With the Spring/Summer runway full of suede and 70s styles, our cute suede boots or sandals are now officially high fashion. There’s only one problem: Many of us don’t properly care for our suede shoes. The delicate nap is easily stained, and it’s easy to be scared that by doing something we’ll only cause more damage. Fortunately, after initial rejuvenating, suede shoe care is very easy.
Giving Old Shoes a Second Life
Yes, I said rejuvenating. There is hope yet for abandoned shoes. A suede shoe’s nap creates its texture and smooth appearance. To restore the nap, either hold a steam iron ten inches away from the shoes or hold the shoes over a pot of boiling water. Keep the nap in good condition by brushing after every couple of wears. Special suede brushes are available, but any soft brush or even a towel is just fine. Instead of rubbing back and forth, brush in one direction.
If you put your suede shoes away again, make sure to store them in a dry space. Stuff them with newspaper to keep their shape or use a raw wood tree shoe. Finished wood tree shoes aren’t able to draw moisture the way raw wood ones do. To protect them from dust, use a material that breathes–such as a pillowcase–instead of a plastic bag.
Preparing Suede for Summer Showers
You don’t have to put your suede away for the rainy season. If you’re like us, you thought suede just shouldn’t be worn when there’s rain. This is a misconception! Waterproofing sprays are available online or at your local shoe store. At first you will need to give your shoes several light coats. Then add a fresh coat after every few wears, per the spray’s instructions. Waterproofed suede won’t stand snowstorms or slush, but it will handle typical rainy days.
If your shoes get wet before you waterproof them, allow them to dry naturally in a cool, dry place. Heat will damage them and moisture encourages mold or mildew. Put newspaper or shoe trees in wet boots so that their shape doesn’t change as they dry.
Fixing Blemishes Without a Cobbler
When suede is scuffed or stained, regular leather care products and methods don’t work. The good news is that it’s usually easier to fix blemishes in suede than regular leather. Here are solutions for the most common suede shoe blemishes.
Scuffs: Besides a waterproof solution, a suede eraser is the only suede care product you need to buy. You can find one online or at your local drug store. Simply rub it over scuff marks.
Mud or dirt: Let the mud thoroughly dry, then scrape it off with a stiff brush. Use a suede eraser on leftover dirt.
Water stains: The counter-intuitive fix is to use a spray bottle to wet a large area including the spray. Use a nailbrush to remove the stain, and then dry the surface of the shoe evenly.
Oil or grease stains: These are the most difficult to get rid of. Leave cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain overnight. Then moisten the area with a steam iron and use a soft brush to remove the stain.
Stuck wax or gum: Stick your shoes in the freezer for two hours. When the wax or gum is completely stiff, it should be easy to chip off.
If you need detailed instructions before feeling confident enough to try these techniques, YouTube has many demonstration videos. After any cleaning, give your shoes a brushing. With a little TLC your shoes will stay sharp and stylish for years to come. Now get out there and strut your fashionable feet.