Suede is beautiful, valuable and highly delicate. Most types of suede will not tolerate heavy staining or aggressive cleaning treatments including machine washing. There are however effective yet sparing ways to lift stains and clean suede without causing damage or alteration to the fabric itself.
NB: If possible, you should always use specialised cleaning services when dealing with stains on suede.
What you need to know first: Before attempting any cleaning treatment on the suede item, determine whether or not the suede is genuine or what’s called faux leather or faux fabric. Faux items can be washed conventionally in the washing machine without too much risk. Usually, the tag of the suede item will tell you what type of material you are dealing with. Read the tag carefully as even some faux leathers require dry cleaning.
Remember to: Keep genuine suede away from water or moisture. Some of the more delicate types of suede can sustain permanent water stains. When dealing with a water stain, dab as much of the liquid as possible and let the item air dry for as long as necessary.
Stain removal process:
Begin the suede treatment by fluffing up the nap. The nap is all the small hairs so to say, which give suede its unique feel and appearance. Fluffing up the nap is best done using a soft, cotton towel – rub the towel gently across the stained area until all nap appears fluffy.
Fluffing up the nap will loosen up and remove any hard particles which may be part of the stain. Once you have done this, treat the stained area without chemicals but rub the stain using a clean pencil eraser. The idea of using a pencil eraser is to spare suede from the ill effects of formulated stain removers. Chemical treatment should be resorted to only if the eraser didn’t yield the right results.
If the stain is still visible after the eraser treatment, dampen a soft cloth and use only a sparing amount (possibly diluted) of white vinegar. Be very gentle and minimise contact between towel and suede through blotting NOT rubbing.
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After treating the affected area, let the suede dry up for a bit and determine if the cleaning had an effect. If the stain is still visible repeat the process – patience is a virtue in this case.
You can buy a special suede brush to remove any leftover dirt from the stain once the suede is dry. Be very delicate when using the brush though and minimise contact between the surfaces.