Do-It-Yourself Suede Shoe Repair

Keep your suede shoes looking stylish with a little footwear care.

Photo: Harrison/Valueline/Getty Images

Feeling blue without your trusty suede shoes? A stunning suede kick can stay a stylista's staple shoe for years, so long as it remains in good condition. Unfortunately, suede doesn't always survive the test of time, even with pre-emptive water- and stain-proofing. A once-pretty pair may quickly show signs of scuffing, stains and water damage, or even unsightly tears that knock them out of the style running completely. However, a girl can still bring her fab footwear back to life with a little DIY action.

Suede Stains

If your suede shoes are looking a little dusty, or seem spotted with dry, crusted stains, repairing the nap is a cinch. Dry stains and scuff marks can be brushed out in even, same-direction strokes with suede cleaning brushes. A damp cloth dabs out wet stains, while the light application of a nail brush on damp suede can save a shoe from an unfortunate oil stain. Struggling with seriously stubborn stains? Steel wool and white vinegar may change suede's texture for the worse, but take unwanted grime with them.

Torn Suede

Serious scuffs, accidental tearing and worn-out spots can discourage a diva from donning her fave suedes, but these imperfections don't have to be permanent. Professionals fix tears and holes in suede by making an invisible patch on the inside of the shoe, which you can imitate with a leather repair kit. Torn seams can be temporarily glued back down with leather craft cement or, for a more permanent fix, stitched right back up with new leather thread.

Water Damage

Think your suede shoes seem sturdy? Although suede can be a tough material, it's no match for the stains and stiffness of water damage. Before throwing in the towel on your shoes, however, you can make a few quick repairs to restore the nap quality. Some options include brushing with a soft bristle brush, rubbing an eraser on water stains and using steam treatments. If no solutions are successful, you can instead match the shoe color to the stain color by misting the entire shoe with water.


Most of your suede frustrations will come from surface stains that just don't respond to DIY treatments. Other than keeping a professional leather cleaner on call, the best way to make sure your suede shoes stay looking stylish is to prevent staining from happening. In addition to avoiding wet, muddy or messy environments, you can coat your shoes with stain-proofing and waterproofing products that keep unexpected water and other damaging substances at bay.

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