How to Clean Suede Tennis Shoes – 5 Easy Steps

Suede tennis shoes can get dirty pretty quickly and require some special care to keep them looking their best. Unlike leather shoes, suede can’t just be wiped down with a damp cloth.

The delicate, napped surface needs more attention to lift dirt while avoiding damage. With the right supplies and techniques, you can safely clean your suede shoes at home.

Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:

  • Suede brush or cleaning block – This is essential for brushing away loose dirt and restoring the nap. Look for one with stiff bristles made specifically for suede.
  • Soft cloth – A microfiber cloth or an old T-shirt works well. Avoid using paper towels or other rough fabrics that could pull the suede fibers.
  • Suede cleaner or shampoo – Use a gentle formula made for suede and nubuck shoes. Avoid regular shoe cleaners, dish soap, or laundry detergent.
  • Old toothbrush – Helpful for scrubbing stubborn stains in crevices.
  • Paper towels – For blotting away excess cleaner and water.

Now let’s go through the 5 easy steps:

Step 1: Remove loose dirt and debris

Use the suede brush to gently whisk away any dust or dirt particles from the surface of the shoes. Apply light pressure and brush in multiple directions. This will lift dirt from the pores while restoring the nap.

Step 2: Create a cleaning solution

Mix a small amount of suede cleaner with warm water according to the product instructions. You want a light, foamy solution. Dip the toothbrush into the mixture.

Step 3: Spot clean stains

Use the toothbrush and cleaning solution to gently scrub any visible stains or discoloration. Avoid vigorous circular scrubbing motions. Lightly work the foam into the suede and blot frequently with paper towels.

Step 4: Clean the entire shoe

Once stains are treated, apply foam cleaner all over the shoe using the toothbrush or cloth. Gently scrub and lift dirt but don’t oversaturate the suede.

Step 5: Brush shoes again

Once shoes are fully cleaned and dried, give them another good brushing with the suede brush. This restores the texture and lifts any crushed fibers.

After following these easy cleaning steps, your suede shoes should look revived and feel soft again! Just be sure to allow them sufficient drying time before wearing them. Stuff them with paper towels to fully absorb moisture and speed drying.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Suede Shoes:

  • Don’t use heat to dry shoes – Avoid using hairdryers, direct sunlight, or other heat sources. Allow to fully air dry to prevent damage.
  • Don’t use water alone – Always mix the suede cleaner with water to lift dirt safely. Water by itself can create water spots.
  • Don’t scrub too hard – Aggressive scrubbing and friction can damage the delicate suede fibers. Be gentle.
  • Don’t use the wrong products – Suede cleaners are specially formulated for this material. Regular shoe cleaners, detergents, and bleach will ruin suede.
  • Don’t oversaturate – Excessive water can cause permanent stains, misshaping, and shrinkage. Use a light foam and blot frequently.


With the proper tools and techniques, you can keep your suede shoes looking stylish and feeling soft. Follow these simple steps for safe cleaning and care. Periodic gentle cleaning will extend the life of your suede shoes.

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