At the thrift store, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt. It can be frustrating at times to spend hours and hours searching, but it becomes all worth it once you find your hidden gem. It’s that one item that makes you brag to everyone saying, “yeah, this is my latest thrift store find”. For you, maybe that’s a stunning suede jacket.
Whether you will be keeping the item for yourself or reselling it on an online marketplace like Poshmark or eBay, it is important to make sure the suede coat is clean and in good condition. In this post, we’ll go over how to clean your new-to-you suede jacket from the thrift store.
With a few supplies, a little elbow grease, and following these simple steps, your jacket or other suede items will look brand new! Continue reading for a comprehensive guide compiling the best cleaning methods.
Suede is a type of leather that has a velvety texture, which is why so many love the material. It truly gives an elevated, luxurious feel when you slip on your favorite suede jacket.
Plus, it is a quality material that should last you for years and years to come. That is why suede pieces are such a good investment. Additionally, suede clothing items and shoes are good staple pieces in your closet due to the natural, earthy tones suede items typically come in.
Before cleaning your suede jacket, check the care tag for any washing and cleaning instructions. Each brand and manufacturer may have different recommendations, so this is a great way to start.
The first step is to break out your suede brush. A suede brush is a soft bristle brush that can be used for the entire jacket. This will strip or at least loosen any surface dirt that may be on top of the jacket. Perform this task lightly, not pressing into the suede too hard. We want to ensure we avoid damaging the jacket further.
For tough stains, consider using a suede eraser. Just as we did with the suede brush, ensure you perform this step lightly. Use a gentle, circular motion when trying to buff out the affected area.
If you do not already have a suede eraser, a pencil eraser can be a good substitute and produce similar results.
The next step is to try a clothing steamer. Essentially this is a spray bottle with heat that can loosen up dirt, grime, stains, and wrinkles. Ensure you do not get too close to the jacket with the steamer.
Hold the steamer a couple of inches away to avoid potential damage from the intense heat. If you can, put the steamer settings on delicate.
Alternatively, if you do not own a steamer, I know just the place where you can find some free steam. Next time you’re wanting to take a hot and steamy shower, just hang your suede jacket inside the bathroom with you. This way, your jacket will get a low dose of some steam all over.
To avoid using harsh chemicals, you can opt for a vinegar solution. Vinegar is a multipurpose substance that can be used to treat a variety of dirt and stains that have accumulated on your jacket.
Simply mix two parts water with one part white vinegar. Ensure that you use cool water or cold water, and avoid using warm water or hot water. If the water temperature is too high, it can cause the jacket to become misshapen.
Next, find a clean, soft cloth, a cotton ball, or a clean sponge. When you go to wet your cloth (or other item listed above), make sure to not use too much water and vinegar solution. You will want a damp cloth, not a fully saturated cloth.
Use the solution on the small, stained area in gentle circular motions. After one treatment, let it dry completely. You may have to repeat this process again. So here’s a tip: take a before and after picture to see the progress you’ve made while cleaning.
This may either be motivating as you see your hard work go to good use, or it may mean you have to try another method of cleaning if no progress is being made.
Type of Stains
Depending on the type of stain, there are different methods for cleaning the item.
Visible dirt is one of the most straightforward stains to remove from suede. Use a combination of the supplies listed above, including starting with the suede brush, or moving to the pencil eraser or suede eraser.
If the stain does not come out, you may have to try alternative methods mentioned in the more tricky stains we will talk about next.
Ink stains can be difficult to remove from suede. Truly, it may be the most challenging one out of all the ways as we learn how to clean a suede jacket from the thrift store.
Typically ink stains, whether large or small, are difficult to hide. The best practice is to act quickly on these kinds of stains. But since this is a thrifted find, it is hard to say how long the stain has been permeating.
The first cleaning method to try is alcohol. Any rubbing alcohol will work. Use a clean rag to dab into the alcohol.
