can you wash suede vans in washer

In the world of footwear fashion, few brands hold as much street cred as Vans. Their suede sneakers, in particular, have captured the hearts of style-conscious individuals, offering a blend of comfort and urban flair. But as every Vans enthusiast knows, suede requires a delicate touch when it comes to care.

Whether you’re a skateboard aficionado or simply a fan of casual, iconic sneakers, it’s crucial to understand how to maintain the pristine appearance of your suede Vans. In this concise yet comprehensive article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of suede Vans care, from the art of cleaning to protecting and preserving their unique charm. Get ready to step up your shoe game and keep your suede Vans looking effortlessly cool.

Table of Contents

Can You Put Suede Vans In The Washing Machine?

The allure of throwing your dirty sneakers into the washing machine is undeniable. It seems quick and convenient, promising to return your shoes to a like-new condition with minimal effort. However, suede Vans are a different story.

Suede is a delicate material made from the underside of animal leather. Unlike canvas or leather Vans, suede requires extra care. The washing machine, with its vigorous spinning and water exposure, can be harsh on suede, potentially causing more harm than good.

Risks of Machine Washing Suede Vans

  1. Color Fading: One of the primary risks of machine washing suede Vans is color fading. Suede is known for its vibrant and rich hues, but exposure to water and agitation in the washer can cause colors to lose their intensity, leaving your shoes looking dull.
  2. Texture Damage: Suede’s texture is a significant part of its appeal, but machine washing can disrupt this texture. The friction and water can cause the suede to become matted or rough, changing its tactile feel.
  3. Shape Deformation: The washing machine’s constant tumbling can also affect the shape of your Vans. Suede Vans may lose their form or even get misshapen during the wash.
  4. Stitching and Glue Issues: Suede Vans have delicate stitching and glue holding them together. The machine’s rigorous movement can weaken these connections, potentially leading to separated soles or damaged stitching.
  5. Drying Challenges: After machine washing, properly drying suede Vans becomes crucial. If not done correctly, they can develop an unpleasant odor or mold. However, excessive heat can also damage suede, adding another layer of complexity.

How to Wash Suede Vans

With the proper care and attention, you can keep your suede Vans looking sharp and ready for any adventure. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash suede Vans effectively:

Materials You’ll Need

Before you start cleaning your Vans, gather these essential materials:

  1. Soft Bristle Brush: A soft bristle brush, like a suede brush, is ideal for gently removing surface dirt and restoring the suede’s texture. You can find these at shoe stores or online.
  2. Mild Detergent: Use a mild, suede-specific detergent or a mixture of water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the suede.
  3. Clean Cloth or Sponge: A clean, soft cloth or sponge is useful for applying the cleaning solution and blotting away excess moisture.
  4. Suede Protector Spray: Invest in a quality suede protector spray to help repel stains and water after cleaning.

Cleaning Steps

  1. Remove the Laces: Take off the laces from your Vans. This step makes it easier to clean all parts of the shoe.
  2. Brush Off Surface Dirt: Use a soft bristle brush to gently brush away loose dirt and debris from the suede’s surface. Brush in one direction to maintain the suede’s texture.
  3. Create a Cleaning Solution: Mix a small amount of mild detergent with lukewarm water. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the solution and wring it out so it’s damp but not soaking wet.
  4. Spot Test: Before applying the solution to the entire shoe, perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t discolor or damage the suede.
  5. Clean Gently: Using the damp cloth or sponge, gently blot and clean the suede in a circular motion. Pay attention to any stained or soiled areas. Avoid saturating the suede; you want it to be slightly damp, not wet.
  6. Rinse and Blot: With a clean, damp cloth, wipe away the detergent residue. Then, blot the suede gently to remove excess moisture.
  7. Air Dry: Allow your suede Vans to air dry naturally, away from direct heat sources like radiators or sunlight. Stuff them with newspaper or shoe trees to help maintain their shape as they dry.
  8. Brush Again: Once your Vans are completely dry, use a soft bristle brush to restore the suede’s texture. Brush in one direction, and you’ll notice the suede looking refreshed.
  9. Apply Suede Protector: Finish by spraying your cleaned Vans with a suede protector spray. This will help repel future stains and water.

Can Suede Vans Get Wet?

