Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol On Suede? (6 Pros & Cons)

Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol On Suede

We all know that suede is a delicate material. It’s prone to wear and tear, so it’s important to take care of your suede leather items with the utmost precision.

So in today’s article, I will be tackling one of the pressing questions that most people ask which is if you can use rubbing alcohol on suede.

First off, yes, you are able to use rubbing alcohol on suede leather to remove dirt and stubborn stains. However, you should be careful when doing so as suede is a very delicate material.

Therefore, I recommend testing the rubbing alcohol on a small, hidden area of your suede item before doing a full-on cleaning.

If the rubbing alcohol doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration, feel free to move on cleaning your entire suede item.

Rubbing alcohol is a common household solution that has the ability to remove dirt and stains.

It works especially well on suede leather due to its gentle nature that’s able to clean without harming the delicate material.

Rubbing alcohol is also inexpensive and easy to find, so you won’t need to worry about buying a specific product just for suede.

I recommend using 90% rubbing alcohol as it’s strong enough to break up stains without compromising your suede leather’s integrity.

If this isn’t available in your preferred store, 70-80% rubbing alcohol can be used as well.

However, there are some caveats that go along with this action. For example, make sure the surface of the suede isn’t wet before applying the rubbing alcohol.

If it is, the moisture will make the stains worse and could cause damage to your suede leather over time. More on details on this and more so you would want to continue reading this article.

The Benefits Of Using Rubbing Alcohol On Suede Leather

As mentioned before, there are a lot of benefits to using rubbing alcohol on suede leather. Here are a few of things you will find very beneficial to use on your suede items:

1. Rubbing Alcohol Can Be Used To Remove Stubborn Stains

One of the biggest benefits of using rubbing alcohol on suede leather is that it can be used to remove stubborn stains.

This includes things like dirt, grease, and even blood. Since you can not use any water-based cleaners on suede leather rubbing alcohol is the perfect solution to break up tough stains.

The biggest benefit to using rubbing alcohol on suede is that it won’t damage the material or discolor it.

If you have a stain on your suede item that just won’t go away no matter how hard you try to scrub it (which you should never be scrubbing suede), then try using some rubbing alcohol.

Just make sure to test it in a hidden area before doing a full-on cleaning as suede is very delicate.

2. Rubbing Alcohol Does Not Affect The Nap Of Suede

Rubbing alcohol is very gentle on suede leather. This is because it does not affect the nap of your suede item which can be easily damaged by excessive moisture exposure.

This means that you won’t have to worry about ruining or changing the texture of your suede after using rubbing alcohol on it, so feel free to use this solution as often as needed.

Suede leather is very porous so any water-based cleaner obviously involving water will definitely ruin or change the texture of suede. Alcohol is a waterless and oil-free agent that won’t affect the nap or surface of suede.

Most water-based cleaners will seep into the suede material and cause the natural nap to become matted. This is a very common issue that occurs when suede leather isn’t taken care of properly throughout its lifespan.

However, with rubbing alcohol it’s an entirely different story as this solution can be used in any condition without causing damage or discoloration in your suede item.

When you use rubbing alcohol on your suede leather items the rubbing alcohol immediately removes whatever stain or dirt you’re cleaning and then quickly evaporates without causing any damage to the suede.

3. Rubbing Alcohol Is A Cheap And Effective Way To Clean Suede

Compared to all other suede care products rubbing alcohol is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to clean suede leather.

Chances are you might already have some rubbing alcohol in your home as it’s a very common household item.

All you need is a small bottle or container of rubbing alcohol and a soft-bristled brush (like an old toothbrush) in order to remove any dirt, dust, or stains on your suede item.

Since rubbing alcohol doesn’t involve any water, it’s also a great way to clean your suede if it happens to get wet. Just make sure the surface is completely dry before applying any rubbing alcohol.

You can purchase both rubbing alcohol and soft-bristled suede brushes at most convenience stores, so you won’t have to go out of your way to find these items.

Just make sure to keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol on hand at all times for those tough suede stains and you’ll be good to go.

4. Rubbing Alcohol Leaves No Residue

Another one of the biggest benefits of using rubbing alcohol on suede is that it leaves no residue behind.

This means that once you’re done cleaning your suede item with some rubbing alcohol there will be nothing left over, making your items look brand new again.

Usually, most water-based cleaners would involve some kind of soap agent that might be a bit chemical-heavy on your suede material.

