How to clean nubuck shoes

Nubuck shoes are a stylish and luxurious footwear option, but they require special care to maintain their beauty and longevity. Cleaning nubuck shoes can be a daunting task if you’re unsure of the right techniques and products to use. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean nubuck shoes effectively. Follow these instructions to keep your nubuck shoes looking pristine and in top condition.

clean nubuck shoes

Nubuck is a type of leather that is sanded or buffed on the grain side, resulting in a soft and velvety texture. It is more delicate than full-grain leather, requiring special care and maintenance. Regular cleaning of nubuck shoes is essential to prevent dirt buildup, stains, and deterioration. Let’s explore the step-by-step process of cleaning nubuck shoes.

Gather the Necessary Tools

Before you begin the cleaning process, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Nubuck/suede sponge
  • Nubuck cloth
  • Nubuck brush
  • Nail file or cleaning gum
  • Pencil eraser or baby wipes
  • Soapy water
  • Suede brush
  • White vinegar
  • Horsehair brush
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Clean cloth
  • Waterproofing spray

Having these items ready will make the cleaning process more efficient and effective.

Remove Dust and Light Dirt

Start by using a nubuck/suede sponge to clean off any dust and light dirt from the surface of your nubuck shoes. These sponges are used dry and have a textured edge that can help remove more stubborn marks. If you encounter stains, it’s recommended to test a foaming cleaner designed for suede and nubuck on an inconspicuous area first. Apply the cleaner as instructed and gently rub it on the stain.

Tackle Stains and Heavy Soiling

For light soiling and shiny spots, use a nubuck cloth. This specialized cloth contains integrated nubuck cleaner within its fibers. Wipe the shoes in several directions, using circular motions to clean all sides of the nap. If you’re cleaning shoes, remember to remove the laces before starting. To further clean the surface, use a nubuck brush in a circular motion, ensuring not to apply too much pressure.

In the case of light scuff marks and stains, you have a few options. You can try using a nail file, a cleaning gum, a pencil eraser, or even baby wipes to gently remove them. For more stubborn stains, create a solution of soapy water and gently scrub the affected area with a suede brush. If the stain persists, you can use a mixture of white vinegar and water. Be sure to prevent future damage by applying a waterproofing spray to protect your nubuck shoes.

Address Scuff Marks and Shiny Spots

To restore the nap of the suede and tackle dirt or worn shiny areas on the shoe surface, use a brush or a self-clean sponge. Gently brush the affected areas to revive the texture and remove any dirt buildup. For stubborn stains, apply a suede/nubuck cleaner using a sponge or cloth. Allow it to dry for a few minutes and then brush the surface again to restore the desired appearance.

Protect and Preserve Nubuck Shoes

To safeguard your nubuck shoes from snow and water stains, dab white vinegar on the affected areas using circular motions. The acid in vinegar helps break down the stains. Allow the vinegar to dry completely, and then use a suede brush to restore the nap of the shoes. Regularly applying a waterproofing spray will further protect your nubuck shoes from potential damage caused by moisture.


Proper cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep your nubuck shoes looking their best. By following the step-by-step guide provided above, you can effectively remove dust, dirt, stains, and scuff marks from your nubuck shoes. Remember to use the appropriate tools and products for cleaning, and always test new cleaners on inconspicuous areas before applying them to the entire shoe. With regular care, your nubuck shoes will remain stylish and last for years to come.


1. Can I clean my nubuck shoes with regular soap and water?

It is not recommended to clean nubuck shoes with regular soap and water, as they may leave stains or damage the material. Instead, use a foaming cleaner specifically designed for suede and nubuck.

2. Can I use a regular brush to clean my nubuck shoes?

No, it’s best to use a nubuck brush or a soft-bristled brush specifically designed for cleaning nubuck shoes. Regular brushes may be too harsh and can damage the delicate surface of the nubuck.

3. How often should I clean my nubuck shoes?

The frequency of cleaning depends on how often you wear your nubuck shoes and the conditions they are exposed to. As a general rule, it’s recommended to clean them every few weeks or when you notice dirt buildup or stains.

4. Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

It’s best to allow your nubuck shoes to dry naturally. Using a hairdryer or any other source of direct heat can cause the leather to become dry and brittle, leading to cracks and damage.

5. What should I do if my nubuck shoes get wet?

If your nubuck shoes get wet, stuff them with newspaper or paper towels to absorb the moisture. Avoid using direct heat sources to dry them. Allow them to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.

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Camilo Kawas is a seasoned entrepreneur and expert in the field of commercial cleaning, with a specific focus on clothes, carpet cleaning and floor care. With a profound understanding of the importance of selecting the right products for effective stain removal from clothes, Camilo has established himself as a trusted authority in the industry.

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