Suede cleaner for shoes

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How to Clean Suede Shoes

Suede is a fantastic material that appears smart and stylish. However, the leather is also very delicate and can easily become stained or marked. As such, keeping your suede shoes looking fresh and clean can be a tricky task. Of course, there’s no point buying an awesome pair of shoes just to leave them in the box, which is why knowing how to clean suede shoes is important. Luckily, we can help you keep your favourite suede shoes looking as good as new with these helpful tips and tricks.

Can You Clean Suede Shoes?

With such a delicate material, care must be taken to ensure you don’t end up damaging your shoes in the process. If your shoes are genuine suede, be sure only to clean them by hand and avoid putting them in a washing machine or a dryer. Also, check any tags or cleaning instructions for your shoes before cleaning them.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

Cleaning suede shoes may seem like a scary task, but, by following these simple instructions, you’ll have fresh footwear with no hassle or stress.

How to Clean Suede Sneakers / Trainers

Trainers are perfect for casual, everyday wear and suede trainers are a particularly stylish option. However, hitting the streets in your favourite suede sneakers can quickly cause them to become dirty. When your soft sneakers become marked and messy, it’s time for a clean. To clean your suede trainers, start by removing the laces and inserting a shoe tree to help them hold their shape. Then, use a suede eraser to remove any loose dirt before cleaning with a suede brush, suede cleaner and water. Once clean, allow your sneakers to dry before brushing to reset the nap.

How to Clean Suede Boots

If you own suede or nubuck boots, keeping them clean and in good condition is essential for a stylish look and longevity. To clean your suede boots, start by removing the laces and soaking a soft bristle brush in a small container of suede cleaner. Then, while holding one hand inside the shoe, use the other to brush the boot in small circular motions. Repeat on the other boot and allow them both to dry for 24 hours. Once completely dry, you can use mink oil and a small suede brush to make your boots feel soft and smooth once again.

How to Clean Mud and Dirt Off Suede Shoes

While many things can stain and mark suede shoes, mud and dirt are the most common. As such, it’s important to know how to clean mud and dirt off your shoes in a gentle yet efficient manner. To do so, be sure to allow any mud to dry completely before trying to remove it. Once dry, use a brush to remove as much soil as possible. If there are still marks, try carefully moistening your shoes with steam before blotting dry. Then, brush again and use an eraser to remove any remaining dirt.

How to Clean Suede Shoes at Home

Although suede shoes may be delicate, there’s no need to take them to a professional every time they need cleaning. By following a few easy instructions, you can remove dirt, mud and marks from your suede shoes at home. Start by stuffing your shoes with paper and brushing them with a suede brush to remove light marks. For tougher spots, you can use an eraser. Marks from water, on the other hand, will need to be dabbed with a clean wet cloth before being blow-dried. If this doesn’t completely remove them, you can brush the spot or use an eraser.

How to Clean Black Suede Shoes

Cleaning black suede shoes can be particularly challenging as fading can occur. To keep your black kicks looking great, follow a regular cleaning process. Then, once you’ve removed any dirt any stains, touch up faded or scuffed spots with black suede dye. Alternatively, use your finger to rub black crayon onto the area.

How to Clean White Suede Shoes

White suede shoes can make a stylish fashion statement but can also be notoriously difficult to keep clean. To keep your white shoes looking their best, be sure to use a suede protector and clean up any marks as soon as they occur. Start by blotting excess moisture before using an eraser to tackle stains. For further cleaning, use a soft cloth and white vinegar. Once dry, brush your shoes to restore the nap.

How to Clean Faux Suede Shoes

One of the benefits of faux suede is that it’s more stain-resistant and durable than traditional suede. As such, it’s easier to care for but does still require maintenance, regular cleaning, and the removal or marks. You can clean your faux suede shoes by brushing away excess dirt before wiping them with a mixture of water and vinegar. Then, stuff them with paper and allow to dry before brushing to restore softness.

