Q And Answer: Suede And Water

April 28, 2010

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.