This Is How To Clean Suede Boots With White Vinegar Easily

A lot has changed since Elvis sang one of the most iconic lines, “You can do anything, but lay off of my blue suede shoes.” Suede shoes, however, are still cosy and valuable but also vulnerable to scuffs, scratches and stains! These boots are still hard enough to clean that anybody who owns a pair can sympathise with the King’s plea. You already know how to clean your white trainers or if you can put some shoes in the washing machine, but not this one? Don’t worry though; learning how to clean your suede boots with white vinegar is one of the best and easiest ways to keep them in excellent condition.

woman in old fashioned classic outfit wearing burgundy suede boots on heels

Suede is such a beautiful and unique material, but many people avoid it in shoes since it needs special care to look nice. If you make a mistake, you could ruin your beloved shoes and their velvety texture. Thankfully, we are here to assure you that caring for them isn’t as hard as you might think! Keep on reading to find out how to clean them correctly to ensure that your boots reach their maximum lifespan and remain in pristine condition wear after wear!

Cleaning suede boots with white vinegar DIY tutorial

When it comes to tough grime on suede shoes, you should head to the pantry and use vinegar. Follow the instructions below to make your boots look as good as new easily and with no accidents. Believe us: it works!

What you’ll need

  • Suede eraser/pencil eraser
  • White vinegar
  • A flannel or face cloth
  • A suede brush or nail brush
  • Suede protector 

Stylish black suede footwear with shoe care accessories on wooden table

Step 1: Remove any excess dirt and grit from the boots’ surface

Use a suede brush to remove any excess dirt from the surface of the shoe. You can also use a clean nail brush or a toothbrush. Use light strokes to brush the surface, and remember to move with the grain. Wondering what the grain is? It means that if you want to remove loose particles and grit, you should brush in the same direction the suede naturally sits. Do you have to deal with more stubborn marks, like scuff marks? Don’t worry! All you need to do is apply more pressure and move your cleaning brush in a swift back and forth direction. This will help raise flattened suede fibres to further aid with cleaning. 

Extra tip: Always keep in mind that the dirt shouldn’t be wet. If it is, wipe off the excess and leave it to dry before removing any particles with your bristle.

Step 2: Try and shift the remaining marks

For this step, your regular pencil-case rubber will work well, but it’s even better to use a suede eraser. Think of this as a more rigorous approach for clearing scuff marks by using constant, back and forth pressure to dislodge surplus particles. If you see it’s still not working, you shouldn’t force it. We are sure you don’t want to go too hard on your suede and risk damaging the boots.

Step 3: Apply vinegar to the stains

For stains that won’t budge, like salt stains, vinegar is the answer! You can also use rubbing alcohol since both have acidic compositions, making them brilliant at breaking down particles clumps. All you need to do is dip the corner of a clean, white cloth into a small bowl of vinegar and apply it to the stain. Then mass it into the suede. It’s best to use a back and forth motion and not a circular motion. Keep in mind that your aim here is to dampen your boots, but not soak them! To effectively remove all stains, keep working at the mark and reapplying vinegar where necessary. Patience and repetition are vital to this step!

Extra note: Alcohol, vinegar or baking soda will temporarily dampen the suede. This will alter the fabric’s colour before evaporating and returning it to its original colour. That’s why you might need to use multiple applications to determine if the stain has been appropriately removed.

vinegar glass bottle on wooden table

Step 4: Complete the cleaning process with a suede protector

Prevention is better than cure, right? This age-old saying certainly rings true with suede shoes. Of course, keep in mind that not all suede protectors are made equal. Choose your particular product based on customer ratings and reviews to avoid any unwanted results. Also, keep on reading to find more ways to protect your boots effectively!

Extra cleaning tips for more stains

If oil gets onto the suede, you should sprinkle the spot with enough cornstarch to cover it thoroughly and then let it sit for several hours. Use a suede brush to remove the cornstarch, and hopefully, the unwanted oily stain along with it. If there is still a visible mark, use vinegar as shown above.

You should blot water stains with a clean towel, paper towels or a soft cloth as much as possible before allowing your suede to air dry. You can also use sandpaper or an Emory board to scrub watermarks. Never put your boots near a heater or use a blow dryer to speed up your drying process. That can damage or fade the material. If your suede dries with a watermark, you’ll want to dab and treat the stained area with vinegar. Let it dry once more, and brush it thoroughly.

To treat blood stains, use hydrogen peroxide. Soak a cotton ball with it and simply dab the stain. Dab at the bloodstain until you remove it from the suede item. This tip can also be helpful for any suede clothing, like suede jackets etc.

Selective focus of hydrogen peroxide solution in brown amber bottle

How to protect your suede shoes

Is knowing how to clean suede shoes enough? These shoes, like leather shoes, are a very popular choice in the fall and winter months, keeping you warm and adding texture to any outfit. But since suede is a type of leather, it is essential to take good care of it to look brand new over the years. Cleaning suede shoes and knowing how to protect them as a preventative measure will offer a great deal more wear from them! Here is all you need to know.

1. Store the suede shoes

You should store your boots the right way to keep them protected and also let them breathe. Here is what you should do:

  • Since suede requires exposure to air, you should store your boots in a way they can breathe. When storing them in a closet or shoe storage boxes, it’s best to slip them into cotton pillowcases. The cotton will protect the boots from the accumulation of dust and promote air circulation.
  • Store your boots in a cool, dry place, like clothes or linen closet, and don’t leave them exposed to direct sunlight when they are not in use. Excessive light exposure can cause fading, and long periods of humidity exposure will trigger dampness. 
  • Take your boots to a professional dry cleaner before packing them away for a season. Doing so will remove any traces of dirt you may have overlooked and prevent mildew development while in storage.

2. Care for your boots

Caring for your boots while you use them in your daily life will keep them clean and extend their lifespan. Here’s what to do:

  • Buy a suede protective spray online or from a big box store. Ensure the boots are clean and spray them all over, making sure you cover their entire surface. You should only lightly spray them; too much could affect their texture or colour.
  • Avoid wearing your boots in wet weather. Although the protective spray should prevent them from becoming ruined by water or snow, it is best to avoid wearing them, especially on rainy days. If they get wet, it’s best to let them dry naturally and then brush them well with a suede brush.
  • Maintain the suede’s fibres, also known as the nap. Get a special suede brush to brush out the nap and buff any minor scuffs. This will help the shoes retain their soft texture. Remember to brush the nap gently and in the direction of the fibres. 

Man's hand cleaning brown suede shoes with suede brush

3. Treat Stains

It would be wise to treat any stains the moment they happen, not to walk around with dirty boots and avoid the stain becoming harder to remove. Here’s what you should know:

  • Keep cornmeal or talcum powder handy when you are wearing your boots. You can keep these in your bag inside a zip-lock bag or a tiny Tupperware container. When any type of liquid is spilt on your boots, pat the stained area dry with a clean cloth, and apply a layer of the talcum powder. Allow it to sit overnight, and then gently remove the dried powder using a suede brush.
  • Avoid cleaning your boots with water. Water can change their texture and even their colour. If your shoes are stained so deeply that powder or cornmeal doesn’t soak up the stain before it sets, you take them to a professional cleaner

4. Apply suede protectant spray

To protect your suede so it won’t get quite as dirty in the future, apply suede protectant spray according to the package directions. This extra step will keep your suede cleaner for longer and make it easier to clean in the future!

woman spraying blue suede leather shoes with suede protectant spray

So why do people like suede boots so much? Suede shoes are very comfortable, durable, and a fashion choice that will never fade from their glory. This beautiful material goes incredibly with almost any outfit and can always keep your look fresh. The only downside is when you don’t have the right cleaning solution for any stubborn stains! Fear not! Keeping your boots clean is simple once you know how and you can do most of it with household items, like vinegar. All you need to do is follow our super-useful (and cost-effective) instructions on how to clean suede leather boots. Give your shoes the care they deserve and wear them with confidence at any time!

Coming next: How to clean moleskin.

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