Rain has a way of making us feel alive. It is one of the few things in life that can be described as perfect because it cleanses and refreshes everything. But can suede be worn in the rain?
Suede is a type of leather made from real animals skin so it is generally resilient. Even though suede leather does not resist moisture like other materials like plastic, suede can still withstand light-moderate rain if properly waterproofed. Although you can wear suede in the rain, it sure comes with serious downsides like distortion of its velvety nap.
So there you have it if you came for a quick short answer. But before you step outside into the rain it is important to understand the downsides to wearing your suede leather items in the rain, how to treat them for rainy or snowy days, and what to do when you get caught up in the rain wearing your suede.
Here’s Why You Should NOT Wear Suede In The Rain
1. Suede Lighten When Worn In The Rain
The first and most noticeable downside when you wear suede in the rain is that the color of the suede item you’re wearing can substantially lighten. This means rain can erode the rich dark color of your suede shoes, gloves, or jacket and make it lighter.
There are a few ways this can happen. The acid component in the rainwater affects the pH balance in the suede which in turn accelerates surface wear.
This then initiates a gradual color loss in the suede where microscopic bits and pieces of the color come off over time, giving the suede leather items a faded look.
Another way rain can cause your suede to lose its color is due to the salt content in the rain. If you live around the coastal areas, rainwater will contain salt particles. The salt in the rainwater is what causes the color change, not so much the suede getting wet.
You will often not be able to notice the change in color especially while the suede leather is still wet. But surprise surprise when the suede dries it will have a lighter color.
While this will happen most of the time, it is important to add that will in some cases not happen at once. It may happen over a period of time from constant use in the rain or from deposits of salt and acid reacting on the suede leather over time.
2. Wearing Suede In Rain Can Also Stretch It
In addition to lightening the suede, wearing suede in the rain over time will also cause stretching. Suede leather is a very porous material and so when it comes into contact with rain the suede it will get wet especially if the suede has not been waterproofed.
Once the suede leather is wet it will stretch. Natural leather and suede have a quality of stretching and changing form when wet.
Viewing this as a good thing or bad depends on your perspective, but the drawback is that suede leather being stretchier increases its susceptibility to ripping and tearing when continually worn.
If your aim is to break into the suede leather shoe or jacket and it stretches this way then this can be very good as getting your suede leather wet in the rain might be very helpful.
All in all, it is up to the person, but wearing suede in wet weather might not be a great idea as it can stretch and get damaged.
3. Suede Will Have Watermarks If Worn In The Rain
Another imminent trouble as far as wearing suede leather in the rain is the appearance of watermarks after the suede is dry. Watermarks will primarily form on the surface or nap of suede when it is wet.
This often happens because suede leather unlike other smooth natural leather dries differently when wet. The fibers in suede are essentially exposed and as a result, absorbs too much moisture than they can handle.
This combined with not drying the suede leather well after it has gotten wet can easily cause the watermarks to form on its surface.
What makes this situation worse especially if you want to maintain the new look of the suede shoe, hat, or jacket is that it is pretty hard to get rid of such watermarks from the surface of the suede. Your best bet is to avoid the rain at all costs.
But if you have no other choice, it is advisable to wipe suede items with a damp cloth before and after they get wet in order for them not to absorb too much moisture from the water.
After wiping make sure that you dry off your suede item as soon as possible so that there are fewer chances of getting any unwanted marks on its surface.
It’s also worth considering using protection like socks or shawls when wearing suede outside during rainy weather because this will add an extra layer between the fabric and the wet ground which can help protect against stains and tears caused by contact with rough surfaces.
Trying these tricks should keep your suede shoes or jacket looking new.
4. Rain Can Distort The Nap Of The Suede
Not only does wearing suede in the rain affect the color and the shape of the suede leather item but also its beautiful unique and soothing texture.
When you wear suede in the rain, those once soothing texture becomes stiff and brittle and can lead to the nap breaking off from the surface of the leather and ultimately causing permanent damage to the suede.
Suede can be a fashion statement but it should only be used when appropriate like during dry, warm weather so that you don’t have to worry about distorting the precious nap and texture of your suede leather item.
The surface of suede leather has a hairy texture that is created from the use of rough, coarse sandpaper. The rain can distort this nap and make it sticky or matted when wet which will then dry in an unflattering way that cannot be easily cleaned off with just soap and water.
Due to the nature and texture of its nap rainwater can easily carry dust particles that are already settled on the surface of the item deep into the fiber.
You don’t want anything getting inside of the suede fibers and crevices because once it gets there it may become impossible to remove without damaging the nap further.
