Ah suede – leather’s other brother who just turned out to be a bit different than all the others (materially-speaking). He also supposedly turned out to be even harder to work with, from a cleaning perspective.
Regardless of the situation, just like those relatives you detest visiting during the holidays, you still have to clean a suede jacket eventually. So how do you wash one? Luckily, I’ve done some behind the scenes work to figure this out so you can still love suede as much as those relatives.
Quick Tip #1: Suede is softer than leather and can get easily stained or dirty. Suede and rain also do not mix well, so if you are in a more rain-prone area (I’m thinking of you, Seattle), it’s probably best to opt for more waterproof clothing.
Quick Tip #2: It is possible to actually make the suede jacket more waterproof from the use of a suede protector kit if you really don’t care what mother nature throws at you. You can buy one online or at your general department store that has items related to suede and leather.
For Muddy or Crusty Stains
Use a suede brush or bristle brush to remove the crust. Sometimes doing this will already make the stain disappear. If not, keep brushing to fluff up the suede material (called “nap”) and loosen any remaining dirt or debris. Sometimes the fibers will become more loosened up so that you can use another method here to remove the stain.
A person I came across recently has had much luck with using rough sandpaper to clean a suede jacket. What you do is gently sandpaper the affected area. Because the sandpaper is rough, using it will keep the same rough appearance of the suede. He’s said he even cleaned a blood stain from his light brown suede jacket with sandpaper, which makes me think it could lead to being a great episode of the CSI series. He’s used other cleansers which only stained or embedded the stain deeper within his jacket and therefore, sandpaper was his best option.
Using Leather Cleaners
Although not the most common way of cleaning a suede jacket, some have had great luck using leather cleaners. It’s important to test the cleaner on a small, inside surface of the jacket to make sure it doesn’t stain the suede. If you’re looking to dry clean your suede jacket later, just know that adding any sorts of chemicals to the material can possibly interfere with chemicals used during dry cleaning.
For Water Stains
If it happens to rain or you spill water on your suede jacket, use a towel or soft cloth to blot as much of the liquid as possible. Be sure to get the liquid out immediately as, even though some leather can survive in the rain, suede is known to be more sensitive to it. Gently dab the wet area and never press the liquid into the suede. Use the cloth’s natural ability to absorb the water by lightly touching it. Once dry, if a stain remains, use a suede brush, suede eraser, or clean pencil eraser to remove the stain.
Stains On The Jacket Liner
Mix one tablespoon of laundry detergent along with four cups of warm water in a large bowl. Use a clean, dampened sponge to go over the whole jacket liner with the solution. Squeeze out any excess liquid as needed so it doesn’t drip on the jacket or over-saturate it. Afterwards, rinse the sponge with water and wipe the liner clean with it. Let the jacket dry completely before wearing or hanging it. A good tip is to wash the liner with the jacket turned inside out.
Treating Oil and Sweat Stains
There are multiple ways to get those pit stains out of your suede jacket (actually, they’re usually around the collar or cuffs). They are cornstarch, cornflour, or baby powder. Sprinkle a thin layer of one of these over the stain and leave it on overnight or for a couple hours. The powder will absorb the stain and lift it out of the material. Use a suede brush to remove the powder afterwards. Repeat as needed.
Steam cleaning is a rather uncommon way to clean a suede jacket as you’ll need to be careful on not over-saturating the material. One way to avoid this is to hang the jacket in a steamy bathroom or while taking a shower. This is also a great way to de-wrinkle your jacket.
Tips For Tougher Stains
Tip #1 – Use a suede eraser or pencil eraser (a new one – that dry and used pencil eraser from second grade may only make things worse) to take out the stain. Most suede erasers can be found online or at major stores and are usually found in suede kits like this one on Amazon.
Rub the eraser across the stain with gentle pressure and know that it may take a while before the stain is removed. With patience, most stains can be removed. Use a suede brush to fluff up the nap once you’re done with the eraser.
Tip #2 – Use a vinegar solution to do your bidding. Take one part white vinegar and mix it with two parts water. Lightly dampen a soft cloth, cotton balls, or cotton swabs with the mixed solution and massage the stained area gently. Have the affected area dry completely afterwards.
Sometimes the stain just refuses to come out, and in these situations, it’s advised to see a professional cleaner who will dry clean your suede jacket. Normally, suede jackets are dry cleaned bi-annually mainly to remove long-held smells from wear.
Clean A Suede Jacket The Right Way, Many Ways
Suede is a softer and more vulnerable material than regular leather. It can stain quicker and is much harder to clean. Being the harder brother to work with, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon him entirely (trust me, I feel the same sometimes).
Knowing how to clean suede the right way is as important as knowing the right way to tie a tie or wearing the right clothing with your leather jacket. Normal cleaning solutions like soap and water can actually worsen suede. Knowing the solutions above will help you whether you’re currently in distress or for the future.
And one more tip. Treat your suede jacket with a suede protector spray. It will help protect your jacket from any potential oil or water stains from the beginning. Or, once you’ve cleaned up your jacket, treat it with the spray to be ready for the next spill.
Leave a comment below on what you thought was the most interesting or helpful!
Read More: What To Wear With A Leather Jacket