How do you clean a suede jacket yourself?

Cleaning a suede jacket can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, you can refresh your jacket at home. Suede is a delicate material that requires special care to avoid damage. By following some simple steps, you can safely clean both stains and refresh the nap of your suede jacket.

Should you clean a suede jacket at home?

While professional suede cleaning is always an option, many basic stains and signs of wear can be treated at home. Here are some pros and cons of DIY suede cleaning:


  • It’s cheaper than professional cleaning
  • You can treat stains right away
  • Good for surface cleaning between professional cleanings
  • Relatively easy techniques with some practice


  • Risk of damage if done improperly
  • May not fully restore badly soiled or damaged suede
  • Takes some trial and error to get techniques right
  • Can be time consuming

For many simple cleaning jobs, DIY methods can work well if proper suede cleaning supplies are used. But for badly soiled, stained or damaged suede, professional cleaning may be the safest option.

How to prepare your suede jacket for cleaning

Before cleaning your suede jacket, you’ll need to:

  • Remove any decorative or functional elements that shouldn’t get wet, like buttons, snaps, embellishments or shoulder pads. Set them aside in a safe place.
  • Use a suede brush to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface.
  • Vacuum the jacket with a soft brush attachment. This lifts embedded dust from the nap.
  • Protect areas like pockets, the inner lining and any leather sections with parchment paper or plastic wrap secured with painter’s tape.
  • Have your suede cleaning supplies handy, like a suede brush, vinegar, rubber eraser and soft cloth.

Preparing your suede jacket will allow you to safely clean it without worrying about getting the interior or decorations wet. Remove accessories and vacuum away any dry soil before scrubbing.

Supplies needed for DIY suede cleaning

With some key supplies on hand, you can tackle many types of suede cleaning jobs:

  • Suede brush: A soft-bristled suede brush gently lifts dirt, restores nap and removes surface stains.
  • Vinegar: The acetic acid in white vinegar removes stains and acts as a deodorizer. Dilute it for use.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Helps lift oil-based stains like makeup or food grease. Use sparingly.
  • Clear ammonia: An effective degreaser for stubborn oil stains when used sparingly.
  • Mild, pH-neutral soap: Look for a gentle soap marked safe for suede and leather.
  • Rubber eraser: Can lift surface dirt from suede. Opt for a white, non-abrasive style.
  • Soft cloths and towels: Use to blot moisture and apply cleaners. Microfiber cloths work well.
  • Stain remover brush: For scrubbing stains, a soft-bristled toothbrush can be useful.
  • Protective gloves: Guard your hands from cleaners. Opt for rubber gloves.

Focus your suede cleaning kit around gentle cleaners, soft brushes and cloths, protective items and stain removers safe for delicate fabrics.

How to clean suede jackets: Step-by-step

With your supplies gathered, follow these steps to clean a suede jacket at home:

  1. Spot clean stains: Use a clean cloth dampened with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Dab at stains gently and lift; avoid rubbing. For stubborn oily stains, very lightly apply ammonia. Always start with the gentlest option first.
  2. Deodorize: To remove odors like smoke or body odor, wipe down the full jacket interior and exterior with a white vinegar and water solution (1:1 ratio).
  3. Brush away dirt: Use a suede brush to lift dust and dirt from the nap. Go over the full jacket, brushing with the nap direction.
  4. Remove surface soil: An art gum eraser can lift dirt from the surface when gently rubbed over soiled areas.
  5. Steam or damp clean: To revitalize the whole jacket, hold a garment steamer 1″ above the surface or use a slightly damp cloth with mild soap. Avoid over-wetting.
  6. Dry fully: Let the jacket air dry fully after steaming or cleaning. Use a fan to speed dry time and avoid moisture damage.
  7. Restore the nap: Once dry, use a suede brush to bring up the nap. Brush against any rough patches to smooth them out.

Work slowly when cleaning suede, blotting and lifting stains instead of rubbing. Make sure to fully dry your jacket when done and use a suede brush to restore the nap.

