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Can You Wash Suede Clothing?

A suede jacket can cost almost as much to dry clean as it did to purchase! How do you enjoy the beauty of suede and keep your budget intact? Here's a secret.

Suede clothing can be beautiful but expensive to buy and very expensive to maintain. A suede jacket can cost almost as much to dry clean as it did to purchase! How do you enjoy the beauty of suede and keep your budget intact? Here's a secret.

First, though, a disclaimer: Not all suede clothing will react positively to this method. It's up to you to decide whether you want to take a chance.

Now... although it's generally recommended that you have suede clothing dry cleaned, you can wash most of it in lukewarm water on a gentle cycle with gentle laundry soap. Notice, I said "most," not all. The better quality a piece of suede clothing is, the better chances are that it will not only survive, but benefit if you simply wash it.

To wash it, you will need to use the gentle cycle on your washing machine and stop it before the spin cycle. Gently squeeze as much of the water out of the clothing as you can, then roll it in a dry towel and knead it to remove more of the water. Lay the piece of clothing flat to dry, then when it's thoroughly dry, use a brush on it to raise and relax the nap. You may have to work it with your hands to restore the softeness of the suede.

All of that said, some people have had good results when they wash suede clothing, then dry in a dryer, while others have not. If you've bought a piece second hand or have had one for a long time and won't wear it because of soil, it may be worth taking a chance on.

It's even safer to wash suede clothing by hand. Use a mild soap like Woolite and lukewarm water. Gently squeeze the suds through the garment, then drain the water and then wash it again and again if necessary, until the water is clear. Rinse two or three times in clean lukewarm water until there is no trace of suds or cloudiness. Squeeze out the excess water, wrap in a towel and knead until it's fairly dry, then lay out to dry and treat as explained above.

Another caution: If you want to wash suede clothing, remember that nothing is for certain. Very seldom have I seen reports that a piece of suede clothing was ruined by washing, a little more often have I seen reports that it was ruined by machine drying. Much more often than either of those are the reports that suede clothing that had been given up on, was renewed and made not only wearable, but beautiful, supple and fresh again.

If you decide to wash your suede clothing, you, too, may gain a beautiful, supple and fresh garment!

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Comments (5)

Dog gone it. Out of votes again but I'll be back again...I love suede followed by corduroy but it gets too hot down here in Florida for that suave elegance. Good writing Pat as always. And very good tips about washing suede.

Hummm . . . I don't think I want to take the chance . . .

I've got a suede jacket that I haven't worn in years because the dry cleaning costs too much. I'm going to try this.

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Let us know how it goes, Page!

Hi Pat. Ive got a beautiful hand made suede jacket that my mother's best friend's mother made for her pre-1972. I always loved it, it was very long and as I am short, it was mid-calf length and a few sizes to large for me but I wore it despite the oversize. I then washed it myself in 1992, how, I cannot remember, but most likely by hand as I did think, back then, that it was supposed to be dry cleaned. Somehow, I don't know how, after reading all these comments from over the years, it shrunk, badly. The silk lining did not. I then handed it over to my teenage daughter to wear for quite a few years. It doesn't fit her anymore and it has been hanging in my cupboard for the past few years. I tried it on tonight. it does fit, but tightly. I can do the buttons up, the sleeves are a little short. It's still in great condition and besides a few places on the collar where the fold is that look to me that a good brush would fix it. I'm dying to wear it, but I am going to give this method a shot. I'm nervous and thinking that possibly the suede in the bygone years was not pre-shrunk and nowdays it is?? Oh well, here goes.....
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