How to Care for Suede

As much as I love the look of suede, from someone who comes from a snowy climate, I know just as well as anyone suede boots aren’t the most practical items of a woman’s (or man’s) closet. Over the years, I’ve learned how to best care for suede, and I thought I would share some of that have worked for me in preserving the look and feel of newly purchased suede!

My best tip? Protect and avoid. I just purchased this spray by Scotchguard, and I have to say, that it works pretty well (note, however, that this spray could darken the suede if you are not careful). Although this protectant is to make suede water resistant, I still would not voluntarily submerse my boots in ankle deep slush and water to be on the safe side.

Although difficult when the ground is always wet throughout the winter like it is in Toronto, but I try and avoid wearing suede boots if there is any moisture on the ground or threat of precipitation. And even if there is not any moisture on the ground, if you are a driver, beware! Those car mats are still wet! I learned the hard way with my little suede booties:
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Notice the fading on the heel of my right boot (the “driving foot”). It made me very sad when I discovered the fading, and at first, couldn’t figure out what had happened. On the bright side, I found this powder dye  by Fiebing that works wonderfully to re-dye faded suede. I was surprised that the dye was in fact liquid, but it works without napping the suede. It probably has a lot to do with this cute little wool applicator, or dauber, it comes with:

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To use this, clean the suede to remove dirt and debris. I use a brush similar to this one.  I also have an gum/eraser type (which I cannot find) but it also works fairly well to remove dirt.  Comparing the brush to the gummy, the four-sided brush is more functional as the curved edge can reach into grooves and crevices of footwear that are difficult to reach.

After cleaning the suede, dip the applicator into the dye and remove the excess. I did so by patting it into the paper I used to protect my surface.  I then dabbed the dauber on to the suede. I was somewhat light-handed, but went over the areas again later, where I felt like it could use more color. I let dry for an hour or so and repeated the steps.

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After drying, use the brush to “restore” the nap of the leather. I like to brush in one direction, and made sure not to rub too hard to actually remove the nap.


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Much better! I then spray my boots with Scotchguard to repel moisture and prevent salt stains. Because these boots are black, I sprayed pretty liberally, but still gave it quite a bit of distance between the bottle and the boot as the liquid came out in quite a strong  burst rather than a light mist.

For lighter colors that you don’t want to darken, I would give it a very good distance and spray very lightly, repeating several times, while allowing to dry in between treatments. And when I say distance, I mean like a foot and a half. The suede may darken temporarily, but as long as the suede is just slightly damp, it will likely return to its original color. Clean and protect suede regularly.

And there we go! Your suede is ready to take on the world!

Do you have tips for caring for suede?

Shop the items I used in this post and similar booties:

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