Suede, by nature, is not water-resistant. In fact, it’s highly absorbent and porous, making it vulnerable to moisture-related damage. When suede comes into contact with water, it can lead to several undesirable outcomes:

  1. Stains: Water can cause unsightly watermarks and stains on suede, which can be challenging to remove.
  2. Color Change: Exposure to water may temporarily alter the color of suede, making it appear darker. This can be especially noticeable on lighter-colored suede.
  3. Texture Change: Wet suede tends to become rough and lose its soft, velvety texture, which is a significant part of its appeal.
  4. Damage to Glue and Stitching: Water can weaken the adhesives and stitching that hold your Vans together, potentially leading to sole separation or other structural issues.
  5. Shrinkage: Suede may shrink when exposed to water, affecting the overall fit and comfort of your shoes.

Protecting Suede Vans from Water Damage

Given these risks, it’s essential to take precautions to protect your suede Vans from moisture. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Avoid Wearing in Rain: While suede Vans are stylish and comfortable, they’re not the best choice for rainy or wet conditions. Opt for waterproof footwear during inclement weather.
  2. Use Waterproof Spray: Applying a quality suede waterproof spray can help create a protective barrier against water and stains. Reapply the spray periodically, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. React Quickly to Spills: If your suede Vans get wet due to spills or accidental exposure, act promptly. Blot away excess moisture with a clean cloth and allow them to air dry naturally. Stuff them with newspaper to maintain their shape.
  4. Store Properly: When not wearing your suede Vans, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Consider using shoe trees to help maintain their shape.

Remember that while you can take precautions to protect your suede Vans from water, they will never be completely waterproof. It’s always wise to be cautious and avoid exposing them to excessive moisture whenever possible.

How to Clean Suede Vans Uppers

Cleaning the suede uppers of your Vans is an essential part of maintaining their overall appearance. Over time, dirt, stains, and scuffs can mar the beautiful suede texture. Here are the various methods for cleaning the suede upper part of your Vans:

1. Getting the White Rubber Surround and Soles Looking Clean

The rubber surrounds and soles of your Vans can accumulate dirt and scuffs. To clean them:

  • Materials Needed: Mild detergent, water, soft cloth, and a soft-bristle brush.
  • Steps: a. Mix a small amount of mild detergent with water to create a soapy solution. b. Dip the soft cloth in the solution and gently scrub the rubber areas. c. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub stubborn spots or scuffs. d. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue. e. Let them air dry.

2. Cleaning Your Shoe Uppers With a Suede Eraser

A suede eraser is a handy tool for removing dry stains and scuffs from suede. Here’s how to use it:

  • Materials Needed: Suede eraser.
  • Steps: a. Ensure your suede Vans are dry. b. Gently rub the eraser over the stained or scuffed areas in a circular motion. c. Use a soft-bristle brush to restore the suede’s texture. d. Brush in one direction to maintain the suede’s appearance.

3. Using a Suede Cleaner on Your Uppers

A suede cleaner can effectively remove tough stains from your Vans. Here’s how to use it:

  • Materials Needed: Suede cleaner, soft-bristle brush, clean cloth, and water.
  • Steps: a. Test the suede cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t discolor the suede. b. If the test is successful, dampen a clean cloth with water and apply a small amount of suede cleaner. c. Gently rub the stained areas in a circular motion. d. Use a soft-bristle brush to restore the suede’s texture. e. Wipe away any excess cleaner with a clean, damp cloth. f. Allow your Vans to air dry.

4. How to Clean Suede Vans Without Suede Cleaner

If you don’t have the suede cleaner on hand, you can create a DIY solution using white vinegar and water:

  • Materials Needed: White vinegar, water, soft cloth, and soft-bristle brush.
  • Steps: a. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to create a cleaning solution. b. Dampen a clean cloth with the solution and gently blot the stained areas. c. Use a soft-bristle brush to restore the suede’s texture. d. Blot with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess solution. e. Let your Vans air dry.

5. Using a Suede Conditioner and Protector Spray

After cleaning, it’s essential to use a suede conditioner and protector spray to maintain the suede’s softness and protect it from future stains.

Do Vans Shrink After Washing?

