If you’re anything like me, it’s likely you currently have one of your token, beloved designer bags tucked away in your closet. For me, it's the Chloé Faye Bag that I eyed forever and then finally sealed the deal on. However, that beautiful suede work of art rarely sees the light of day as I save it for "special occasions"—days when there is neither a drop of moisture in the air nor snow on the ground. Suede is one of the more delicate bag materials; once you’ve gotten it dirty, there’s no going back. Or so I thought.
Upon recently experiencing the nightmare of getting a stain on my suede bag (I live in New York—it was bound to happen eventually), I frantically scoured the internet for tips and tricks to restore my baby back to its pristine condition. It turns out, cleaning a suede bag is not as difficult as I once thought. It simply requires specific, precise steps and tools (you may already have them in your kitchen!) and the know-how to treat the material properly.
With the following tools and tips, you can easily bring your suede bag back to its former glory—or ensure your currently clean carry-all maintains it’s perfection condition for years to come. Keep reading to find out how to clean a suede bag and remove everything from dirt to stains and even gum.
1. Use a Dry Brush
For clear surface marks and water spots, a dry cloth will do. The rule of thumb with suede is to avoid using any color as the water will discolor the suede. Use the clean cloth and gently rub your bag to remove surface marks. Don’t press too hard so as to make sure not to ruin the texture of the suede.
To clear dust from your bag and re-store it’s fine appearance, use a brush— but not just any old brush, you’ll need a specialty one like this leather brush from Amazon (don’t worry, it’s only $7). Brush the suede in one single direction to clean away dust and dirt from your purse, or you can use small back and forth motions to help loosen up specific stains.
Stains are a suede bag’s worst nightmare, however, it doesn’t have to be the end of your beloved bag. Try using a soft pencil eraser and literally erase away the stain. Afterward, when the stain is gone, try the first tip. Make sure the eraser is clean and hasn’t been used before.
After you’ve cleaned your suede bag, it’s often a good idea to condition it. Using a specialty suede conditioner (like this one from Amazon), add a little onto a buffing cloth and rub it gently into the bag with short, steady strokes. Don’t forget to do the seams and corners.
5. Apply Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol to a Clean Cloth
Vinegar and rubbing alcohols are safe to use on suede, as they can help brighten the material after it has gotten dingy or dirty over time. Pour a small amount onto a clean cloth, just enough to make the cloth damp, and then proceed to rub the suede with the cloth to clean it. You may need to do several applications depending on how dirty the cloth has become. Let the suede dry completely after using vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
Even though you clean your bag regularly, taking your bag to a professional suede cleaner once a year will keep your bag in perfect condition forever. The cleaner will give your bag the spa treatment that you wouldn’t be able to do yourself.
Yes, really. When you get in a particularly, erm… sticky, situation, like you get gum or wax stuck to your suede (yikes), don’t fret, you can still recover. You can remove it by freezing your purse first (yes, you read that correctly). This will harden the wax or gum and then you can pull it off or chip it off in pieces using your fingers (no sharp objects) without ruining the material.