The thing about suede is that it looks great, but can be intimidating to maintain. It is notoriously susceptible to scuffs, stains and especially moisture. Suede is a variety of leather made from the underside of the animal’s hide rather than the outside like standard leather. The inward-facing texture of the animal’s skin is more porous, which gives suede its distinctly beautiful texture – called the nap – but it also allows dirt and liquids to seep through.
We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to be intimidated by suede! You can keep your jacket fresh yourself by following this simple guide. With a few small tools, you can clean your suede jacket at home, saving time and money. These tools, designed specifically for suede, will also help give your jacket back the nice nap that made you want to buy it in the first place.
The best part about this guide is that you don’t need to treat your suede with any chemicals first for these tools to be useful. Waterproofing chemicals can help protect your best men’s jacket, but they can also muddy up that fine suede texture. They can also discolor the dye, and once they are applied there is no way to remove them.
Use an eraser and a suede brush
Suede erasers and brushes are excellent tools specially designed for cleaning suede. A suede eraser is a soft thief block that works effectively similar to a pencil eraser on paper, rubbing stains out of suede. A suede brush is a very coarse brush, often made of nylon or sometimes horsehair and wire bristles. The brush removes the particles raised by the eraser and restores the hair of the suede where it has been matted.
Suede erasers and brushes are readily available, but we recommend purchasing them together in this kit from Cobbler’s Choice.
Step 1: Use the eraser on any visible smudges or scratches. Use medium pressure in small back and forth motions the same way you would erase a pencil on paper.
2nd step: Use the brush to wipe away dirt and debris kicked up by the eraser. Brush with broad strokes, using firm but gentle pressure. Too much pressure can scratch the suede. After focusing on the stained areas, brush the rest of the jacket to create an even texture.
Treat liquid stains
Liquid stains are a bigger problem for suede than dirt spots and scuff marks, but they can still be treated at home. All you will need is a good suede or nubuck shampoo. We recommend Saphir Omnidaim, which you can get online or at most shoe care stores.
Step 1: Mix your shampoo in a small bowl, using two parts warm water for every part shampoo. Take the brush that came with the shampoo or your suede brush, if none was provided, and swirl the shampoo mixture until you have a lather on the brush.
2nd step: Rub the stained area firmly enough to form a foaming lather. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or you could scratch the suede. This step can be repeated until you see the stain fade.
Step 3: Shampoo darkens suede a lot at first, but only slightly after drying. You will need to rub the entire jacket to create an even color. This will also help clean and treat the entire jacket.
Step 4: Allow to dry then repeat steps 1-3 if necessary.
Suede jackets are a great addition to any wardrobe. They are versatile because they match virtually anything and they alone enhance any outfit. A good suede jacket can be worn with trousers and a button down to add complexity to a formal outfit or it can be worn with a t-shirt and jeans to add respectability to a casual outfit. There are countless uses. Once you learn how to clean your suede jacket yourself, you can wear it without worrying about stains.