how to remove jean dye from suede shoes

My favorite pair of shoes got ruined this weekend… thanks to my new, high waisted, wide leg trouser jeans.


FAIL.  After tromping around Manhattan for a few hours I noticed that the ink from my new denim rubbed off onto my lovely DV by Dolce Vita suede espadrille sandals and dyed them blue!

I considered them a total loss but pretended not to be upset about it because they gave me a massive blister and I couldn’t bear the thought of putting them on my feet again.


I reluctantly packed them in my suitcase thinking I’d toss them in the trash when I got home but last night decided, while cleaning the rest of the house, that I would try to salvage them.  I googled “removing denim dye from suede” and came across a variety of home remedies.

  1. Rub with a rubber eraser
  2. Scrub with vinegar
  3. Find a fancy cleaner that has the means to clean your item for you and expect to spend $40+
  4. Throw the item out
  • I tried #1 but stopped because the suede started getting even more discolored.
  • I had no vinegar so #2 was out.
  • I only paid $65 for these shoes and was not willing to spend $40+ to maybe have the stain removed
  • #4 was a last resort.

With no vinegar in my cabinets though I decided to do the only thing that came to mind…

I pulled out my handy, cleaning toothbrush and using a little dish soap and water, started brushing.


After that, I used an old towel to really scrub the straps ince the soft bristles can only do so much.

I rinsed, blotted and hoped for the best….


Ta-da! My crazy soap and water method seems to have worked, for the most part, on my beloved red suede sandals.  Here’s a before and after.


I took a chance since I basically considered them a lost cause and am happy that I’ve revived them!


Do you have any good fabric/stain cleaning tips?




This evening I have nothing but a whole lot of relaxing on tap since I was up at 5:15 this morning for a run!  My relaxing may or may not involve baking a banana bread. I love getting my workouts over with early in the day – it frees up the entire evening for fun activities!

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  • I have pink suede Adidas that got ruined by 2 pairs of jeans. I mixed vinegar with the dish soap and the toothbrush. Worked really well. Thank you!

    • I came here trying to figure out how to get the stains out of my pink suede adidas! They are a nightmare…

  • Thanks for this! Broke out some suede sneakers for the first time today and was so bummed when I thought I’d ruined them.

  • Thanks for this simple inexpensive tip! I added a little vinegar for extra power. Looks like my tan suede boots will look much better than before.

  • Thank you so much for this tip Elle! Last night I got home and realized my favorite and most comfortable light nude suede high heels’ back straps had become blue because of my jeans. I really thought there was no fix. I found your blog and tried it right away. Since I didn’t have an extra toothbrush on hand, I went straight to rubbing the dish soap with the wet towel. I even targeted some old little stains… To my surprise this morning when I woke up, all stains were gone. I’m so happy thanks!

  • Glad to hear that! I have a pair of shoes that has been destroyed by a pair of pants.It has been going on for over a year, so I do not know if I can make it better, but I will try!

  • Thank you for this information I just realized my jeans have faded on my tan suede shoes I will be trying as soon as I get home.

  • Well I have some black and white Pumas and they are pretty beat up and I don’t know what to do at this point but use your method and I hope it works thank-you

  • so useful! Im goign to try this on some boots i have and a pair of BCBG red flats that got ruined by the rain.
    I’ve tried the eraser, but it got the color off.

  • Has anyone else tried this method? I have suede DVF pumps that are *not* $65 lol so I am not willing to just take the toothbrush to them. I was thinking a cleaner but I have major trust issues even with heel repair people.

    Blue dye in suede shoes— is all lost?!

  • Thank you so much for this because I just bought a beautiful pair of suede tan boots today 4/1/15 and my new jeans left dye all over them so I was so upset so im going to try this and I really hope it works so thank you so much!!!!!!