How To Clean Suede Jackets, Shoes, and Couches

Some gentle care will get your suede items back in tip-top shape.


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Suede's velvety texture and luxurious look makes it a popular choice in fashion and furniture. Suede is a softer, high-quality type of leather that is made from the underside of animal hide. While suede is rather durable, it's thinner and more delicate than traditional leather. The nap—the raised, fuzzy surface—can also collect dirt and dust, which can affect the texture of suede and make it look dirty. So, it’s essential to know how to clean suede correctly to avoid damage, and to keep your items looking good as new.

Whether you're trying to clean that gorgeous suede jacket you've been dying to wear or need to spiff up your comfy suede couch, these expert tips will help you revive your suede items with ease.

Considerations Before You Get Started

Suede is elegant, but it can be damaged easily. Here are some things to consider before you start cleaning any of your suede pieces.

Check Care Labels First 

Before you attempt to clean any suede item, you should read the care label first. “The biggest mistake people make when taking care of their suede pieces is that they start cleaning their garments without reading the care label,” says Kristen Higgins, consumer product testing expert for laundry at Henkel.

“If your suede garments are especially well-loved or if you inadvertently removed the care label, check the manufacturer’s website for care instructions. Many have in-depth suggestions for care, particularly if the item requires any specialty treatments, like waterproofing,” she says.

Avoid Saturating Suede with Water

Although you may use a damp cloth in some situations to clean suede, you should never completely saturate it with water. Doing so can stain and damage it. “Most suedes are porous and absorb water, so they cannot be washed in the washing machine," Higgins says. "Typically, water and soaps can damage suede, so checking the garment’s care label is essential to avoid ruining suede clothing.”

“For machine-washable suede garments—such as faux suede—use a drop or two of a mild, fragrance-free detergent like Purex Free & Clear, as it’s unscented and tough on dirt. After washing, always let the item air dry,” she explains. 

Spot Test Products Before Using Them

Another thing you need to do before cleaning suede with any kind of product is to perform a spot test. “Remember to always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area of the suede [item] first to ensure that it does not damage the material,” advises Hugo Guerrero, certified house cleaning technician and consultant at Mattressive. Taking the time to spot-test your suede can prevent you from ruining your item. 

How Often to Clean Suede

"How often you should clean your suede couch depends on how much action it sees and how much dirt and debris it accumulates over time," says Karina Toner, operations manager for Spekless Cleaning. "But in general, we recommend giving it a light brush every week or two to remove surface dirt and debris. It's a small step, but it can make a big difference in preventing dirt from getting embedded into the fabric and making it tougher to clean later on."

When it comes to spot cleaning, time is of the essence. "It's super important to tackle spills and stains as soon as possible to prevent them from setting in," she explains.

For suede clothing and shoes, Higgins advises cleaning your pieces at least once a month to keep them in good condition. You can clean them more often if it's an item you wear frequently.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Suede Jacket

  • 2 Soft, gentle cloths
  • Suede brush or soft dry brush

Suede Shoes

  • Suede brush or soft dry brush
  • Rubber eraser

Suede Couch

  • Vacuum with soft brush attachment
  • Suede eraser
  • 2 Soft, gentle cloths


Suede Jacket

  • White vinegar

Suede Shoes

  • Suede protector spray (optional)

Suede Couch

  • Suede cleaner (optional)


How to Clean a Suede Jacket

  1. Blot Stains with a Soft Cloth

    “To remove stains, never rub the stain into the fabric, as this will drive the stain deeper into the suede," Higgins says. Instead, use a clean, gentle cloth to blot away as much of the stain and the moisture (if dealing with a recent, liquid stain) as possible before using a brush to loosen the dirt.

  2. Use a Soft Brush to Remove Debris and Oils

    Brush your jacket with a suede or soft brush to get rid of dirt and oils. Brush in the same direction as the suede grain over the entire jacket.