As mentioned before, suede is very porous and essentially consists of fibers that have clotted together and formed a skin-like material like leather.
This is what makes suede so unique but it also means that the rain and other forms of liquids can easily distort its fibers and ruin its nap.
Let me hasten to add that, the watermarks that form on the surface of suede leather in some cases wear off over time with some use.
5. Suede Leather When Worn In Rain Will Promote Mold Growth
One common concern when it comes to wearing suede leather items in the rain is the possibility of mold growth. Mold can easily grow on suede items since they are very porous.
Mold thrives by using spores to break down organic matter like the fibers of suede leather. The worse part is you do not typically see that your leather has been infected with mold until it begins to change color from its original hue.
Mold growth is unsightly and can lead to a strong musty odor. And because suede is a highly porous leather material you might not be able to scrub the mold off without distorting the nap or discoloring it.
This doesn’t mean the mold is impossible to remove. You will be able to remove mold from your suede boots, shoes, or jackets if you know what you are doing.
Mold can be removed from suede items with a special cleaner and some patience, but the process is not always effective. The mold will just return if it finds that there are enough spores on or in your shoes to make new growth occur.
Meaning you must make sure to remove all of the spores from your suede or they will just come back again! If you wear suedes often then I recommend cleaning them after every time they get wet so as to avoid any possible future problems of this kind.
How To Protect Suede From The Rain
It is generally a good idea to avoid wearing suede in the rain, especially if it has been raining for a while or you see from the weather reports that there are chances of rain.
What about if you’re already out and a storm is approaching? The main method of protecting your suede from rain is by Waterproofing it.
But beyond that, I will also share with you some ideas of how to protect your suede items from rain. But first, let’s take a look at how to waterproof suede the right way so that it is resilient against rain.
- Suede Spray
- Suede Shampoo
- Suede Brush
- Use the suede brush to brush the entire surface of the suede jacket, shoes, or boots.
- This will help to remove dust, dirt, or debris from the surface of the suede leather item.
- This is important because not removing them can create channels for water to seep through even after the waterproofing.
- Usually using a suede brush all you need to do is to clean your suede items whether jackets, hats, shoes, or gloves.
- But if you have some serious stains on your suede, do not skip step 2
Step 2 (Optional)
- Next is cleaning the suede leather item especially if you have stains on your suede.
- You can use a good suede shampoo to clean your suede following the application instructions on the one you choose.
- It is important to clean your suede leather items before waterproofing as the stains, dirt, dust, and debris will be sealed into the suede leather after the waterproofing.
Here’s a video on how to clean your suede using Saphir Omni’Nettoyant Suede Shampoo.
- After you have cleaned your suede, now is time to apply the waterproof spray your suede.
- Start by holding the suede spray can 7 inches away from the suede and with a back and forth motion, apply the suede waterproof spray as evenly as possible.
- Do not hold the spray application over one spot of the suede for a long time. But for suede shoes, you would want to spend some extra time spraying around the welt for extra protection.
- If there are any more application instructions on the suede waterproofer you pick up do well to follow that as well.
- Once you have thoroughly applied your suede waterproofing spray, allow the application to air-dry.
- Repeat step 3 if needed and allow to thoroughly air-dry. Voila!
What To Do If Your Suede Gets Wet
Since suede is a porous material, it will take in water. This would be bad because moisture can cause all types of problems as I have already mentioned above in this article.
If you have gotten your suede leather article wet, do not ever try to dry it by sitting near an open flame such as candles or a fireplace but instead, follow these steps.
- Microfiber Cloth
- Soft Bristle Toothbrush Or Suede Brush
- Suede Shampoo
- First, blot the wet suede with a microfiber cloth. This will help to soak up as much of the excess water as possible.
- When doing the blotting make sure you do not rub. Simply pat the suede gently to blot the moisture.
- Now with the help of your soft bristle brush, brush the nap of the suede while it is still wet.
- You want to maintain a back and forth motion while you brush the surface or nap of the suede.
- Leave the suede to gradually air dry.
- Do not use any heat source to hasten the drying process as this can cause the suede leather to dry up.
- Brush the nap of the suede again once it has had time to air dry.
- You can use a soft-bristle toothbrush from this or a suede brush for best results.
Step 5 (If Applicable)
- At this point, if you notice any stains on the suede, now may be the time to treat those stains.
- Usually, using a suede eraser to simply erase those stains is all you need to do to get rid of the stains at this point.
- Otherwise, get a good suede leather cleaner like suede shampoo and use it to clean stains off your suede.
- After, leave the suede to air-dry.