Leather Suede Guide: 5 Tips For Care & Repair

Leather Suede Guide

Until recently, I’d always been somewhat apprehensive about wearing suede due to its reputation of being difficult to care for and easily damaged. However, in the last year or so my collection of suede items has increased drastically and, with it, the amount of time I’ve spent researching suede care and repair guides. Suede is, by no means, the easiest fabric to look after and in fact is something of a labour of love. If you want it to last, you do have to put in the hours with it, regularly maintain the exterior and protect it from a variety of elements. With that in mind, I’ve put together 5 tips on caring for suede to keep you and your items looking sharp.

1) Invest in Suede Protector

They say prevention is better than reparation and that is just as true here as it is in any other aspect of life. The main enemy of suede is moisture as it can permanently damage suede and is difficult to avoid in everyday life. Due to the fact we can’t accurately predict downpours or drinks being accidentally spilled, it’s best to find a good suede protector and apply it before you go out.

When you’re applying it, make sure you follow the below steps:

  1. Spray from between 10-20cm away to ensure even application.
  2. Spray all areas of suede on the shoe and make sure to get areas near the edge of the sole where moisture is likely to gather.
  3. Leave to dry for 2-5 mins before wearing to ensure the protector has time to settle and dry.

Don’t forget, it’s much easier to protect suede than it is to repair it so make sure you take the basic defensive steps and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle.

2) Brush Regularly

Brushing suede is one of the most important steps to caring for it and helps maintain the “nap” (the matte effect that is commonly associated with leather suede). It’s best to invest in a suede brush that has multiple types of bristles for various areas, they’re usually fairly cheap and great value for money so there’s no excuse for not buying one.

Below is a great instructional video from ExpertVillage on brushing and protecting both part-suede and full-suede shoes which helps illustrate the technique for suede brushing as well as some different options in terms of brush, protection and rejuvenation.

3) Be Patient With Dirty/Wet Suede

Leather Suede Guide 2

The easiest way to damage suede when you’re trying to repair it is by not allowing the suede to dry first. When wet, suede is considerably weaker and more susceptible to permanent damage so allow it to dry naturally. Do not be tempted to blow dry or leave the item on a radiator as this is likely to stiffen the suede and make it crack. Simply stuff the inside with newspaper or tissue and leave in a warm dry place until completely dry.

Once dry, gently brush away any mud or dirt before cleaning as if you get this wet again you’ll be back to square one. It’s best to take your time when caring for suede as it’s a fairly difficult material when you try and rush it.

4) Erasers For Stains

Leather Suede Guide 3

So you’ve let your suede dry, you’ve cleaned away the excess material but you’ve found there’s a stain that just can’t be brushed out. Seeing as you can’t wet the suede again without damaging it again, you need to clean it using a suede eraser which will help remove discoloration and stickiness from suede without weakening the material.

Again, these are relatively cheap (anywhere between £1 and £4) so there’s no excuse for not picking one up and it should last you a long time so the value is great too. You don’t need to be rough when using it so start gently and, as mentioned previously, be patient. Once you’re done, use your suede brush to clear any excess and bring up the nap.

5) The Suede Steam Hack

If you have really stubborn stains or the suede has severely damaged nap (i.e. it looks smooth and shiny, rather than matte) then there is a hack that can help with more stubborn problems. Steam cleaning is one of the most effective ways of cleaning suede, however not everyone has access to a steam cleaner and, ultimately, a good one can be very expensive.

What I tend to do is hold the item over a gently boiling pan of water (make sure it’s not too vigorously boiling as it may splash the leather) and use a clean tooth brush or medium nylon brush to gently clean the area. Again, this requires patience and isn’t a guaranteed method, but it does help remove tougher stains and marks, as well as softening hard, shiny suede so you can help restore the matte nap.

Thanks for checking out the post and make sure to let me know if you have any questions or feedback, you can also leave your own personal tips or hacks for looking after your suede. You can also sign-up to be notified of new posts and follow The Male Stylist activity. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or Instagram for style inspiration, gentleman’s musings and general fun.

Adam Walker - The Male Stylist