how to clean suede shoes without a suede brush?

Stack of white clean towels on table in bathroomSuede shoes are incredible footwear to rock the most stylish outfits and grab everyone’s attention during those special events. However, when the situation gets out of hands, you may end up with your shoes messed up with stains, dirt, or nasty substances.

When this happens, it is better to act quickly to prevent permanent damage.  You don’t have a suede brush? Or are you not interested to use it? Don’t panic just yet, continue reading our article to find out how to clean suede shoes without a suede brush.

These items are available in most households, so you’ll be saving plenty of money that you can spend in professional care otherwise.

What will you need? White vinegar, an eraser, and a piece of cloth. We also covered methods to clean your footwear using products specifically made for that purpose, but you’ll notice those should be your last resort.

So, get your suede shoes, and let’s start cleaning to show them off once again!

  • For a Quick Cleaning, Use a Towel


This method is a yet simpler solution that could save you a lot of trouble later on.

Fortunately, you won’t have to put too much effort into this method. Grab your towel, and rub the suede shoe surface with it.

When you’re doing this step, make sure you’re rubbing in the same grain direction. Try not to do back and forth movements.

If you are at work or in a rush. It is the quicker option to clean your shoes or boot. You can buy a few pairs of shoes or boots so that you can use them alternatively. To buy the best boot for yourself please watch out my reviews about the best work boots.

  • A Sponge or Cloth to Remove Water Stains

SpongeWater stains, although they sound harmless, can quickly discolor your shoes or boots if you don’t pay attention to them in time. So, to prevent that from happening, we’re going to use the same liquid to remove these stains.

“Didn’t you say using water is bad?” I hear you.

Well, as long as we use it properly, there’s no reason to worry about possible damages. Here’s how you do it.

As mentioned in the title, you’ll need a sponge or a piece of cloth for this method. Begin by gently wetting the exterior of the shoe, and then without losing any time, use one of the two previous items to remove the excess water.

Time is of the essence here, so you better have your tools ready and act quickly to prevent any possible permanent damage caused by the water.

Then, put some paper inside the shoe to get rid of the water inside. Let the footwear rest for the night, and use a suede brush on the morning to remove the debris left. It is applicable for suede boots as well as other shoes.

  • White Vinegar, the Always Reliable Household Item

White VinegarWhite vinegar works for almost everything; you got a stain on the shirt? Yes, go on, try it; is there a marker stain on the chalkboard that won’t go off? Well, of course, vinegar may remove it! So on and so on.

It is no different for suede shoes.

In this case, white vinegar helps in removing those stains on your suede shoes that don’t seem to come off with anything. We’re talking about stains produced by food or beverages.

To use it, you need to combine the vinegar with a small piece of cloth. When it feels wet, wipe the stains gently. Don’t put too much pressure on it.

Once on the shoe, wait for the vinegar to dry, and finish off by using the suede brush to rub and remove the stains.

  • Don’t Have Suede Cleaner? Try with an Eraser!


There will be some occasions in which, regardless of how much you rub and scrub, the stains won’t go off. In these circumstances, you could try using an eraser.

The eraser allows you to remove plenty of stains, like those produced by water.

Always use a white eraser. Using colored supplies may dye and mess up your shoes even more, and that’s something we want to avoid at all costs.

Using an eraser to clean suede shoes is not so much of a stretch. If you look online, you’ll find brands offering this item to care for this type of footwear. It is quite common and, better yet, very efficient too.

When you’ve got your eraser ready, start the process by rubbing it across the stained area. Don’t worry about causing damage, as this process is pretty safe to do. You can apply some pressure and move the eraser up and down, side to side, as needed.

Also, keep in mind that the eraser leaves some residue. Make sure you’re working over a safe surface to prevent creating a mess over the tables.

Repeat this process as many times as you see fit.

  • For Ink Stains, Rubbing Alcohol

 rubbing alcoholRubbing alcohol is like the white vinegar in these circumstances; it works for a lot of things.

Now, one of the things to remember is that, if you want to use this method to clean the ink off the suede shoes, the stain must be fresh.

Fresh ink allows us to use a clean cloth to absorb most of the stain quickly. Afterward, rubbing alcohol is more efficient, and it will have more chances of removing the ink entirely.

Start by soaking a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, and start dabbing it on the stained area. In some cases, you might have to repeat this process a couple more times. And that’s cool! Just continue using brand new fresh cotton balls each time.

  • Sandpaper Works for Ink As Well

SandpaperIf you don’t notice the ink and it sets after some time, try using sandpaper to remove it. Combine it with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, and boom! The ink is gone!

  • Apply Cornstarch to Get Rid of Oil Stains

Cornstarch is a mix that may remove stains caused by oil spills. The reason why you want to try this method is that, if it doesn’t work, then it probably means the suede shoe won’t be living without the stains anymore.

Like any of the other methods, start by using the suede brush. Then, proceed to pour some cornstarch on the stained area. Not too much, just enough to cover most of it.

Now, you want to let it rest. The time depends on how much you consider necessary. For instance, some people recommend leaving the suede shoe rest for the night, while others suggest waiting only ten minutes.

So, it depends on your assessment of the situation. When you consider that it has been enough, use a cloth to remove the cornstarch residue.

Doing this method once may be enough for smaller stains, but if there’s a lot of it, don’t be afraid to repeat it a couple more times.

  • … Or Use Baking Soda
Baking Soda
baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background

Using baking soda to clean our footwear shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is a substance that has many benefits, and it helps us on the daily, making our lives easier.

