.

A photo below; before(left) and after(right) caring.

The suede shoe on the left looks dirty and messy, but the one on the right looks beautiful and clean.

Now you want to clean your Suede shoes? Here is the article for how!

STEP 1: Insert Shoe Trees

Remove the shoelaces, and insert shoe trees to keep your shoes in shape.

It is an important STEP because you need to brush the shoes with a strong touch to loosen up the fur of Suede in STEP 3.

Tool used in this procedure “Shoe Trees”

“Shoe Trees” helps your shoes in shape.

It also helps to smooth a wrinkle around instep so you can care your shoes easily.

Since shoe trees can be used not only for suede shoes but also for various shoes, it is useful to have one at home.

STEP 2: Clean

Brush with a pighair brush with a strong touch to remove dust and dirt on the surface.

Do not forget to brush the edge of outsole since it is a spot where the dust and dirt remained.

Tool used in this procedure “Pighair Brush”

The pighair brush is hard-bristled, so the dust and dirt can be removed easily on the surface of suede fur.

Get a brush with a large handle so you can grab it firmly.

STEP 3: Scrab with a Crepe Brush

Scrab with a crepe brush to loosen up the fur of Suede because it would be stiff as time passes.

In order to make the suede shoes look beautiful, it is a tip to take care by “Loosening” → “Fixing”.

This STEP 3 is for “Loosening”, and “Fixing” will be done at the final STEP 5.

Tool used in this procedure “Crepe Brush”

The crepe brush can loosen up the fur of suede leather that is get stiff.

If the crepe brush is new or not used for a while, the rubber may become hard and difficult to use so loosen it by hand prior to using.

Loosen the rubber crepe brush solidified prior to use in the hand

Wire brush is not recommended!

There is a tool called “Wire Brush” for Suede care, it could damage the leather.

In my opinion, the combination of “Pighair brush” and “Crepe Brush” is the best for suede care.

STEP 4: Moisturize with Suede Spray

Moisturize with a suede spray that is specially made for caring suede.

You want to moisturize the leather if the color is faded because the color will be beautifully returned by moisturizing it.

How to use the spray is slightly different depending on the product, but in the top of the video introduces the procedure by using “Suede Color Fresh” from MOWBRAY.

Here are the tips.

  • Do not shake spray before you use it.
  • Spray 3 times quickly, by 50cm or more apart.
  • Dry for at least 30 minutes.

The tool in this procedure “Suede Spray”

Most of suede sprays are used for just moisturize the leather, but to put waterproof effect.

You can find the suede color sprays and natural color sprays.

We recommend to try natural color spray first because it has the effect of improving color.

Do not use the cream for Suede!

The cream makes the Suede stiff and even looks dirty, so do not use the cream for suede!

STEP 5: Brush with a Pighair Brush

Brush with a pighair brush to align the direction of the suede fur.

A tip for brushing is to brush from the front to the back.

You do those 5 steps only once a month to keep your suede shoes clean and gorgeous.

The tool in this procedure “Pighair Brush”

The pighair brush in this procedure can be the same as one used in “STEP 2: Clean”.

However, the dust and dirt might be attached to the hair so get rid of it by hand prior to use.

How to Handle Problems on Suede Shoes

You could have some little problems with Suede shoes, such as discoloration, mold and stains.

Here are how to handle them.

Fades, Discoloration

The most common trouble with suede shoes is “Fades” and “Discoloration”.

Example of Fades and Discoloration

The cause of fades and decoloration are drying or aging.

Your shoes can be beautifully restored by using suede spray, so try “STEP 4”.

After using suede spray

Return to “STEP 4: Moisturize with Suede Spray”

If you still find fades or discoloration, use the color spray that is not so that the color returns more firmly.

There is also a product of liquid type, but I do not recommend it because it easily gets uneven color compared to spray type.


It often happens that your suede shoes get scratched as shown in the picture below.

Example of Scratch

This problem can be solved by carefully scrabbing with the creap brush so try “STEP 3”.

After scrabbing with creap brush

Return to “STEP 3: Scrab with a Crepe Brush”


When you find stains on your suede, try “STEP.1 〜 STEP.5” first.

If the stains cannot be removed, try to wash with water since the impurities have got in deeper of the leather.

