What You Need To Know About Cleaning Suede Combat Boots

There has been a huge rise in the popularity of combat boots as a staple fashion item for both men and women. They can be worn year-round for both casual and smart purposes, so keeping them clean and ready to go is a must.

Suede is notoriously difficult to keep looking clean and smart. Thankfully, there are some preventive measures you can take to avoid them becoming worn-looking and some great tips on how to clean them, both daily and thoroughly. Wearing them in wet and cold weather could leave watermarks, stated Grove Collaborative, and cause them to smell if not cleaned and dried out effectively. Whereas wearing them in hot, dry weather could lead to the leather drying out. Therefore, proper maintenance and cleaning are important if you want them to last.

There are plenty of care products available to buy, said The Shoecare Shop, such as a suede brush, suede cleaner and conditioner, or waterproofing spray. Alternatively, many common household items, such as a toothbrush, dish soap, baking powder, and vinegar, can be utilized to keep your suede looking fresh if that's a route you would prefer.

Daily and regular maintenance

As with keeping most things in tip-top condition, regular and sometimes daily, maintenance is the best way. If you stick to a good cleaning regimen, then the cleaning process shouldn't be too time-consuming. Human Life Essentials pointed out that general daily cleaning should include wiping them down after every use with a clean, slightly damp cloth and quickly and effectively taking care of any stains. Storing them somewhere dry and wiping the insides out regularly is also important.

Suede can easily lose its shape if not properly cared for as it is a very thin fabric, so, particularly in the case of tall boots, using some boot supports while they are not in use will keep the fabric nice and straight. Alternatively, a rolled-up newspaper or magazine will do just as well, noted India Today. Using a suede brush once a week will remove scuffs and fluff up the natural fibers of the suede to restore it to its natural, velvety finish. During hot, dry weather, regularly using a good suede conditioner will help to keep the leather soft and supple. Wet weather will require a waterproofing spray to keep them from soaking up moisture and spoiling.

Remove dirt and dried mud

According to BootSpy, the best and most effective method to get rid of mud on your boots is to simply go outside and knock them together by the soles. This will remove the majority of the mud and dirt so that you don't cake up your cleaning tools. If your boots are very muddy, particularly the soles, it might be best to allow the mud to fully dry so it can easily be knocked off in this way.

Do not be tempted to dampen the mud to remove it as this will more than likely cause more damage, said Oureverydaylife, as water and suede do not like each other! They also mentioned that you could use a blunt knife to scrape off any excess caked mud while always making sure to keep the knife at a 45-degree angle to make sure you don't damage the nap of the suede. If there is any mud deeply ingrained, you can use a clean toothbrush to tackle it. Alternatively, you can buy a suede brush, which is specially designed to clean your suede without damaging it. They are usually made from soft rubber and are perfect for getting mud and dust off any type of suede or nubuck.

Always thoroughly dry suede boots

If you get your suede boots wet, try not to panic. Blotting, brushing, and drying are the best ways to fix the problem, said GQ. Blot with a microfiber towel or cloth to soak up as much water as you can, as quickly as you can. Letting the suede dry will create a much worse problem.

Brush the suede to revive the nap, either a suede brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush will work fine. Continue to bush back and forth while blowing the suede with a cool hair drier until the suede is dry. If you are left with watermarks, there are a few things you can do. Dampen the area with the watermark and repeat the steps above, paying particular attention to the edge of the watermark when brushing to ensure it is fully removed.

How To Clean Stuff suggested that sometimes if the stain is not too bad, all that is needed is to rub the mark with a terry toweling cloth and really work up the nap of the fabric. As with many things, often, the best cure is prevention. KIWI recommended a range of protective sprays that can be used to keep your suede footwear waterproof and looking new, no matter the color.

Use a suede eraser

Magic of Clothes recommended using a quality suede eraser to remove scuffs and minor stains. Use your suede brush first to remove any dust and loose dirt. Always remember to follow the nap of the fabric to avoid damaging the suede. If the fibers are going from bottom to top, that's the direction you brush, and also the direction you use your suede eraser.

While suede erasers are great at removing scuffs and fluffing up the fabric to get the suede looking restored and fresh, they are not effective against bad stains. In this case, you would need a cleaning and restoration spray to deal with stains, then make sure the boots are completely dry before you begin to use a suede eraser. Be careful, though, not to make the mistake of using a normal eraser. They may look similar, but a pencil eraser will leave white discoloration on your suede. They aren't designed for this, and they will do more harm than good.

Use baking soda or baby powder

Baking soda is particularly effective if you want to remove oil-based stains from your boots. Cleaning the mark as soon as possible is the most important factor here. If you can deal with it immediately, sprinkle the area with baking soda (baby powder works well, too) and leave it to soak up the oil for 15-20 minutes. Gently brush away the powder, and the stain should be gone.

If you can't deal with it immediately and have to wait until you get home, the stain will have set a little. Boots Pal made the point that dipping them in water or scrubbing them hard at the mark will cause damage. Using a soft cloth to rub the powder into the fabric to allow it to soak up the oil will help to remove the majority of it. If there is still a small amount of residue, use a tiny bit of dish soap on a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently rub the remainder of the mark, then brush up the fabric with a suede brush to finish off the process.

Use vinegar or rubbing alcohol

The acidic nature of rubbing alcohol and vinegar will help break down any stains or marks. As with any liquids when it comes to suede, use them sparingly. You only want to slightly dampen the area where the mark is, not saturate the material, stated Cosmopolitan.

Use a soft cloth and dampen the edge with alcohol or white wine vinegar. Very gently rub back and forth across the mark. While the suede is damp, it will be a different color from the rest of the boot and will be difficult to tell if the mark is removed in its entirety. Wait until it has fully dried so that you can properly assess the area. If there is some of the mark or stain left, repeat the process until it's fully removed. Follow up the process with a good brushing with a rubber suede brush or soft bristle toothbrush.

You can also use white wine vinegar as a general, cost-effective suede cleaner. Mix two parts water with one part white wine vinegar in a spray bottle and spray all over your boots. Use a soft cloth to wipe over the material and let it dry. Fluff up with a suede brush to keep the suede looking fresh and clean.

Use a suede conditioner

You cannot use a regular leather conditioner on suede as it will ruin the fabric, noted Favored Leather. They suggest buying a conditioner designed especially for suede, as a regular leather one will flatten the nap of the suede and ruin the overall look. Suede conditioner is applied in spray form, which helps to hydrate the fabric and keep the fluffy, velvet-like appearance.

If you prefer a more natural approach, Tips Bulletin had a useful recipe for homemade suede conditioner. You will need a quarter of a cup of olive oil, half a cup of vinegar, and 10 drops of your preferred essential oil. Add the products to a spray bottle with a fine mist setting, replace the lid and shake well. Spray across your boots and leave it to settle in. Remember to shake properly to mix all the products together before every use. Use this conditioner once a week if you wear your boots regularly, or if worn occasionally, spray before and after each use.

If you just can't shift a stain

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just can't seem to remove the stain. In this case, you'll need to consult a professional cleaning service such as a shoemaker or cobbler. It may even be better to leave it to the professionals in the first place, particularly if your footwear costs a lot of money. If you have a particularly stubborn stain, going at it with lots of different methods may discolor the suede or leave a washed-out area, warned Sterling Cleaners. Professional cleaners will have the correct products and know-how to remove any kind of stains, from mud and watermarks right through to oil and red wine.

Another useful tip from Embassy Cleaners is to make sure to clean both boots at the same time. If you spill something on one of them, and you clean it off, all the wiping and brushing will bring up the fabrics' natural fibers, and in comparison, the other boot will look dull.