There is absolutely nothing as important to the maintenance of a pair of suede shoes as using a good suede shoe protector. On the other hand, there is nothing as difficult as not wearing said brand new shoes, that very evening, or even, the very moment you walk out of the store. At least for me, that is an absolute challenge, which is why I need to keep telling myself the following story.
My new shoes are as gorgeous and as frail as a bonsai tree growing on a cliff’s edge. You cannot know when a storm will hit, but you can be sure it will. You could bring the bonsai tree inside, but then it would lose some of its beauty. But what if you could erect a force field around it? One that would let it flow in the breeze but that would protect it against strong winds?
Force fields for bonsai trees do not exist yet, but suede shoe protectors do, and it is my duty to protect my new shoes.
I know the entire story might seem far fetched but it is literally the only way I can get myself to have the patience to use a suede shoe protector. With me, it also helps that I have, at least 3 suede shoe protectors and 1 car leather protector, in my home at all times. They are one of my favorite impulse acquisitions, so I think I can confidently say the following:
These are the best suede shoe protectors on the market today:
- Apple Brand Garde Suede Shoe Protector – one of the first protectors I have ever used and that I have been continuously buying for the past 10 years. Never had a problem with it, and it has always come through for me.
- Kiwi Select All Protector – the top product in the shoe industry. Has been on the market for decades, and is a part of a larger family of shoe care products.
- Nanoman Shoe Protector Spray – the relatively new kid on the block, using the latest technologies both in the formula and in the spray head.
- Solemates All Weather Protector – one of the newer products on the market but one that I have tested and loved.
- X Water & Stain Repellent – I have already tried the X Cleaner and loved it, so I am sure the X Water Repellant will not disappoint.
- Crep Protect Rain & Stain Shoe Protection Repel Spray – a new formula, based on nano technology, delivered in an aerosol format for perfect distribution if used carefully.
- Kaps Shoe Conditioner – one of the few water repellents that also nourishes the leather to keep it as soft as when it came out of the box.
- RepelWell Apparel Protect – one of the safest, nonintrusive formulas that will still work on shoes as well as purses.
- Mountval Protector – my favorite suede boots protector, with a very strong formula that will protect the boots even when walking through mountain creeks.
- BearPaw Water and Stain Repellant – one of the best-designed brands, the formula looks great and the reviews are great.
I have probably emphasized to death just how important it is to use a suede shoe protector before using shoes for the first time, so I will not debate that point here any longer. I will go into some very specific details, though, about each of the products on my list. So if you need a few more detailed reviews just scroll below.
How to Use a Suede Shoe Protector
First, we should consider the steps needed for a suede shoe protector to work properly:
- Make sure the shoes are clean. Sometime even in storage suede will attract a lot of dust so you should use a soft brush to clean the dust away.
- Hold the shoes in one hand and the spray in the other about 8 inches apart.
- Start spraying from the tip of the shoes and work your way down.
- Make sure to spray the back of the shoes as well as the tongue.
- Don’t be stingy! There is a point after which you are just throwing away product, but you should really see that the surface of the shoes is completely wet, covered in the suede protector.
Another thing to consider is how often you should use a suede shoe protector. I definitely spray may seasonal shoes once at the beginning of the season and again when the season ends, and I clean and store my shoes away. For shoes that I use all year around, I would spray my shoes every couple of months.
The question is not how often you should use a suede shoe protector but how much does one last. In my experience, even the best protectors will not last more than going a single time through heavy rain, will be cleaned off with the dust and impurities after about 3 deep shoe cleanings, and needs to be reapplied after a suede stain remover has been used.
Of course, these rules also depend on the suede shoe protector being used, which is why I will breach the subject in each of the reviews for the products on the list.
1. Apple Brand Garde Suede Shoe Protector
I have discussed before how, when it comes to suede, sometimes the most delicate products are the best. The Apple Brand suede shoe protector is one of those products that became wildly popular in a different market and was then adopted into others. In the case of Apple Brand, it was the protector of choice for suede and nubuck purses for the longest time.
It has a very delicate formula that leaves absolutely no trace of it having been used on the shoes. It also will not leave any traces even on the rubber, or other nonabsorbent, parts of the shoes. However, because it is so sensitive, it also needs to be reapplied more often than the other sprays on the list. I tend to save it for my sandals and my wife’s dress shoes and I like to apply it at least once a month.
2. Kiwi Select All Protector
Kiwi has been one of the top producers of shoe maintenance solutions for many years now and is usually the first product shoe salespeople will reach for. Their formula is good no matter the product and the fact that the company has withstood the test of time and has conquered as many markets as it did, is a true testament to its value.
Personally, I tend to avoid the brand simply because I do not like how they package their products. I have used the protector a couple of time and I was pleased by the result. It did not leave any stains and the shoes always bounced back to their fresh look even after walking through a rainstorm.
3. Nanoman Shoe Protector Spray
Although the concept of nanotechnology has not been new for several decades now, it has only recently been implemented in the shoe protection technologies. Using this new understanding of nanoparticles, the Nanoman shoe protector spray was able to reinvent the way oleophobic coatings work.