  3. Mix a Vinegar Solution for Persistent Stains

    “If the stain persists, create a 50:50 solution of water and white vinegar and gently dab on the stain with a clean, soft cloth," Higgins explains. "The trick is to dampen the suede, not soak it." Then, gently brush the stained area again before drying.

  4. Air Dry

    After cleaning, allow your suede jacket to air dry. Once it is dry, you can brush it with a soft brush to re-fluff the suede.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

  1. Use a Soft Brush to Loosen Dirt and Oils

    Gently brush shoes with a soft brush to loosen dirt and oils, brushing in the direction of the suede grain. Try to remove as much dirt as possible.

  2. Spot Clean with a Rubber Eraser

    For tough stains and scuff marks, use a clean rubber eraser. Firmly rub the eraser in a circular motion on the stain to help lift and remove it from the fibers.

  3. Brush Away Residue

    After you tackle the stains with the eraser, brush them again to remove any leftover eraser residue from the shoes.

  4. Spray Shoes with Suede Protector Spray

    Once you get your shoes all spiffed up, spray them with a suede protector spray to prevent them from future damage. Remember to always test any product in an area that isn’t visible first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the suede. If your spot test shows no signs of discoloration or damage, you can proceed to use the spray all over.

    Hold the can upright about six inches away and spray slowly in a sweeping motion. Allow the shoes to dry overnight before wearing.

How to Clean a Suede Couch

  1. Vacuum Thoroughly

    The first step is to vacuum the entire couch to remove any dust and debris, using a soft brush attachment.

  2. Use a Suede Brush

    “If you notice any stains or marks on your suede couch, gently brush the affected area with a suede brush," Toner says. "This will help lift any dirt or debris from the fabric's surface."

  3. Use a Suede Eraser

    “A suede eraser can be used to remove stains or marks on the surface of the couch," Guerrero advises. "Rub the eraser gently over the stain in a circular motion, being careful not to damage the suede."

  4. Spot Clean with a Suede Cleaner

    “For tougher stains, you can use a suede-specific cleaner," Toner says. "Just be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn't damage the fabric."

    Apply the cleaner with a soft cloth and then gently rub the affected area in a circular motion. Afterward, use a different clean, damp cloth to remove any excess cleaner.

  5. Let the Couch Air Dry

    After cleaning, allow the couch to air dry before using it. Toner advises avoiding using heat or direct sunlight, as this can damage the suede.

How to Clean Oily Stains from Suede Items

If your suede items have stubborn oil stains, there is one more trick you can try before seeking out a professional. “For oily stains, sprinkle with cornstarch to help absorb the oil," Higgins says. "Let it sit for at least an hour, then gently brush the powder away with a soft brush. If the stain remains, you might need to repeat the process until the oil is completely absorbed."

How to Keep Suede Items Clean Longer

Regularly Brush Your Suede Items

“Regular brushing with a soft-bristle or suede brush can help loosen dust and soils in between wears [or uses],” Higgins explains. You can use this tip to clean and revive your suede couch as well. Brushing your suede items regularly will help preserve their integrity and keep them looking fresh. 

Use Suede Protectants

Higgins says it’s also important to treat your suede garments with suede treatments and protectants before wearing them to help repel dirt and minimize the risk of permanent stains or watermarks.

As advised above, always test protectant sprays on a small, hidden area first.

Avoid Food and Drinks

This may be harder to do with items you wear, but if you have a suede couch, then you can have a rule of no food or drink on or near the sofa.

Toner says to avoid eating or drinking on the couch, because it will help to prevent any spills or stains from occurring. Some stains from food and drinks may be much more difficult to remove or may require professional cleaning—which can cost you both extra time and money. 

Keep Pets Off the Couch

Toner warns that pet hair and claws can damage suede. So, she says, it's best to keep your furry friends off the couch. It may be time to buy Fido a nice fluffy puppy bed instead.

Place a Cover or Throw Blanket Over the Couch

Toner also suggests using a throw blanket over your couch to help protect the suede from everyday wear and tear. It will keep it clean much longer, too.

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