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How to Clean Suede Shoes

If you are anything like me, you enjoy wearing suede shoes year around. Suede shoes, though, rank as some of the most difficult shoes to take proper care of. Because suede is a more robust material than calf, it does not scuff and show wear quite as easily, thus lending themselves to slightly more abuse (at least my shoes). Magnifying this additional abuse is the fact that, until this experiment, I did not have a routine for cleaning my suede shoes. Brushing my suede after each wearing might help a little, but, inevitably, I would end up with suede shoes too dirty to wear.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Suede shoes are actually easier to clean and maintain than calf -- if you have the proper tools. Saphir's Medaille d'Or (MDO) shoe polishes are the best in the world, so it would be of no surprise that they also have the best suede cleaner. Saphir Omni'Nettoyant Suede Cleaner is a robust suede cleaner and stain remover. Combined with Saphir Suede Eraser and Renovateur Suede Spray, it has never been so easy to renew your suede shoes.

What you need:

  • Saphir Omni'Nettoyant Suede Cleaner
  • Small water bowl & towel
  • A Hard-Bristle Suede Brush
  • Saphir Gommadin Suede Eraser
  • Saphir Renovateur Suede Spray (neutral or matching color)


  • Click to view a larger image

    Before Pictures

    I purchased these Rider Boots for my trip to Italy once I learned that it would be raining the first few days were were there. Originally, I had been planning just to wear some slippers. In retrospect, to only travel with slippers would have been a bad idea. The grape rubber sole of these shoes were incredibly comfortable and, combined with the waterproof suede, performed incredibly well in the rain. However, note how dirty these boots have become after two weeks of travel in Italy. There was large dirt marks on the back of the shoe and water marks and more dirt on the front vamp. Brushing the shoe alone with a suede brush would not remove this deep, embedded dirt. The second set of Ferragamo loafers are probably two years old and have never been cleaned. You can see how dirt has become embedded in the heals.

    Before Picture of Rider Boot 

     

    [Picture of the Saphir Products]

    Step 1: Work out Any Difficult Spots with the Gommadin Suede Eraser

    The Omni'Nettoyant is going to clean the majority of the embedded dirt from suede. However, first work any particularly difficult spots with the Gommadin Suede Eraser. Hold the Gommadin firmly in one hand and use it to "rub" the tough spots out of the suede. It is normal for the Gommadin to crumble during use (just brush the shavings off with your Suede Brush). Below is a picture of me using the Gommadin with a different pair of shoes.

    Step 2: Clean Shoes with Saphir Omni'Nettoyant

    Dilute about one capful per ounce of Saphir Omni'Nettoyant in room-temperature water. Then, using the included cleaning brush, thoroughly scrub the shoes. Work the Omni"Nettoyant into the suede producing a nice lather. If the solution is not lathering very easily, add some additional Omni to the water (however, you do not want it to be too strong). Spend extra time working the areas of the shoes that are particularly soiled.

     

     

    Step 3: Wash Shoe with Warm Water to Remove Omni'Nettoyant Solution

    After you have worked a rich lather using the Omni and brush, empty the solution, rinse your brush, and refill your bowl with warm water. Then, using this warm water, work the shoes over again removing the Omni'Nettoyant from the suede. Here you are "washing" additional dirt from the shoe. I did this at a sink, even briefly spraying the shoe with water. Once the brush is no longer producing a lather on the shoe, you know that you have removed all of the residual Omni'Nettoyant. Pat the suede with a dry towel to remove excess water and leave the shoe to dry.

    Step 4: Allow to Dry

    After you have washed the shoe of the remaining Omni'Nettoyant, allow them to dry thoroughly. I left my shoes in a room overnight and finished the next morning.

    Step 5: Brush with Suede Brush

    After the shoes have dried, firmly brush them with a hard-bristle suede brush in order to straighten or re-fluff the pile. The will prepare the shoe to receive the Saphir Renovateur Suede, ensuring that all of the fibers are sprayed. If you were to just spray the shoe without first brushing, many of the fibers would be pressed down and, therefore, not receive an even spray.

     

    Step 6: Apply MDO Renovateur Spray

    Saphir's Medaille d'Or Renovateur Suede & Nubuck Spray waterproofs and recolors suede while its Almond Oil renews the beautiful silky shine unique to suede shoes. Available in black, neutral, dark brown, and medium brown, if a color is not available that closely matches the finish of your suede, just use the neutral. Since my Rider Boots are lighter than the lightest Saphir spray, I used the neutral.

    I highly recommend doing this outside, as the fumes from the aerosol are quite strong. Simply hold the spray 10 to 15 cm away from the shoe and apply an even coat. As long as you do not fully saturate the suede, you shouldn't have to worry about applying too too much. Just don't get carried away.

    After completed, allow the shoe to dry for another day. Again, I recommend leaving them someplace that has good ventilation, as the fumes can be quite strong.

     

    Step 7: Apply Final Brushing

    After the Renovateur Suede Spray has completely dried, again brush the pile with a hard-bristle suede brush. This will restore the original texture of the suede. After this, your renewed suede shoes are ready to reenter your circulation!

    After Shots

    Below are pictures of the Rider Boots and Ferragamo loafers after the cleaning. There are no visible dirt marks or scuffing, and you can see that the original color has been renewed. All water spots were also removed. The difference is quite remarkable and these pictures do not fully illustrate the "shine" that the Almond Oil from the Renovateur Spray has added.

    The Ferragamo loafers needed a little more work given how old they were and the fact that they had never been cleaned. However, those to, came out quite nicely given my prior neglect. I may try a second cleaning with the Omni'Nettoyant and then spray them with the Middle Brown Saphir Renovateur Spray.

    If you make a point to clean your suede sues using this regiment two to three times a year, you should be able to keep your suede shoes looking good as long as your entire collection. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to email us at [email protected] It is always our pleasure to respond.

     

     

     

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