Suede handbags are great, but their appeal can quickly disappear after one unfortunate “encounter” with dark jeans. You probably know that since you are reading this post. The same thing happened to my light beige handbag, but I found an easy way to fix it! Let’s have a look at how to clean jean stains off suede handbag. Feel free to use this method on suede shoes, purse, jacket, or any suede item.
Can You Clean a Denim Transfer off Suede?
I got a light beige suede bag, and not knowing the consequences, I wore it with dark blue denim. As a result, I ended up with large blue stains on the bag. I thought that this is it, so I let the bag sit in the closet for a couple of years, but that was a mistake! It turns out that you can clean a denim transfer off suede yourself!
How to Clean Denim Dye out of Suede?
You can find articles online that advise using following items to clean denim dye out of suede:
- White vinegar
- Eraser or rubber for suede
- Soap water
I tried all of them. The vinegar and alcohol method did not seem to work at all – maybe because the stains were very old. The eraser seemed to work; however, it also appeared to transfer a bit of the dye around, which was counterproductive. Soap water worked the best. Below you can read the 4-step process to clean a denim transfer off suede that worked for me.
🤓 There is one crucial step that applies to any cleaning method: Clean the suede as soon as possible. The longer you will let the dye stay on the suede, the harder it might be to get it out since the dye might transfer deeper into the leather’s grain.
- Soap water
- Shoe brush, an old toothbrush, or a cleaning brush
- Old towel or sponge (use an old one, since suede might start to color transfer when wet)
- White tissue paper or any white paper OPTIONAL
- Suede brush (Amazon link)
4 Steps to Clean Jean Stains off Suede
- Brush your bag with a suede brush (or a cleaning brush) to get rid of any dirt or dust.
- Dip a shoe brush (cleaning brush, toothbrush) in the soap water and brush the stained area. Rinse the brush often.
- Dry the bag with an old towel or a sponge and let it air dry.
- Brush the dry suede with a suede brush to restore the texture. If there is still some dye left, you can repeat the process.
🤓 TIP: When drying, optimally stuff the bag with white tissue paper or any white paper to hold the bag’s shape. It can also help to wick the moisture out of the suede. If your bag is very wet, a newspaper might be a bad alternative since the ink might transfer onto the suede.
If the brushing did not help, I would have to dampen the whole bag, let it air dry and brush it.
If you don’t want to risk it, you can safely dampen the entire bag while cleaning the dye transfer, but I would dampen the whole bag after I have spot cleaned the “denim transfer” area.
Here is the result. As you can see, I didn’t manage to clean the dye entirely. One of the reasons might be that the dye transfer happened a long time ago, and the dye has set deep into the leather. The second reason might be that the bag has a very light color and the jeans were dark, and the damage is irreversible. Either way, I am happy with the result! It looks much better, and I will keep using this handbag.
But what if you are not able to clean the suede to make it wearable again? There is one more thing you can do.
What to Do if You Can’t Clean the Jean Stain off Suede?
When life gives you lemons, you could make lemonade, right? If the dye transfer on your suede is too severe, you could consider dying the suede to another color. You can make a fun DIY out of it, and you might end up with an item that looks better than new 👌!
- Suede brush (Amazon link)
- Suede dye (Amazon link)
- Staple brush, which helps to apply the dye evenly OPTIONAL
- Masking tape to hide areas that you don’t want to paint like stitches, etc. OPTIONAL
Here is a great tutorial on how to dye suede made by Orly Shani, The DIY Designer
Thanks so much for this! I used Dawn in water with a gentle nail brush. Old dark stains came out!! I cleaned the whole bag and not a single water mark.
Hi Laurie, that’s great, I’m glad I could help!