Suede shoes are beautiful, but like most beautiful appearances, they require some effort. Unlike most normal shoes, suede shoes must be cleaned differently. The wrong approach to tidying up your suede shoes could have you searching for a new pair, so we’ve put together a guide for cleaning suede shoes without the drama.

What is Suede?
Suede is a type of leather that’s made from animals. It’s known for being soft, but it’s not nearly as durable as standard leather goods.

What You’ll Need
When it comes to cleaning your suede shoes, there is more than just one way to get the job done. If you’re just maintaining your shoes, you should clean them after every use with a brush. No, not just any brush, but a suede brush, of which there are different kinds.

You can find natural bristle brushes, combination brushes that use natural fibers and bristles of brass, or a Crepe brush used to clean very delicate material. It’s basically like a pencil eraser. Don’t overwhelm yourself, though — a normal, natural bristle brush will work fine for most people.

How to Clean Simple Stains
If your suede shoes are just a bit dusty and grimy, you don’t need to do a great deal of work. Just brush the dirt off using your brush, but brush only in one direction. If you’re dealing with scuffs, you should brush back and forth because a scuff is not a stain; a scuff is where the suede’s grain is pressed down, so brushing back and forth undoes that impacted effect.

How to Clean Less Simple Stains
If there are marks that won’t come out with the brush, this is where the Crepe brush comes in handy. Sometimes people just use a pencil eraser to do this work, though. For utilizing the Crepe brush, rub the mark with the brush, and the mark should come out.

You can also use white vinegar for a particularly tricky stain. Just apply the vinegar and wait; then use your brush (not the Crepe brush) to rub the stain back and forth.

Some people recommend using sandpaper or steel wool for the toughest stains. Just remember, you will make the suede look “rough” if you do this, and you should even out the rest of the look if you must use harsh materials to clean them.

Suede shoes and pretty much anything else made of suede takes effort to maintain but can be appropriately done when following the right instructions. If you’re tired of the suede life, some alternatives that look like suede give that lovely appearance for less effort. Considering swapping your damaged suede for Alcantara, SuededCotton, and UltraSuede, all of which are non-animal derived products, sustainable, easier to clean, and longer-lasting.