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How to Keep Suede Looking Its Best

Regardless of the season, some people avoid suede because of its reputation as a sensitive fabric that can be easily scratched, scuffed, or damaged by water, grease, and other substances. And though suede does require extra attention, when you know how to properly care for it, you can feel confident about adding many suede items to your wardrobe.

a woman holding an orange suede pump

Contrary to popular belief, suede isn’t just for fall and winter. In fact, sporting a suede jacket, handbag or shoes in summer means you don’t have to worry about rain or snow.

Regardless of the season, some people avoid suede because of its reputation as a sensitive fabric that can be easily scratched, scuffed, or damaged by water, grease, and other substances.

And though suede does require extra attention, when you know how to properly care for it, you can feel confident about adding many suede items to your wardrobe.

5 Ways to Protect Suede from Damage

1. Waterproof Suede with Protector Spray

Waterproofing suede items before wearing will save you a lot of stress in the future. If something is unexpectedly spilled on waterproofed suede, stains will not be able to set in and the item will be easier to clean. Look for a suede protector spray that offers protection from both water and stains, and do a spot test to ensure the spray will not affect the color or texture of the suede. For best protection, spray suede items 1-2 times per year.

2. Use a Suede Brush

high-heeled tan suede pumps with suede brushes

If you own anything suede, it is best to also purchase a suede brush. Invest in a good quality suede brush to brush off dust or dirt. To avoid any damage, brush carefully in the direction of the grain. Make sure the area marked for cleaning has been air-dried before removing any mud, dirt, or other residue from your suede.

3. Allow Suede to Breathe

At the end of a long day of wear, hang up your suede jacket outside of your closet and allow it to breathe for 24 hours to extend its life. And, when not wearing your suede items, keep them covered in a box laid with tissue paper or a garment bag to prevent dust buildup.

4. Check the Forecast Before Dressing

Water damage is, without a doubt, suede's worst enemy. Water causes the smooth velvety texture to harden and creates a nearly polished surface, which is the opposite of an aged suede’s gorgeous patina.

So, check the weather forecast before leaving home to prevent exposing your suede item to any potentially damaging elements. A light mist of rain or a few flakes of snow will not cause irreversible damage, but a downpour could wreak havoc on this delicate fabric.

5. Avoid Exposure to Heat and Oils

Suede does not respond well when placed in proximity to heat sources, such as heaters and dryers. It can shrink, fade, or become extremely hard. Also avoid contact with any oil-based compounds, such as makeup, body creams, oils, as well as ink, grease, and perfume, when wearing suede items, as they can permanently stain the surface.

How to Remove Stains from Suede

suede in green, rust, beige and ochre colors

Even when you are careful, accidents and sudden weather changes happen. Fortunately, many stains can be remedied with the right technique.

1. Water Stains

Surprisingly, the best approach for removing a water stain is to use more water. Use a suede brush to apply a small amount of water to the item, then gently dab the surface with a rag until it is evenly wet and free of water stains. This is a process that requires a bit of patience, but if you keep working, your suede will be stain-free. Keep in mind to never use heat to dry your suede; always let it air dry.

2. Hard Stains

A suede eraser can be an efficient spot-cleaning tool for difficult-to-remove stains, including oil and grease. Simply rub the eraser over any marks using only a moderate amount of pressure. If brushing and spot-cleaning your suede isn't working, the next step is to use a suede cleaner. Suede cleaner acts as a shampoo, removing even the toughest stains. After brushing the suede item down, softly dampen it with a cloth before spraying the suede cleaner from at least 8 inches away. After that, carefully rub the product into the suede using the suede brush before wiping it down with a cloth. Brush the item in the direction of the grain once it has dried completely to smooth out the suede.

For stubborn suede stains, use professional cleaners which will clean the suede without damaging it. Professional cleaning is also a good idea before packing items away at the end of a season.

FAQs

brown suede sandals with a matching purse, with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses

Does suede need to be conditioned?

Suede generally doesn't need to be conditioned. This is a fabric that, when cared for well, takes little effort to look fabulous.

Is suede hard to take care of?

Suede care isn't as difficult as you might assume. For example, suede boots may demand special attention, but with the appropriate maintenance, they will last a long time. Just keep them dry, clean them frequently with the proper materials, and store them in thoroughly aerated spaces without the possibility of moisture.

How do you not ruin suede?

One of the most important rules about proper suede care is to keep all suede items away from water. It’s also best to keep suede away from any heat or bright light, which might shrink or fade the material. If you take good care of your suede, it will not get ruined and you will be able to enjoy it for a long time.

How do you store suede?

When you are not wearing a suede item, store it in a cool, dry, and dark place. Damp places, such as basements, can encourage mold and mildew growth. Locations that are too hot, such as attics, can damage the suede, and places full of natural light will fade suede. Always use a quality hanger for suede jackets and avoid folding them, as it will damage the material.

Can I use a suede protector on my suede?

Suede protector is a spray that is applied to suede and then absorbed into each individual fiber. When the suede protector dries, the fibers become water and stain resistant. This enables it to protect suede without changing the texture or color. This is an essential component for the care and maintenance of items made from delicate suede, and you should definitely take advantage of this product.

standing on steps looking down on  gray\green sandals

Instead of avoiding suede, use this information to embrace it. Don't miss out on suede’s comfortable luxury, simply because this fabric is more delicate than others. With proper preventative care and stain removal techniques, your favorite suede pieces will last for years to come.

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