Care Instructions: How to Clean Nubuck and Suede Shoes

Nubuck and suede shoes are popular and for good reasons. They are stylish and luxurious, and best of all, you can wear them all year round. The drawback with these shoes is how easy they can attract dirt and stains. You need to provide special care if you plan to own or already own these delicate shoes.

How to Clean Nubuck and Suede Shoes
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That’s because suede and nubuck are made with the inner layer of animal skin. Nubuck leather is not as tough as full-grain or conventional leather. Make sure to follow the care instructions in this post to keep your shoes in good shape.

Here’s a quick tip before I get into the care tips and the specific steps for how to clean nubuck shoes and suede. There are tons of shoe care products in the market. Some are great, while others are so-so. If you’re unlucky, some products will completely damage your shoes.

For this reason, it is best to always test new products on a small patch that’s not easily seen before using it on the entire shoe’s surface. By doing this, you can prevent irreparable damage that’s difficult to hide.

Some excellent shoe surface testing spots are:

  • The heel breast – the forward-facing side of the heel, right beneath the sole’s arch.
  • The back of your shoe strap

Caring for Nubuck and Suede Shoes

Keeping your nubuck and suede shoes in tip-top condition might seem like something only professionals can handle. You may even think it can be quite expensive to buy the various fancy cleaning supplies for your shoes.

It is far simpler than it sounds.

All you need is some common sense and a willingness to follow a few simple care instructions.

Give Your Shoe a Break

You love your suede shoes! Don’t we all? But wearing suede boots or suede shoes for two to three days in a row is not a great idea.

You’re only going to wear them out too fast if you use them every single day.

Regardless of how much you love your nubuck or suede shoes, you want them to take at least one day off before you wear them again.

Provide Waterproofing

Nubuck and suede materials are plush and comfy, but they can get easily damaged if exposed to wet conditions.

If you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on a shoe, go the extra mile to buy waterproofing spray. This will protect your delicate shoe against light rain and puddles.

Keep Them Dry

It can be difficult to keep your shoes dry all day, especially during the wet seasons or if your feet sweat a lot during hot days.

You may accidentally step into puddles or mud. These things can happen even if you are careful. But not to worry, your footwear is not likely to get damaged on the spot.

Having said that, it is crucial to make sure your shoe dries out completely before storing or using it again.

For best results, allow the shoe to dry overnight before cleaning. Dry mud will come off easily if you use a stiff bristle brush the next morning.

Use Stain Repellent Sprays

Lastly, prevention is always better than cure and that applies to your luxurious looking nubuck and suede shoes.

Some stains are beyond stubborn as far as nubuck and suede leather are concerned. Prime examples are salt stains from heavy rain and bloodstains. A tough stain like those listed is nearly impossible to get rid of once they soak into the leather of your nubuck and suede shoes.

It is always best to protect these shoes with repellent sprays. Consider applying the spray once every three months, especially during the wet seasons.

How to Clean Nubuck and Suede Shoes

Man holding Shoe
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As you probably already know, caring for your footwear is incomplete without cleaning them. Your shoes don’t need to have stains to clean them, so don’t wait until there’s a stubborn stain before you think of removing dirt.

To start with, you need the following supplies:

  • Suede shoe gum: This will remove the most stubborn stains from the shoe’s surface.
  • Washcloth, brush, or self-cleaning sponge: To remove dust and dirt.
  • Water: For damping the washcloth before cleaning
  • Protector spray: You’ll need this to protect your shoe against rain and to enhance the color.

Cleaning Your Nubuck and Suede Shoes

Now, let’s get on with the steps for how to clean nubuck and suede shoes:

  1. Gently brush off the dust and visible dirt from the surface of your shoe using a self-cleaning sponge. A small brush or even a clean washcloth will do fine if you don’t have a self-cleaning sponge. But a self-cleaning sponge offers the benefit of restoring the nap of your shoes.
  2. Use the shoe gum to remove any stubborn stains. Gently rub it on the affected areas until the stain is off.
  3. Use soap and water or a mixture of white vinegar and cornmeal to remove greasy oil stains. Simply apply cornmeal to the oil stains and brush off after a few minutes.
  4. Dip the washcloth into a small bowl of water and squeeze out excess water. You want the washcloth to be damp. Clean the shoe with a damp cloth.
  5. Allow your nubuck or suedeshoe to air dry completely. This usually means leaving it overnight. Never be in a hurry to dry your shoes. You risk damaging your shoes if you use a hairdryer or any form of heat to make them dry faster. Heat can make the leather
  6. Bring the shoe to a well-ventilated area when it is dry. Spray the protector spray, making sure to do it evenly and sparingly. Allow the shoe to dry properly when you’ve covered the entire surface.
  7. Use a soft brush to give your nubuck or suede shoe a nice polish. You can do this with a leather conditioner, or suede protector.

Wrapping Up

There you have it: how to clean nubuck and suede shoes, as well as tips for proper maintenance.

While hiring a professional cleaning service is necessary when you’re dealing with extra stubborn stains, you can do most of the cleaning and maintenance yourself.

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