The Benefits of Professional Suede Cleaning

Many of us care greatly about taking care of our belongings, especially our clothing. Because our clothing allows us to show off our personality, style, and creativity, many of us invest significant time and money in building our ideal wardrobes. As such, cleaning and caring for clothing items and other textile belongings can often be a big concern for many people.

Certain clothing items are even somewhat infamous for being difficult to clean – silk, wool, leather, and suede for example. Suede in particular has a bit of a reputation.  Many people even avoid buying it because they don’t want the hassle of the cleaning and maintenance that it requires.

Though suede garments need proper cleaning from time to time, it doesn’t have to be complicated. While buying a DIY suede cleaning kit may seem cost-effective, it can become expensive and frustrating. Not to mention, you may not be able to clean particularly stubborn stains, such as wine or mud, and can end up ruining your suede garment for good. A better idea is to send your delicate suede item to a professional service for the best results.

What Is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather made from the underside of the animal skin, making it softer, thinner, and more supple than traditional leather. Suede most often comes from lambskin, but it can also come from goats, deer, pigs, and other animals.

Suede has a very specific texture and a luxurious appearance, which has made it a highly desirable textile choice for centuries. Typically, it is very soft and smooth to the touch, with a napped appearance.

There are a few different types of suede. The following are the most common types:

  • Sheepskin suede: Sheepskin suede is the softest and lightest form of suede. It is highly prized for its delicacy and smooth nap.
  • Cowhide suede: Cowhide suede is the toughest and most durable form of suede; its exact texture and nap will depend on the cow’s age. Sometimes, cowhide suede is called split cowhide, rawhide, or bush coat.
  • Pigskin suede: Pigskin suede typically has a short nap, and it is relatively thick and tough.

Despite its reputation as a delicate, luxurious fabric, suede is quite durable, especially in comparison with cloth fabrics. As such, suede is often used to make coats, jackets, handbags, and footwear. When properly cared for, it can be long-lasting and a great investment.

Why Is Suede So Difficult to Clean?

Like standard leather, suede is a bit more complicated to clean in comparison with conventional cloth fabrics. The material has a smooth and velvety feel and a porous structure, meaning it’s prone to smearing and scuffing. Its open-pored surface absorbs liquids easily, making it more challenging to take out stains.

Professional cleaning services will always be the safest and most comprehensive option when it comes to cleaning your suede items. However, there are certain steps you can take to care for your suede so that cleaning needs are minimal. When wearing suede or using suede products like handbags and wallets, do your best to avoid water, as it can cause staining and discoloration.

Is there rain in the forecast today? Then it’s probably best to hold off wearing your suede boots. If your suede does come in contact with water, you can take it to a professional cleaner to prevent any further damage to your item and ensure it’s cleaned properly. If you wait too long, the liquid can cause irreversible degradation and discoloration.

Cleaning Suede Shoes: When You May Need Professional Suede Cleaning Services

The nature of footwear — constantly coming in contact with the pavement, dirt, water, mud, and anything else that can be found on the ground — means that these items often require additional care and cleaning. Thanks to its beauty, style, suppleness, and pliability, suede is commonly used to make shoes and boots. Correctly caring for your suede footwear will help to protect its appearance and ensure its durability and quality for many years to come.

The most important part of suede maintenance is keeping your shoes in a cool, dry, and dark place. For example, leaving your suede boots by a window can cause discoloration from the sun’s rays over time. Likewise, keeping your shoes in a bathroom cupboard can leave them vulnerable to humidity, which can also cause damage.

Let’s look at the different types of soiling you might experience with your suede items and how you can get them to look like new again.

Light Soiling

Light soiling from types of general use and everyday stains like dirt and dust, can often be lifted by an at-home suede cleaning kit and a little elbow grease. However, if you’re not experienced in cleaning suede materials, you may want to turn to a professional to handle even minor stains. Without the proper tools and knowledge, you may end up causing more damage to your shoes, boots, or other suede items.

Heavy Soiling

Heavily soiled suede pieces will nearly always require specialized care and attention from a professional cleaning service. For instance, if you wear your favorite suede shoes to work every day for months at a time, they’ll likely need a deep cleaning and some TLC. While this type of soiling may lead some people to believe it’s better to toss the shoes, most professional cleaners can work their magic and bring your suede back to life.

When it comes to both light and heavy soiling, professional cleaning is usually the safest and most thorough method for cleaning your suede. With professional cleaning services, you can feel confident that your suede will retain its beautiful appearance, soft natural texture, and can last for many years to come.

Suede Maintenance: Help Your Garments and Shoes Last

Regular maintenance, consistent care, and proper storage are imperative to keeping your suede clothing, shoes, boots, and other suede items clean and in their best possible condition. Good maintenance and storage practices go a long way to ensuring that your suede belongings remain in their best possible condition.


When you buy a new suede item — whether it’s a clothing item, footwear, handbag, or another piece — the first thing you should do is waterproof it before use. Waterproofing your suede is easily done.