Several factors can contribute to Vans or any shoes shrinking after washing:

  1. Heat: Excessive heat can cause materials like rubber and glue to contract, leading to a shrinking effect. This is particularly relevant for Vans with rubber soles or components.
  2. Agitation: The mechanical action of the washing machine, including spinning and tumbling, can apply pressure and friction to your shoes, potentially causing them to shrink or deform.
  3. Excessive Moisture: If your shoes absorb too much water during washing, it can lead to changes in their shape and size. This is especially true for suede Vans, which are highly absorbent.
  4. Drying Method: The way you dry your shoes after washing plays a crucial role. Using excessive heat, such as placing them in direct sunlight or near a heater, can contribute to shrinkage.

How to Prevent Vans from Shrinking After Washing

Preventing Vans from shrinking after washing involves taking specific precautions:

  1. Use a Gentle Cycle: If you choose to machine wash your Vans, use a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. This reduces the impact of heat and agitation.
  2. Air Dry: After washing, allow your Vans to air dry naturally at room temperature. Avoid direct heat sources like radiators or sunlight, which can cause materials to contract.
  3. Stuff with Towels or Newspaper: To help your Vans maintain their shape while drying, stuff them with clean towels or newspaper. This also helps absorb excess moisture.
  4. Consider Hand Washing: For suede Vans and other delicate materials, consider hand washing instead of using a machine. This allows for more control over the washing process and reduces the risk of shrinkage.
  5. Check Manufacturer Instructions: Always consult the care instructions provided by Vans or the shoe manufacturer. They may offer specific guidance on cleaning and maintenance to prevent shrinkage.

Tips for Safely Washing Suede Vans in the Washer

Washing suede Vans in a washing machine can be a convenient way to clean them, but it requires careful handling to prevent damage. Here are the additional tips and precautions to ensure that the washing process is as safe as possible for your beloved suede Vans.

1. Use a Mesh Bag

Place your suede Vans inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase before putting them in the washing machine. This added layer of protection helps prevent direct friction with the machine’s drum and reduces the risk of scuffs or scratches.

2. Remove Insoles and Laces

Before washing, take out the shoe insoles and remove the laces from your Vans. This step ensures that these components receive proper cleaning and allows the shoes to maintain their shape during the wash.

3. Opt for a Delicate Cycle

Select the delicate or gentle cycle on your washing machine. This cycle uses less agitation and lower temperatures, reducing the risk of shrinkage and damage to the suede.

4. Use Cold Water

Cold water is less likely to cause color fading or shrinkage. Avoid using hot water, as it can have adverse effects on the suede and other materials.

5. Limit the Load

Don’t overcrowd the washing machine. Washing just a few pairs of shoes at a time allows for better movement during the cycle and more effective cleaning.

6. Skip the Spin Cycle

Most washing machines have the option to skip the spin cycle. It’s advisable to do so when washing suede Vans, as excessive spinning can be harsh on the shoes.

7. Avoid Harsh Detergents

Stick to mild detergents or specialized sneaker cleaners designed for delicate materials. Avoid bleach or harsh chemicals that can damage the suede.

8. Double-Check the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Refer to the care instructions provided by Vans or the shoe manufacturer. They may offer specific guidance on machine washing and preserving your Vans.

9. Dry Properly

After washing, follow the recommended drying methods mentioned earlier, such as air drying at room temperature and stuffing the shoes with towels or newspaper.

10. Monitor the Process

Keep an eye on the washing machine during the cycle. If you notice any unusual noises or issues, stop the cycle immediately to prevent potential damage to your Vans.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

While cleaning your suede Vans, you might encounter some common issues that can be frustrating. Now identify these problems and provide practical solutions to help you overcome them effectively.

1. Stubborn Stains

Problem: Some stains on your suede Vans may be challenging to remove with basic cleaning methods.

Solution: Try using a specialized suede stain remover. Follow the product instructions carefully and test it on an inconspicuous area first. For tough stains like oil or grease, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain, let it sit overnight, and brush it off gently the next day.

2. Matted Suede

Problem: After cleaning, your suede Vans may appear matted or rough.

Solution: Use a soft-bristle brush to gently brush the suede in one direction to restore its texture. Avoid excessive brushing, as it can further damage the suede.

3. Color Fading

Problem: Over time, suede may lose its color vibrancy.

Solution: To revive the color of your suede Vans, consider using a suede dye that matches the original color. Follow the dye manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

4. Lingering Odors

Problem: Your suede Vans may develop unpleasant odors, especially after exposure to moisture.

