Caring For Suede Accessories & Footwear: Spot Cleaning

Suede is soft and luxurious but unfortunately it’s quite porous so that makes it a stain magnet. It’s not washable so you either need to get an item handled professionally or try a few of these methods to get the job done yourself. It’s generally advised to test a small, hidden area first to make sure no discoloration or damage occurs.


  • Cornmeal or cornflour: These work well as a surface cleaner since they absorb grease and grime. Simply sprinkle over area, leave for several minutes then brush. For a more thorough job, you can try lightly misting cornmeal first so it’s just the tiniest bit damp then rub gently into piece. Allow several hours to pass for the cornmeal to fully dry then brush.
  • If it gets wet: Let dry naturally at room temperature and then brush softly to get rid of any water marks.
  • Did you know: Keep a square of same color suede on hand and use it to rub main piece, this is a good way to keep it looking new (and restore its nap). A square of terry towel (dry) can help too.
  • Old-timer remedy: Rub bread crumbs or a stale piece of bread into piece for lifting surface grime.
  • Furniture: Have a good quality stain repellent applied to furniture as soon as you purchase it and reapply as recommended. Regularly use a soft brush to lift surface dirt and to keep the nap in good shape.
  • Color brightener: If your piece is beginning to look a bit tired and faded, steaming can help restore its color (just do a quick pass-through with the steam and don’t linger or water marks can be the result).
  • For scuffed pieces: Try a cardboard emery board or a piece of light sandpaper to buff out scuffs or pressed areas. Do it gently at first making sure you don’t do any damage. You could also try placing the affected area over steam from a kettle of boiling water to raise the nap and then carefully use a suede brush. Source.
  • Shoes (will work for other garments and items too): Use a soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush after each time you wear them, this will lift any surface dirt and prevent grime buildup.


  • Rub lightly with a new pencil eraser or artgum eraser, you may get lucky and lift it right out.
  • White household vinegar can be used for spot removal, be sure to test first in a hidden area (may cause some discoloration).
  • Grease marks will disappear if they are rubbed with a rag dipped in glycerine. Source.
  • Rain spots will quickly disappear if rubbed gently with an emery board such as is used for manicuring. Source.
  • Storage: Did you know suede needs to breathe to stay soft and supple? Avoid sealing items in plastic bags or storage containers, use cloth bags or pillowcases as covers for seasonal storage.

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    • Eva

    These are great tips for clothing, etc. However, I have some large wall hangings that were painted on vesuede with the ball point fabric paints several years ago. Does anyone know how I can get spots off these without having to remove them from the frames and then reframing? Evidently, my children had some food fights when I was not home and some of the stains look like red soda. Help!!

      • Cass Boyd

      Eva, I have a handheld shower head. I take the oil paintings that are on velvet, with wood frames & I wash them in the shower with warm water. I do not allow them to sit in the water; I hold the paintings in one hand & the shower head in the other hand.

      I make sure to adjust the strength of the water, just hard enough to wash away the dirt, but not so hard that I stretch out the canvas. I also use a left to right motion as I go top to bottom; so that the water is washing in a downward motion. Afterwards, I lay them flat for a day or so until they are dry. Any wood when it gets wet is weaker, so I make sure to put them high up from harm. I have been doing this for over twenty years & I am sure that it will work on vesuede. I am not familiar with the ball point fabric paints though, so I would try a small area to make sure that the water will not wash the paints away.

    • V.French

    Could someone please tell me how to remove wood glue from clothing thanks.

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