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Care of Oiled Nubuck Leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Nubuck leather is premium leather made from high quality raw hides. It is thick with a velvet-like finish. Naturally waterproof, it is good leather for hiking boots as well as camping or fishing shoes. You may also find sofa covers, car seat covers and clothing made from nubuck leather. Such products have a long life and are available generally in dark shades of brown or black. Caring for oiled nubuck leather is not very difficult. It is largely preventive care that you need to perform.

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  1. Spray your nubuck leather with water/stain repellent before you use it. Sprinkle a little water on the leather; if it beads up you have applied enough of the repellent. Once water stops beading up on your leather, it’s time to spray it again.

  2. Use sandpaper or a rubber-tipped brush to completely brush down the leather and remove any surface dirt and superficial stains after each use. Use lanolin-based conditioner to spruce up the leather.

  3. Use mild stain remover immediately if you notice a stain. An oil block will also absorb some stains and will help scrape the leather. Use a nubuck brush to take a bit of the stain remover or oil block and rub it over the leather.

  4. Use the conditioner and waterproof/stain repellent spray on your nubuck leather, depending on how often you use the leather item. If you use it occasionally, you can treat it once a month. If you use it frequently, such as wearing nubuck leather shoes for weekly fishing trips or the like, a weekly rubdown is good. For extremely rugged use, buff up your shoes each time you take them off.

  5. Tip

    You can use a bit of mink oil or beaver oil if you are unable to get your hands on lanolin based conditioners. However, the leather may not absorb them as well as it absorbs the lanolin.


    Be diligent in your maintenance of nubuck leather. This material is unforgiving to bad handling. For hard to remove stains, take the leather to an expert.

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Things You'll Need

  • Water/stain repellent spray
  • Sandpaper with a grit size of 240 or higher
  • Wet cloth
  • Shoe brush meant exclusively for nubuck leather
  • Lanolin-based shoe conditioner
  • Mild stain remover exclusively meant for oiled Nubuck leather. These generally double up for suede as well.
  • Oil-absorbing blocks
  • Leather shampoo or foam

About the Author

Norah Faith was born and raised in Texas and from there she has traveled nationally and internationally. After acquiring her teaching license from New Mexico State University, she found herself teaching ESL around the world. She continues to teach today and finds satisfaction writing for Demand Studios and other sites.

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