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La_chica_gomela's avatar

Owners of suede shoes: Can you give me the run-down?

Asked by La_chica_gomela (12493 points ) December 22nd, 2009

I’ve always been apprehensive about buying suede because I’m extremely tough on my shoes. My walk from my front door to my car may involve puddles of water, mud, snow, slush, etc., and I don’t want shoes that are going to be ruined forever—can I buy suede or should I stay away? What has your experience been with suede boots + winter?

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15 Answers

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lillycoyote's avatar

The only pair of suede shoes I have are a pair of Clarke’s and they are pretty tough. They have stood up to pretty much everything I’ve thrown at them. I was hosing them off just a moment ago, actually. :) Well, they don’t still look brand new, but they clean up pretty nice. That’s all I know.

jaytkay's avatar

I wouldn’t wear them in winter if they salt the roads.

Nikwax has a Nubuck and Suede treatment, but I haven’t tried it.

My winter/hiking boots were kind of suede, with a very short nap (nap? is that the right word?) More interested in water resistance than suede, I simply treated them with Nikwax Aqueous wax. It smoothed the finish, they don’t look like suede anymore. But they are in great shape after many years and miles.

Open_Your_Mind's avatar

Don’t get them wet or dirty.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Oh, another question I forgot: What about Faux suede?
(Too late to edit!)

@Open_Your_Mind and @sndfreQ: I’m looking for something a lot more specific than that! I’m looking for actual advice! ie the answers to the actual questions I asked.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

There are protective sprays that can help.I use a weak solution of vinegar and water to clean salt from them and a pink eraser can also bring the nap back up.I just made all that up;)

sndfreQ's avatar

I had blue suede shoes…I treated them like regular leather, and within a month or two, they lost their “nap;” they started to look blotchy, which I presume was from staining rather than actual wearing down of the nap.

A cursory look on google turned this up: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/36094/cleaning_suede.html?cat=6

So it looks like you could do it, with proper preparation and care…which I did not do!

Freedom_Issues's avatar

I have had many suede shoes in my life. The suede boots I’m wearing right now, I’ve had for 6 years and are still in pretty good condition. I have tromped through snow in them, and they have been in the rain with me. It is a must that you buy the suede protective spray. Hold the can 6 inches away from the boot or shoe, and spray evenly to cover all suede surfaces. Wait until they dry, (usually a few hours) and then spray again. They will get a bit darker when they are sprayed, but will go back to their original color when dry. Spray about once a year, depending on how much you wear them. If you don’t use the spray, your shoes or boots will become hard and crispy, and there’s no remedy when that happens. I do recommend getting darker suede anything, because lighter suede discolors easily and you can’t just wipe it clean.

Buttonstc's avatar

I used to wear pretty expensive Orthopedic shoes which happened to be sued.

As mentioned, there are protective sprays which DON’T ruin the nap the way waxy substances. The product is similar to Scotchguard which allows whatever it’s used on to maintain it’s character.

An absolute essential is a small wire brush. This is what restores the nap. Use it often.

With those two products, you should be fine. But as mentioned, watch out for areas which have been salted as this leaves an ugly white line as it dries. The scotchguard can’t prevent it as the salt sits on top of the surface.

The best thing to do if they do get splashed or drizzles on is to promptly use terry cloth to dry them to absorb as much of the moisture as possible. This also spreads out whatever little dampness is left dispersing it evenly.

Water spots are caused by allowing them to dry on the shoes. By rubbing vigorously with the terrycloth, any remaining moisture dries evenly rather than in isolated spots. And,of course, a vigorous brushing with the wire brush afterward.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Freedom_Issues and @Buttonstc: Wow, excellent answers!

Zen_Again's avatar

From your details, I’d say there’s a reason you haven’t bought them until now. You’d just destroy them pretty quickly and just get frustrated. This isn’t life and death here, it’s just suede. Don’t bother.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

I have suede boots, suede shoes, and a suede jacket. My best advice is to always watch the weather. If it looks like rain, don’t wear them. If there’s salt on the ground, don’t wear them. The good part of this is I’ve had all three for many years. As for actually treatments, I’ve found that everything out there will ruin the look, so I just watch the weather.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@SarasWhimsy: For me, that means: don’t buy suede. I live in a swamp.

Open_Your_Mind's avatar

@sndfreQ
If you get them wet they get all yucked up and water stained. Once dirty they are very hard to clean. At least that has been my experience.
Based on the facts in your question, suede shoes do not sound like something to wear in your area.

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