Taking care of your Suede shoes
There are three different types of suede that are used in the construction of shoes. Each has specific properties that will affect the suede’s longevity. Most of these properties center on a suede’s thickness and nap, which is the texture of the suede’s surface.
Type of Suede
Thin skin suede with velvety nap; most delicate suede type
Thick skin suede with coarse nap; fairly durable
Thick skin suede with porous, short nap; very durable
Protecting Suede Shoes
The first step in caring for suede shoes is protecting them from damage caused by water, dirt, and corrosive elements, such as salt, that might be used on streets or pavements. To achieve this, suede protectors can be used. Suede protectors are formulated to repel water from the surface of suede, which will protect its nap and color.
Where to Apply a Suede Protector
A suede protector should be applied to any part of a shoe that is made from suede. Although suede can be used to construct most of a shoe, it can also be applied to add embellishment to a shoe that is primarily made of other materials, like canvas. Whether suede is a major element in a shoe’s construction or simply a design detail, the methods for applying a suede protector are the same.
Apply a Suede Protector
Although users should read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before applying a suede protector, most protectors use the same application process. Spray the protector liberally onto the suede’s surface until the suede looks wet. Let the suede dry naturally for at least twenty-four hours. Refrain from using any methods to speed up the drying process, like applying heat, sunlight, or a fan, because these can cause the suede to crack.
Buffing the Suede’s Nap
After the suede has dried thoroughly, the surface of the suede should be buffed to restore the texture of the suede’s nap. This could be accomplished with a soft brush or a dry towel. Lightly buff the surface of the suede using a circular motion until the nap has been has been lifted from the suede’s surface. When finished, lightly brush the suede in a uniform direction according to the natural grain of the nap to achieve the most consistent look to the suede’s surface.
When to Apply a Suede Protector
Suede protectors should be applied before a pair of suede shoes have been worn for the first time. This is to ensure that the suede is protected from the weather and any accidental spills that might occur. Since the protector wears off, users should plan to apply a suede protector every two weeks to maximize the protector’s benefits.
Cleaning Suede Shoes
No matter how careful a wearer might be, it is inevitable that suede shoes will get wet or dirty. Water is a problem for suede because it can easily cause marks to form on suede’s porous surface. Dirt is an issue for suede because it can get into suede’s nap and cause discoloration. Suede is difficult to clean because the pigmentation used to dye suede is only on the suede’s surface. Chemical detergents that can be used on other types of shoes may remove the dye from suede. For suede shoes that have become significantly stained or dirty, the best advice is to take the shoes to a professional cleaner. For small amounts of dirt or water damage, a number of methods can be used.
Cleaning with Suede Erasers and Brushes
Suede erasers and brushes can be used to clean the surface of suede and should be used on suede that is dry. Suede erasers are blocks made from art gum that can lift up dirt from the surface of suede. To use a suede eraser, hold the eraser firmly while rubbing the surface of dry suede to remove marks. Particles from the eraser will break off during the removal process as the eraser picks up dirt. Suede brushes can be used in conjunction with erasers to restore the suede’s nap. After an eraser has taken away dirt, a suede brush should be applied in circular motions to lift the suede’s nap back to its original condition.
Storing Suede Shoes
Since suede shoes might need to be put away for a season or two due to inclement weather, wearers should take some precautions to guarantee that their suede shoes will be in top condition when they can be worn again. Suede should be stored in a cool, dry place to minimize the chance that mildew can form on the shoes. To protect the shoes from dust, store them in cotton bags or pillowcases, which will allow the suede to breathe. Never store suede in plastic or vinyl bags, because vinyl or plastic bags will promote the formation of mold and mildew.