Tips for DIY suede jacket cleaning

Follow these tips as you clean your suede jacket at home:

  • Always spot test cleaners on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Use gentle, circular motions when brushing or spot cleaning.
  • Allow suede to dry fully before wearing again.
  • Stuff your jacket with acid-free tissue as it dries to retain its shape.
  • Use the proper suede cleaning motion: brush along the nap, lift stains off.
  • Read all product labels and never exceed recommended concentrations.
  • Avoid using heat from dryers or irons, which can damage suede.
  • Store your jacket properly between wears to avoid new stains.

Patience and care are key when DIYing suede jacket cleaning. Always use dedicated suede cleaners and tools to avoid damage.

Common stains and how to treat them

Certain pesky stains are bound to find their way onto your suede jacket. See how to remove some common suede offenders:

Type of Stain Cleaning Solution
Food grease, oil or makeup Rubbing alcohol or ammonia (spot treat only)
Dirt or dust Suede brush and rubber eraser
Salt stains Warm water, gentle brushing
Liquid spills Blot immediately with clean cloth
Beverage or food stains Mild dish soap scrubbed gently with brush

Always start with the gentlest cleaner before moving to stronger options like ammonia or rubbing alcohol for tough oil stains.

When to seek professional suede cleaning

While many stains and cleaning tasks can be tackled at home, some cases call for professional expertise. Seek professional suede cleaning services if:

  • There are ink, paint or rust stains.
  • You notice mold, mildew or mothball odors.
  • There are burns, tears or badly damaged areas.
  • The suede is extremely dirty all over.
  • DIY efforts have failed to clean it.
  • The lining needs cleaning as well.
  • You want suede protected with waterproofing treatments.

With special tools and techniques, professional suede cleaners can work wonders on very soiled and damaged jackets and restore them safely.

How to find a good suede cleaner

Look for an experienced suede cleaner if DIY methods can’t revive your jacket. Find reputable cleaners through:

  • References and referrals from trusted sources.
  • Online reviews on Google, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Dry cleaner search directories like the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute.
  • Businesses with specialized leather/suede cleaning advertised.
  • Asking about the specific products and methods used.
  • Comparing several estimates for cost and turnaround time.

A skilled suede professional can make worn, stained suede look brand new again. Take time to find a cleaner with experience, good reviews and reasonable rates.

Home suede jacket cleaning risks

While DIY suede cleaning can be effective, there are some risks to avoid:

  • Permanent water marks or stains from over-wetting.
  • Discoloration or bleaching from cleaners that are too harsh.
  • Loss of nap and texture from excessive rubbing or heat tools.
  • Shrinkage or misshaping if not dried flat or stuffed while drying.
  • Damage to linings and decorations from moisture or cleaners.
  • Ruined suede by using products not formulated for suede.

Prevent damage by starting gently, spot testing cleaners and following suede product instructions closely. Handle suede carefully and allow plenty of drying time.

Caring for suede jackets between wears

Once your jacket is clean, keep it looking fresh with these care tips:

  • Store suede properly hanging in a breathable garment bag.
  • Use suede protectant sprays or creams to repel stains.
  • Keep away from rain, snow and moisture when wearing.
  • Remove surface dust and dirt with a suede brush.
  • Avoid contact with oil, grease, makeup, hair products, etc.
  • Allow suede to air and restore its shape after wearing.
  • Use garment hangers and pads shaped for jackets.

With attentive care between wears, your jacket will stay beautiful and require less frequent cleanings. Be mindful of what comes in contact with the suede.


Cleaning suede at home just takes some preparation and care. With the proper supplies and techniques, you can lift stains, refresh naps and keep your jacket looking stylish. Focus on gentle brushing, blotting and lifting stains instead of rubbing. Allow suede to fully dry after cleaning. For badly soiled or damaged suede, seek a professional cleaner. With some practice, DIY suede cleaning can keep your jacket looking like new.

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