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How to Care for Suede Boots

This soft material makes for comfortable, distinctive footwear. Keeping suede boots looking their best for years takes special effort.

Suede is a gorgeous material to wear and feel. It’s far more pliable than leather because it is made from the underside of an animal’s skin and lacks the tougher exterior. So, although suede is made of top grain leather, leather workers intentionally abrade until it has a soft, velvety nap.

The tradeoff for that velvety softness and pliability is that suede is far more vulnerable to stress and the elements than leather.

Some boot treatment methods can damage suede

Many methods designed to make suede more resistant to water or dirt only impair the luxurious quality of the material itself – which is why you buy your suede boots chemically untreated. Retailers want their customers to see suede at its best. But they aren’t worried about what happens after the sale.

You are, however, and this is a fabric you’ve got to baby a little to keep looking great. So how do you take care of suede so you do not have to involve experts? Throwing your worn boots in the trash and getting out your VISA card again for a new pair can also solve the problem, but that gets expensive after the first few times.

The main thing to remember is that you should not wear your suede boots in wet weather.  Wet suede loses its texture and absorbs not only water, but any chemicals in water as well.

You do not want your suede boots to absorb oils or road salt, unless you’re a masochist or a secret leather-product saboteur, and neither of those are likely.

Waterproofing spray applied in a special way can preserve suede boots for longer

Treating your new suede boots with a waterproofing spray will add a layer of protection to them and keep them from from getting dirty quickly. Carefully brush your boots with a suede brush before spraying them, and then again after. Suede should only be brushed in one direction to keep the nap looking good. It is always a good idea to examine your suede boots for dirt when you take them off and put them away. Small amounts of dirt or grime are much simpler to address than ground in dirt or old stains.

How to scrub dirt from your suede boots without scuffing

If your boots get soiled, you can clean them using a kneadable eraser or an emery board. There are specialty suede erasers available as well. Mud should be left to dry overnight and then brushed off with a nail brush.

Use the eraser to get off any remaining dirt. Oil, grease, and other chemicals are more complicated. If you’ve brushed the suede well and used an eraser on it, and the stain remains, you can attempt to hand wash them or take them to a professional.

There are special suede cleaning products on the market you can try as well, but water and suede are not a great combination, unless you know what you are doing or are willing to follow detailed instructions for cleaning suede.

With wear, the luster and nap of your suede boots may fade a bit. To restore them, boil water in a pot, and hold your boots over to expose them to the steam. Then brush them well with your suede brush.

Brushing will also work to get rid of the shiny spots or scuff marks that come with use. Watermarks are a bit more challenging. If your boots have obvious water damage, you can try carefully cleaning them all over with water and then drying. This will help camouflage any stained areas as the water dries evenly over the surface of the boot.

Properly storing your suede boots is key

As with all boots, it’s important to store suede boots in a clean place. However, suede needs support between wearings to remain looking great. You can use shoe inserts or purchase a product like Boot Butler which will cradle your boots from the inside and help maintain their overall shape and condition, while keeping them nice and organized.

The sweat from your feet can also dampen your boots on the inside. If you leave them upright, with the tops flopped over, or flat on their sides, it means that air can’t circulate through the boots. This can lead to the growth of mold, mildew, and the development of bad odors.

Boot Butler prevents this from happening by ensuring that your boots air out properly when you’re not wearing them.

You’ve got fantastic suede boots. Are you going to keep them that way? With a little bit of organization, a few special tools, and a bit of care, you certainly can.


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