Technique

Unscuff Suede

The tools and tricks you need to get that stupefyingly easy-to-sully leather back in fighting shape.

Remember, guys: The "dirty" in dirty bucks shouldn't be taken literally.

We’ve all been there. You get a great pair of suede shoes, wait till a suitably precipitation-free day, and just as soon as you hit the streets, catch the curb with the side of your foot, leaving one hell of a scuff behind. All that careful planning, ruined. But that’s the thing about suede: For all its richness, it’s remarkably easy to screw it up. Fortunately, with the right tools—and assuming the damage isn’t too extreme—it’s almost as easy to return your shoes to their former glory.

1) Get a suede kit.
Hopefully, you’ve already got this. But if you don’t, swing by a shoe shop and pick one up. It should include, at the very least, a block of rubber and a stiff bristled brush. More on the utility of those items… right now.

2) Erase the dirt (literally).
You probably picked up some grunge of indeterminate origin in this scuffing ordeal, and you’ll want to get rid of it before you do anything else. That rubber block you’ve got handy? It’s essentially a pencil eraser—and it’s great for cleaning suede. No tricky repurposing here, just use it like you’ve used every other eraser you’ve ever encountered and rub it on the marks you want to remove.

3) Revitalize the nap.
The nap, by the way, is that surface texture on the suede. When you scuffed your shoes, you crushed it down. All you need to do now is fluff it back up. Take that stiff bristled brush, and, using short strokes from one direction (no going back and forth) bring that leather back to life.

4) Get on with your day.
And know that other scuffs are coming. They’re inevitable, but now that you know how to handle ‘em, it ain’t no thing.

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