While boots are great as a year-round shoe to wear, certain kinds of boots just scream "winter." When it comes to suede boots or booties, they're very much winter shoes. The chic material can look so good when the cold weather hits and goes well with dark-toned outfits you might wear when it's cold and drab outside.
But winter can also mean snow, which also unfortunately means salt to melt that snow and ice. Basically, winter brings salt stains, mud from melting snow, and so many more factors that could ruin suede boots. So what do you do when a night out in your cute new boots ends with you stepping in snow and getting salt stains? Obviously, you're going to want to clean them, but suede isn't a material that you can just splash water on and call it a day. Much like cleaning your UGG boots, cleaning suede boots is particular in its method. Shoe Tree Plastic
Suede shoes of any kind are compromised when they're wet, which is why snow is not a great friend to suede. As Stridewise reports, even just a little water can leave stains on your suede boots. The best thing to do in this case is dry them off in a dabbing motion to soak up as much water as possible. You can also use waterproofing spray on your favorite suede boots so that if you do accidentally get them wet, they'll repel the water easier and hopefully prevent staining.
Keep in mind that if you can't get your boots wet, then that means you can't use water to clean dirt off either. As Good Housekeeping writes, you can purchase a specially made suede cleaner to get grime off instead of soap and water. Any good suede cleaner would suffice in this case. Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for the best results.
As Who What Wear reports, "investing" in a suede brush is a must. They're inexpensive and work to brush the fibers so that any stain or dirt loosens and comes right out. A toothbrush that is no longer being used is a solid at-home option if you don't have a real suede cleaning brush around. Many suede cleaners will also require you to have a cleaning brush. When brushing, move in the direction of the fibers only to avoid entrenching the residue deeper into the shoe, making the stain worse.
And with that, erasers are also great for tougher stains that the brush or cleaner hasn't been able to remove. Additionally, a pencil eraser could work as well, provided it's not stained with pencil markings. Whatever you're using, be sure to apply a reasonable amount of force to rub out the stain (without applying so much pressure that you damage the fibers).
If you have really light-colored suede boots, especially white ones, Real Simple recommends white vinegar as a great at-home fix. Use a gentle, soft cloth of cotton, an eraser (again, make sure it's clean and has no pencil residue on it), and that handy dandy suede brush, along with the vinegar. This method includes all of our tips so far: Blot away the moisture, run with the eraser to get rid of the marking, and then use a cloth dipped in white vinegar to carefully rub the stain to get it out.
As Insider states, less is more when it comes to using vinegar. Only use a little bit, being as gentle as possible. Air dry your boots once you're satisfied with the stain (or lack thereof). Finally, use the brush to rub out any leftover residue as the last step.
A lesser-thought-about problem with suede boots can be their shape. Who What Wear advises putting scrunched up newspaper or used computer paper inside your suede shoes to help them hold their form. The goal is to put as much newspaper in the toe of the shoe as possible, which is most likely to flatten as time goes on. The newspaper also picks up moisture, so if you accidentally got your shoes stuck in a puddle and they soaked through, the newspaper will hopefully soak it up, kind of like a wet phone in rice.
You can leave newspaper in your shoes in general to help them retain their shape, but it's especially helpful to fill them with paper as you're cleaning them. This is because it's easy to bend and distort the shoes out of shape as you work on removing stains.
Stridewise also recommends purchasing a shoe tree if you don't want to use newspaper. Not only is this great for holding the shape of a shoe, but it's an effective way to dry them out, too, especially if you've used a vinegar treatment, cleaner, or another process on the boots and need them to air out.
Anything oily in general is going to leave a tough stain on suede boots. This is where another home ingredient comes in handy: cornstarch. Better Homes & Gardens explains that putting cornstarch on top of the stain will help soak up any oil left over. Use your suede brush to clean it off and buff out the shoe a few hours later and see if that oil mark is gone. If not, keep doing this until that there's no stain in sight.
Unfortunately, cornstarch won't save all of your suede shoes from stains. For stains that have already dried, try using dish soap to lather over the stain (without water). Let it sit for 10 minutes and use a slightly wet cloth to blot away the soap and stain. Don't get the shoe wet; this step is only to pick up the soap. Then air dry your shoes and buff them out with your brush.
There are other things you probably already own that can also be used to clean suede shoes. Nike, which has several suede sneakers in its lines, suggests using rubbing alcohol instead of white vinegar, which works in the same way. The brand also suggests hydrogen peroxide for blood stains, which are generally very tough to get out. For this, you'd take a cotton ball dipped in hydrogen peroxide and dab at the stain. Let them air dry and continue to repeat this process if the stain doesn't come out.
Nike also recommends using your freezer if you get hard, sticky gunk on your suede boots or shoes. This includes gum or wax. If you happen to find this stuck on the top or bottom of your shoe, stick the affected shoe in the freezer and wait for the gunk to harden. The freezer makes it easier to scrape these substances off your shoe in hopefully one clean go and without much residue leftover. If you have any oil or other stain left after taking it off, make sure to use your cleaner or one of these other methods to get the stain out.
Shoe Shield Protector Hopefully, these methods and tips help you this winter when stains and debris unfortunately make their way onto your cute, chic suede boots.