Suede is a soft leather material made from animal skin, including sheep, pigs, deer and calves. Washable suede can come in one of two types — real suede and synthetic suede. Real suede can be made washable if it is treated with an enzyme and then washed. Faux suede is not made from animals at all, but is a manufactured microfiber fabric. It too is coated with an enzyme to make it resistant to stains and more durable than real suede. Imitation suede can be hard to distinguish from leather suede, and it is usually laundered without any special treatment.
Real leather suede is usually made from the underside of an animal, and the material is buffed to a high sheen. It's supple, warm and less expensive than leather, but also less durable. Washable suede, especially the synthetic kind, is a longer-lasting fabric that can be an excellent choice for an elegant, but not overly-expensive look. It is frequently used to make women's and men's jackets, gloves and other fall, winter and spring wear.
Imitation suede can be comfortable, beautiful, easy to wear, and impervious to water. That said, it is important to only launder washable suede, as real, non-washable suede does not mix well with water. To know whether your suede garment is washable, be sure to check the label, or get the advice of an expert. Although the cleaning instructions may vary depending on the manufacturer, faux suede can typically be placed in a washing machine along with other laundry at a cold water setting. Even heavily stained articles will generally come out clean using the same stain-removing techniques as on any other garment.
Many advise against drying washable suede in an automatic dryer, unless the garment label instructs that it is safe to do so. Some manufacturers may advise drying the garment on low, but others insist that automatic drying will ruin and misshape the product. Dry cleaning is often advised against as well because the process can make faux suede stiff and uncomfortable.
Men and women alike can choose from a wide variety of washable suede clothing. This includes gloves, pants, jackets, purses, and, of course, suede shoes. The price varies greatly, depending on the manufacturer, the style, the brand, and the quality of the material. Because washable synthetic suede costs less than real suede, it can be an excellent choice for clothing that is longer lasting and attractive.
Before purchasing anything made of imitation suede, it's important to touch it. If a touch leaves an easily distinguishable impression, the fabric is considered to be poorly made. Suede that reflects no mark or print when touched is the sign of a good product. Good washable suede is virtually indistinguishable from real, non-washable leather suede.