Know Your Textiles: Suede, Microsuede & Microfiber

Everyone has heard a cautionary tale or two about the delicate nature of suede, which may cause hesitation when investing in microsuede or microfiber if you’re not familiar with the differences.

Though these three textiles may look, feel and sound similar, only microsuede and microfiber share a common thread, so to speak.

Suede

Suede is leather with a smooth nap, and is produced by splitting hides into two or more layers. The velvety material comes from the inner split, which provides the fuzzy nap we all know and love.

The warnings are valid, though: Suede is highly susceptible to stains, even from water. So, it’s a good thing we’ve got a synthetic alternative …

Microsuede / Microfiber

Microsuede and microfiber are one and the same. There are subtle variations, but they’re all made of polypropylene fiber, sometimes referred to as olefin.

Polypropylene is an oil-based derivative imbued with all kinds of superpowers. It’s stain-resistant, water-resistant, doesn’t easily wrinkle and even wicks moisture well, if that’s ever something you need in an upholstery fabric. But, it’s not indestructible.

In fact, though microfiber may be tougher than suede while still managing to feel softer, it takes a certain amount of care.

Care & Cleaning

Rule #1: Blot, blot, blot – and do so immediately after a spill using a dry, clean cloth.

If you must use a cleaning agent, you have a few options. Try a polyester cleaner, rubbing alcohol or a clear liquor if you’re in a pinch, but always remember to blot and let the fabric dry completely rather than soaking it with liquid.

Avoid using soap and water. The water may cause a permanent stain if it’s allowed to soak completely into the fabric.

Cleaning suede is a bit trickier. Blot stains immediately with dry paper towels, or a towel with white vinegar if needed. You can also try applying baking soda and then removing it with a suede brush after letting it soak up the stain. If the stain is dry, you can try removing it with a pencil eraser.

But, the best thing you can do for suede or microfiber is apply a protective spray, and reapply every few months for long-lasting stain defense.

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