Thursday, January 5, 2012

Save the shoes!

You wanna know what sucks? Mud puddles. Or snow. Or, well, anything wet that sits between my front door and my car. I hate it, especially when I'm wearing certain types of shoes - suede, faux suede, fabric, velvet. It stains soooooo easily and gets watermarks. And I'm a klutz. Which makes it that much worse. If there is a puddle of nasty, my suede platform will end up in it. From 10 feet away. If I drink coffee while walking - it will drip on my shoes as sure as the day is long.

I finally got sick of losing shoes to otherwise harmless liquids and decided to find out what I could do about it. Fixing my klutziness wasn't an option so I resorted to chemicals. (If the following doesn't work for you, chemicals can be found that make you forget/not care that you've ruined your shoes - they can be found at your friendly neighborhood bar and/or liquor store) This is what I discovered by trial and error: 
The basics for this are: A spray protectant/waterproofer for suede and/or fabric, a clean white washcloth, a bottle of white vinegar, a stain removal pen or wipes, a spray on suede cleaner, a lint brush, a suede brush, and a suede eraser. All of these handy-dandy little things can be gotten at your grocery or drug store. More expensive brands are available online or in department stores - but I've not run across any that work better than the cheap stuff. (One exception - noted below)

First thing: Whenever you bring home a new pair of suede (real or faux), fabric, or velvet shoes, YOU MUST PROTECT THEM! I use Kiwi Protect-All for Suede and Fabrics. It won't prevent damage from the BIG oops-idents, but it will save you from a drop of coffee or water here and there and maybe one trip down a damp walkway. So don't spray it on then think you can go dancing in the rain. It's good, but it's not THAT good. I spray two light coats about an hour apart and let it dry overnight. This stuff is flammable and very dizzy-smelling. I recommend doing it outside.

Now, what happens if you screw up and soak the shoes? This is the first time the white washcloth comes into play. Press the cloth to the shoe to absorb the moisture. DO NOT RUB! Once you've gotten as much of the moisture off as you can, WITHOUT RUBBING, then leave the shoes out to dry. Overnight is a good bet. Expect that there will be watermarks from the edges of the spill and don't freak out (yet) that your shoes are ruined. What you do next depends on what material the shoe is made of:

On real suede, get your suede eraser (that's the little white block beside the brush in that^ picture). Rub the watermark edges gently. It should make it less visible. Then, brush the entire area that got wet with the suede brush. That should make it mostly unnoticeable. If this doesn't do the trick, or for actual stains, you'll need to use the suede cleaning solution. I don't like this stuff. I'm terrified of it. If you use too much it can do more harm than good. So, I don't apply it directly to the shoe. I spray it on that clean white washcloth and rub that onto the stain. Some cleaning solutions recommend the shoe be damp during this process. Again, that terrifies me so I don't use that type of solution. After you rub it onto the stain, use another part of the cloth to wipe it dry. After it's completely dry, hit it with the suede brush again, and Voila! good as new. We hope, at least.

"Faux Suede": On what's usually referred to as faux-suede, but is really a raised nap fabric, it's not nearly as easy. Do the white cloth pat dry trick and hope for the best, actually. Your only chance at saving these is if you can get a stain pen (like the Tide Pen in the picture up top) or a stain wipe to get the stain out. You can then try and rub the area with the cloth to see if it clears it up a little. A suede eraser or brush will destroy this material. If the nap gets matted from water, a lint roller will sometimes pull it back up. Make sure you waterproof the crap out of this fabric if you want to keep them for any length of time.

Velvet:  Easiest of all. (It took an interesting incident for me to figure this one out.) Pat it dry, then use that washcloth to rub white vinegar over the stain. Then lightly brush the area with the suede brush and hit it with the the lint roller. Easy. Done. Bam! This won't work on crushed velvet, but since I haven't seen that stuff since 1992, I didn't bother to figure it out. Test a spot on light velvets though to be sure it doesn't stain or leave a mark.

Satin - which I avoid like the plague: I'm told that Dryel Instant Stain Remover rubbed in the direction of the fabric grain will get some stains out. I have not tried this, but it makes sense. Dryel is a dry-cleaning type product and satin usually needs to be dry-cleaned. I've never understood why shoes worn while one is typically drinking tend to be made of an impossible-to-clean material. The one time I ever had to clean a pair of satin shoes - I took them to a professional cleaner. They still weren't clean when I got them back.

Uggs: This is the 'exception' They make this kit-------->. Use it and follow their instructions. It's specially made for sheepskin, and for $20 it'll give you peace of mind over that $200 pair of boots you just bought. All the other stuff will cost you the same over time. Don't scrimp and pinch pennies here, ladies. Just get the damned stuff and use it!

I think this pretty much covers most porous surfaced shoes. There are a couple more obscure fabrics that you can use these tips and your judgement to clean. Except where noted, I've tried all these tricks and these are how I got the best results. Here's hoping you are lucky and never even have to clean a pair of shoes, but if you aren't I hope this helps. Now, go wash that filthy white cloth. Happy Shoes, Dolls!

(No shoes were harmed in the writing of this blogpost)


  1. Have you heard of Shoe Mgk? That stuff is amazing and cleans all kinds of shoes. Its a little pricey but in the name of shoes its worth it.

  2. I've heard of it, but haven't used it. I thought it was too expensive and hadn't heard from anyone that had tried it. I'll keep it in mind if I ever run across something the el-cheapo options won't fix. ;)

  3. Oh my gosh, THANK YOU. I, and my new maroon velvet Docs, thank you heartily!

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