All you will need is a high-quality suede and/or leather water and stain protectant spray. Following the directions on your spray, apply before you use your suede item(s) and let dry completely before you wear or use the item. Most experts advise reapplying this spray at least two or three times per year. This step can help protect your suede item in between professional cleanings.


Before storing your suede shoes away for the season, check whether you should take them in for cleaning to avoid any stains from setting deep in the fabric while in storage. In addition, place your suede items in acid-free boxes or cloth shoe bags when they are not in use. Store them in a dry, moisture-free place. Using wooden shoe trees on suede footwear items can be especially helpful to maintain the shape and structure of suede shoes and boots.

Styling and Care

How and when you choose to wear and use your suede pieces can play a significant role in the ongoing maintenance of your pieces. For example, water, oil, ink, and salt can be some of the most difficult stains to remove from suede fabrics. If rain or snow is in the forecast, it’s probably not the best time to wear a suede jacket or suede boots.

Try to avoid writing or drawing with ink or oil-based pens and paints anywhere near your suede belongings. Light-colored suede can also be susceptible to color transfer from other fabrics as well. Dark denim, in particular, can rub off onto suede. You may want to think twice before pairing your suede jackets, handbags, or shoes with dark wash fabrics like denim.

How Professional Suede Cleaning Saves Time and Money

As mentioned above, suede is notoriously difficult to clean due to its porous velvet material. This fabric is also known to get dirty fairly easily, so if you have several shoes, coats, and other items made out of this material, it’s best to rely on a professional suede cleaner to keep them looking in top shape.

Here are the top reasons you should use a professional cleaning service for your suede clothing and shoes.

1. Common Cleaning Methods Won’t Work

While your cotton and polyester clothes and shoes can generally be cleaned at home with gentle detergent and water, this method should be used with caution on suede.  Water and spotting agents can leave rings and residue on your suede garments.  Though it’s natural to immediately take to the internet when looking to get rid of a stain, it can lead to some damaging advice that can cost you more in the long run.

Trying to clean suede on your own can cause more damage than intended, leading to more extensive repairs or potentially even leading to you having to replace the item. Rather than wasting money on buying new suede shoes or a new jacket, use a professional cleaning service to remove stubborn stains.

2. Professional Cleaning Is More Time-Efficient

When it comes to stubborn stains or damaged suede, time is of the essence. If you choose to clean your suede shoes or garment yourself, it could take hours or days to get a stubborn stain out successfully, and that’s if you have enough time on your hands. This means you can’t wear your favorite suede shoes or jacket in the meantime.

Taking the time out of your busy schedule to clean suede can leave you feeling frustrated. Rather than waiting until you have enough time to do it yourself, drop off your suede item at a professional cleaner for a fast turnaround.

3. Professionals Have the Expertise

Simply put, professionals know how to clean any stain. Whether it’s a dirt, mud, wine, oil, grease, or water stain, they have the tools and knowledge to tackle each one. For professionals, cleaning suede and other delicate fabrics is an everyday task, which means they know which solution to use to restore suede to its original condition.

For other stains, they may use a bone spatula, wide suede brush, bath towel, degreaser, or another tool to get the job done correctly. Trying DIY suede cleaning at home may require you to go out and buy various tools and kits, which leads to expenses that may not provide the results you need.

While you may have gotten away with blotting out most of the stain at home, professional cleaning services are much better suited to cleaning and caring for suede while ensuring the fabric’s integrity stays intact during the process. With a professional dry cleaning service, you can save time, money, and effort, and ensure your items always look fresh and clean.

Trust Classic Drycleaners With All Your Suede Cleaning Needs!

With over 50 years of experience serving the greater Harrisburg area, Classic Drycleaners is a proven and trusted leader in dry cleaning, general textile care, and many other services. We pride ourselves on our peerless customer service and dedication to our community. We are the only full-service dry cleaners in central Pennsylvania specializing in suede and leather cleaning and care.

All of our suede and leather cleaning is done on-site by expert leather care professionals. You can feel confident that your suede and leather belongings will be in the best possible hands and receive truly high-quality service. Our personal, customizable care means that your suede items will stay clean and fresh while retaining their natural texture and beauty.

Our suede and leather care services include painting, discoloration resolution, stain removal, general cleaning.  We also specialiize in suede and leather re-dying and restoration of vintage pieces. Because suede can be delicate and requires extra care and attention, it’s well worth investing in trusted, skilled, and professional cleaning services, like those offered by Classic Drycleaners.

In addition to Classic Drycleaners’ comprehensive, expert suede and leather cleaning and care, we offer many other cleaning and textile services. These services include, but are not limited to, custom alterations, tailoring, textile, and clothing repairs, standard dry cleaning and shirt laundry, wash and fold services, and many more. We work out of eight convenient locations throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact us today and we will be happy to serve you!

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