This method is pretty similar to the cornstarch solution.

First, get a cloth and use it to get rid of the stain as much as possible. Don’t rub it. What you want to do instead, is to dab it over the surface of the shoe. Doing it this way ensures the stain doesn’t go further into the suede material.

After that, cover the stain with baking soda. Make sure it covers the stained area completely. Let it rest, and remove it later using a cloth.

Again, repeat the method if the stain doesn’t go off at first.

  • Freezing the Shoes – Yes, Put Them in the Fridge!

You heard that right. Putting the suede shoes in the freezer to make them cold allows us to remove debris and substances like wax easier.

Freezing the shoes might take a couple of hours, so another requirement for this process is patience. Don’t worry; your footwear won’t get ruined, and you’ll be surprised at how efficient this method is.

When the suede shoe is frozen, debris and wax get hardened, which makes for a quick removal afterward. Use a nail brush to get it off.

This method is not exclusive to suede shoes, though. You can use it for a variety of clothing made with similar materials, like jeans.

  • Nail Brush for Stubborn Stains

When the other alternatives aren’t working, perhaps it is time to bring out the big guns. With guns, I mean tools, of course. In this case, a nail brush.

This method is suitable for those stains that won’t come off because you don’t know how to deal with them. If you’re wondering what’s that green thing on your shoe, then better to assume the worst and prepare yourself mentally to remove it.

Using the nail brush for this process is quite easy. Combine it with warm water, and start scrubbing. This method also works for stuff like grease, which can be pretty tough to wash off.

  • Steel Wool for Dry, Old Stains

If you have steel wool around the house, use it to brush off dry stains. This method may not work by itself in most cases, but it never hurts trying it before moving any further.

The disadvantage of using steel wool is that you’d have to repeat the process until you cover every area of the suede shoe. Otherwise, the result may not be as pretty as you’d think.

  • Cotton Balls & Peroxide Team Up

Another unknown combination you could try to clean awful stains off your suede shoes is to use cotton balls with peroxide.

However, before you get your hands into it, you have to remove the dirt and debris as a first step. When the suede shoe is clean of dirt, soak the cotton ball in peroxide, and dab over the stained area.

  • Combining an Emery Board with a Steamer

This one is quite tricky, and we recommend not trying it unless you have the proper gear to keep the items from burning your hands.

Grab the nail file of the emery board and use it over the stained area. Continue by using an iron to steam it. The high temperature should make the cleaning easier.

  • Spray a Degreaser Over It!

We’re starting to lose our patience here, but don’t give up just yet. Let’s keep on going with another possible solution: a degreaser for suede.

You can find this product available in shoe stores. It is a cleaner that focuses on removing the most stubborn stains found in suede shoes.

A degreaser is, most of the time, the perfect solution to get rid of old stains that have found their way deep into the suede.

  • A Professional’s Solution – Last Resort

Even if nothing else works for you, it doesn’t mean that the shoe is lost. Hold your trash bags, and consider taking your footwear to a professional.

Suede and leather are tricky materials that sometimes you can clean with the least expected thing, and who has more experience than the professional cleaners?

Sure, they are more expensive, but desperate times require desperate measures. There’s no way you’ll be throwing those suede shoes away, not as long as there’s a possible way to remove those nasty stains.

Considerations to Keep in Mind Before Cleaning

Here are a couple of tips we want to share with you to clean your shoes properly.

  • Remove the Laces

Before you start cleaning, it’d be better to take the laces out. Then, consider using another item to maintain the shoe shape in place, as it will make the cleaning much more comfortable. For this task, you can put a shoe tree inside.

  • Suede Shoes Cleaning Products

You may have read about using household items to keep the shoes clean. Now, that could be enough in some cases, but don’t underestimate the power of products specifically made for suede shoes. They could save you a lot of time, effort, and frustration as well.

If you decide to give them a try, we recommend taking a look at Jason Markk’s Cleaner Kit, which offers a brush and a solution. There’s also Angelus Easy Cleaner, and Sandal Rescue Cleaner Wipes.

These three products could quickly solve a nasty situation to preserve your suede shoes in good shape. They might be a little bit expensive, but considering that you probably paid for expensive shoes, investing in their caring is a wise decision.

How to Keep Your Suede Shoes from Ruins?

Have you heard the old saying better to prevent than to regret? Well, of course, you have; it is a washed-up saying that we often got when we were kids, and now we repeat it because we don’t want to mess up our belongings. In fewer words, you got to keep your shoes clean, man!

But how do we do it? Here’s a list of some prevention tasks you should follow to keep your suede shoes in good shape.

  • Prevention Cleaning after Wearing

Right after you finish wearing the shoes, use the brush to do some prevention cleaning. When you finish, don’t let them out. Instead, find a warm place in the house to keep them stored. Make sure there’s no moisture.

  • Protective Sprays

We covered this before, but everyone should consider using suede shoe products to care for their footwear.

You’ll be able to find protective sprays that will keep stains away. However, if you get one of these products, don’t go too heavy on them; use them periodically, and only when the shoes are completely dry.

  • Backup Cleaning Products – Just in Case

You never know when an accident may occur. Even if there are plenty of household items that you can use to care for your suede shoe, it never hurts having a backup cleaning product ready in case you need it.

Final Words

When you’re looking at how to clean suede shoes without a suede brush, there are many alternatives that you can try, as we just covered. No longer will you have to panic when there’s a hideous stain on the footwear; as long as you act quickly, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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