How to clean Suede Leather

This post is about caring for suede and cleaning it once it gets dirty.

Suede is a fuzzy surfaced leather closely resembling a soft napped fabric and so different from any other leather you are familiar with. This is so because suede is made of the underside of the animal skin. What I mean is that, though the source of leather and suede are the same, both are different animals (not literally). So, many things you know about cleaning leather are not relevant to suede.

In a nutshell, suede is softer than other leathers but tougher than any fabric. But generally, it is quite delicate and not very durable. And it is one of the most challenging materials to clean. So complex for such a textured beautiful material.

Considering the high cost of suede (it is more expensive than leather), you would want to know how to maintain your suede accessories and clothing.

Caring for Suede

Suede is most prone to scuffing, dirt stains mixed with water, and water spots.

Scuffing refers to marks made on your suede when it is brushed against other things. Preventing these marks is better than repairing them after they are made.

Choose the best suede

Generally, suede leather is weaker than normal leather, and out of this, split leather is weaker than a full suede. It will be less durable as it is made by separating the top skin from the underside skin. This makes split leather thinner and prone to damage when cleaning.

The other, full-suede is better quality because the whole skin is used upside down.

The very nature of suede makes it prone to collect all the dust and dirt. The napped surface is a magnet for dirt. As the surface is not smooth, the dust will stick onto the surface, especially if wet, matting the fibers.

Suede can be made from the skins of animals like lamb, goat, pig, calf, cow, and deer. Out of all of these, the most desirable suede comes from sheepskin. The least desirable suede is that made from cowhide as it is tougher and less pliable. The animal that suede is taken from and the age of the animal are two important determinants of its quality

You can read more about suede leather here.

Do not let suede be exposed to water

Keep suede away from water.

Suede can get damaged by water easily, and this damage can be irreparable. Suede can get sodden and stains easily if it is exposed to water and dirt, so it’s not ideally suitable for rainy season or snowy conditions. So the first and foremost thing to do is not to get suede in contact with water.

Suede is not generally a waterproof material. If you have waterproof suede, it is because the manufacturer has tried to treat it to make it more water-resistant. 

If you have normal suede and you want to use it in wet conditions, consider water-resistant treatments. 

Cleaning Suede

Cleaning surface dirt from suede involves simple brushing. If regularly done, this prevents stains.

Suede can be brushed with a soft brush (either with natural fiber bristles or with nylon bristles). This removes the dirt and keeps the nap fresh. You can buy specialized suede brushes for this or even use a soft and wide painting brush, if you have nothing else.

The brush is worked in a circular motion for the best cleaning. After the brushing is done, use a clean sponge (dry) to remove the rest of the surface dirt.

Remove stains from Suede

If there are stains, you can use some steam to work the magic. Combine using steam with brushing – this will remove the residue dirt stains without leaving water stains or smudging of the dirt.

Do not use so much steam that you leave water stains.

Removing oil stains from suede

In case you get an oil stain on your suede, use talcum powder sprinkled on the stain – this will absorb the oil. You may have to leave the powder overnight and then brush it off.

If the stain remains, you may have to take the product to a professional cleaner, as more aggressive home cleaning can damage the material’s texture

Reference : Reader’s Digest How to clean just about anything

Updated on November 5, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

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