How to clean nubuck leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Cleaning nubuck leather can be challenging since nubuck is an extremely sensitive leather. Use tools specifically made for cleaning nubuck to ensure proper care, and you can maintain the leather with common household or hardware store items. Treating nubuck clothing or furniture with Waterstop, a product that protects it from water and oils, further helps protect this sensitive material.

Use the napping brush to separate and fluff the fibres on your nubuck leather. Handle the brush the way you would any other cleaning brush, but don't stay in one small area for more than a few seconds. Especially grimy areas may require that you return to the spot several times in the overall cleaning process.

Wrap the nubuck cleaning cloth around the sponge to create a cylinder. Roll the cylinder across the nubuck leather in a back and forth motion. The cloth will clean the leather, while the sponge helps move the cloth smoothly over the item. Repeat the process until you notice the leather becoming cleaner.

Remove the sponge from the cleaning cloth and flatten it out. Rub the sponge over the entire surface of the item you are cleaning the same way you would wipe down a countertop. This will restore the nap (the way the fibres lay on the piece of leather) of the nubuck leather to its smoother, natural appearance.

Spray a light coat of Waterstop over the nubuck leather. This will further ensure that water and oils from human or pet skin cannot permeate the leather and cause serious or permanent damage.

Maintain your nubuck leather between cleanings by running a piece of fine gauge sandpaper over the entire surface every few days. Furniture that is used frequently may be vacuumed gently every few days. The arms of couches or chairs may be vacuumed more frequently, as they tend to acquire more dirt and dust on a regular basis.

Things You'll Need

  • Nubuck cloth
  • Napping brush
  • Waterstop
  • Sponge
  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
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About the Author

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, N.H. She has authored five books and hundreds of articles and short stories. Her work has appeared various publications, including "Parenting," "Writer’s Digest," "Vacations" and "Discovery Travel." She studied at the University of Maine and later pursued her writing studies through numerous classes and workshops.