Tricks of the Trade to Care for Suede

May 20, 2017

Suede bag how to care for suede bags

Love the buttery texture and unique sensual appeal of a suede bag but worried about marks and stains? Don’t be. With a few tricks of the trade in your accessories’ maintenance arsenal, you can keep your suede bag looking soft, supple and beautiful for years to come.

When you First get your Suede Bag

Treat with a Water and Stain Protector

The best thing you can do for your suede bag is spray it with a water and stain protector. Softer and more delicate than regular leather, a protector acts to repel potential stains so you can wipe them off before they penetrate the suede.  If you use your suede bag regularly, re-apply the protector every month or so.

Be sure to follow the product instructions and do a test patch to make sure colour is not effected. We recommend brushing your bag before applying the protectant, and again after each coat has dried (several light sprayings are better than a single heavier coating). Good sprays are available at most shoe repair stores (such as Mister Mint), many shoe stores and some supermarkets too.

Suede Bag Maintenance


Regular use of a suede brush (or a soft toothbrush or similar) helps restore suede’s natural ‘nap’. Ideally, this can be done after using your bag or when you bring it out of storage. Brushing also helps loosen and remove visible (and invisible) dirt.

Store in a Dust-bag

Dust is no friend to leather or suede. It can work its way into surface creases and dry it out over time. Store your suede bag in a dust-bag (breathable cotton is best) - problem solved.

Avoid Water

Water can darken the colour of suede as well as harden the surface. Even after water-proofing, it’s best to avoid exposing your suede bag to water. Any water on the surface of your bag should be gently dried as quickly as possible using a soft towel or absorbent paper towels (press, don’t rub).
In the case of a major dousing, use absorbent paper towels to draw out as much water as possible, stuff the bag with paper to maintain its shape, and allow it to air dry naturally (do not apply heat). Once dry, brush the bag to restore the natural nap.

Watch out for Dye Transfer from Clothing

Friction between a non-colour fast clothing and your light coloured suede bag can cause colour transfer. Some dark denims, for example, may be dyed poorly. This is especially the case with indigo dyed denim. If you want to check the colourfastness of your clothing, use a white cotton cloth and rub vigorously. 

Suede Bag Rescue

Cleaning Dry Stains

For smaller dried stains, a suede 'eraser' can be used (these can be found at shoe repair stores, some shoe stores and some hardware stores). To remove marks, gently rub until the marks disappear and then brush with your suede brush to restore the nap. Stubborn marks can be similarly treated with an emery board but take care not to overdo it.

Cleaning Wet Stains

Wet stains (such as water, ink or oil-based substances) are more difficult to treat. If you don't want to fork out for dry cleaning, there are specialty products available for the job. Carefully follow instructions and always do a test patch somewhere inconspicuous. Allow the bag to dry naturally after removing the stain and brush it to restore the nap.

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is the best way to clean and remove stains from your suede bag. If you don’t feel confident about cleaning minor marks and stains yourself, take it to a professional.

Photo by Madi Fitzgerald Photography.

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