Suede is a type of leather that is known for its soft and velvety feel, making it one of the most sought after materials for use in slipper construction. However, due to how fragile it is, cleaning suede slippers when they get dirty can be quite the challenge, and if you do it wrong, you risk irreversibly ruining your beloved slippers. Here are some tips on how you can go about cleaning your suede slippers without compromising their quality.
How to clean suede slippers? Depending on the stain, there are different techniques you can use to clean your suede slippers.
- If your suede slippers are caked by mud, use a suede brush to brush away the dirt gently. Use an eraser to get rid of the more stubborn mud stains.
- To remove rain and water stains that are yet to dry, use absorbent paper towels to pat your slippers dry. If there is any discoloration, you can use the fine portion of an emery board to rub off the stain.
- If your slippers are stained by grease or oil, apply cornstarch to the affected spots and let it sit overnight. Brush it out the next morning.
- Salt stains are also quite common, especially during the winter. Use a suede brush to get rid of as much salt as possible, and then use a soft cloth to run in white vinegar in the spots where the salt fails to come off.
Suede is a very delicate material, so you have to be very careful in how you clean your slippers to maintain their quality. This guide provides you with tips on how you can restore dirty and stained suede slippers. Tips on how proper suede care are also included.
Tools used to clean suede
These are some of the cleaning tools you might need to get started:
- You will need to use something to agitate the suede fibers, or “nap”. The most ideal item for this purpose is a suede brush, but if you can’t get your hands on one, use a toothbrush or the fine side of an emery board.
- Regular erasers, as well as art gum erasers, can be used to remove some types of stains. For the more extreme cases, you might want to consider using fine-grit sandpaper.
Before you start cleaning
Before you clean your suede slippers, look for labels that may have care instructions, and if any cleaning operations are prohibited, avoid them. Visiting the web site of your slipper manufacturer to confirm instructions could also be useful.
If your slippers are made of real suede, you will want to completely avoid cleaning them in the washing machine or drying them in the dryer as this could damage them.
Removing different types of stains/dirt
Here are some tips on how to get rid of some of the most common stains on suede slippers:
Getting rid of scuff, dirt, and soil
If your suede slippers have been freshly stained by mud, allow it to dry completely, and then break off as much as you can with your hands. Use a suede brush or an old toothbrush to gently brush the dried mud off the slippers. Ensure that you are careful and avoid being too rough as this might force the dirt deeper into the fibers. Keep brushing until no more dirt is falling off. Once you have removed the surface dirt, get rid of the scuffs and loosen fibers that may be matted by vigorously brushing the suede back and forth using moderate pressure.
If brushing on its own fails to raise the nap, lightly moisten the slippers by applying steam using a clothing steamer. Be careful not to get them too damp. Blot as much water using a dry soft cloth and try brushing the matted area back up. Let your slippers air dry before brushing the nap out. If you can still spot some stubborn stains, use an eraser to rub them out or rub in a small amount of white vinegar and dab dry with a soft cloth.
Rain and water stains
If the water stains are not dry, use absorbent dry paper towels and press them on the wet spots. Apply a light coat of water using your brush to the entire slipper, and if there is an excess, use a dry cloth or sponge to soak it up. If you end up using a large amount of water, insert balled up sheets of dry paper or shoe trees to ensure that the slippers retain their original shape. Allow the slippers to dry overnight by putting them in a dry, well-ventilated spot. Once the slippers are dry, go over them using a suede brush to help get the grain back to how it was originally.
Grease and oil
Grease and oil are some of the hardest stains to remove from suede. If the grease/oil stain is still fresh, apply some cornstarch on the affected areas and let it overnight. The next day, brush the cornstarch out. If the cornstarch fails to get rid of the stain, use a cotton ball to apply a small amount of white vinegar to the stain and then allow it to dry. Brush the nap out once dry.
Use a suede brush or an old toothbrush to get rid of as much salt as possible. The next step is to use a soft cloth to rub a small amount of white vinegar gently into the spot where the salt persists, then blot it and let it dry before brushing the nap back and forth.
If gum gets stuck to your suede slippers, put them in the freezer or a few hours. The gum will harden, allowing you to scrape it off using a plastic spatula or credit card. Brush the nap out using a suede brush or old toothbrush.
Use a clean soft cloth to dab fresh ink stains on your suede slippers. Use a soft cloth to rub a small amount of white vinegar into the stained areas. Keep wiping and add more vinegar if necessary. Keep rubbing until the ink stops transferring from the suede slippers to the cloth.
If the stain does not come off completely, moisten a cotton swab with a bit of rubbing alcohol and blot your slipper gently. Be careful using rubbing alcohol as it can cause the dyes used in the construction of colored suedes to loosen and fade with time.
If the ink sets, use very fine-grit sandpaper to scrape off the stain. Be very gentle as rough rubbing may affect the appearance of the nap in the specific area you are trying to fix.
If there is a bloodstain on your suede slippers, dab at the stain using a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide gently until all the blood comes out. Use a suede brush to get the nap out of the slipper.
Coffee, tea, or juice
Get two layers of paper towel and place them over the stain before you use a brush on the stained spot. Apply moderate pressure for more effectiveness.
If all the suggested methods fail and the stain refuses to come off, you can take your stained slippers to a cobbler. Opt to find one based on the recommendations from friends or by looking at reviews online. This may not be the cheapest option, but it is better than trying to remove the stain yourself and risk ruining your precious suede slippers.
After cleaning, if you notice that some of the suede fibers on your slippers are longer than others, you can shave them using a common safety razor. Before you start shaving your slippers, ensure that they are completely dry, and begin by brushing the nap first so that it is flat. Shave with the nap gently, and if this doesn’t work, brush it up and shave against it without applying too much pressure.
Caring for your suede slippers
There are protective measures you can take to protect your slippers against stains as well as premature wearing down.
Use a suede protector spray
A suede protector spray is a dirt- and water- repellant. Consider going for one that is waterproof, silicon-based, and neutral-colored. Here are some guidelines on how to spray your suede slippers:
- Ensure that the suede is dry and clean
- Try using the spray on a small patch to test if there will be a change in color
- If the color does not change, spray all the suede-covered areas of the slipper evenly. Be careful not to oversaturate it.
- Let the slippers air dry in a well-ventilated area.
Use the spray when you first buy your slippers and after cleaning them.
Storing your slippers properly
Never store your slippers in direct sunlight or in a space that lacks proper air circulation. If you don’t plan to wear them for some time, stuff them and keep them in a shoebox.
Suede slippers are very stylish to wear, but you have to be careful when cleaning them to maintain their condition. Before using any of the recommended techniques, always check to see if there are any cleaning instruction provided. Never dip them in water or scrub them roughly as this will only damage the material over time.