what to do when your suede shoes get wet

What to Do When Your Suede Shoes Get Wet

Suede shoes have been a favourite amongst sneaker heads and fashionistas around the world. The luxurious material has a unique look and feel that can elevate any outfit. However, suede is also notoriously difficult to care for – especially when it gets wet. In this article, we will explore what happens to suede shoes in the rain, what to do when your suede shoes get wet, and how you can protect them from water damage.

What is Suede?

what is suede leather

Suede is a type of leather that is made from the inside of an animal’s hide. The material has been deconstructed to have a velvet-like surface, which makes it very soft and comfortable to wear. Suede shoes are popular because they are very resilient and can withstand light rain when properly waterproofed.

What Happens When Suede Gets Wet?

If you have ever owned a pair of suede shoes, you probably already know what happens when suede gets wet. For those who may not be familiar, you might be wondering will water ruin suede boots? There are a number of reasons why you should avoid wearing suede shoes in the rain. In fact, it’s not just suede that you should watch out for – here’s 10 ways Vancouver rain can damage your shoes.

Rain deteriorates suede

what happens when suede shoes get wet

Unlike leather shoes, suede is not moisture resistant. When suede gets wet, it becomes stiff and brittle after it dries – deteriorating its material and making it prone to permanent damage.

Rain makes suede fade in colour

Not only does rain deteriorate your suede shoes or boots, but it can also cause the colour to fade – leaving it looking dull and lifeless. This is because water seeps into the suede and causes the dye to bleed – resulting in an uneven and patchy finish.

Wet suede is prone to stretching

Suede leather is a porous material and is prone to stretching when it gets wet, especially when not properly waterproofed. This can cause your shoes to lose its shape and become uncomfortable to wear.

Rain leaves watermarks on suede

dirty suede shoes

Another common issue with wearing suede in the rain is the appearance of watermarks. These are dark spots that appear on the surface of the suede when it comes into contact with water. Water stains are difficult to remove and can permanently damage your shoes. That’s why they are on our list of stains you should remove right away.

How to Treat Wet Suede Shoes

If you get your favourite pair of suede shoes wet, don’t panic! There are a few steps you can take to salvage them. You will need to act quickly in order to prevent damage. See our steps to fix suede shoes below:

First, remove any excess water by blotting the suede with a clean paper towel or soft cloth. If you have a cedar shoe tree, you can insert it to help retain the shape of your footwear. When cleaning suede shoes, always try to blot in the same direction. Also, avoid rubbing the material, as this will only make the stain worse. You can also try using a soft bristle brush to remove any heavy stains.

Once you’ve removed as much moisture as possible, let your shoes air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area – away from direct sunlight or heat. Never use a blow dryer or excessive heat when drying your suede footwear.

When your shoes are completely dry, you can use a suede brush to restore its nap. Gently brush back and forth using soft to medium pressure, but avoid too much brushing. This will help to fluff up the material and make it look like new again. You may have to repeat as needed.

Despite your efforts, there may be times where no matter what you do – you just can’t bring back the original look and feel of the material. Unfortunately, some damage can be irreparable if the suede becomes too saturated or is not treated quickly enough. We always recommend you consult a professional such as Shoewash Supreme.

For more cleaning recommendations, check out our top shoe cleaning tips!

How to Treat Water Stains on Suede

cleaning suede shoes

Cleaning suede shoes can be a major pain. Depending on the type of stain you are dealing with, your cleaning method may vary. Today, we’ll go over the basic steps on how you can remove stains on your suede shoes. To prepare for this coming winter season, you might also want to check out our guide for cleaning salt stains.

Removing stains on suede

If the watermark is fresh, you can try to remove it with a suede eraser. First, lightly dampen the area with a clean cloth. Then, using circular motions, rub the eraser over the shoes gently until the stain disappears.

For more stubborn stains, you may need to use a suede brush or cleaner. If the watermark is dry, you’ll need to rehydrate the suede before you can start cleaning. To do this, lightly mist the area with a spray bottle and let it sit for a few minutes.

Once the suede is damp, use a brush or cleaner to remove the stain. Pre-treating the stain with a suede cleaner can also help to loosen it before you start brushing. When using any type of chemicals on your shoes, always test in an inconspicuous area first to avoid damaging the suede.

How to make your own cleaning solution

shoe cleaning solution

When it comes to cleaning suede shoes, it’s important to act quickly. For times when you’re in a pinch, you can make your own cleaning solution at home using white vinegar. Simply follow the steps below to clean suede shoes:

  1. Gently brush your shoes with a nylon brush to remove any loose dirt or mud trapped on the surface.
  2. Stuff your shoes with paper towels to help them retain their shape.
  3. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water.
  4. Using a clean cloth, gently apply the cleaning solution to the stain. Dab in circular motions to rub the mixture into the suede, then left sit for about five minutes.
  5. Afterward, blot the area with a dry paper towel to remove any excess moisture. You may need to repeat this process a few times for tough stains.
  6. When you’re finished, let your shoes air dry completely before wearing them again. Be patient as the drying process can take a few hours.
  7. After your shoes dry, brush them with a suede brush.

If your shoes are badly stained or water damaged, you may need to take them to a professional sneaker cleaner who specializes in suede footwear.

Preventing Water Damage to Suede Shoes

Now that we know the dangers of wearing suede shoes in the rain, let’s explore how you can protect them from water. There are a few things that you can do to help protect your suede shoes from water damage.

Waterproof your suede shoes

waterproofing suede shoes

The best way to protect your shoes is to waterproof them. This can be done by using a water repellent or suede protecting spray on your shoes before you wear them. Apply a suede protector before rain or snow storms to help protect them from water damage.

Prevention is king

This might seem obvious, but another way to protect your suede shoes is to avoid wearing them in the rain. After all, prevention is the best cure.

If you must wear them in the rain, be sure to take them off as soon as possible and let them dry completely in a well-ventilated area. This helps to prevent it from growing bacteria or mold. For more tips, read our article on mistakes to avoid when cleaning shoes.


Now you know what to do when your suede shoes get wet. When you take the time to care for your shoes, you can extend their lifespan and keep them looking great for years to come. With a little bit of effort, you can keep your suede shoes in pristine condition and avoid any water damage. For more shoe care tips, check out our Sneaker Cleaner Blog!

Tags: shoe care tips, shoe cleaning

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