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How to Prevent Suede Upholstery from Shedding or Shredding

September 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Furniture

Suede upholstery is beautiful, soft to the touch, and appears timelessly elegant. The drawback to this timeless fabric happens when it sheds and leaves residue on your clothing every time you sit on it. It is frustrating, and many people end up covering their beautiful suede furnishings because of this situation.

How Suede is Made

Suede is a very delicate leather product that is made from the tender skin on the underside of the animal hide. The softest suede is made from lambskin, and was originally made for the purpose of fashioning gloves for ladies. Other animals are used to produce suede including deer, goat and sometimes cows. Suede that is made from the skin of a cow usually has a longer nap and is not as attractive for clothing purposes.

This soft skin is taken from the hide and then it is roughed up, or sanded to cause the “nap” to appear. This leather is very popular for clothing and purses, and even upholstery, but it is also very delicate and has to be treated with care. Suede will not last as long as other types of leather.


When suede fabrics shed or shred it is known as crocking. The problem has nothing to do with you and how you have cared for the furniture, and it has more to do with how the leather was processed into the suede. This crocking can be annoying and can even cause bare spots to appear in the fabric if it gets severe.

Brush the Suede

You would think if your suede is crocking that it would be a counter-productive measure to use a suede brush on it, but just the opposite is true. Your upholstery needs to be brushed thoroughly in order to get the crocking to stop.

You need:

  • A high quality, suede upholstery brush; use caution when you are using a suede brush to clean your fabric or to remove crocking. If you brush this fabric too hard or vigorously you will permanently damage the fabric. You must brush gently, and you may still see some color changes in the fabric caused by the brushing.
  • A vacuum with an attachment so it can be used on furniture

Using the suede brush, you will make short strokes and brush the suede against the nap. This will cause the loose particles to begin to be lifted from the fabric. Brush against the nap, and then use the vacuum to pick up the debris you have created during the brushing process.

Then use the suede brush and brush the suede in the other direction. You will loosen more particles and need to vacuum these loosened particles up. Repeat the brushing and the vacuuming changing directions each time until you see very little debris when you brush the fabric.

Once you have gotten as much of the crocking as you can from the fabric you need to condition the suede with a protector that is made strictly for this type of leather.

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