How to Clean Suede Shoes Without a Suede Brush

If you don’t own a suede brush, don’t panic. You can still keep your shoes looking fresh and fabulous. To remove dirt, try using a spare toothbrush instead. The toothbrush will work similarly to a suede brush to loosen the soil without damaging the material. Then, tackle stains and marks with the help of an eraser. Alternatively, use an emery board and steam to remove stains.

How to Clean Suede Shoes Without Suede Cleaner

If you don’t have any suede cleaner, you can try to clean your shoes using just a suede brush and eraser. However, you may find that stubborn stains need a little extra help. In those cases, try using a small amount of soapy water or, if it is a food or salt stain, white vinegar to clean your entire shoes.

How to Keep Suede Shoes Clean

Maintenance and prevention are essential for keeping your suede shoes clean. After each wear, be sure to give your shoes a brush to remove any soil. When not in use, store your shoes in a dry place. You can also stuff them with crumpled paper or use a cedar shoe tree to absorb moisture and help maintain their shape. Finally, be sure to use a suede protector to seal fibres and prevent stains.

Suede Shoe Cleaning Products

To keep your suede shoes appearing fresh and clean, investing in specific tools and products can be useful. In particular, items such as suede protector, cleaner, brushes and erasers can help to remove dirt and marks quickly and easily. Also, a shoe tree is a purchase that can aid in maintaining the shape of your shoes throughout the cleaning process.

How to Clean Suede Shoes Tips

  • Before cleaning your suede shoes, remove the laces and insert a shoe tree or scrunched paper to help them hold their shape.
  • Invest in sued-specific products, including a protector, cleaner, brush and eraser.
  • Use a soft brush to remove any loose dirt or dried mud.
  • Lightly scrub your shoes with a brush and cleaner to remove stains and stubborn marks.
  • After allowing your shoes to dry, you can make them feel soft once again by gently dry-brushing or using mink oil.

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There’s nothing worse than investing in a gorgeous pair of suede shoes, only to find them dirty and stained within the first few wears. So how should you clean them?

Read on for our expert tips on how to prevent and remove marks on your suede shoes…

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How to prevent stains on suede shoes

As soon as you get new suede shoes, you should treat them with a waterproof spray, as this will stop the colour coming off and prevent stains from setting in too easily.

There are plenty of suede protectors available from supermarkets and dry cleaners, but make sure you test on a small, inconspicuous area first, to ensure it doesn’t show up on your suede. We rate this one by Liquiproof.

Apply the spray in a well-ventilated part of your home and remember to reapply every six months or so (always read the label to check).

Keep suede shoes dry

Another tip for preventing stains is to avoid wearing your suede shoes on a rainy day – as a general rule, wet weather and suede are not good friends!

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How to clean suede shoes that are already dirty

If disaster strikes and your suede shoes are marked, never fear – allow them to dry naturally (never on a radiator!) before tackling the marks.

If it’s the type of stain you can brush off, such as mud, then make sure the shoes are fully dry and then gently brush out. Invest in a suede brush for this. This particular one has two sides – one for erasing marks/stains and one for gently raising the nap of the suede.

Our top tip is to brush in the direction of the natural grain of the fabric, which helps keep its smooth appearance.

If necessary, you can also try using a weak solution of washing up liquid and a good-quality brush to wipe marks away, before allowing them to dry naturally. Although again, we recommend testing on a more inconspicuous area first.

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Read the manufacturer’s label

As a natural material, all suede differs slightly. It can be made from goats’ skin, sheep’s skin, deer’s skin and calves’ skin so make sure you check how to treat it. There are also synthetic suedes that will behave differently to natural materials. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s label before cleaning.

Last resort? Call in a professional

Or take it to the dry cleaners. If your suede has become marked or misshaped and you can’t fix it yourself this could be the best solution – particularly for severe discolouration. It can be pricey, but often a suede item is worth the price (and care you should give it).

Suede cleaning essentials

Liquiproof LABS Premium Protector Spray Liquiproof® amazon.co.uk £9.99 Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Shoe Brush Kiwi amazon.co.uk £1.98 Aldi Magnum Aloe Vera Washing Up Liquid Aldi aldi.co.uk £0.65 Kiwi Suede and Nubuck Foam Cleaner, 3 pack KIWI amazon.co.uk £9.05

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Suede is a type of leather that is used to make a lot of shoes, purses and other things. It has a very soft and gentle surface, which must be cleaned very carefully so that you do not harm it. Mud is a very common stain on every kind of shoes, but do not worry, removing it is not as hard as it seems. Here is what to do if you get mud on your suede shoes:

  • Allow the mud to dry before you start cleaning it, because it is much easier to scrub off dry mud, because if it is still wet, you will make a bigger mess.
  • Scrape off as much of the mud as you can. Cleaners Crofton Park suggest you use a spoon or a dull butter knife. Hold the shoe in one hand and run the knife, with the other hand, over the mud. Keep the knife at about 45 degree angle. Be careful not to damage the material.
  • Use a stiff toothbrush to remove the remaining mud off the shoe. Wipe the brush on a towel if its bristles become muddy.
  • Dampen a corner of a rug with cool water. Cleaners Crofton Park say you should add just enough water to make the rug damp, but not dripping. Wipe away any residual mud on the shoe. Work the rug into circular motions and blot with the dry end of the rug the moisture on the suede. Allow the shoe to air dry.
  • When the shoes are completely dry, use a suede brush. Run the brush gently through the material, to lift the fibres and soften them. You van find such brushes in almost every shoe store.

I don’t know about you, but I love suede—especially suede shoes! (Although I’m not sure I’m cool enough to pull off blue suede shoes.) 😉 Suede is such a great material, but many people avoid it because it needs a bit of special care to keep it looking nice. But I’m here today to assure you that caring for suede isn’t as hard as you might think! Today I’ll be showing you exactly how to clean suede, so you can keep your suede shoes, bags, and other items looking great.

The main thing that sets suede apart from other materials is that you don’t use water to clean it. In fact, water stains suede, or at least alters the appearance enough that it will look and feel stained. To properly clean suede, it helps to buy one of those inexpensive suede cleaning kits online. These kits typically only cost a few dollars, and they include a cleaning brush and a special eraser. You’ll use these tools to brush away dirt and fluff up the fibers to keep your suede looking good!

I’ve outlined my step-by-step process for cleaning suede below. Depending on how dirty your item is, you might not need to do every single step to get it clean. Give this process a try, and see just how clean your suede can get! 🙂

How To Clean Suede

You’ll need:

  • Suede & nubuck cleaning kit
  • Vinegar or rubbing alcohol
  • White washcloth
  • Suede protector (optional)

Directions:

Step 1 – Brush Vigorously Using Suede Brush

Lightly brush the stained areas in one direction. Brushing in one direction helps to remove the surface layer of dirt from the fibers.

Once you’re done, brush the stains again using a back-and-forth motion. Brush with a little more force too! You’re trying to get to the ground-in dirt that’s trapped beneath the surface.

Step 2 – Use Stain Eraser for Set-In Stains

If your suede item isn’t in too dirty, you may not need to go any further! But for really set-in stains or dirt, you’ll want to use the eraser that came with your suede cleaning kit.

Rub the eraser over the stains, and don’t be afraid to apply some pressure! Keep rubbing until the stain is gone (which could take a few minutes, so be patient!) And as a word of warning, this part will be messy. Make sure to do it over a towel, or even take it outside!

Step 3 – Treat Stains Using White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

If your stain STILL isn’t gone, it’s time to break out the big guns! 😉 Grab some plain white vinegar or rubbing alcohol, and pour a bit onto a white washcloth. (Unlike water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol won’t stain suede!)

Rub the dampened cloth onto the stain, then let the area dry completely. Once it’s dry, use the brush to fluff the fabric back up and brush away any loosened dirt.

Step 4 – Shave with Razor to Restore Smooth Texture to Suede

Suede fabric can start to look a bit stringy after a while, but it’s easy to take care of using a plain old shaving razor. Gently shave the strings off the fabric wherever you notice them. After using the razor, use your brush to brush away the stringy bits.

