How to Clean Nubuck and Leather Shoes

Earth Wayward

Nubuck and leather shoes are fine investments in quality and, with the proper care, will endure for many years. A little time put toward their maintenance and upkeep will pay off season after season, as these two materials will earn you plenty of compliments throughout their lifetime.

How to Clean Nubuck

Nubuck is a beautiful, high-quality leather that is similar to suede. However, since it is fashioned from the exterior part of the cowhide, nubuck is tougher and slightly thicker than suede. This type of top-grain leather has been sanded and finished, meaning it possesses a natural ability to repel stains. However, to keep your shoes looking clean and new for years to come, you will be required to do a bit of maintenance.

One problem you may encounter with your nubuck shoes is that they may start to show shiny spots. These blotches can make your footwear look worn out before their time, yet they are the easiest things to fix! To keep your shoes looking sharp, invest in a nubuck brush. A quality brush is gentle enough to avoid damaging the shoes, but sturdy enough to buff out those shiny spots and eliminate dry dirt. They bring out the shoes’ natural grain and nap. Choose a brush that has both wire and either nylon or rubber bristles. To fix the shininess and restore that brand-new matte look, brush the shoe with the wire bristle section of a nubuck brush, then more lightly with the nylon or rubber bristles.

The wire bristles can also be used for harder stains or ground-in dirt. If that fails, use one of many liquid cleaners made specifically for nubuck. After following the directions of the cleaning solution and being careful not to over-saturate, use a gentle-bristled brush to lift the nap. An alternative to liquid includes a package of nubuck cleaning cloths for spots and scratches that already have cleaning solution on them, which will make it easier to dispense just the right amount.

Other nubuck cleaning products for spot cleaning include a solid rubber block made specifically for this purpose, as well as a nubuck eraser. No matter what you do, always remember to patch test first.

How to Clean Leather

There are many ways to clean the wide variety of types of leather footwear. Again, always perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the shoe before proceeding with any and all cleaning methods, so you don’t ruin your footwear.

Simple, everyday leather cleaning solutions include mixing distilled water with a teaspoon of gentle liquid face or body soap, and rubbing it in the direction of the leather grain with a sponge. Significant dilutions and gentle products are necessary to prevent drying and splitting of the shoes.

Leather shoe protector can go a long way toward reducing the need to clean and protect the exterior of your shoes from permanent damage, and you should always condition your shoes after cleaning. Otherwise, the soap can dry out the leather and result in long-term damage.

If you need to remove rock salt stains from your boots before packing them away for the warmer seasons, you can do so by mixing one part water with one part white vinegar and gently wiping off the boots. You can also mix equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar for another solution option. For stubborn stains (especially those with ink), try applying some rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and gently wiping them away.

Check out the wide variety of leather and nubuck types of footwear and related products at!

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