Can I Use Shoe Polish On Suede

Do you own a pair of suede shoes that need sprucing up? Perhaps they have have become damaged and dirty over time and are now looking a little worse for wear. Maybe you have even considered putting shoe polish on them to help them look brand new again. But can you use shoe polish on suede?

In this article, we will be discussing why suede shoes are different from other leather shoes. We will go into detail about whether or not you can use shoe polish on suede and talk about some great products that will help to maintain this type of leather.

What Is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather that can be used for many different purposes, such as making shoes, purses, furniture, bags, and coats. It is a soft leather that uses the underside of an animal’s skin, compared to other tougher leathers that use the outer layer of skin. 

The same animal hide is used to make suede and tough leather, but instead of the suede being on the inside of the product, it is placed on the outside. Although suede is still tough, it is softer to the touch and less durable than standard leather.

The hide used to make suede can be taken from a variety of animals, such as deer, cow, lamb, and goat. There are slight differences to the suede itself, depending on the animal hide used.

As suede is a softer material compared to other types of leather, more care is needed to maintain it. For example, suede can absorb water, which can potentially damage the material, whereas other leathers do not. Suede can become damaged easier than tougher leathers and is not as easy to clean when dirty.

Can I Use Shoe Polish On Suede?

If you have some damage to your suede shoes or if your shoes become dirty, your first instinct may be to use shoe polish to freshen up the material. However, shoe polish is not recommended for suede. While it is brilliant at cleaning regular leather boots and helping them to maintain their shine, it can damage suede beyond repair.

Suede, unlike hard leathers, is not naturally smooth and is absorbent. If you apply a shoe polish to it, instead of creating a shine, the suede will absorb the polish and will cause the shoe to become sticky and stained.

Shoe polish will not work in the same way on suede as it does with other types of leather. The polish will sink into the surface and damage it.It is best to avoid waxy, thick substances like shoe polish with suede. Thankfully, there are many other solutions to help you maintain your suede shoes, without the use of shoe polish.

Products You Can Use On Suede

Now that you know not to apply a shoe polish to your favorite pair of suede shoes, you are probably wondering what your alternatives are.

There are a few alternative ways to maintain your suede shoes that we have listed below.

Suede Brush

The first and most common way to bring your suede shoes back to life is by using a suede brush. A suede brush is a type of shoe brush made specifically for this material. It will help to remove any dirt from the shoe and scuffing that has occurred. Ordinary brushes can damage the suede and will not work in the same way as a suede brush. 

Always ensure that you are using the brush when the shoes are completely dry, you do not want to wet the suede. With this type of material, it is best cleaned when dry, as it is easier for the grime and dirt to be removed. You can be quite tough on the suede when using the brush to help lift particularly difficult marks and dirt. If you would like to purchase a good quality, suede brush, you can do so here.

Suede Spray

A suede spray is a fantastic investment. It helps to stop water from damaging the surface of the shoe. The spray forms a protective waterproof barrier over the suede, allowing you to wear the shoes safely when it is raining. It may also help to prevent damage and staining to the shoe too.

The sprays are quick and easy to use and will help to prolong the life of your shoes. You will not have to worry about the weather or any accidental spillages. This spray will need to be reapplied every few months as it will wear off after a while. The brand Nikwax is highly recommended and you can purchase their Nubuck & Suede Spray here.


Yes, you read that correctly. If you have any particularly difficult stains to remove, diluted vinegar may be the solution to your problem. Vinegar is particularly good at lifting salt stains. 

You will need to dilute white vinegar in water and dip a cloth in the solution. Squeeze off any excess liquid as you want your suede shoes to remain as dry as possible. Remember that too much water can damage the suede. 

Taking your slightly damp cloth, you want to gently rub over the stain until you can see it lifting. Once the suede drys out, always go back over it with your suede brush to lift any staining or dirt leftover.

If you need to purchase white vinegar, you can do so here.


To summarise, you should never use shoe polish on your suede shoes. Instead of cleaning and maintaining them as it does with other types of leather, it will damage suede beyond repair. 

If you are looking to clean your suede shoes and keep them fresh, there are many, more suitable options to choose from. We recommend purchasing a suede brush and suede spray to help clean the dirt on the shoes and to protect them from water damage. If there are particularly difficult stains to remove, you can try the vinegar and water method.

Always remember that although suede is a type of leather, it requires a lot more care and caution. When storing your suede shoes, ensure that they are placed in a temperature-controlled room to help remove any excess moisture. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *