If you are anything like me, you enjoy wearing suede shoes year around. Suede shoes, though, rank as some of the most difficult to care properly. Because suede is a more robust material than calf, it does not scuff and show wear quite as easily, thus lending itself to slightly more abuse (at least I find that to be true for 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 seemed to 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 should come as 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:

Overview: How to Clean Suede Shoes

  1. Use our Saphir Gommadin Suede Eraser on any dry stains.

  2. Shampoo suede with Saphir Omni'Nettoyant Suede Cleaner.

  3. Rinse shoes with clean water.

  4. Allow suede to dry.

  5. Brush suede with a suede brush to re-fluff pile.

  6. Waterproof and nourish with Saphir Renovateur Spray.

  7. Re-Brush suede with a suede brush to re-fluff pile.

"Before" Pictures

I purchased these Rider Boots for a recent trip to Italy once I learned that it would be raining the first few days. Many guys are hesitant about wearing suede in bad/wet weather and would be asking 'why didn't Kirby get something more like a durable boot in nubuck or something if he was worrying about walking around through puddles and in the rain? Originally, I had been planning just to wear some slip-on loafers. In retrospect, to only travel with slip-on loafers would have been a bad idea. The crepe soles of these Rider Boots make them perfect for travel; not only are they completely waterproof, but they are incredibly comfortable.

However, note how dirty these boots became 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.

And, as long as I was embarking on a suede-cleaning project, I decided to include a pair of Ferragamo loafer that had never been cleaned. As you can see in the two pictures of the loafers, dirt has definitely become embedded in the heels and they are looking rough.

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

The Omni'Nettoyant that you'll be using in the second step of the process is going to clean the majority of the embedded dirt from suede. However, first work any particularly difficult, dry stains 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.

Second Step: Clean Shoes with Saphir Omni'Nettoyant

Dilute the Saphir Omni'Nettoyant Suede Shampoo in room-temperature water (one part Omni for one part water). Then, using this warm waterand shampoo solution, work the Omni'Nettoyant into the suede, producing a nice leather. 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. Spend extra time working the areas of the shoes that are particularly soiled. I recommend working on one small section of the shoe at a time.

    1. NOTE: Our La Cordonnerie Anglaise Round Shoe Dauber is more efficient than the small one included with the Omni'Nettoyant.

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

After you have worked up 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 shoes to dry.

Fourth Step: Allow to Dry

After you have washed the shoes of the remaining Omni'Nettoyant, allow them to dry thoroughly overnight and finish the next morning.

Fifth Step: 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. In addition to re-fluffing the pile, which makes the suede look nicer, it will prepare the shoe to receive the Saphir Renovateur Suede Spray. 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.

Sixth Step: Apply MDO Renovateur Spray

Saphir's Medaille d'Or Renovateur Suede & Nubuck Spray waterproofs and re-colors 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 much. Just don't get carried away.

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

Seventh Step: 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 re-enter your circulation!

"After" Pictures

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 that they had never been cleaned. However, those too 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 shoes using this regimen two to three times a year, you should be able to keep your suede shoes looking good as long as the calfskin or exotic skin shoes you may have in your collection. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to email us at customerservice@hangerproject.com. It is always our pleasure to respond.

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