You cannot deny the luxuriousness of suede but cleaning them can also be tough. What do you do when an expensive pair of suede slippers gets dirty?
Your first instinct might be to put them in the washing machine, but do not do this. It will almost certainly ruin your suede slippers. Do not attempt to handwash or dry clean suede slippers either, as this will damage the soft finish. Instead, use a brush or take them to a cobbler. It is hard to get suede slippers back to a new condition.
I will go over the care and maintenance of suede in detail below.
What is Suede?
Suede is a very delicate type of fuzzy leather. It is made from the flesh side of an animal skin, and usually originates from sheepskin. However, most skins can be made into suede. Because of its’ soft texture, suede is popular for bags and slippers.
Is Suede the Same as Sheepskin?
Not necessarily – Suede can be made from sheepskin but not all suede is sheep based. You can also make suede from pig skin or cow leather. However, sheepskin and suede are both very delicate, organic materials. You can usually treat them the same when cleaning and maintaining them.
Caring for Suede
Suede is exceptionally soft due to its nap texture. This texture is very fragile and requires careful care. Even suede that claims to be waterproof should never be soaked. Most suede cannot handle any water at all without damage. To prolong the life of your suede, do not wear it outside or in inclement conditions. To clean the suede of dirt and dust, baking soda and a suede brush will be your best friends. You can also use a new toothbrush instead of a suede brush.
Can You Machine Wash Suede?
Unlike wool, which can be machine washed with special settings, suede cannot be machine washed ever. Even waterproof suede will be ruined if it is machine washed. Further, you do not want to soak suede in water at all, so you should not even handwash your suede slippers. “Waterproof” refers to rain drops and splash at best, not soaking.
What Happens if You Machine Wash Suede?
If you machine wash this delicate material, it is liable to lose its’ finish. The result is a rough, unpleasant texture. Once the finish is damaged, the leather cannot be restored easily. Your best bet if your suede slippers get wet is to blot the area as dry as possible, and gently brush it with your suede brush to prevent the nap from tangling.
What Should I do if my Suede Slippers Get Wet?
Despite your best efforts, your slippers might still get wet. If this happens, use a paper towel to blot out as much of the water as you can. Then, use a toothbrush or suede brush to restore the nap before it air dries.
Can You Dry Clean Suede Slippers?
Since your suede slippers cannot be machine washed, you might then turn to dry cleaning. However, you should not dry clean suede either. The technics used in the average dry-cleaning establishment are too rough for suede. If you want to take it to an expert, take your suede slippers to a cobbler instead. However, cleaning suede is simple enough that I always suggest doing it yourself – its’ more cost effective.
How Do You Clean Suede Slippers?
The best method of cleaning your suede will depend on how dirty it is. I will go over routine cleaning, cleaning the liner, and stain removal.
Routine Cleaning for Suede Slippers
To keep your suede slippers looking their best, you will need to do some routine maintenance. However, water is damaging to suede, so you do not want to scrub or wash them.
Instead, take a suede brush or toothbrush, and softly brush out the dirt from the suede. This should remove any loose dirt or dust. Then, spray the slippers with a suede protectant to help them resist staining.
Cleaning the Liner
Even the cleanest of people will eventually stink up the inside of their shoes. To restore the lining of your suede slippers you can use some baking soda.
1. Sprinkle baking soda liberally inside the slipper. Let it sit overnight.
2. Use a toothbrush, suede brush, or vacuum to remove the baking soda the next morning.
3. If you still find the shoes smelly, you can turn to a commercial deodorizing spray, and use as directed.
Stain Removal on Suede Slippers
Perhaps most nerve wracking is when your suede slippers have a stain. I will not promise that it will come out easily – there is a reason we use suede to make slippers and not work boots – but here are some tricks to try.
This is best used for stains that are still wet. First, blot up the moisture with a paper towel. Second, cover the area in baking soda and let sit overnight. Finally, brush out the area with a suede brush or toothbrush.
Oil or Grease Stains
Cover the area with cornstarch or white chalk. This will ideally soak up the oils and allow you to brush them out with a toothbrush or suede brush.
An older stain is usually more stubborn, you can attempt to rub it out with white vinegar on a cloth or buff it out with a pencil eraser or suede eraser. If all else fails, you can try a commercial suede stain remover, or take your shoes to the cobbler.
For most occasions, a toothbrush and some baking soda will serve you well in maintaining suede slippers. However, you may occasionally need more drastic measure such as white vinegar, erasers, and commercial products. No matter the temptation, placing suede in the washing machine will end in tragedy, and if the advised methods are not working, you may need to bring in a professional cobbler. In some cases, you will have to admit defeat and replace the shoes – the softness of suede that we love is precisely what makes it so prone to being ruined.