This can leave behind a soap residue deep within the fibers of your suede that might be difficult to get rid of without using a lot of which can easily cause your suede to dry or have severe watermarks.

However, since rubbing alcohol doesn’t involve any water and is a 100% natural agent, you won’t have this problem with residues leftover from the cleaning process.

This means that you can use rubbing alcohol for suede on a regular basis without worrying about there being any adverse effects to your items after cleaning them up with this solution.

The best part is, all of the extra residues will be completely gone once the product has evaporated from your item so it’ll look brand new again in no time.

Drawbacks To Using Rubbing Alcohol On Suede

Although there are a lot of benefits to using rubbing alcohol on suede, there are also a few drawbacks that should be taken into consideration before using this solution.

1. Rubbing Alcohol Can Be Damaging If Used In Excess Or Applied Incorrectly

Although rubbing alcohol is a great and effective way to clean suede leather, it’s important to note that if you use too much of it or apply it incorrectly it can be damaging to your item.

If you saturate your suede with rubbing alcohol then the material will become dry and stiff. In addition, if any of the rubbing alcohol manages to seep through the surface of your suede item then it could lighten the color, discolor, or damage any other surfaces underneath.

That being said, when using rubbing alcohol on suede leather items you should only use a very small amount and test a hidden area just in case there’s some kind of bleaching effect going on with this solution.

2. The Nap Might Become Wavy After Treatment

Since rubbing alcohol is such a powerful cleaning solution, if you use it on your suede item too often then it might cause the nap to become wavy and start looking flatter than normal.

This is because when the rubbing alcohol dries on the surface of your suede it will start to stiffen up the fibers and since they’re not as flexible anymore, this will cause them to ripple.

Although this isn’t a huge issue and can easily be fixed by brushing your suede item with a soft-bristled brush after it’s been treated with rubbing alcohol, it’s still something you should be aware of before using this solution on your suede item.

In most cases, the nap will actually start to bounce back after a couple of days so there won’t be any permanent damage done but if you use rubbing alcohol too much then the material might not look as good anymore over time.

How To Use Rubbing Alcohol On Suede

Using rubbing alcohol on your suede shouldn’t be hard at all, so here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can get started cleaning suede with rubbing alcohol.

Things Needed:

  • A Microfiber Cloth
  • Rubbing Alcohol (99% Isopropyl)
  • Suede Brush


Step 1:

  • Start by testing the rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous area of your item first to make sure there won’t be any adverse effects like bleaching or discoloration.

Step 2:

  • Use a suede brush to remove any dust and dirt on your suede item and then give it a once-over with the microfiber cloth to make sure all of those particles are gone.

Step 3:

  • After removing any visible debris from your suede, you can now dampen your cotton ball or cotton swab with some rubbing alcohol.

Step 4:

  • Now dab the alcohol soaked cotton ball over the stained or soiled areas of your suede and wait for it to dry.

Step 5:

  • Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.
  • Once the stain has been removed, use a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess alcohol residue from the surface of your suede item.
  • Allow your suede to air dry completely before using it again.

Tips To Remember When Using Rubbing Alcohol On Suede

Before I conclude this article, here are a few tips to remember when using rubbing alcohol on suede:

  • Always test the solution in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire item.
  • You normally want to find out if the rubbing alcohol will strip the dye from the suede.
  • If the nap of the suede becomes wavy, brush it with a soft bristled brush.
  • Only use a very small amount of rubbing alcohol and if possible try to avoid saturating the material.
  • Although the rubbing alcohol application will evaporate naturally after a few seconds, you still want to make sure your item is completely dry before using it again.
  • Be careful not to saturate your suede with rubbing alcohol as this could damage the material.
  • Avoid using harsh chemical or anything too hard that can damage the nap of your suede leather.
  • Don’t saturate your suede or rub too hard as this can cause damage over time instead of cleaning it effectively.
  • You don’t want to use rubbing alcohol on suede too often as this can ruin the suede itself.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped answer your question on if you can use rubbing alcohol on suede leather.

I believe I have comprehensively answered the question and provided you with the necessary information that should be of help to you, your, family, friends.

Please feel free to share this article with them if you found it helpful and informative.

Rubbing alcohol is a great way to clean suede but don’t use too much because it can ruin the nap.

Be sure to read my other articles for more tips on how to take care of your suede items.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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