The Easy Way: How To Clean Faux Suede Shoes

No matter how well you look after your shoes, it’s impossible to keep them completely clean. Sometimes accidents are unavoidable and spills happen.

Some materials are more durable than others and unfortunately, faux suede is not one of those materials that can be simply wiped clean.

You might be tempted to pop them in the washing machine, but this will ruin the material! Don’t just throw away your dirty/damaged faux suede shoes, though, there are ways to revive them! Keep reading to find out how.

How To Clean Faux Suede

What is faux suede?

Faux suede is made from plastic materials which, fortunately, is much more durable than real suede.

It’s particularly great because it looks and feels almost exactly the same as natural suede without causing any harm to animals.

The downside to their similarity to real suede is that they are just as susceptible to stains as real suede.

How to clean faux suede

You can clean faux suede in the same way you clean real suede. Below is a list of ways to effectively clean faux suede.

1. Suede brush

Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner
  • Cleans boots, shoes, coats, jackets, furniture, dance shoes, and sneakers. Perfect with sprays, foams, eraser, and cleaning kits.
  • Welt Surface used for stronger cleaning on heavier scuff marks and stains
  • Nylon bristles used for a lighter gentler cleaning on light scuff marks for thin fine suede/nubuck
  • Arched half circle brush allows for easier cleaning on rounded corners
  • Thin protruding brush is meant for cleaning on harder to reach crevices and grooves

If you’re only dealing with some dried dirt, using a suede brush should be able to efficiently remove all the dirt.

Place your hand inside the shoe for better control and brush firmly in the direction of the material.

Even though the stain might just be in one area, you should brush the entire shoe because brushing once a week can help protect your shoes in the long run.

Start at the sides and then work your way to the top and back and tongue of the shoe.

The brush method is particularly good at removing dirt and debris and minimizing marks.

Make sure your shoes are completely dry before you do this, otherwise you will likely end up brushing the stain into your shoes and/ or spreading it further.

If you don’t have a suede brush, a soft toothbrush will do just fine, it just won’t be able to cover as much surface area as a suede brush, so it will take a little longer.

2. Damp cloth

If you’re dealing with something more stubborn, that a suede brush can’t completely remove, using a damp cloth should be able to lift it.

Dab a cloth with warm water, make sure it is only damp and not wet. If you do get it too wet, just wring it out before dabbing the shoe.

Test a small area first to ensure the material doesn’t bleed when wet. If the stain is particularly stubborn, try adding a drop of mild soap onto the cloth to create suds.

Dab the stain again to remove it and wait at least 30 minutes for the shoes to dry before wearing them again.

3. Spot clean using an eraser

An eraser should be able to do what a damp cloth can’t. Before you start, make sure you use a clean erasure to prevent creating a larger stain on your shoes. 

All you need to do is gently rub the eraser over the stain in a circular motion until the stain is removed.

Once you have successfully erased the stain, use a suede brush or soft toothbrush to fix the direction of the material again.

4. Faux suede cleaner

Sof Sole Suede and Nubuck Leather Shoe Cleaner, 9-Ounce
  • Designed to remove greasy spots and stains from suede and nubuck shoes and boots
  • Restores nappy appearance
  • Recommended for cleaning all suede and nubuck jackets and purses, too

If you are struggling to brush or dab the dirt away, you can use a faux suede cleaning product to try to wash it away.

Start off by brushing as much of the dirt away with the suede brush. Then use a damp cloth and wipe the shoes all over.

Then, wet the cloth again and pour on some of the faux suede cleaner and rub it all over your shoes once again. Make sure you rub gently, so you don’t damage the material or make the color bleed or fade.

Once you’ve covered the entire shoe with the cleaner, making sure you cover the area evenly to avoid watermarks, go back in with a clean damp cloth to wipe away the cleaning fluid.

Allow the shoes to dry fully for at least 24 hours and then brush them with the suede brush again to raise the material again.

Is faux suede waterproof?

Faux suede is made from a plastic material, which makes it more durable than real suede, but it still isn’t waterproof.

Water, like rain, will likely make the fabric go stiff once dried. 

Tips for protecting faux suede

The best way to protect your faux suede shoes is by waterproofing them as soon as you purchase them.

Check the manufacturer guidelines and test a patch before fully applying the waterproofing fluid.

Here’s how to protect faux suede:

Step 1: take out any laces and cover any areas you don’t want to be affected by the spray

Step 2: working in a well ventilated area, spray the entire shoe starting from the sides, then the top and then the back. Make sure you wear a face mask and hold the spray at least six inches away from the shoe when you spray

Step 3: allow at least 30 minutes for the shoes to dry

Step 4: repeat the process again for the second coat. Make sure you let your shoes dry out completely before wearing them. This should take at least 24 hours

It’s also recommended that you use a suede brush on your faux suede shoes about once a week, as this helps keep the material raised and looking good.

Plus, brushing away small amounts of dirt often will be much easier than brushing away a month’s worth of stubborn dirt and stains – prevention is key!

Final say

You may be tempted to just throw away your stained faux suede shoes or pop them in the washing machine, but this will only damage the shoes further.

The best way to prevent damage beyond repair is by waterproofing them as soon as you buy them.

If you do get your faux suede shoes dirty, make sure you let them dry fully before attempting to clean them.

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