Jump to “How to Wash Suede Shoes”


When your suede shoes get mold, it is effective to wash whole shoes.

There is no meaning to simply wipe the mold off actually because you cannot remove the tiny mold fungus.

Try to wash with water.

Jump to “How to Wash Suede Shoes”


When you find the favorite suede shoes and have it for so long, your the surface of leather could get fuzzy.

Example of fuzzy surface

You can burn the fuzz with a lighter so your shoes will be looks almost like new.

You need to keep the lighter swaying while it fires not to burn around the seam.

Keep the lighter swaying

Then, wipe the dregs with a hand or pighair brush after.

After brushing with pighair brush


When suede shoes get wet, it is important to dry them properly.

The leather has the property of becoming deformed and hardened after it gets wet, so your shoes might become hard and it would be uncomfortable to wear.

In addition, it is easy to get mold if it dries halfway, so it is better to dry well to prevent the mold.

First thing you do is to put some crushed paper in your shoes to absorbs moisture in the shoes, and leave well-ventilated shade for one day.


In the meantime, replace the papers every 2 or 3 hours since the wet newspapers will increase the humidity inside the shoes and mold will grow easily.

After leaving them with papers for a day, put in shoe trees to prevent deformation and leave them one more day to dry completely.

Since suede is easy to get soaked, you want to use the suede spray to keep your Suede shoes waterproof in preparation for the rain.

How to Wash Suede Shoes

Here’s how to wash your suede shoes by water.

By washing with water, stains and mold can be removed.

Tools used to Wash Suede Shoes

Here are tools we used.

  • Large Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel
  • Paper
  • Suede Shampoo

In this article, we use “Suede & Nubuck Shampoo” from MOWBRAY for Suede Shampoo because it is made especially for suede leather, so it can be used safely without damage.

Other than above, we used the tools in “STEP 1 ~ STEP 5” so prepared them too.

Washing procedure

Here is the procedure for washing suede shoes.

Please be sure that you cannot be worn after washing as it takes 2-3 days to dry completely.

STEP 1. Preperation

First of all, remove the shoelaces and brush with a pighair brush to remove dirt on your shoes.

STEP 2. Put Suede Shoes in warm water

Dip your shoes to a large bucket with warm water and wait for 5 minutes, so the dirt will float and it will be easier to clean.

When doing indoors, let’s put a towel etc. so that the surroundings do not get wet. Or it is a good idea to do in the bathroom.

STEP 3. Clean

Take Suede & Nubuck Shampoo to sponge and whip.

Gently wash the whole surface and inside with a foamy sponge.

Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the whole to remove the dirt stuck deeper in the fur.

STEP 4. Rinse

Rinse the bubbles with water firmly, and wipe them with a towel carefully.

Make sure that the bubble is not left, since the remaining bubbles may become stains.

STEP 5. Dry

Put some crushed paper in your shoes, and let them dry for 2 days in the well-ventilated shade.

Do not forget to replace the papers sometimes because the wet papers will increase the humidity inside the shoe and mold will grow quite easily.

Next, put shoe trees to prevent deformation, and leave them in the well-ventilated shade for 1 more day to dry completely.

STEP 6. Moisturize

Loosen the fur of suede by brushing with crepe brush, and use the suede spray to moisturize the leather.

The moisture and oil fall out during the drying process, so you want to moisturize the leather to prevent fading and discoloration.

We use “Suede Color Fresh” from MOWBRAY, and a tip for use is as follows.

  • Do not shake spray when you use it.
  • Spray 3 times quickly, by 50 cm or more apart.
  • Dry for at least 30 minutes after spraying.

Brush with a pighair brush to align the direction of the suede fur so that the whole looks become beautiful and neat.

Wrap it up

The beautiful thing about suede shoes is that the warmth, and it is essential to care for that.

You may think it difficult to care, but it is surprisingly easy to try if you do it.

Enjoy your suede shoes by caring for them sometimes!

About the author

Ken Kataoka

Hi, I’m Ken Kataoka, based in Tokyo Japan. I’m fascinated by leather shoes and shoe care. Also, I make bespoke shoes. I write articles on shoe care & tools, shoe brands and more from my experience.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *