Together with my friends at Distinctly Different, also known for The ShoeCare-Shop, we have produced a series of shoe care guides to give you the essentials on proper shoe care. This week we offer you article 3; a step-by-step guide on how to clean suede shoes.
Most people are a bit afraid of buing or using suede shoes, especially when it rains. I would argue, and I know many other shoe experts would say as well, that a pair of good quality suede shoes, is not only easier to maintain and take care of, but also withstands rain and bad wether conditions at least as good as leather shoes. IF, of course, you take good care of them and use good quality products!
1. Clean tough stains and built-up dirt
Suede shoes are easily cleaned with the Saphir Gommadin – a sandstone that won’t harm or damage the suede. It will, however, remove grease and other stains. By gently rubbing the suede with the Gommadin, it will detach stains and sticky substances from the suede. That way the ‘eraser’ will remove soiling, stains, grease and watermarks from you shoes while restoring the leather’s original texture.
If you have a stain on your suede shoes, all you need to do is rub it with the Gommadin until the stain slowly disappears. Use the corners or edge of the eraser for more serious stains. While rubbing your suede shoes, the sandstone might crumble slightly – which is normal. A crepe brush will remove those crumbs, leaving your shoes ready for the next step.
Many think you shouldn’t let your suede get wet, but it couldn’t be further from the truth: by making the suede wet you will level the colour of the suede, giving it a healthy boost. That is why a good wash every now and then is essential for the upkeep of suede. The best way to do this is by using Saphir Omninettoyant – a special shampoo for suede, nubuck, crepe and textiles that will remove stains and refreshed the original colour.
Mix 1/3 Omninettoyant with 2/3 water, and rub the mixture royally into the leather. When you’ve used the cleaner all over your shoes, you can rinse them with water. Use a small brush to remove soap residues. Brush until the suede doesn’t foam anymore.
Leave your shoes to dry completely; put the shoe trees inside or fill them with newspaper to maintain the shape. Don’t try to quicken the process by leaving them under the radiator or other sources of heat since that can damage the nap of the suede. When they are dry, use the crepe brush to roughen the suede and brush the hairs of the suede in the same direction for a nice, smooth look.
3. Nourish and protect
Spray your suede shoes with a natural protection spray like the natural protector spray by Dasco or Saphir Invulner once a month for protection, but also to nourish the suede. Stay away from nano or silicone based sprays because they will damage the leather in the long run.
Apply the spray richly, holding the can approx 15 cm from the show while applying to get an even layer over the whole shoe. Don’t forget the area where the sole meets the upper, as this is an area most exposed to water and dirt. Let the suede soak in the nourishing spray and finish gently with a crepe brush.
If needed you can also use a coloured spray to recolor the suede e.g. Saphir’s MDO Renovateur Suede Spray. Sprays on the market usually contain coloured oil only so they give a nice even finish without staining. This spray is applied in the same way as the natural spray and can be used once you see that the color of your suede is fading or you just want to give them some extra color boost.
Don’t forget to quickly polish the rims of the soles with a dark shoe wax – this will make the cracks and damages less visible.
Use the crepe brush for daily or weekly maintanence of your suede shoes, to roughen up the suede a bit if it has become flat and boring.
For the long term maintenance of your shoes, a pair of good cedar shoe trees are essential. They will smooth out creases, linings and wrinkles in the leather – making your shoes last longer and look better. Read all about it here.
Stay tuned for next weeks article on how to achieve the perfect “spit shine” on your shoes! Don’t forget to watch this video for a step by step guide through the suede care process!