Solution: Sprinkle baking soda inside your dry shoes and leave it overnight to absorb odors. Shake out the excess baking soda before wearing your shoes.

5. Inadequate Protection

Problem: Your suede Vans continue to get stained or wet despite your efforts to protect them.

Solution: Reapply a high-quality suede protector spray regularly to maintain a protective barrier against stains and moisture. Be sure to follow the product’s instructions for optimal results.

6. Wrinkled or Misshapen Vans

Problem: Your Vans may lose their shape or develop wrinkles during the washing or drying process.

Solution: Stuff your Vans with clean towels or newspaper while they dry to help them maintain their shape. Additionally, be cautious during the drying phase to avoid exposing them to excessive heat.

7. Sole Separation

Problem: The washing process may weaken the adhesives holding your Vans’ soles in place.

Solution: If you notice any sole separation, use a strong adhesive specifically designed for shoe repair to reattach the soles. Follow the product’s instructions for the best results.

Caring for Suede Vans After Cleaning

Once you’ve successfully cleaned your suede Vans and resolved any issues, it’s crucial to continue caring for them to maintain their appearance and extend their lifespan.

1. Proper Storage

After cleaning and wearing your suede Vans, store them carefully to prevent dust and damage. Here’s how:

  • Use Shoe Trees: Invest in shoe trees that fit your Vans to help them retain their shape. Shoe trees also help absorb moisture and odors.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Choose a cool and dry area for storage. Avoid areas with direct sunlight, as UV rays can fade suede over time.

2. Regular Brushing

Even after cleaning, it’s essential to regularly brush your suede Vans to maintain their texture and remove surface dirt. A soft-bristle suede brush should be part of your routine.

3. Apply Suede Protector

Continue to apply suede protector spray periodically, as recommended by the product instructions. This protective layer will help repel stains and moisture.

4. Avoid Water Exposure

Prevent your suede Vans from getting wet. Be cautious in rainy weather, and if they do get wet, take steps to dry them properly to prevent damage.

5. Rotation and Rest

Avoid wearing your suede Vans every day. Rotate them with other shoes to allow them to rest between wears. This helps prevent excessive wear and tear.

6. Address Stains Promptly

If you notice new stains or scuffs, address them promptly with the appropriate cleaning methods discussed earlier. The sooner you tackle stains, the easier they are to remove.

7. Suede Brushing

Periodically, give your suede Vans a more thorough brushing session. This can help revive the suede’s texture and keep it looking fresh.


In the realm of footwear, suede Vans stand as a style statement, blending fashion and comfort effortlessly. The journey to discovering whether you can safely wash them in a machine has unveiled a treasure trove of suede care wisdom.

With the right knowledge and methods, you can keep your suede Vans looking sharp, preserving their allure for countless adventures to come. Remember, a little care goes a long way, and your beloved suede Vans will continue to be a symbol of urban coolness and comfort in your wardrobe. Embrace the journey, and let your style shine!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I protect my suede Vans from water and stains?

Use a suede protector spray to create a barrier against water and stains. Reapply the spray periodically, and avoid wearing suede Vans in wet conditions when possible.

Can I use regular detergent to clean suede Vans?

It’s best to use a mild detergent specifically designed for suede or sneakers. Harsh chemicals in regular detergents can damage the suede material.

My suede Vans have stains. What’s the best way to remove them?

The method for stain removal depends on the type of stain. You can try a suede eraser, a suede cleaner, or a DIY solution like vinegar. For stubborn stains, consider professional cleaning services.

How do I prevent my suede Vans from losing their shape?

Use shoe trees to help maintain the shape of your suede Vans when storing them. Avoid exposing them to excessive heat during drying, and be mindful of over-wearing to prevent excessive wear and tear.

Can I wear suede Vans in rainy weather?

It’s not advisable to wear suede Vans in rainy or wet conditions, as suede is not water-resistant. If they do get wet, dry them properly and apply a suede protector spray.

How often should I clean and maintain my suede Vans?

Regular brushing and protection with suede protector spray are essential. Deep cleaning should be done as needed, depending on how often you wear them and the conditions they are exposed to.

Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

Using a hairdryer on suede Vans is not recommended, as excessive heat can damage the suede. Stick to air drying at room temperature.

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