Caring for mens suede shoes

We’ve all heard it before – don’t you step on my blue suede shoes. Other than telling people to lay off them, there are ways to keep your suede shoes in good condition, believe it or not.

Sibling to the much-loved leather, suede has become a prominent fixture amongst the sartorial footwear scene. Its versatility, colour and comfort offerings mean it’s not only a common material for desert boots but now casual and dress loafers also feature suede. It’s even making an appearance in lace-up styles like Brogues, Derbies and Oxfords bringing a more casual edge to these dress styles.

The process of cleaning suede is simpler than leather but requires a little more frequency and effort, simply because of the delicate nature of the material and its temperament to certain weather conditions. Nobody wants a good outfit ruined by an unkempt pair of shoes so keep your suede in top-notch shape by taking close note to the following guide.

  • Get your hands on a suede specific brush. You can get one of these from Mister Minit or your local shoe repairs store.
  • Invest in a quality suede protector to preserve and protect your shoes against marks and stains.
  • Prevention is the key with suede, so the moment you purchase your pair of new suede shoes, give them a brush to remove any surface dirt before spraying all over with the suede protector. (Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s advice and spot test to avoid ruining the colour).
  • From here on out, brush your shoes with a suede brush after every use. This will revive the nap (the raised hair, or threads on the surface of the suede) and remove any excess surface dirt that may have accumulated.
  • Spray shoes regularly to maintain a constant level of protection.

This is the main routine you need to get into the habit of following when looking after your suede shoes, but here are some other tips to extend their life even further:

  • Always brush in the same direction – this will help keep the shoes looking clean and prevent you from just brushing dirt around them.
  • Keep your shoes out of the sun to prevent fade. Store them in a cool, dry and well-aired space.
  • Use shoetrees to soak up the extra moisture from your feet, and to help maintain the shape. Alternatively, use white paper instead. Don’t use newspaper as the ink may seep into the material.
  • When attending to wet suede shoes, try to absorb as much moisture as possible before leaving them to dry naturally. You’ll be able to deal with the watermarks once they are fully dried.
  • If you get mud on them, leave the shoes to dry before giving them a good brush in the same direction as the nap.
  • Try to avoid harsh chemicals, as they will damage both the colour and material.

Now, onto the topic of stains. No matter how careful we try to be, it’s inevitable we’ll get a spot here or there. For serious stains, don’t try to remove them yourself – chances are you’ll make a mistake and they’ll end up worse than when you started. Take them to your local shoe repairer who will be better skilled and equipped to deal with it, and if something does go wrong, you can get your money back.

For milder stains, try one of the following tips:

  1. The least desirable option is to use a small file or emery board to rub the stain very gently. Please note, there is a risk of damaging the material quite severely so be warned!
  2. Try rubbing both shoes against each other gently to brush away the stain without damaging the nap.
  3. The smarter method is to invest in either a suede cleaning block or a suede eraser that will crumble as you rub the stain, hopefully removing even the deeper stains.

Stains successfully removed? Give the nap a brush with your suede brush and re-spray with the protector.

We cannot stress enough how important shoe care is. Not only does it raise the level of your outfit, but when you spend a fair amount (or a large amount) of money on a pair of suede shoes – you want them to last. Look after your shoes and they’ll look after you, hopefully for years to come.