Traditional kinds of leather are great, but sometimes you want to add a bit of intrigue to your outfit. That’s where nubuck comes in.
Nubuck is a material made from sanding leather, giving it a soft, nappy appearance. Similar to suede, nubuck requires special care.
This is especially true when your boots get dirty. To clean nubuck leather boots, you need to have the right materials and the right know-how. Otherwise, you risk damaging your boots.
Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert to restore your nubuck boots to their former glory. Here’s what you need to know to get your boots looking sharp and ready for a night out.
What You’ll Need
To clean nubuck you’ll need a few special items. Because of its nap and softness, nubuck clings to dirt more than smooth leather would.
Additionally, nubuck doesn’t respond particularly well to water. Water can penetrate the nubuck, warping it and making it look old and crusty.
You can avoid this by having the right materials on hand. These include:
- A nubuck brush
- A microfiber towel
- Suede and nubuck cleaner
- Suede and nubuck protector
Because nubuck has individual fibers, you need a towel to wipe away the surface dirt so you can get in deeper.
The nubuck cleaner will then finish the task by bringing the smaller particles to the surface. From there, you can wipe them away using the microfiber towel, ensuring you don’t scuff your boots.
The protector spray will keep your nubuck from getting dirty again or from being damaged by water or snow.
The horsehair brush serves to restore the nap, making your boots look fresh and new.
This little kit does the job to bring your suede or nubuck shoes back to life. The handle on the brush is sturdy and well placed and the bristles are just the right level of stiffness.
How to Clean Nubuck Leather Boots: 6 Simple Steps
Step 1: Brush Off Dirt
Nubuck’s fibers mean you’ll have to get in deep to fully restore our boots to their former glory. In order to do so, you need to clear the surface.
Take your towel and wipe away any dirt on the outermost part of your boot. Be gentle, as you don’t want to accidentally scuff the nubuck.
If your boots have seen some serious action, you may want to start by banging the bottom of the boot against the ground. This will loosen any caked-on dirt and make it easier to wipe away.
Your boots aren’t going to look perfect by the end of this step, but they should be clear of external dirt and grime. The nubuck should show through, albeit maybe with some discoloration from the deeper stains.
Step 2: Spot Treat Bigger Stains
Before you clean the entire boot, you’ll want to do a once-over and look for bigger, more heavily soiled areas.
Any spots that look particularly dirty should be treated with a suede eraser. This piece of rubber helps pull out dirt and stains without damaging the nap of your boots.
This kit from Care Guys is a great option. It includes an eraser plus a special suede and nubuck brush, allowing you the deepest spot-treatment possible without the risk of damaging your boots.
You still want to be careful here. Nubuck is more delicate than other types of leather. If you’re overly aggressive with the eraser, you might scuff your boots.
Be firm, but not violent.
Don’t worry if the areas you treat look a bit discolored. Once you apply the nubuck cleaner, this slight discoloration should go away.
Step 3: Apply Cleaner to the Entire Boot
Now that the surface is clean and the deep stains have been reduced, it’s time to deep clean.
Spray your boots down thoroughly with your cleaning spray. Give it a moment to penetrate and react with any oil or dirt deeper in the nubuck.
The Bickmore Suede and Nuvuck Cleaner is my top pick. It cleans and conditions your nubuck, and it can be applied to any suede or nappy-textured items you may need to clean in the future.
Step 4: Wipe Away the Cleaner
Once you’ve let your boots sit with the cleaner applied, wipe them off. Any dirt will be brought to the surface, and any oils will have combined with the cleaner, allowing you to effectively remove any stains.
Be gentle, using small wiping or blotting motions rather than scrubbing them. Harsh scrubbing can lead to scuffs.
Your boots will likely still be damp after you’ve wiped away the cleaner. It can be tempting to try to dry them using heat, but don’t.
Heat can damage the exterior of your nubuck boots and warp their shape.
Instead, let your boots air dry at room temperature. It might take a bit longer, but it’s worth it to keep your boots looking their best.
Once dry, look them over again. You may have to repeat step 4 a few times before your boots are entirely clean.
Step 5: Brush Your Boots
If your boots are thoroughly dry and show no signs of dirt or stains, they’re ready to be brushed out.
For this step, you’ll need a fine, soft-bristled brush. These brushes allow you to get between the fibers of your suede, helping you restore the nap evenly.
While there are plenty of options on the market, the best ones tend to be designed specifically for nubuck and suede.
This brush from Shacke is a great example. It features 4 distinct brush heads, all of them designed specifically for soft leathers. This helps you brush each part of your boots back to looking their best.
