How to Clean Men's Suede Boots and Shoes

Treat Your Suede Shoes Right

Poste X Clarks Original "Burgundy" Desert boots
Chris-howard/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While men's suede shoes and boots, like Clarks Desert Boots, look cool and are often trendy, they can be a pain to clean. So much so, some guys can be scared away from buying them altogether. Have no fear, with a little care and attention your suede shoes can look good for years to come. 

Condition Your Suede Shoes Immediately After Purchase

The first thing you should do with your suede shoes is condition them properly right after purchase to prevent them from an early death. Treat them with a waterproof and stainproof product that specifically lists sued on the label. A good choice is Kiwi Suede Protector. It gives your suede and nubuck shoes an invisible protective shield against water. Only use products labeled for use on suede.

Also, try out the product on a small, inconspicuous part of the shoe, such as on the back of the shoe, or on the inside. These products may change the color of the suede, making it slightly darker.

Cleaning Your Suede Footwear

When your shoes are actually scuffed up and dirty from a night out with the guys, follow these steps: 

1.  Gently Brush Off the Dirt: Gently brush the light dirt and dust off the shoes. Don’t act like a bull and grind dirt back into the shoe, get shoe brush and gently knock the excess off. Never use a wire brush on suede or nubuck. If your shoes are wet, follow these steps to make sure you dry them properly and don’t damage them.

2. Use a Suede Cleaning Block: For the tough stuff, make sure you have a brush and a suede cleaning block, also called a suede eraser. It looks like a small eraser that you had in grade school, although it’s usually white, But just like any eraser, as you rub across the dirt stain it will fall apart. It works like a charm and is a must have with those killer suede boots you just bought. You can usually find a small suede brush and eraser in a suede cleaning kit together for next to nothing. 

3. Quick Suede Scuff Cleaning Tip: If you're on the road or don't have a brush or an eraser, just take your suede boots or shoes off and rub one against the other to get the scuff out. It works like a charm and costs you nothing. Not to mention a nice trick to hand down to Junior.

4. Dry Them Properly: If your shoes are wet, follow these steps to make sure you dry them properly and don’t damage them. Never apply direct heat or put them next to a heater to dry them.

5. Get Professional Help: If the job is more than you want to tackle, there are local, independent a shoe repair shops  where they can do it right. It's a small expense in maintaining your shoes properly, and they will also be able to give them the right conditioning treatment.