How to Clean Suede Shoes with Vinegar

In this article, we’ll explore how to clean suede shoes with vinegar. This eco-friendly approach not only keeps your shoes looking great but also helps you save money on expensive cleaning products.

Does Vinegar Clean Suede Shoes?

How to Clean Suede Shoes with Vinegar

Yes, vinegar can be used to clean suede shoes. It’s a versatile household item that can effortlessly and safely clean suede shoes of various colors, including white, black, nude, and even colored ones.

Vinegar is effective in removing salt marks and general spot cleaning. Salt marks are essentially dried salt residues left behind when water evaporates.

Vinegar, being slightly acidic, can dissolve and break down these salt deposits effectively. 

Vinegar’s mild acidity allows it to effectively lift and break down various types of stains, including watermarks, oil, and even some food or beverage stains.

How to Clean Suede Shoes with Vinegar and Water

Cleaning suede shoes with vinegar and water is an effective and affordable way to remove stains and dirt while preserving the natural texture and appearance of your favorite footwear.

Follow these steps to ensure your suede shoes stay looking their best:

Materials you’ll need

  • A soft-bristle suede brush or an old toothbrush
  • White vinegar
  • A clean cloth
  • A small container (e.g., a cup or bowl)
  • A suede eraser or a pencil eraser 

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Remove Dirt and Debris

Start by using a soft-bristle suede brush or an old toothbrush to gently brush off any loose dirt and debris from your suede shoes.

This initial step helps prevent any particles from grinding into the suede during the cleaning process.

Step 2: Using a Suede Eraser

If you have stubborn stains or scuffs, you can use a suede eraser or a pencil eraser before applying the vinegar. Gently rub the eraser over the stains to lift them away

Step 3: Mix the Vinegar Solution

In the container, create a vinegar and water solution by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water. This solution is gentle on suede while effectively lifting stains and dirt.

Step 4: Apply the Vinegar Solution

Dip a clean cloth or the bristles of a brush into the vinegar and water solution.

Carefully dab or gently rub the damp cloth or brush onto the stained areas of your suede shoes. 

Step 5: Let the Shoes Dry Naturally

Allow your suede shoes to dry naturally, away from direct heat sources like radiators or sunlight. Using heat can cause the suede to shrink or become discolored.

Step 6: Restore the Suede Nap

Once your shoes are completely dry, use a suede brush to gently brush the suede nap in one direction. This helps restore the texture of the suede.

Can You Use Vinegar and Baking Soda on Suede Shoes?

Using vinegar and baking soda on suede is not recommended.

While both vinegar and baking soda are commonly used for cleaning purposes, suede is a delicate material that requires special care. 

Using these two ingredients on suede can potentially harm the fabric and lead to irreversible damage.

To maintain the quality and appearance of your suede shoes, it’s best to follow appropriate suede cleaning methods, using one product or technique at a time, as mixing different cleaning agents can lead to unintended consequences.

Best Type of Vinegar to Clean Suede Shoes

When cleaning suede shoes, it’s essential to use the right type of vinegar. Plain distilled white vinegar is the preferred choice for this purpose. 

This type of vinegar is clear, colorless, and does not contain any added flavors or colors. It’s a mild acid, which makes it suitable for cleaning without causing significant damage to the suede material.

White vinegar is particularly effective in two key areas of suede shoe cleaning. Firstly, it can help remove salt marks that often accumulate on suede during the winter months. Secondly, it is useful for general spot cleaning. 

Avoid saturating your shoes with too much vinegar, which can potentially cause discoloration or damage to the suede. 

How to Clean Suede Shoes with Vinegar

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is vinegar good for cleaning suede?

Yes, vinegar is effective for cleaning suede. It can remove stains and salt marks while preserving the suede’s texture. However, it should be used in a moderately diluted form to prevent potential damage.

Q2: Can I use rice vinegar to clean suede?

Yes, you can use rice vinegar to clean suede, but like other types of vinegar, it should be diluted to avoid causing harm to the suede. Rice vinegar has a milder flavor than some other kinds of vinegar, making it a suitable choice for cleaning suede.

Q3: Does vinegar darken suede?

Vinegar typically doesn’t darken suede when used in a diluted form. However, using highly concentrated vinegar or saturating suede with too much vinegar may lead to discoloration or staining.

Q4: Do baking soda and vinegar clean suede?

It’s advisable to use these ingredients separately for suede cleaning to avoid unintended consequences, as mixing them can be harmful.


Cleaning suede shoes with vinegar is a cost-effective and eco-friendly method to keep your footwear looking its best. By following these simple steps, you can restore the beauty of your suede shoes and extend their lifespan. 

With regular maintenance, your suede shoes will continue to make a fashionable statement for years to come.

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