How to Clean and Care for Suede Boots

Maintaining this autumnal classic can be puzzling. Experts share how to keep suede boots looking as good as new.

Photo: Brian Henn

The changing of seasons calls for the changing out of footwear, and with the onset of fall comes the need to bust out your best suede shoes. Maintaining this autumnal classic can be puzzling, which is why we tapped footwear experts on the ins and outs of exactly how to clean suede shoes that'll last for seasons to come. From how to buy the best suede boots to the best suede pretreatments that'll prevent against water damage and salt stains, our experts share how to keep suede boots looking as good as new.

How to Buy

Select your suede. Cow suede (pictured: Marc Fisher LTD Oshi Boots, $299; is generally more casual and often heavier, while goat or sheep suede is usually lighter and dressier.

Check the heel. Stacked leather heels tend to last longer than suede-covered heels, which may tear more easily.

Choose a tone. Earthy taupe and olive are on trend this season; black and dark brown are timeless and less prone to staining.

How to Care

Pretreat. Apply a water-resistant spray, like Kiwi Suede Protector ($8;, before wearing. If boots get wet prior to treatment, water stains may be sealed in.

Brush up. Sweep boots weekly in one direction using a suede brush to remove dirt and imperfections.

Store properly. During the off-season, keep your boots in dust bags in a cool, dark area to help prevent dust buildup and fading.

How to Repair

Erase water damage. Gently rub a suede brush in circular motions across the affected area when it's dry. This will help fix discoloration.

Reverse salt stains. Rub the spot in circular motions; alternate between using a barely damp sponge and a suede brush. Stuff boots with newspaper while they dry. (If at-home repair techniques don't work, take boots to a pro.)

Protect soles. When soles become worn, have your boots resoled. You can even ask the cobbler to add durable rubber outsoles to the existing thin leather soles.

Our Experts

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