Step 5 – “Fluff” the Suede Using Brush

After all that brushing, scrubbing, and rubbing, the suede can appear a bit dull. That’s nothing a bit of vinegar or alcohol can’t fix! Rub the suede all over with a white cloth dampened with vinegar or alcohol, then let it dry completely. After it’s dry, fluff up the fabric one last time using the brush. And voila, your suede will look clean, lustrous, and fabulous!

Step 6 – Apply Suede Protectant Spray

The final step is to protect your suede so it won’t get quite as dirty in the future. You can find suede protectant sprays online, and a lot of them are fairly inexpensive. Apply your suede protectant spray according to the package directions. Not only will this extra step keep your suede cleaner for longer, it will also make it easier to clean in the future!

This process should help you remove most kinds of stains on suede items. But just in case you end up with a tricker stain, here are some additional tips that may help!

Bonus Tips For Tackling Specific Stains On Suede

Water Stains

This is a case where it helps to “fight fire with fire.” Use a damp brush to lightly wet the stain, then soak up any excess water with a paper towel. Let it dry overnight. Don’t try to quick dry the item, and avoid drying it in direct sunlight because it may cause the color to fade.

Oil or Grease

Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch to try and soak up the oil. Let it sit overnight and then brush away the powder in the morning. Lightly wet the stain with a damp brush, then brush away the stain.

Mud

Let the mud dry before cleaning your item. Once it dries you should be able to break it off in chunks. Use your brush to get rid of smaller pieces of dirt.

Wax or Gum

Put your item in the freezer to harden the wax or gum. Then break it off in chunks and brush away smaller particles.

Blood

Pour a bit of hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel or cotton ball and lightly dab at the stain until it comes out.

Ink

Dab at the ink with a paper towel to absorb some of the ink if it’s still wet. If the ink has set, you can use rubbing alcohol to try and lift the stain. You may also need to scrub it with your special suede eraser.

I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.

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Cleaning Homekeeping

How to Clean White Shoes–Whether They’re Canvas, Leather, or Suede

Leather is one of the easier materials to clean because it doesn’t absorb as much water as some other fabrics. Here’s how to give white leather shoes, like the GREATS Sneakers above ($179; nordstrom.com), a thorough cleaning:

Step 1: Gather your materials.

Step 2: Tackle surface dirt.

Wet a paper towel, squeeze out excess water, and then gently wipe down the outside of your shoes. This will help remove any big pieces of dirt that are caught in different parts of the shoe. After you’re done with this step, let your shoes dry for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Clean the sole.

Wet your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and squeeze out any excess water. Run the Magic Eraser up and down the soles of your sneakers or shoes until the dirt and stains are gone. You want to make sure your Magic Eraser is damp but not dripping all over your shoes.

Step 4: Scrub with soap.

And now, the most satisfying step. Wet your rag or cotton shirt and lather it up with some Ivory soap ($5 for a 3-pack; amazon.com). In a small gentle motion, massage the upper part of the shoe until it returns back to its perfect white color. Wipe any excess soap with the rag. After this last step, let your shoes dry again for 10 minutes.

Depending on how dirty your shoes were, you may need to repeat this process a few times.

Now that we’re right in the thick of summer, there’s a good chance that suede shoes have been a regular feature of your wardrobe. Especially given that suede sneakers are a pro-level style move right now. But of course, with regular wear comes unwanted dirt and grime (and the occasional rainstorm). And if you live anywhere that requires a lot of walking, your favorite suede shoes will quickly start to look like you’ve spent your summer working in a tire yard. Luckily, keeping them clean and crisp doesn’t require all that much effort. With a bit of regular upkeep, your shoes can look box-fresh all summer long. Here’s how you do it.

Regularly Brush Them

The one thing you absolutely have to have if you own suede shoes is a suede brush. Because of the soft grain of suede, a special brush is the best way to keep it clean. And it’s also the best way to maintain the finish so that your shoes don’t look worn out.

