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Protect Your Blue Suede Shoes

Dear Sugar
I have a pair of suede sandals I've worn to death without ever taking the time to protect them. I've tried to clean them, but nothing really worked. Unfortunately, now I've got to throw them away. I just bought a new pair and would like to know what you recommend for protecting my new sandals from the start. Suede Slave

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Dear Suede Slave
Suede is tricky. It's one of the few materials which cannot be cleaned successfully with water. In fact, rain, sleet or snow can transform the smooth, velvety surface into one that is harsh and uneven. I've often wondered why anyone dared to make suede shoes.

However, thanks to advances in the leather protection world, we have come a long way. Try using a gentle and suede specific waterproof protectant such as Rod's Suede Cleaner ($3.50)

OR

AQUILA Leather and Suede cleaner (12.85)

Spray the product on your shoes (at least four inches away) and let it sit for 1/2 hour. Repeat. Then leave your shoes outside to thoroughly dry (make sure it's not raining). This should do the trick. You can mist them again about every 10 wears or so.

If you need a quick fix for a stain, try using dry cleaning solvent (use sparingly) mixed with an absorbent such as fuller’s earth or sawdust. Never ever use a dry cleaning product alone. It will just leave marks that will ruin the fabric.

For salt stains, mix one cup of water together with one tablespoon of vinegar. Gently wipe the area with a soft white cloth. If you've got a scuff mark, try using an art-gum eraser, I find that works well.

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