As always, be careful. While soft-bristled brushes like this are designed to keep your nubuck safe, you can still overdo it.
Remember, you’re brushing the nap, not the base.
Step 6: Apply a Protectant
If your boots are looking spotless and new again, it’s time to apply a protectant spray.
While this last step is optional, it’s highly recommended. Nubuck is a vulnerable leather that can easily be warped or damaged by water.
Applying a protectant will not only keep your boots from getting ruined, but it will also help keep dirt from penetrating the surface. This in turn keeps you from having to clean them as frequently.
Look for a spray that offers both conditioning and weatherproofing. The conditioning will keep your boots looking their best, while the weatherproofing will prevent any damage.
My top pick is the Nikwax Nubuck and Suede Waterproofing Spray. It helps maintain both the cosmetic and structural features of your boot and can be applied to any leather items you own.
Nikwax Nubuk and Suede Waterproofing spray is easy to apply and contains no PFCs, optical brighteners, or added scent. It adds water repellency to nubuck & suede footwear while preserving the texture, and is recommended for use on all textured leather shoes, coats, and gloves (plus it's safe for GORE-TEX too)
Regardless of which protectant you use, the application process is pretty straightforward. Simply spray your boots till they’re slightly damp and let them air dry.
How to Clean Nubuck Timberland Boots
Cleaning nubuck Timberland boots is essentially no different than cleaning any other kind of nubuck boots.
To start, wipe away any surface dirt and spot treat any particularly big stains. Next, spray them down with a nubuck or suede cleaning spray and let the spray work on the dirt and oil.
Wipe away the cleaner using gentle motions and let your Timberlands air dry. Inspect them again and repeat the cleaning process if necessary.
Once your Timberlands are fully clean, brush them out using a nubuck brush. This will ensure they look as clean and new as they can.
Finally, you’ll want to apply a protectant spray to keep them from getting dirty again. Spray the protectant all over your Timberlands, let them sit until dry, and you’re ready to go.
The Timberland Premium 6-Inch Waterproof Boot is a handsome and iconic design and it’s built well. The quadruple stitching, Primaloft insulation, thick rubber heel, and padded leather collar are all designed to go the distance, whether for work or for style. The biggest drawback is the cemented sole construction, which simply isn’t as strong as a Goodyear welt.
How to Clean Nubuck Ugg Boots
Most Ugg boots are made of softer leathers like nubuck or suede. Cleaning them isn’t a particularly unique process compared to any other soft leather boots.
To start, clear your boots of any surface dirt. This can be done using a towel or rag or by banging the soles against a hard surface till the dirt falls away.
Next, spot treat any big stains using a nubuck eraser. Once the surface looks more or less uniformly dirty, spray your Ugg boots down with a nubuck cleaning spray.
Wipe the cleaner away gently, being careful not to scrub too hard. Let your Uggs air dry in a room temperature environment and check to see if you need to repeat the process.
Once your Uggs are clean, brush them out using a nubuck brush and apply a protectant spray to keep them clean moving forward.
How to Clean Blundstone Nubuck Boots
Blundstones are renowned for their ability to hold up to the elements. Still, nubuck Blundstones get dirty just like any other nubuck boots.
When it’s time to clean your Blundstones, start by wiping away the surface dirt and spot treating any particularly noticeable stains with a nubuck eraser.
Spray them down with a nubuck cleaning spray and wipe it away, being careful not to scuff your boots.
Let your boots air dry at room temperature. Once dry, inspect them to see if you need to repeat the cleaning process.
After your boots are completely clean, brush them out using a dedicated nubuck brush. This will help them look new by restoring the nap of the nubuck.
Finally, spray your Blundstones with a nubuck protectant spray to weatherproof them and keep them from getting dirty again.
Nubuck boots are a sleek addition to any boot-lovers closet. That said, when they get dirty, they require a bit of extra love.
Investing in a good spot eraser, cleaner, brush, and protectant will help keep your boots looking their best.
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How do you clean salt stains from nubuck boots?
Cleaning salt from nubuck is pretty easy. Simply spray down your nubuck with a nubuck cleaning solution, let it sit for a moment, then wipe it off gently with a microfiber towel. You may want to weatherproof your boots to keep them clean moving forward.
How do you clean liquid dishwashing soap from nubuck boots?
Apply a bit of cold water to a rag and gently dampen your nubuck where the dishwashing soap has spilled. Wipe away as much as you can with a dry cloth. You may need to repeat this process multiple times.