BUY NOW: Jason Markk suede cleaning kit, $12, mrporter.com

To clean off any dust, dirt, or minor stains, simply brush the shoes while dry. And make sure you brush them in the same direction rather than back and forth if it’s just a bit of dirt or dust. To get rid of a scuff mark, however, go ahead and brush it vigorously back and forth to lift the grain back up.

BUY NOW: Suede penny loafers ($625) by Tod’s, mrporter.com

For Bad Scuffs, Use a Knife

Scuffs on suede are generally nothing more than a spot on the grain that has gotten too matted down. Sometimes, a suede brush won’t do the trick. When that happens, try scraping a knife (very carefully) over the area to lift the nap. If you’re worried about using a knife on your precious shoes (which is understandable) you can also try using a pencil eraser. There are also suede-specific erasers that you can try.

BUY NOW: Hand-sewn suede lows ($520) by Feit, feitdirect.com

Fight Water Stains with Water

As anyone who lives anywhere but the Southwest knows, summer storms can creep up on you in an instant. Which means there’s always a bit of a risk for water-staining your suede shoes. Ironically, the best way to get rid of a water stain is with more water. The trick is to first apply a light coat of water with your suede brush, and then gently dab the surface of the shoes with a rag until it is evenly wet, without any water stains showing. Then, insert shoes trees or, barring that, wads of paper so that your shoes will maintain their shape as they dry. Once they’re completely dry, go over them lightly with your (dry) suede brush to restore the grain to its original look.

BUY NOW: Embroidered ankle boots ($790) by Gucci, farfetch.com

Water and Vinegar for Really Tough Stains

For hard-to-remove stains—or, if you wear them during the winter, for salt stains—the best method is to use a solution of two parts water, one part white vinegar. Apply a small amount of the solution with a soft rag or a towel, and then let it dry. Once it’s dry, go over it lightly with your suede brush.

BUY NOW: Gazelle sneakers ($80) by Adidas, adidas.com

Protect Them

The best method for keeping your suede shoes clean, however, is to employ a preemptive strike—i.e. a good spray-on suede protector, like this one from the Rochester Shoe Tree Company. This will keep a lot of dirt and stains from sticking to your shoes, and will also keep them a bit more water-resistant. If you haven’t sprayed a protector on your shoes straight out of the box, simply follow the steps above to clean them, and then spray some on.

BUY NOW: Harvie slip-on ($540) by Alden, needsupply.com

Scott Christian Scott Christian is a style writer based in Los Angeles.

Everyone who’s ever owned a pair of suede shoes knows how easily and quickly they can get stained and soiled. Thankfully, the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab has some tips and tricks for you to keep those kicks looking new!

How to protect suede shoes

Don’t wait until you have a stain to take action! Prevention is key. Before wearing your shoes for the first time, spray suede (real or faux) with a product like Kiwi Suede Protector, to help shield them from dirt and water stains.

Make sure to read the instructions before application and test a small, hidden area first to ensure it doesn’t leave any unwanted marks. After wearing, give suede shoes a light brushing with a suede brush to remove any loose dust before putting them away.

How to clean water-damaged suede shoes

If you see it’s raining out, choose a different pair of shoes. If you do happen to get caught in a downpour wearing suede shoes, take them off immediately and ALWAYS allow them to dry naturally. Never pull out the blow dryer or set them by the radiator when they’re wet. Heat can cause suede to shrink, fade or warp.

Instead, blot excess water with a clean towel. Insert shoe trees, if you have them, or stuff your shoes with white paper towels and set them in a dry, well-ventilated place to dry overnight. Once dry, give them a light brushing to restore the nap.

KIWI Suede & Nubuck Protector walmart.com $7.93 Shacke Suede & Nubuck 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner amazon.com $6.99 Woodlore Women’s Adjustable Shoe Tree amazon.com $20.44 Bounty Paper Towels amazon.com $16.69

How to remove stains from suede shoes

Blot fresh stains with a paper towel as soon as they happen. Sprinkle a little baking soda on the spot and allow it to dry overnight. The next day, buff away the powder and any remaining stain with an emery board or try a product like Kiwi Suede Cleaner.