Again, do not saturate the rag, just dampen it. As always, do not rub too hard, putting too much pressure on the material.
Oily stains are tough to treat. For these types of stains, talcum powder or its safer alternative, cornstarch, can be used. Due to the properties of these compounds, they can effectively absorb the oil.
This method of cleaning is generally hands-off after you apply the powder to the jacket. Let it sit for at least 4 hours, and you may get even better results if you let it sit overnight. You may also have to repeat this process multiple times to get full effectiveness.
After you let the cornstarch or talc sit, remove the excess powder (and hopefully oil!) with a suede brush. Alternatively, you can use one of the strategies from above like the vinegar mixture or the rubbing alcohol.
Liquid stains can come in many forms. This includes water damage and blood stains.
Water stains can appear as a dark discoloration on the coat or jacket. As a first line of defense, try blotting the jacket with a paper towel or other clean towel. This will be an attempt to soak up some moisture.
Additionally, you can gather up a bunch of paper towels to stuff the jacket. Either stuff it from the inside or turn the jacket inside out and stuff it that way.
Periodically check in on the jacket, seeing if any liquid was pulled from the jacket onto the towels. If there is a mild to moderate amount of liquid, replace the towels with new ones.
Continue this process as long as you can visibly see or feel the water being expelled from the coat. Once you feel the jacket is as dry as it can be, use the suede brush from above in an attempt to restore the original color and feel of the jacket.
Blood stains, although very tricky, can be treated similarly to the other types of stains mentioned above. First, blot the stain with a clean cloth to try to expel the blood. Avoid rubbing as it may move the blood around and make the stain bigger, affecting more fibers.
Next, use the same suede eraser or pencil eraser to gently rub the stain. After this, use the vinegar solution (1 part vinegar, 2 parts water). Alternatively, you can use a suede cleaner that is specifically marketed for blood or other tough stains.
So you really love this coat, but it really does not smell good. As a part of learning how to clean a suede jacket from the thrift store, we must cover the dreaded smells.
Whether it's smoke, body odor, or just a strong Goodwill musk, you will likely be able to get the smell out with ease.
First, try the good old natural, fresh air. Hang your garment outside to catch a breeze.
Place your coat in a shady area on a cool day, if possible. This will err on the side of caution, avoiding any direct heat or sunlight that may affect the jacket.
Also, it should go without saying that you should check the weather forecast. If any precipitation is expected, hold off on hanging your jacket outside.
Next, you can use your clothing steamer as a natural deodorizer and stench lifter. This may be a step you will want to do regardless with your thrifted jacket.
Lastly, try baking soda. You can lightly sprinkle it throughout the jacket - both inside and outside. Let it sit for a while, even overnight if you can.
The properties of baking soda help it neutralize odors. After this process, get out your trusty old suede brush to clear the baking soda powder from the jacket.
After you’re done cleaning and ridding the jacket of any smells, let it dry naturally. Avoid putting it in the clothes dryer (and washing machine, while we're on the topic), because the heat can warp, shrink, or misshape the delicate suede material. The best practice is to hang dry your suede jacket.
Lastly, you can spray a suede protectant as the final step after all of your hard work cleaning. This will help prevent future stains, and ensure you will only have to go through this heavy-duty cleaning process once.
In order to ensure your suede jacket is safely and thoroughly cleaned, it is a good idea to take it to a professional cleaning service. It is important to have someone skilled in the delicate, velvety material that suede is, so make sure you find a professional dry cleaner.
If you decide to take your item to the dry cleaners, it will end up costing you more money, however, it may be worth it to have experienced hands working with your garment. Plus, if it is a jacket from the thrift store, you probably scored a major deal anyways!
So that's it, now you know how to clean a suede jacket from the thrift store. Congratulations! As you can tell, cleaning suede takes a high level of delicacy and patience. However, it's all worth it in the end to see your beautiful suede piece shine.