The relationship between water and suede has always been a complicated one. Some people argue that dry cleaning companies oversell how much damage water does to suede in order to lure more people for their cleaning services; others argue against it.
Therefore, I have decided to provide you with a final answer answering one of the most hotly debated topics in the entire suede community, which is backed by experimentation.
So, can suede jackets get? Are they waterproof? Can suede actually be thrown in the washing machine? You will find the answers to all these questions in this article.
Can suede jackets get wet?
Suede jackets can get wet; they are not waterproof in any way. Water can do quite a bit of harm to your suede jackets. It can cause discoloration, patches, and shrinkage, or loss of shape.
Luckily, getting wet is not going to stretch or shrink your suede jacket in any way. But still, this is something that you would want to avoid.
Waterproofing suede jackets is possible and is actually recommended, but keep in mind that suede is always going to be a hydrophobic fabric no matter how much you treat it chemically. The best thing you can do for your suede jacket is avoiding wearing it in the rain.
There are a few different ways to waterproof suede, but only a good suede protector spray is going to get you worthwhile results. I have tested several different waterproofing sprays, and here’s my favorite one.
- Adds water repellency to nubuck & suede footwear while preserving texture
- Clean first with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel for best results
- Spray-on application. Non-aerosol spray
- Recommend for use on all textured leather shoes, coats, and gloves; safe for GORE-TEX
Can suede jackets be washed?
Suede jackets should not be washed as washing them can lead to discoloration, shrinkage, loss of shape, and many other irreversible damages to the jacket.
The answer to this question is actually a bit complicated. Everyone on the internet claims that suede and water don’t go very well with each other. And that’s what I used to believe too until I came across a particular YouTube video.
In the video, the narrator breaks all the rules that are well-established about suede jacket maintenance. He actually puts his suede jacket in the washing machine, and then on a clothesline in order to dry it.
As far as I know, suede reacts poorly to both water and harmful UV rays of the sun.
I have linked the video at the bottom of this article if you want to take a look.
At this point, I realized that I have to get to the bottom of this mystery for once and for all.
I had some old suede jackets that I had outgrown just lying around. So I decided to do a little experiment. I threw them in the washer. My results were a bit random.
Here are the results of this experiment:
- Jacket #1 – Shrunk ever so slightly. No other visible damage.
- Jacket #2 – No damage whatsoever. The suede jacket actually came out better than before.
- Jacket #3 – No damage in the wash, but the jacket got a bit stretched due to hanging it on a clothesline.
- Jacket #4 – Major color discoloration. It actually came out a tone lighter than it used to have.
So what can we infer from this little experiment? Not much, sadly. Suede tends to behave at random when exposed to water. This is what made me claim that you should never wash a suede jacket.
It’s not that you can’t machine wash a suede jacket, it’s just that the outcome is going to very random and might completely ruin your suede jacket. Or it might just give it a thorough cleaning.
Therefore, to be on the safer side, I would recommend that you get your suede jackets dry cleaned instead of hand-washing or machine washing them.
How to revive a wet suede jacket?
If your suede jacket gets wet, you would need to act quickly in order to minimize the damage. There are a number of considerations to be made, but once your suede jacket gets wet, follow this step-by-step guide:
1. Blot the excess water
Blot the places where the water made most of its impact. As soon as you can, get a microfiber cloth or tissue paper and start blotting the most heavily affected areas.
To do this effectively, you need to be strategic in how you are going to do the blotting. Start applying pressure and keep up the pressure until your napkin or pressing cloth starts to become wet.
Replace the napkin with a fresh one and move on to the next heavily impacted spot.
2. Clean the suede using a brush
Now that most of the water has been soaked out of the jacket, it’s time to start working on the actual restoration and revival process.
For this step, you would need a dedicated suede brush. There are a number of ones available on Amazon, and they are pretty cheap (here’s my favorite one on Amazon if you are looking for a recommendation).
- Classic Suede Brush & Nubuck Cleaner – Hands down the most effective suede brush on the...
- No Added Solutions or Other Brushes Needed – Although protective spray is encouraged,...
- The Best for Removing Heavy Dirt and Scuff marks – Regular brushes just spreads dirt...
- Work Your Way into all Corners of Your Shoes – With three built in rubber brush (Rubber...
Use this piece of equipment to lightly brush the suede all over the jacket. This will help in getting rid of any grime that would have stuck to the jacket if you wore it while it was raining.
3. Use a hairdryer to fasten the drying process
The most important part of the restoration process of a wet suede jacket is making it dry again. To do this effectively, you would need access to a hairdryer. If you don’t have one, ask your neighbor or friend, because time is of the essence in this situation.
Set the heat to low on the hairdryer and start blowing it all over your jacket. Make sure that you keep up the brushing with your other hand, as this will make sure that the suede is full of life once it becomes fully dry.
Constant brushing will also ensure that the suede does not develop any wrinkles during the drying process. But if you still manage to get wrinkles on your jacket, here’s how you can get rid of them.
By the end of all this, your suede jacket will hopefully be back to its original pristine condition.
How to waterproof a suede jacket?
Now, to make sure that your suede jacket never gets subjected to the trial and tribulations of water damage again, you would need to waterproof it properly.
The simplest way to waterproof a suede jacket is to simply use a dedicated suede waterproof spray on it. Just take the waterproofing spray, shake it well, and spray it all over your jacket. Repeat this process every couple of months.
I have seen people recommending that you rub some wax on your jacket in order to waterproof it, but I can’t comment on that because I haven’t tried it.
However, I think spending 15-20$ on my expensive suede jackets is justified, rather than going for these DIY hacks that might do more harm than good in the long run. To each his own though.
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.