If you’re dealing with a dried stain, first try brushing or gently scraping the stain off. You can use a toothbrush if you’re in a pinch or opt for a special suede brush. If the suede is matted, lightly steam the area for a few seconds, then raise the nap with the emery board or brush. You can also try dabbing a kneadable eraser on the stain to remove it.

Most importantly, be gentle: Brush only in the direction of the fibers — not back and forth — or you risk further damaging the suede.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda amazon.com $9.07 Revlon Compact Emery Board Revlon amazon.com $17.10 Kiwi SELECT Suede and Nubuck Cleaner amazon.com $8.99 Faber Castell Large Kneaded Eraser Faber Castell amazon.com $9.99

If all else fails, take your suede shoes to the shoe repair shop and ask if they can be cleaned and restored. We know it’s a hassle sometimes but if you love your shoes, give them the TLC they are in desperate need of. It’ll be worth it (and it’s sustainable!).

How To Clean Suede Shoes

Make sure your shoes are completely dry before you start. Then, using a suede brush, brush gently in one direction to get rid of any dust. If there are stubborn scuff marks, you can brush harder in a back and forth motion.

For the most stubborn marks, you can use a suede eraser (but a regular pencil eraser will do just fine, too). There are also suede cleaner sprays available on the market.

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How To Clean Dirt Off

Dirt is thankfully pretty easy to handle. Using a clean, soft bath towel—not wet, not damp, but completely dry)—gently wipe the shoes from heel to toe. This should remove most of the dust and shallow dirt stains. Finish with a suede brush cleaner.

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How To Remove Stains

Sometimes, grime and stains won’t get off no matter what you do, especially on white suede shoes. In those cases, you might need to turn to your favourite all-around cleaner and kitchen staple: vinegar. This is how to clean it with vinegar.

Using a clean cloth, dab a little white vinegar on the stain. Let the vinegar dry out completely before rubbing out the stain with a suede brush.

For “special” stains like wax or oils, you might need to try a different approach. For the former, you can put your suede shoes in the freezer, then pick off the frozen chunks. For the latter, you can add a little cornstarch on the stain to absorb the oil, before brushing the powder off.

How To Clean Mud Off

Don’t try to clean the mud off when it’s wet. Just brush away the excess mud (being careful not to push the mud into the fabric) before leaving it out to dry. Once the mud has caked, you can break it off and use a suede brush to remove the rest of the dirt.

How To Clean Faux Suede

Faux suede is cheaper, more durable, and more stain-resistant than regular suede. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to clean it. You can use a suede brush (or even a toothbrush) to brush away dirt and dust. Stains can be spot cleaned with a little bit of vinegar, vodka, or rubbing alcohol.

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How To Wash Suede Shoes

They might not be so obvious on black suede shoes, but water can really mess up the look and feel of a suede shoe. You should never wash your suede shoes, especially in the washing machine. BUT if there are stains that just won’t go away, there’s one unique trick you can use.

A woman discovered that micellar water (normally used to remove makeup) was ace as removing stains and dirt on suede. Put a little bit of micellar water on a cotton pad or towel, and gently wipe the shoes down.

How To Dry Clean Suede

If all else fails, dry cleaning should do the trick. Sending off your shoes to a dry cleaner every time they get dirty isn’t the most affordable option. But if you have a pair you’re just about to give up on, a good dry clean can work wonders.

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How To Care For Suede Shoes

  • Prevention is better than cure. Spray your suede shoes with a suede protector to prevent marks and stains.
  • As much as possible, keep your suede leather shoes dry. Store them in a place where they won’t get damp, and opt for another pair when it looks like it’s gonna rain.
  • Do not wrap your suede shoes in plastic. Suede needs some room to breathe to keep them looking as great as the day you got them. Store them in a dust bag or wrap them in tissue paper instead.
  • When not in use, or during cleaning, stuff crumpled paper in the shoe. This helps it retain its shape.

Conclusion

There you have it—all the ways you can safely and effectively clean suede. Next time your suede shoes get dirty, don’t despair. Just follow these tips, and they’ll be good as new!