Suede and nubuck shoes may be classier than ordinary leather, but they are more difficult to treat and protect than ordinary leather shoes. The most important tip is to try to never get your suede shoes wet. Unlike leather, stains and water do not just slip off of suede - it will absorb water and other liquids, and the resulting stains are difficult for even professional shoe cleaners to remove. These tips will help you learn how to clean suede shoes.
Prevent damage. Prevention is the best way to keep suede shoes well-maintained. You can use commercial sprays that protect suede and nubuck shoes, and these will basically prevent water seepage. Simply spray on liberally and let dry. It's probably best to spray this right after you buy your shoes, to make sure they're protected. It will also be easier to clean your shoes after applying this spray.
If your shoes have been dirtied or stained, you need the following tools: suede eraser (a good pencil eraser will do), a suede brush, and a soft washcloth. A suede brush usually has soft, metal bristles. Make sure your shoes are dry before cleaning them.
Wipe off excess dirt. Wipe excess dirt from your shoes with a soft, dry washcloth. If your shoes are muddy, wait for the mud to dry so you can more easily wipe this off.
Erase the stains and scuff marks. Tough stains can be rubbed off using a suede eraser or a rubber pencil eraser. Just rub the eraser back and forth until the stain has been removed. For scuff marks, scrub these with the suede brush back and forth until the marks disappear.
Treat water stains. If your shoes have water stains, these might be difficult to remove with erasing or simply brushing. To treat water stains, you should dampen the entire outer surface of the shoe with water using a small brush, then dry the excess water with an absorbent cloth or sponge. This will absorb the stain from the original water stain, and even out the color. For oil stains, use the small brush to apply warm water over the stain until it disappears, then dry the shoe the same way you would with water stains.
Air dry the suede shoes overnight. Be sure to put in stretchers, so that the shoes don't become deformed. If you don't have stretchers, crumple up old newspapers and pack these into the shoe's insides.
Smooth the suede with a brush. Assuming your shoes are already dry, pass the brush on the suede in one direction only, to smooth out the surface. This lifts out dirt from the suede and evens out the surface to give a smooth appearance.
Apply the suede spray. After any cleaning, apply the suede protector spray liberally onto the shoe. Make sure you have brushed off any excess or loose dirt, as these might get stuck on or under the surface of your shoe.
Cleaning suede shoes might take extra time and effort, but with good care, your shoes will look classy, clean and stylish - and they will last you a long time.