Q and Answer: Suede and Water
Avi writes: I recently picked up a pair of Clarks Dessert Boots, of the Oakwood Suede variety. Continuing your recent shoe care theme, how do I go about keeping suede shoes clean and unmarked? Can I waterproof shoes of this type? I’ve noticed a few minor watermarks already—am I stuck with these discolorations?
Suede is extremely difficult to keep clean and unmarked, particularly if it’s a lighter color. Even water can leave a spot and ruin the nap of the leather.
There are a couple of paths you can follow.
When your shoes are new, you can spray them with a silicone-based water sealant. These are available in the shoe section of your local drugstore, or from your shoe repair shop. A few coats (let them dry thoroughly in between) won’t turn them into galoshes, but it will help if you get caught out there.
You can also buy a suede kit. Most are two tools and a stain remover. The tools are essentially a gum eraser, for rubbing the soil off, and a brush, for bringing up the nap. If you get a spot, this can really help.
The third course of action is probably the best, though. Just accept that they’ll get dinged up. It’s pretty much the nature of the beast.