How To Clean Nubuck

Nubuck is a sanded leather that’s made from cowhide, providing excellent strength and durability. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that it’s a popular choice of material for lots of different shoes.

However, one of the downsides of nubuck is the fact that it’s often vulnerable to staining and soiling, therefore knowing exactly how to clean and protect the material is absolutely essential. 

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at several of the most effective methods of cleaning and caring for nubuck shoes. What’s more, we’ll also look to answer a number of the frequently asked questions. 

How To Clean Nubuck – Getting Rid Of Dirt And Grime

One of the most common reasons for cleaning nubuck shoes is to brush dirt and grime away from the surface. To do this as safely as possible without damaging the material, you can use a specially-designed nubuck cloth. 

  • When using the cloth, try to adopt a circular cleaning motion, wiping the surface of the shoe in several different directions. Moreover, if you’re looking to clean the entire shoe, it’s a good idea to remove the laces before starting. 
  • If you’d prefer to use a brush to get rid of any dirt or grime on the surface of your shoe, you can just as effectively use a nubuck brush. Make sure you adopt a similar circular motion to clean the surface, and avoid spending more than a few seconds brushing a particular area as this can damage the nap. 

If you’re wondering where to find a nubuck brush, most retailers who sell other nubuck items should provide them. Alternatively, you’ll also be able to find them on major websites like Amazon. 

  • A final method of removing dirt and grime is to use a nubuck cleaner. These cleaners almost always come in either liquid or aerosol form, and are formulated specifically for use on nubuck material. 
  • Simply spray a generous amount of nubuck cleaner onto a nubuck cloth and wipe the entirety of the shoe. These excellent cleaners can be found in the same stores as you purchase your other nubuck items, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find them. 

clean nubuck shoes in the best way

Dealing With Common Stains When Cleaning Nubuck

Irrespective of the substance which has caused the stain, it’s essential to begin by wiping the affected area with a nubuck cloth to remove whatever excess you can. For some of the lighter stains, this may even be enough.

If the stain is an oil-based one, your best option is to use leather degreaser and leather cleaner. The former usually comes in aerosol form, so spray some of it directly onto the stain and let it stand for at least an hour until it turns to a powder. 

This powdery residue indicates that the oil stain has been soaked up, so wipe it away with a sponge and some leather cleaner. If the stain hasn’t quite been removed, you can repeat the process a second time. 

When it comes to removing ink stains on nubuck, using an ink lifter is the most effective method. Ink lifter is a greasy substance which is best used as quickly as possible after ink has set on a surface – usually within the first six hours. 

Rub the ink lifter over the affected area until it’s completely covered, then use both leather cleaner and a nubuck cloth to wipe away the remains of the stain. 

Getting Rid Of Tougher Stains When Cleaning Nubuck

If you’re dealing with a really tough stain, the best thing to do is to use either a suede block or some sandpaper. This is because nubuck is created by sanding cowhide, so it’s built to withstand sanding for cleaning purposes. 

To get rid of the stain, rub the sandpaper or block vigorously against the affected area until the stain is removed. With this in mind, if you’re only trying to clean a specific stain, make sure you restrict the sanding to that particular spot. 

If, however, the stain has settled into the nubuck surface of your shoe and spread all over, you’ll need to sand the entire shoe until it’s removed. To do this, run the sandpaper or block over every part of the shoe, and the nubuck should look almost brand new. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What’s The Difference Between Nubuck Leather And Suede? 

In terms of their appearance, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two. Suede leather is sanded on the inner layer of the skin, while on the other hand, nubuck is sanded on the exterior skin of the animal. Both materials require a considerable amount of care in order to remain in pristine condition. 

Is It Safe To Use Mink Oil On Nubuck Leather? 

While mink oil can be safely used on several different leathers like suede, it’s best to avoid applying it on nubuck. This is because mink oil can get through the pores of nubuck and completely soak into the material, leading to either a patch or white residue. 

Is Nubuck Hard To Maintain?

Nubuck is typically a durable material because the outside layer of the skin is tough. Despite this durability, nubuck shoes require a greater amount of regular maintenance compared to other types of material in order to avoid stains and scuffs. 

Can You Use Polish On Nubucks? 

No, it’s best to avoid using polish on nubucks due to the fact that it’s too rough and absorbent. Therefore, you’re much better off looking to use products that are specially formulated for nubuck shoes.


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