Consequently, this protector spray works just as well against water stains and oil stains. It is also one of the few products on the market that will protect both leather and suede shoes, and canvas shoes. It leaves no marks behind and has a relatively pleasant odor.
The only reason why it is not on the top of my list is because I do feel like it leaves the suede a little bit stiffer than original. It does not affect the way it looks, but just because I can always tell the difference between a treated and an untreated shoe, it decided to include it just as my third-place choice.
4. Solemates All Weather Protector
The thing that made me want to try the Solemates shoe protector when I first saw it on Instagram was because of the perfume style atomizer. I love the fact that with perfumes you can create a mist and then walk through it for perfect application, and I thought it would be similar with a shoe.
You may argue that it is somewhat of a waste of product, but with my more delicate shoes, I spray straight up, above the shoe, and I let the particles settle down on the shoe.
What amused me the most was to find out that the one protector spray I chose to use as a perfume is actually made by the same company that reached notoriety by inventing a heel protector for stiletto shoes and presenting it to the sharks on Shark Tank.
I searched and watched the show, it’s in season 8, episode 4, and they actually made a deal with Robert. I guess they went on to larger and better things since then because the suede shoe protector I have been using is of excellent quality.
5. X Water & Stain Repellent
I have been using the X Cleaner on my Converse shoes for several years now and have just recently discovered the X Water & Stain Repellent. I assume it uses a similar nanotech as the Nanoman given the fact that it works on both canvas and suede, but I have not actually had the chance to test it myself.
Still, it should be a testament to how pleased I am with the product to say that because of how well the X Cleaner works I have decided to introduce the X Suede Shoe protector on the list.
Of course, I have done my homework, and I have checked the Amazon reviews to see what other people think of it. It doesn’t have that many reviews but the simple fact that it has not attracted any 1-star haters would seem to suggest that other buyers have enjoyed it.
6. Crep Protect Rain & Stain Shoe Protection Repel Spray
Crep Protect is one of the new brands on the market and they are also reinventing most of the formulas used to clean and protect shoes. I have already talked about their stain eraser, and how it is an innovation in the business, but I am even more impressed with their rain protection spray.
It was developed from the same nanotechnology concept that Nanoman uses, but they obviously have different compositions.
The thing that tips you to that is that the Crep Protect is in an aerosol can so the entirety of its formula is incredibly small. More importantly, the aerosol delivery system is a double aged sword.
Provided you keep your movements steady and keep the spray a good 8 inches from the shoe, you will have a very nice spread across the shoe. However, if you start too close to the shoe, you will spray a lot of formula on a single spot and can even risk staining the shoe.
7. Kaps Shoe Conditioner
I was very reluctant to add the Kaps shoe conditioner to the list because technically it is a conditioner with water repellant properties. However, because it does work very well as a water repellent, I decided to talk about it here. The protector part of the formula works as well as you would expect; you only need to spray shoes with normal wear and tear, every other month.
The great thing is that the conditioner part of the formula also helps the shoes bounce back after you have used a suede shoe eraser. It is also a great way to rehydrate the shoes after they have had an encounter with an oil-based stain. Lastly, I like the Kaps conditioner because it is specifically focused on suede and nubuck which makes me feel like it has less artificial chemicals.
8. RepelWell Apparel Protect
Before I came across the Solemates protector, the RepelWell was my favorite suede protector for delicate shoes. One reason was that you can control the spray volume and distance more carefully due to the hand pump. The other reason why you would want to choose the RepelWell is that it is designed for different types of suede products including purses and gloves.
Besides the fact that a product designed for purses is far less invasive, using less powerful chemicals, it also has a nicer smell. Of course, all shoe protectors are designed not to leave an odor behind, but some of them are really nauseating while you are spraying them, and that is just not the case with the RepelWell.
9. Mountval Protector
The Mountval is a specially formulated water repellent spray for mountain boots whether they are made from suede, nubuck or fabric. It is a slightly stronger formula of spray repellent, so you would definitely feel the difference in touch if you applied this to a softer shoe. However, for really strong, mountaineering type of leather, the suede shoe protector really works very well.
I should also mention that most shoe protectors have problems when interacting with Gore-Tex because they tend to clog up the pores that would otherwise keep your feet from sweating too much.
The Mountval is one of the few suede protectors that give you the piece of mind to really walk through water and mud knowing that you will be able to clean your shoes properly when you get home, but also it allows the shoes to do their job as they were intended to.
10. BearPaw Water & Stain Repellent
The final product I thought might be interesting to include on this list is the BearPaw Water & Stain Repellent. I thought it is interested because its special formula that can be used on regular suede as well as sheepskin, making it ideal for Uggs.
Because we as a family do not own Uggs I cannot speak to its efficiency on them, but on our regular shoes, it does work very well. It is also one of the most affordable suede shoe protectors, which is why I initially decided to give them a try, and I was not disappointed.
In conclusion, I would just like to point out the 2 major differences you need to consider. You can either go for a nanotechnology bases suede shoe protector, or with a more traditional formula. The nanotechnology has less of a smell and does not seem to leave any marks or any type of material, which is why I tend not to trust it that much.
I enjoy using the traditional suede shoe protectors because I know they have been used for decades and there are entire generations of suede aficionados and shoe cobblers alike that stand by them.