When it comes to leather, not all are the same and therefore, not all of the leathers should be cleaned and maintained in the same manner. Nubuck leather is a more luxurious leather than the typical “standard” leather. The details and the defects of the leather have been buffed off leaving a smooth suede/velvet feel to the surface. While this is aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable, especially for shoes and furniture, it does pose a bit of a challenge to clean. Here is a step by step guide on how to clean nubuck leather.
Step One: Remove debris by hand
The first part of nubuck leather care is to remove any large debris from the surface of the leather by hand. Keep in mind that any large debris can cause additional damage to the leather if it is rubbed back and forth. If you are uncomfortable with removing the debris by hand, simply turn your shoe upside down and give it a light tap. The point is to dislodge anything which may work as an abrasive against the already soft texture.
Step Two: Use a Nubuck Cleaning Sponge
To maintain the look and feel of your nubuck leather, use a nubuck sponge. The nubuck sponge is specifically designed to clean and care for that specific leather. You don’t need to apply a ton of pressure to the sponge. In fact, it is advised that you keep the pressure minimum when cleaning. The design of the sponge will absorb dirt and mild stains to the leather. Ensure that you clean the entire surface before you proceed to using any cleaners.
Step Three: Perform a light brushing to revive the fibers
Using a nubuck brush or if you chose to use your sponge alongside a cloth, make small circular motions over the surface of the leather. Keep in mind that the leather has already been buffed and that the pores are pretty much gone from the surface of the leather. You do not want to wear a hole or cause a definitive mark to the leather. Even strokes and small circles are best.
Step Four: Spray a thin coat of nubuck cleaner onto the surface
Do not soak the leather when you apply your cleaner to the surface of your furniture or your nubuck shoes. Apply the cleaner in the same method that you would apply spray paint to a surface. Once you have applied the nubuck cleaner, use a toothbrush or a leather brush to gently clean any stains and deep rooted debris from the surface. Remember to work in small strokes, preferably circles for the best results.
Step Five: Dry the leather
All leather is absorbent as it is hide. Even though the nubuck is a top leather which has been sanded and buffed down, it is still a hide and therefore still has crevices in which moisture can accumulate. Do not just set the shoes, wallet, or furniture in the sun to dry. Such could cause the leather to get spots or (depending upon the saturation of the leather) you could get rot on the leather. The best method for drying nubuck leather is a hairdryer put on low to medium heat. Keep the dryer in motion to dry the surface evenly.
Step Six: Gently Sand and Buff out bad stains
There are just some stains which will not come out with the traditional cleaning techniques. You must realize that nubuck cleaner is intended for mild to medium debris. Heavy soiling on nubuck leather may require that the person re-buff or sand down the surface of the leather. While you can do this yourself with a very low grade of sanding paper, it is strongly advised that you bring your shoes or other nubuck product to a leather artisan. The leather is very susceptible to the sanding process and it is quite easy to disfigure the surface from sanding if you do not know what you are doing.
Step Seven: Add conditioner
Just like you would do when washing your hair, the conditioner should be added after the cleaning to give the leather a nice shine. Ensure that the nubuck conditioner is in fact for nubuck and not a generic brand for standard leather. When applying the conditioner, spray according to the instructions, but also ensure that there are no areas which appear to be wet or overly saturated from the conditioner. Allow the conditioner to set in.
Step Eight: Add a protective coat to the leather
There are many brands which are available on the market for nubuck protection and you can check out Crimson Care’s Shoe Cleaner & Conditioner which is best for your nubuck leather care; they have been reviewed and valuated at this article. Typically, the protective coat will be in the form of a spray. You do want to ensure that it is not an acrylic seal that you are adding to the leather. Acrylic seals are, in all reality, a plastic that is being applied to the surface of the leather. As plastic would (1) crack under everyday use (2) possibly minimize the integrity of the leather and the feel of the nubuck and (3) give the surface an unnatural appearance it should be avoided.
Just take care of your stuff
If you want to have your nubuck leather looking like new, then you must take care of your stuff. Maintenance is critical as well as day-to-day repair and common sense. If you spill something on your shoes, clean it off. If there is a scuff on the shoe, wait till you get a moment of free time and buff it out. The longevity of the nubuck leather is dependent greatly on the care and cleaning of the product. Should you have any questions about how to clean nubuck leather or if you just want someone professional to clean your nubuck leather, visit your local professional leather artisan. I am sure they would be more than happy to help you.